How to show us what you’re wearing

We’re just a day away from a week of outfits.

Here are a few ways you can show us what you’re wearing!

1. Hire a professional photographer to come and take your picture every day. After you’ve had your personal chef make you an omlette and some fresh-squeezed orange juice, of course.

2. Shyly and awkwardly ask a complete stranger to take your picture. Don’t forget to show them how to use your camera. That can always take a little bit of time… ahem… you hold it like this.

3. Ask your roommate or husband or co-worker to snap a pic of your outfit. Head to toe! We want to see your shoes too. Feel free to strike a fun “Amy” pose while you’re at it.

4. Take a picture of yourself in the mirror. Naturally a full-length mirror is best, so that we can actually see what you’re wearing, and not just your necklace. Here’s the key to doing this: do not look at yourself in the mirror, look at the camera {with your eyes} like you normally would. Otherwise you end up looking off in the distance and weird (it’s a reflection thing). In the picture below, it looks like I’m looking at myself, when in reality, I was looking at the camera. Also, turn your flash off for this.

Oh, you know, just practicing taking pics of myself in the mirror.

Oh, you know, just practicing taking pics of myself in the mirror.

5. Aim the camera at your legs to show us what the bottom half of your outfit looks like, and do a selfie to show us what the upper half of your outfit looks like. You kind of have to extend your arms out as far as possible, bending your back to get a normal looking shot. If you’re having a bad hair day, you can shoot from the chin down. Or maybe you’re just extra shy. But really, we want to see you!

6. Pile your clothes on the floor Display your clothes neatly on the floor, including accessories and shoes, and take a bird’s eye view picture of the outfit.

The bird's eye view.

The bird’s eye view.

The fun begins May 1st – – – Wednesday! I hope you’ll join in!

Anyone else have any good “how to show us what you’re wearing” picture-taking tips?

The grass is always greener…

I have very fine hair. It never tangles, is wavy enough to curl, but I can also easily wear it straight. I’ve had it a range of colors from blonde to reddish to dark brown – which is apparently my natural color. (Who knew?) And I tend to cut it off in a pixie about every three years or so.

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But the grass is always greener on the other side, isn’t? If you look at my Pinterest board of haircuts, half the photos are of pixie cuts I can actually do and the other half look a lot like this picture of Eden:

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Doesn’t she look AMAZING? This is my dream hairdo. And, ironically, part of why I love it so much on her is that she’s embracing her natural, God-given grass hair. One could think I should learn a lesson from her…

What about you? Do you embrace your hair or fight it? What’s your dream ‘do?

Smiles and slogan t-shirts

*Smile*

It was harder than you would think trying to take a picture of this shirt, so that all of the words could be seen. The shirt kept wanting to fold in the middle, making it impossible to read what it says! Grrr! Eventually, I pulled it off. For the most part. Triumph.of.the.day.

Anyway… 

 I recently bought this shirt because I really like what it says. In case you really can’t read the words because of my poor picture-taking abilities, I’ll tell you what it says. “A smile is the prettiest thing you can wear.” How fitting for a fashion blog, huh?

Although it might be a liiittle bit on the cheesy side, I like it. Who we are, how we treat others, our kindness, our inner beauty… all of those things really are more important than our outfit du jour.

{Side note: I do feel a little bit of pressure to be smiling, like, non-stop while wearing this shirt. It just doesn’t really allow for much of a grumpy face, does it?}

What are you smiling about this weekend?

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What’s your favorite slogan t?

 That’s right, I just bombarded you with not one, but TWO questions.

Ooh là là! The world of Senegalese lingerie

“Ooh, look at those cute beaded necklaces! Wouldn’t those make fun gifts…”

No, no they wouldn’t. Those ‘necklaces’ are actually belly beads called ‘bine-bines’. But hey, if you want to cruise around Senegal with a couple dangling around your neck, you go right ahead. Lemme know how that works out for you.

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It can be so easy to make these innocent mistakes. Trust me. I speak from experience. And that experience intimidated me away from diving into the infamous world of seduction à la Sénégalaise. Even now, ten years later, I certainly don’t claim to be an expert. But I do claim to be a half-decent researcher. It’s a hazard of my day-job, I suppose.

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In my research, I learned there are three key items for seduction à la Sénégalaise:

1) bine-bines (the aforementioned belly beads)

2) yéré de soir (night clothes)

3) thiouraye (incense)

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Belly beads are pretty easy to figure out: beads you wear around your waist. Some women wear them all the time and others just for, ahem, special occasions.

There are strands with tiny beads, large beads, small beads, chunky beads, etc… A string of beads can be a single color, multicolored or even – gasp – glow in the dark. Thanks to their elastic string, most are one-size-fits-all. However, a word to the wise… after a while that elastic will give out and beads will go in every direction. This will probably happen at the worst possible moment, like walking across a soccer field full of teenage guys. Just sayin’.

You can buy bine-bines for a couple hundred francs at most markets. Don’t buy just one though. You would usually wear at least a couple strands. Plus, you’ll probably decide that they do make great gifts for your friends after all!

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The little outfits shown in this post fall under yéré de soir. They are crocheted by hand in a variety of styles, colors and threads. And, believe it or not, they are pretty flexible in terms of size. You just tug and pull to get it to fit your shape. Most are two-piece ensembles, one of which is a thong. But a sarong-style skirt (long or short) or little shorts are also an option.

I spoke with the woman who made all of these outfits. She said the simple styles take a couple days to crochet, but the more complex ones can take a week to ten days. A good ballpark price is about 8,000cfa. If you want to order a specific style, you can give the maker a photo from a magazine to copy.

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Lastly, your signature incense. That’s right, ladies, I said ‘signature’. You don’t want to smell like just any other woman.

Those little glass jars you see in the markets, stuffed with what looks like damp wood, are a good place to start. They’re kept sealed in glass jars for a very good reason – they have quite a strong scent! If you really want to give thiouraye a try, I suggest asking for help from a Senegalese friend. When it’s done well, the incense lingers gently on your clothes so that your signature scent floats around you. If it’s not done well, gasp-gasp, cough-cough…

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If there are key items for seduction Senegalese-style that are not on this list, it must just be that I look too angelic and sweet to be told about them. (Right??) But if you do know of more, let us know! And many thanks to my friend, who prefers to remain nameless, for her help with this research.

PS – Interested in ordering one of the ensembles above or something similar? I can put you in contact with the woman who makes them!

These shoes

These shoes were a birthday gift. From myself.

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These shoes are not very safe to walk in, considering the uneven roads, potholes, gravel, and rocky terain. I almost twist my ankle every time I wear them outside of the house.

These shoes are fun to wear.

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These shoes go with just about everything.

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These shoes make me tall.

These shoes are nothing compared to the beautiful, HIGH, fancy, pink, sparkly heels that Senegalese women love to wear.

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Do YOU have a favorite pair of shoes?

A week of outfits

What will you wear?

We want to showcase YOUR week of outfits!
PS – I wish this was my dress. I would wear it all the time.

As you may have seen here, I asked if anyone was interested in volunteering to do a “28 days of amazing outfits” post, like I had seen in a magazine.

Well, it turns out that quite a few of you are up for the challenge. Even better!

Here’s what we’re going to do, since 28 days can be rather long and intimidating:

We’re going to do a week of outfits, from May 1st – May 8th. That’s Wednesday to Wednesday. Easy enough, right?

Here’s what you do:

  • Take pictures of your outfit every day, beginning May 1st.

Wearing a fancy, hand-embroidered Senegalese dress? We want to see! Wearing sweats because you’re sick at home? Oh well. Snap a pic, and feel better. Wearing your favorite turquoise and yellow top? Show us!

  • We will then showcase everyone’s outfits here, on the Gazelle Skirt blog! Maybe every 2-3 days we’ll feature someone, and their seven days of outfits. We’ll put everyone’s name in a hat and draw out names to see who will go first, second, etc. It will be fun to “meet” some other people, see what they wear, and have fun noticing style, in its many different forms.

Are you ready? Are you excited? Hope so. We are!

Any questions?

The shake-n-sell market

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Fuggi jaay. That’s an important word to learn when you move to Dakar. It literally means to shake something out (fuggi) and then to sell it (jaay). And it refers to a daily market that travels around the city selling used clothing that vendors purchase in large bundles. They cut open the bundles, shake out the clothes, then sell them.

Back before my baby’s debut en scène, I used to go the Saturday fuggi jaay regularly. In fact, I went so frequently that when our birthing coach suggested I choose a phrase to chant during delivery, the first thing that popped into my mind was, “Pairu daal cinq cent, pairu daala téeméer, pairu daala cinq cent, pairu daala téeméer…” Those who have been to fuggi jaay will recognize that as the phrase shoe vendors call out to say that all shoes cost 500cfa, 500cfa for any pair of shoes…

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Washing and polishing shoes before selling

The pricing system for the shake-n-sell is rather brilliant. Clothes piled on the ground are the cheapest, usually about 100 to 300cfa (under 50 cents). Clothes folded in stack on tables are around 500cfa ($1) and clothes on hangers are about 1,500cfa ($3) and up. Nicer, name brand stuff with tags may be as much as 4,000cfa ($8). It’s like rip-off prevention for toubabs. No price tags, but you still have a pretty good idea of what things should cost.

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2 pairs of pants + 6 tops

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“Pairu daala téeméer…”

It was a great morning for the fuggi jaay. Sunny but not hot. Busy but not crowded. Between haggling and joking around with vendors, my husband got breakfast: a steaming cup of café touba and a bag of fresh beignets.

On our previous visit, we left with two button-down shirts for my husband (1,500cfa, or$3 each) and a couple pairs of 500cfa ($1) overalls and some footie PJs – not for my husband. I left empty-handed, although the pile of second-hand bras (Aminata’s Secret?) was tempting. Maybe another time…

Last week, we left with a couple flimsy baggies stuffed with “treasures”.

2 pairs of linen blend pants: 500cfa ($1) each

6 cotton tops: 100cfa (20 cents) each. These were the bargain du jour! Ann Taylor, American Eagle, Marks & Spencer…

1 newsboy cap from Baby Gap: 700cfa ($1.50). A Senegalese friend said I overpaid, but I think it was worth every franc.

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Welcome to your new home!