Many people look at an outfit of traditional African clothes and may not realize the cultural importance that they have. There is a lot of history that is woven into garments made of traditional African textiles and the styles reflect thousands of years of cultural changes and the influence that other cultures have had on many different African tribes throughout the continent.
Many people have seen the cloth that African clothes are made of. Traditionally, the fabric is usually very brightly colored and is a form of wearable art. The patterns and colors vary from one region to another and the techniques for spinning thread and weaving the fabric are handed down from generation to generation. Often women would be responsible for spinning thread and in many cultures it was actually the men that did the weaving of the fabric.
African clothes are usually loose fitting and very comfortable. An outfit may vary from region to region. In some areas, a long robe or dress may be worn by both men and women. They may also be influenced by the cultures from other countries which surround an area where a piece of clothing comes from. Full African outfits normally also include a head wrap or hat that varies from region to region.
One beautiful outfit that can look wonderful at an African wedding or other important event is the Ariya. This is an African woman’s outfit that is made up of four individual pieces. It usually includes a Buba (blouse), Iro (wrapper), Gele (head wrapping) and Ipele (shawl). These pieces go together and form a loose and comfortable African dress that may be available in many different styles, patterns and colors. There are other outfits which look very similar but which are from different geographical areas of Africa.
Men who are getting married may be interested in traditional African clothing such as the Agbada. It includes a long, flowing shirt, a pair of pants which are worn under the robe, a hat and a robe which is normally worn over the shirt. They are usually heavily embroidered in patterns that have cultural and spiritual significance.
If you are not interested in wearing a complete outfit of African clothes, consider using traditional fabrics such as Aso oke fabric to make part of your outfit. In fact, it is becoming quite normal to blend African clothing with Western style outfits in order to express your heritage.