Going traditional

Attending a Wolof baby naming ceremony, called an ngente, is the perfect excuse for us to invest in some traditional Senegalese clothing. So we did.

Brodé fabrics with embroidery

Step 1: Go to HLM market (the place for buying fabric in Dakar). Get an idea of what’s in style now… but also get overwhelmed and leave without buying clothing or fabric for having something made by a tailor.

Wax impressions dorées from Sandaga market

Step 2: Talk to Elisa, my very stylish Senegalese friend, and get her opinion on what we should wear. In the end, she offered to go buy fabric for us and take it to her tailor with our measurements and drawings of what we wanted.

Bazin riche with embroidery

Step 3: Debate endlessly what colors and styles we want. Finally make a decision and give details to Elisa, along with money for fabric and tailor.

– My husband decided on an obasanjo, which is a long tunic top worn over matching drawstring pants, made from bazin riche fabric. The style was made popular by the former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

– I chose brodé fabric because it’s the coolest, thanks to all the little lacy holes… and I think it’s pretty. I originally wanted a long top and skirt, but Elisa laughed at me and said I would have a very hard time wearing a wrap skirt. So we went with a short-sleeved dress instead.

– My cousin who was here visiting went with a more youthful style (read: not married, pregnant lady). She chose a taille-basse outfit which has a short-sleeved top and flared skirt, a style called trapèze. In the end, we bought her fabric ourselves at Sandaga market downtown. It’s a beautiful green wax impressions dorées fabric with gold accents.

Embroidery on my dress

Step 4: Elisa updates us that due to power cuts, it’s going to be tiiiight for the tailor to finish in time for our trip.

Wax impressions dorées from Sandaga market

Step 5: The clothes are finished in time! We tried them on and did a little fashion show for Elisa, who then helped us pick out the right shoes, purses and jewelry to wear with them.

Jewelry approved by Elisa

Step 6: Take Headscarf Tying 101, taught by Elisa. We passed with flying colors.

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