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Woman, dress how you want to be addressed

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By Awuor Omino | October 27th 2021

The Kenyan woman has long been known for her flamboyant outfits. We have kept abreast with the changes in the fashion world and still managed to incorporate our African city in our dressing. We have a pair of ‘mum jeans’ and skinny jeans to wear for our casual occasions. We have a few trendy pieces  for our semi-formal events and we can colour clash our outfits perfectly when the occasion demands it.

We can also rock the African Ankara, from the Rwandans umushanana to the Ugandan gomesi. We have found a way of adapting the Maasai’s wraparounds which we can either wear around our shoulders or waists like a cloak.  
On bad hair days, or when the occasion calls for it, we can give the West African woman a run for her money when it comes to adorning the extravagant headgear.

While we may enjoy the excitement that comes with dressing up and showing up with a new outfit for an occasion, it is important that we always keep in mind the functions we are attending. You may find it tempting to put on the latest outfit in your wardrobe because an impromptu family gathering has come up and you want your village relatives to see that you are living well, but think about your wakorino grandparents before you put on your ripped jeans and crop top.

Likewise, there is no way we can justify dressing skimpily to church- by all means, your dressing should not draw attention away from the agenda or function of the day. We cannot attend other people’s ceremonies dressed like the chief guest when we do not even have a major role to play. By all means, buy that beautiful and elaborately fashioned dress that you fancy but keep it for your own introduction ceremony. Decorum states that we should be less conspicuous in other peoples’ events. 

Clothes hide our nakedness but on such occasions, we may want our clothes to hide more than just our nudity. We may want our dressing to speak of our social status and how we are keeping up with the fashion trends.
But all this can still be achieved without being overly conspicuous in an event where you have no designated role.  
Unless the host has given you a dress code, keep it simple and smart – you cannot go to a wedding dressed in white with a flowing veil if you are not the bride.

In the same breath, try to keep your dressing simple when attending burials. Do not compete for attention with the dead person by taking focus away from them. Among coastal tribes, women wrap themselves with shukas and cover their hair as well as a sign of respect for the dead. They realise it’s a time for mourning and elaborate dressing will not be necessary.

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