Wearing one of the squaw dresses my Mother designed and stitched – sitting atop my Dad’s green Nash Rambler – at the side of the house we lived in (formerly a parsonage) during the 1950s in Farmington, New Mexico.
“The Squaw Dress, a categorization label for several types of one- and two-piece dresses, was a regional style in the American Southwest in the late 1940s and became a national dress trend in the 1950s. Its defining feature, a full, tiered skirt, came in three shapes: (1) a slightly gathered skirt based on Navajo dress; (2) a “broomstick” or pleated skirt based on Navajo and Mexican attire; and (3) a fully gathered, three-tiered skirt based on contemporary Western Apache Camp Dresses or Navajo attire. In addition to the common designation of Squaw Dress, dresses with the third skirt type were also called Fiesta, Kachina, Tohono, or Patio Dress (depending on the type of decoration); the former two styles were called Navajo Dresses. Squaw Dresses were extremely popular because of their comfort and regional indigenous associations. They represented both idealized femininity and Americanness because of their Native American origins.”
What’s in a name? The 1940s-1950s “Squaw Dress”
By Parezo, Nancy J.
Publication: The American Indian Quarterly