You’ve probably come across the list of wardrobe essentials that every woman just has to own dozens of times but this is different (I promise). This is my take on what African essentials women need to add to their wardrobes in 2019, plus there is the added bonus that they never run out of style.
(P.S. – Even if you don’t agree with needing every fashion item on this list, please read on!)
- Dashiki – You can never go wrong when you have a dashiki on. Originally from West Africa, it is a loose brightly colored shirt or tunic. It has formal and informal versions and varies from simple draped clothing to fully tailored suits (yes!! Suits). Women wear it too as a dress-shirt or tailor it into maxi dresses and all sorts of other creative cuts.
- BouBou- The boubou is a classic Senegalese robe, a statement fashion piece that can be dressed up (for formal events) or down (for everyday wear). Sewn from a single piece of fabric, the boubou is usually 59 inches wide and of varying lengths. Also, a women’s boubou can be loose-fitting making it more modest or it can be designed to hug the body, making it more flattering and sexy. This dress drapes nicely on the body to flatter any body type.
- Aso-oke – is a woven cloth by the Yoruba people in West Africa. Aso- oke means top cloth in the English language signifying high status. Patterns and colors used for Aso oke cloth have special meanings. Some designs are specifically for women’s garments and some are for men’s. The cloth is used to make numerous garment styles, including skirts, shirts, and trousers.
- Adire- Adire can be described as a variety of hand-dyed textiles using wax-resist batik methods to produce patterned cloth in a dazzling array of dye tints and hues. A professional decorator for Adire is traditionally referred to as “Aladire”.
- Iro and Buba – the Iro and Buba trend was famous in the 50s into the early 80s. Allegedly, the Iro was worn as a mini skirt back then, as a symbol of the liberation of women. The Iro are long, rectangular, large wrap-around skirts tied around the waist and knotted. The Buba is a long-sleeved, loose-fitting blouse. It has been modernized into various chic styles.
- Ankara accessories- Ankara fashion is usually vibrant with colorful patterns. Ankara has dominated the international clothing industry and stylists have come to love it. It has come to be the depictions of things “African”. The slightest patch of Ankara wax on anything can be labeled as “afro-centric”. Fabulous and trendy Ankara accessories like bangles, earrings, bow tie, neckpiece, hairpiece, phone pouch, notebooks, purses, tote bags, etc. are a must-have.
- Headwraps – head wraps are a very vital part of the African dressing. They are cloth adornments used in covering the hair. A typical African head wrap is a plain or patterned cloth that is wound across the head to create a range of styles. Beyond the basics, creativity is the goal, make it up, go with the flow and create your best styles.
- Kente – Richly woven Kente cloth is among the most famous woven cloths of Africa. Made originally for Ashanti tribal royalty in the seventeenth century. The word “Kente” means basket, and the cloth is named because of its semblance to a woven basket design.
- Beads – Jewelry is an important aspect of fashion, especially for women. When it comes to beautiful jewelry perhaps Africa is best known for its handmade beautiful bead work. It is used to enhance the beauty and style and to also showcase the artistry of the jeweler.
- Raffia – a fiber obtained from the leaves of the raffia palm, used for making mats, baskets, hats and the like. The raffia is necessary in our closets because it never goes out of fashion, always trendier than ever. They come in very different shapes and designs and they go with almost everything!