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African clothing and fashion is a diverse topic that is able to provide a look into different African cultures.
Clothing varies from brightly colored textiles, to abstractly embroidered robes, to colorful beaded bracelets and necklaces.
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Africa Styles notes that African fashion may reflect thousands of years of cultural and historical ties. The intricate patterns and designs found in African clothing typically comprise artistic and cultural values that are passed down to each generation. The two most important elements in African clothing are tie and dye and resist dye.
The Xhosa people have a very complex and diverse clothing culture as what you wear is decided by a person’s social standing. The clothing almost always features beautifully designed beadwork and colourful, printed fabrics. Women’s clothing defines different stages of her life.
In the Zulu culture, the what the women wear is also determined by the stage of life they are in. A young bachelorette will wear her hair short, usually accompanying this look with a grass-reed skirt, embellished with beads. Engaged women will grow their hair and cover their breasts.
The Yoruba people of Nigeria are known for their exquisite clothing. Clothing serves as an indicator of status and wealth. For special occasions such as weddings and funerals they wear especially beautiful garb.
Hausa-Fulani men wear a wide sleeved robe called a babban riga which is a floor-length robe with very long sleeves which have to be folded up to expose the hands. It is the equivalent of the Yoruba’s Agbada. Even though the babban riga is considered a Muslim garment almost all Nigerian men wear one for formal occasions. Hausa men also wear a traditional headpiece, a round cap called a fula. Hausa women wear colorful wrappers (abaya) with matching blouses.
The traditional cloth associated with Ghana is called the Kente. Kente is made by the Akan people. It is a mix of cotton and silk and is worn for special occasions. In everyday life women tend to wear a long skirt and a short sleeved top, often in bright colors and bold patterns.
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