It is made up of split-toed tabi boots ("jika-tabi") and socks; special trousers with double-ties which fasten at the ankles, knees and waist; a jacket with overlapping lapels which is tucked into the trousers; and protective arm-and-hand sleeves. A mask and a hood seen in movies are not commonly used. An obi belt to indicate the wearer's level of kyu or dan grade may also be worn. The outfit is made of strong, dark-colored fabric, usually black cotton, fitted loosely to allow freedom of movement. The jacket may sometimes contain a pocket for hidden weapons.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that the ninjas limited themselves to dressing in all-black suits in Japanese feudal times. The classic black ninja outfit (the shinobi shōzoku) is said to have derived from Bunraku (not noh theatre); Bunraku prop handlers would dress in black in order to be less conspicuous to an audience as they moved props around the stage area. Another idea supporting the absence of a ninja outfit and any specific weaponry is that, if seen, they would have been identified as enemies and captured. Thus, historical ninja spies and assassins were far more likely to be disguised as samurai, Shinto or Buddhist monks, or peasants.
During Japanese feudal times, for night attacks shinobi shōzoku clothing (as dictated by the situation, preference or availability) could be black, dark green, dark blue or dark red, depending on which offered better night camouflage with its surroundings.