What to Know About African Traditional Dresses – Svelte Magazine

There is something about traditional African clothing. Regardless of how long they have been around and how deeply Westernization has cut into our society, you will always recognize African works every time you see them.

One of the reasons is the unique pattern of the fabric and the style in which these outfits come. If you’re African and looking to protect your cultural heritage, whether in your diaspora or at home, investing in traditional African pieces is one of his ways to do so. go about it.

Beautiful woman in traditional African dress

We’ve also compiled lists of African must-haves for men and women to help you sift through the many options available. Keep reading while we dive in.

Reasons to wear traditional African dress

Two women wearing swazi african traditional dress

A collection of clothing and accessories deeply rooted in African culture. Colors, shapes, styles and fabric compositions may change slightly over time, but retain the same originality of the past.

It is made from African fabrics such as Aso Oke, Ankara, Kente, Adile, Atiku, Barkcloth, Isiag, and Lace Asobi. It represents the diversity of African culture and our identity as black people.

RMD in traditional African dress with Fira

The best way to remember your great-grandfather’s time is to wear something that reminds you of your great-grandfather. Wearing these traditional African attire takes you back to your roots.It gives you a sense of what fashion felt like in pre-civilization Africa. And now that modernity has taken over, we can only expect to see better versions of these indigenous outfits.

A woman wearing beaded kente fabric holding a clay pot

Let’s look at some of them.

Types of African Traditional Dress

couple in african national costumes

These traditional African dresses listed below are for both genders. Choose from the following options:


Three women in traditional Swazi costumes

This is the traditional dress of the Swazi people of South Africa. This cultural attire features colorful fabrics in various patterns, decorated with beads, cowries, and other traditional accessories.

We have published a guide on Swazi traditional attire. If you are interested, please check it out immediately. Let’s move on.


Two beautiful women dressed in green iro and buba as traditional African dresses

This African attire belongs to the Yoruba women of western Nigeria. At the time, the costume was a five-piece outfit. colour, Buba, Guerre, Ipere, and YbornHowever, it has evolved to primarily include Iro, Buba, and Gere.

colour A long rectangular skirt that wraps around the waist and tucks the ends inside the waist. Buba Loose blouse with long sleeves. A jele is a popular head tie worn by Nigerian women for traditional ceremonies. colour. Yborn Add detail to your outfit with a scarf that you can wear over your shoulder.

The traditional African attire of Iroh and Buba has evolved to feature a wide variety of styles and fabrics. Olek Or make yours with fabrics other than Asooke.

Sotho traditional costume

Five people dressed in traditional Soto African costumes

This is the traditional African dress of the people of Lesotho and South Africa.It is a blanket made of factory woven fabric.

Soto’s traditional attire includes many varieties, from moholobela to rehokoro to ringoetsi. This cultural attire is explained in detail in our guide to Sotho traditional attire. Feel free to check it out if this is your choice.


Actors in traditional Kozu costumes at Black Panther premiere

Kanzu is a white or cream ankle or floor length robe worn by East African men. It is called tunic in English and Thawb in Arabic.of Kanzuha national costume Tanzania and Comoros.


A man wearing Agbada as a traditional African dress

Agbada is a three-piece Nigerian traditional attire unique to the Yoruba tribe. Sokoto in Yoruba).

Agbada is usually decorated with embroidery. Known by different names in different languages. For example, in Hausa, Baban Riga Daraa in Arabic and mbab at Wolof. We have the latest Agbada style guides.Feel free to check it out if this is your choice

Venda traditional costume

Woman in traditional african dress in vendah

This is the traditional dress of the Benda tribe in northern South Africa. Their men and women wear these clothes to commemorate various events. However, as sustainable fashion became more prevalent, clothing shifted from animal skins to other fabrics.


A man and his son wearing senators

A two-piece ensemble with a long shirt that goes up to just above the knee. This costume is common among the Igbo tribe of Nigeria and his Delta tribe of Niger, but was made popular by former Nigerian Senate Speaker Anim Pius his Anim (2000-2003). Senator Pius was known to wear this costume to events during the presidency of Olusegun his Obasanjo. No wonder this garment earned the name “Senator”.

Senators resemble traditional Igbo attire made from lion head (Isi Agu) fabric. But unlike Isi Agu, you make your senator out of plain suit fabric in the color of your choice.

woko suit

A man wearing a woko suit, a traditional African costume

Woko is the Niger Delta version of the English suit. The sleeves can be long or short, depending on your preference. What distinguishes this suit from other types is his four-row brooch or button that fastens.

You can also add pocket fillers or cufflinks and wear a hat to complete the Niger Delta look.


woman in dashiki short dress

Dashiki comes from the Yoruba language DanishikiA colorful loose fit pullover featuring a flamboyant V-shaped collar and embroidered neck and sleeve lines. It is also a loanword from the Hausa language meaning “shirt” or “inner garment of him”.

Dashi is mostly upper body. Like other traditional African dresses, it is popular all over the world as dresses and tops with skirts and trousers.We have the latest Dashiki his style guide.

Ishi Agu

Man and woman wearing Ishiagou

Ishi Agu Literally means lion’s head in Igbo. Long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirt in lion head print fabric. The difference from Dashiki is the round collar, gold buttons, and breast pocket.


Timi Dacolo wearing Etivo as a traditional African dress

Etibo is the Ijaw version of the British shirt.Some call it chieftainship shirt while the people of Efiq and Ibibio in Nigeria call it Muventi. In other words, if a man wearing Etivo wants to sit on a chair, he will sit first in front of him because the shirt has long tails in the front and back.

While Ijaw people often wear it with a single brooch that falls into their shirt pocket, Ibibio and Efik men wear it like a corporate shirt, without a brooch and buttoned around the neck. increase.


A man wearing a caftan with a nose mask

A caftan is a long, collarless, loose shirt popular among the Hausa, Fulani, and Kanuri tribes of Nigeria. Until now, it was long robes and tunics. Now it has evolved to look like a senator.

A woman wearing lace iro and bouba with gel

African traditional dresses are not limited to these. So feel free to pick anything Ankara has to offer, from dresses to two-pieces, jumpsuits, dungarees, shorts, or experiment with other fabrics you want.

Men and women rocking Ankara fabric in traditional African costumes

African cultural dress has become a blend of modernism and tradition.It’s up to you to do what suits your style. Well, do you stick to the original or blend it with a touch of contemporary fashion?

A couple wearing modern soto blankets

Let us know in the comments.

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