Banquet-iquette & tips

Me, at a formal, circa 2002. (Yes, we had dances back then too!)

Me, at a formal, circa 2002. (Yes, we had dances back then too!)

Some of our Gazelle Skirt readers will be attending a formal Banquet at their high school this weekend, so we thought it would be fun to go over a couple quick etiquette reminders and tips for what will hopefully be a wonderful, memorable evening.

Have any others to share? Please chime in below in the comments or on our Facebook page!

Before the big day

Let’s start at the bottom: shoes. Towering heels have their place, but unless you can walk in them comfortably and gracefully (not sure? ask a trusted adult), go for a lower heel. You won’t want to look back on this night and remember the twisted ankle or blistered toes.

Do a test run of your full outfit. If your dress is light-colored, you may need nude underoos. Straps, hems and such can be altered, but all of that should be done well before the big day. Accessories can make an outfit, but try them on with your dress to be sure it’s not too much.

I have one word of wisdom: aerosol hairsporay. Okay, so it’s two words. In this humidity and heat, it can be your best friend for keeping a hairdo in place.

Meet & greet

You’ve probably spent a lot of time choosing your dress, trying out hairstyles and new make-up. But don’t forget to compliment your date on his dashing ensemble as well!

Photos, photos, #photos. Get the goofy ones and the serious ones, but remember your posture no matter the pose. Shoulders back, inhale, exhale-with-a-smile!

When you leave, let your date hold the door for you.

If you’ll be walking along a sidewalk, let your date walk on the side closest to the street.


Turn your cell phone off (or put it on vibrate at least) before entering the dining area.

Let your date pull out your chair for you.

Always place your napkin on your lap once you’ve been seated. If you have to get up, place it in your chair — not on the table. Don’t put your napkin on the table until you are finished eating.

If you’re seated with a big group, make sure you aren’t yelling down to the person on the other end.

Wait until everyone is served before eating.

At the table, start with the fork on the outside and work your way inside; the salad fork on the outside is used first, then the dinner fork.

When you are finished with a course, neatly place the silverware you used face down on your plate.

And, of course, do not talk with your mouth full, no crunching ice cubes and (if in an American context) no hands on the table.

Above all… have fun! (And send us some pictures, okay?)


Rachel’s week of outfits

Hi, my name is Rachel. I’m a homeschooling mother of two in Québec, Canada. I am married to Kevin, who works in the cranberry industry and I also teach ESL. Jenn and I became friends in 2007 while they were learning French. Though not a fashionista, I enjoy nice clothes, shoes and purses and I really love your blog! Maybe one day I will have the courage to wear a gazelle skirt, but in the meantime…keep up the good work, Gazelles!

Day 1

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Headed to work with a simple black and white pin-striped blouse-dress with my favorite jeans. The red belt and red patent low-heel shoes are among my favorites and I wear them whenever I can. Accessories are very simple: Fossil CZ watch that I LOVE and colorful wooden bead earrings that my son made for me.
Note: After the picture, I decided against the black socks and finally rolled a cuff on the jeans. Much better.

Day 2:

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Going to visit a friend and her kids today and the weather took a plunge, so I wasn’t shy to pull out my fashion cognac-colored boots that I picked up at Urban Planet, as is the belt. The blackish-bluish jeans from XXI are another favorite pair that I picked up almost-new for $12 at a popular second-hand store that my Canadian friends will recognize: Value Village or Village des Valeurs. Simple white t-shirt from Wal-Mart with flowy knit shawl-sweater and one of my favorite scarfs: an Indian print that I picked up from a clothes-swap bazaar.

Day 3

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 Not really going anywhere in particular; a normal teaching-day and get-things-done-around-the-house before the weekend Friday.  The red-print tee I have had for years and years – it’s from JC Penney. The black shawl-sweater was on a store close-out rack and I wear it often. The jeans are hand-me-downs from a friend. I put on my red shoes again for fun.

Day 4

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 A lazy Saturday getting ready to run out and do errands. Nothing fancy, but I did grab my favorite orange scarf again and mixed it with my Simons’ cargo jacket. The blue jeans are very ordinary but the plaid flannel shirt is another fave and was a birthday gift last year. It’s from Old Navy. The white striped sneakers are comfortable, practical and à la mode…a great deal from Sierra Trading Post.

Day 5

The next few days will be birds-eye views as my “photographers” were unavailable. 😉

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 My new spring outfit that I couldn’t wait to wear! Cotton plaid print sundress from Walmart with navy leggings, a dark stone-wash jean jacket from the friperie, a cute summer hat à la Jason Mraz from Christmas Tree Stores in Vermont and my brown gladiator sandals that I LOVE from Suzy Shier (Canadian friends will again be able to relate).

Day 6

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Homeschool, housework and workout on the menu for today’s activities. My oldie-but-goodie turquoise Billabong tee is still one of my favorites though it has been down-graded to sweaty activies most of the time. 😉 Simple black running shorts and vintage Puma sneakers that are so incredibly comfortable that I prefer wearing them to my brand new Adidas.

Day 7

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Heading to class later this afternoon. Both blouse and skirt are from the friperie (2$ each, I think). I found the outfit a little plain, so I added the red shoes (yet again!).

Erin’s Week of Outfits

hi. my name is erin. i have wanted to live in denver for a long time. after chatting with my friend about her impending road trip, i decided to venture out west to interview for a few positions, and subsequently, take off on part or all of her road trip. sometimes, you sit back in awe of the way things shake out. i moved to denver in late september of 2012 and from denver to boulder at the beginning of may and it has been absoutely wonderful.


Day 1: 6 inches of snow! What? Apparently this is not uncommon for Colorado, but this Georgia girl was baffled by it! Thus, put on the Frye boots (such a good investment, especially that I now live in a colder state) with my skinny jeans, wool crewneck baselayer and puffy brown vest. Nice and toasty!


Day 2: [I missed a few days with moving and stressed. In that time, the weather warmed back up to some lovely 60s and 70s.] Today was the first day I brought out a dress (that wasn’t worn with tights or boots)! I love this maxi dress. So cozy. Worn with some new sandals (yay sale!) and a white cardigan.


Day 3: Living in Colorado is awesome for multiple reasons… one of which is more casual work attire. It’s right up my ally. Today was a green linen dress with the same sandals, my soul mate, the pagatonia bag, and my other soul mate, coffee.


Day 4: Out and about in Boulder in another cozy maxi skirt from, scarf from my sister-in-law, and some bangles from a lovely lady I know living in Senegal. 😉


Day 5: It’s the weekend! That means athletic wear!


Day 6: Back to work in black skinny jeans, flats, tank and grey sweater.


Day 7: Once again, work is casual…decided to put a little pop of color back into the wardrobe and opted for a pink skirt, grey t-shirt of Atlanta streets, white jacket, stinky converse, and that lovely soul mate of mine. The coffee was there too.

The SWAP on Saturday!

On the morning of Saturday, June 1st, we will be hosting a clothing SWAP and proceeds will benefit the women’s prisons in the Dakar area.


– Just confirmed! Embroidery and other crafts made by women in the prisons of Rufisque and Liberté 6. All sale proceeds go directly to the women.

– Email us at for directions for early drop-offs this coming week in Point E, Hann Maristes or Fenêtre Mermoz. Early drop-off = free tickets for you to shop with!


Who’s invited?
All members of our Facebook Group (join here) and their guests.

Our guest of honor is Mme Ndeye Diouf who has volunteered in the prisons for nearly 15 years.

We have also invited our favorite Senegalese vendors to join us that morning and bring some of their most popular items. There will be clothing and accessories from Rama Diaw from Saint-Louis and Anne de la V. in Ouakam; Diami’s Jewels will have beaded necklaces, bracelets and rings; and also obi belts by Marie Faye from Thiès.

When and where?
The SWAP will be held in Pojnt E from 10am to noon on June 1st. For directions, email or send us a message on Facebook.

How does it work?
Bring women’s clothing items that you no longer want and swap them with others.

  • Clothing must  be in good condition, clean and folded.
  • Shoes, jewelry, handbags and other accessories in good condition may be swapped as well.
  • For each item you bring, you will receive one ticket.
  • All items ‘cost’ one ticket.
  • Any items remaining at the end of the day will be donated to inmates at the women’s prison.

Please note that t-shirts and underwear are not allowed in the swap, but if they are in good condition, you may bring them to donate if you’d like.

Wow. This sounds amazing. The entry fee is probably like 10,000cfa, right?

No, my friend. Special price for you, nice lady. 😉

Entry for the event is 1,000cfa. Coffee, tea and pastry will be provided and proceeds will go to the women’s prison.

Download the hi-res SWAP poster here.

New Skirt Anyone?


One of my FAVORITE skirts from Rama Diaw is what I call the multi-usage skirt.  I actually own several of these skirts in different colors.  Today at Rama’s shop I tried on a new color and took a few pics to show the different ways to wear this skirt.

I normally wear it like this…there are strings underneath the skirt that you tie to create this look.  I love it!  I feel “artsy” when I wear it this way.

Or, you can wear it hanging straight like the picture below….

OR, you can wear it as a dress!  Yes, I was being a bit silly when taking this picture!  Anyone else want a multi-usage skirt??


Steak and earrings

First of all, isn’t that a beautiful title? Does it get any better than steak and earings? Let me back up…

Some friends who we hadn’t seen in a really long time were in town, and invited us to go eat with them. They had never been to the Brazilian Churrascaria (how sad!), so we took it upon ourselves to introduce them to one of our favorite restaurants in Dakar.

I don’t know about you, but I love steak. I was already looking forward to a good meal, but when I walked in the restaurant and saw a rack of earrings for sale near the cash register, I KNEW it was going to be a good night.

A good night it was. The meal was amazing, and I was able to buy some earings to take home to my sisters {shhhh!} as a little souvenir from Senegal.  The earrings are made from African fabrics that have been bunched into a circle and sewn in the center. (That’s the best way I can describe them.) There are beads above the fabric part, and there are a variety of colors and sizes.

Only 1,000 cfa

Only 1,000 cfa

So cute!

So cute!

The earrings are made by a local ladies’ group at a church in town. The group is called Dorcas Afrique, not to be confused with Maison Dorcas. They were just 1,000 cfa, too!  

So, next time you want a good meal AND some unique African print earrings…. you know where to go.

Henna Hair Dye

Today’s post is by LeCrecia M. Ali, a Gazelle Skirt reader and participant in the Week of Outfits. We’ve asked (and would have begged!) for her to share the secret of her trademark red hair.

Henna is best known for henna tattoos, but henna is also a great natural hair dye. Henna is a permanent hair dye that ranges from bright orange to dark auburn depending on your starting hair color. If you are light blonde, your hair will be orange. Dark brown/black will turn out dark auburn.

I started using henna for hair color when I started going noticeable gray during my second pregnancy. Because it is natural (no chemicals), henna is safe to use during pregnancy.

I had a conversation with Valerie Stephens about henna hair dyeing before she left for the US. I’m including some of her tips.

What You’ll Need:


Henna powder: You can get this for 100 cfa per dose in the local markets. If you aren’t a local market gal, Hypermarche carries the henna powder pictured here. It is about 1200 for about 2-3 doses. I use about 1 c. for my shoulder length hair.

Warm Water or Coffee: Valerie uses coffee to tone down the red. I just use water because I like the red. So use whichever fits your preference.

Olive Oil: The olive oil moisturizes and protects your hair during the treatment.

Lemon/Lime Juice: The acid in the juice is activates the color in the henna.

Disposable gloves: Henna will stain your hands orange. If you like orange hands, feel free to leave this off!

Conditioner of your choice

TIP: Valerie suggests using Vaseline to line your hairline to keep the henna off your skin. I just wipe the henna off and deal with a little orange tinge to my hairline for a day.


Place measured henna powder in ceramic bowl. (It will stain plastic).

Add enough warm water to get a thick paste.

Add about a tablespoon or two of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon/lime. Mix
until thoroughly blended.


Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow color to activate. I suggest covering the top of the mix with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. (Just in case you’re called away for some important thing and don’t get back to the hair dyeing for awhile… like 2 days in my case!).

Before you start applying the henna, make sure you have plenty of warm water. (For example, when I got my mix ready this time, we had no water in our tanks, so I had to wait to apply it. I’m very thankful that I found out there was no water BEFORE I applied the henna!)

Also you might want to change into an old wide-neck or button-up shirt or dress so that if some drops on it, you won’t be ruining one of your beautiful “Gazelle Skirt” outfits!

Using gloves, apply the henna as you would any other hair color. I recommend a hair application brush. It makes things much easier.


Cover the henna-ed hair with a plastic bag and wait as long as you can. I usually wait 1-2 hours. The longer it sits on your hair the darker it will be.


This is a good time to give yourself a facial and a pedicure! I enjoyed my homemade oatmeal facial.

Rinse with lots of warm water until water runs clear.

Apply hair conditioner, comb through and rinse again until water runs clear.

Dry and style as normal!