Aztec clothing was simple for the common people and sophisticated for the nobles. Aztecs definitely had a different concept of fashion from what we know today.
Clothing was originally made out of Ixtle and Maguey cactus fibers which they obtained by scraping the cactuses leaves. Later, cotton was introduced and started to replace these fibers.
The Aztecs had a hierarchical society, and there were strict laws for what to wear according to their level.
Men from the lower casts in society wore a maxtle, a plain square loincloth (breechcloth); basically a square piece of cloth worn around the hips. It was knee-length clothing made out of the cactus fibers. They were not allowed to use jewelry. They also wore sandals called cactli which had only the heel support, and laces to tie them at the calf.
Women wore the huipil and quechquemitl which were basically a blouse and a long skirt.
Nobel people used longer clothing decorated with embroideries. They also had more sophisticated hairstyles, and wore earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other piercings (in the lips for example) made out of gold and precious stones.
Aztec Dancers in Traditional Clothing
The Aztec warriors were at the base of the society. They took care of the emperor and the priests who occupied the top of the pyramid. The social status of a warrior could move up the ladder according to the accomplishments that they earned at war. This made historians conclude that Aztec society was not a closed one. Aztec costumes for warriors was differentiated with shells and gold according to their merits.
Aztec warrior's costumes were intimately related to the religion. Their costumes represented mystical animals, and they believed, it would give them their energy and force to fight.
Feathers in Aztec clothing was another sign of accomplishment for warriors and a luxury item for nobel people. Feathers were classified by size and color. The most important one was the green Quetzal feather which is said to have been more important than gold.
Feathers were not only worn in the hairstyle of nobles, but were also used in warriors' shields. Feathers were collected as tribute all over the Aztec empire, and sent to their cities at the center of their commercial activity where the production of feather ornaments took place.
Although Aztec warrior clothing designs are not used much today. Aztec clothing influenced the original and traditional huipil designs still worn today by women in Mexico and the entire world.