East African Style

For most of high school and early college, I struggled to find clothes that I liked and that really suited me. I had phases where I tried out different genres (prep, punk, all black), but didn’t really feel comfortable in any of them. Until I found the top shelves (so high I still couldn’t reach them even while standing on a chair) of my dad’s closet.

There I found stacks of gorgeous rumpled fabrics in a dazzling array of colors. Long men’s and boys’ shirts in kente and ankara cloths with swirling, intricate designs; feet-sweeping and embroidered tunics in soft blue materials; piles of funky-patterned scarves in every color combination you can imagine; printed dresses of all styles (scoop-neck, strapless, cap sleeves). These were the clothes of my parents’ past, the past of my brothers and I, all originating from Nigeria. How had I forgotten about this clothing?

So I took some, and then more, and then more. Shortened some pieces, hemmed others, cut into yet others to make them fit and work for me. I wear my brothers’ discarded clothes, along with my dad’s, too. Of course I still shop at stores like H&M, but these clothes are what make me feel like me.

There’s a new blog that I love, called Nairobi Style, that is modern and completely original. Why not photos of street style in East Africa, one of the most vibrant, fresh and colorful fashion scenes I’ve ever encountered? Whenever I go to Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania or Uganda, I try to get as many fabrics and accessories as I can. You can see why from these photos.

Photos via Nairobi Style


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