How to Dress for Kwanzaa

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How to Dress for Kwanzaa. How you decide to dress for Kwanzaa depends on the type of activity you're doing, where you're going and how involved you are in the history and culture of Africa. Whether you feel comfortable wearing complete attires of traditional clothing or you just want some accessories to get into the spirit of the holiday, there are a few guidelines that can help you pick the right Kwanzaa wardrobe.

Choose the Perfect Attire

Wear a kaftan (or caftan) for comfort or if you plan on doing activities that require freedom of movement. A kaftan is a simple dress made up of two rectangular panels sewn together, usually without sleeves. Kaftans are often available in basic colors with decorations and graphics in white and brown.

Wear a danshiki over plain black pants if you're a man looking for a simple garment. The danshiki is a traditional African shirt that features either embroidery or hand painted symbols around the neck. A danshiki can also be worn by women, as long as it's used with a traditional skirt.

Dress up a simple attire with a kente, a large piece of cloth usually worn as a shawl by both men (especially) and women. A kente is usually made in a combination of bright colors, such as yellow, green and red. The kanga is another type of shawl that can also be worn on top of shirts and dresses.

Wear a gelee or headwrap if you're a woman. It takes some trial and error to learn how to wrap your hair properly, but you can ask your hairdresser to do it for you. Men can wear headwraps too or choose a small traditional hat known as fila.

Dress in bright colors with lots of African-inspired prints and motifs. Don't be afraid to be loud and wear sequins, silk and glitter during Kwanzaa.

Accessorize with original necklaces, earrings and bracelets made with beads, wood and other natural materials. Or wear items inspired in African designs, such as wild animals (especially elephants).

Tips & Warnings

  • There are many shops, both online and retail, that sell traditional African clothing. If you want to shop for variety and quality, you will find that the Internet offers the most possibilities.
  • Choose natural fibers if you can. Cotton is especially good, as it helps fight the heat and is more attuned with history and tradition. Shy away from man-made materials, as they weren't used in traditional African garments.

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