Dressing the Ethiopian way

One thing I must admit is that the world has become a global village. You can almost get anything anywhere. Fashion is one thing that is catching up so fast, with different traditional dresses from different countries, being made available in almost all corners of the world.

One thing I must admit is that the world has become a global village. You can almost get anything anywhere.

Fashion is one thing that is catching up so fast, with different traditional dresses from different countries, being made available in almost all corners of the world.

Last weekend I attended an Ethiopian wedding and I loved the dresses that almost all the women were wearing. At a distance you would think they are all designed the same, until when you take a closer look- that you will realize each dress is different from the other.

Ethiopian traditional dresses are those clothes that you would want to own and wear on a special occasion. These white embroidered dresses are so stylish, yet decent and simple enough to pass for a vintage.

I was told that these dresses are hand made with 100% pure Ethiopian hand woven cotton by traditional Ethiopian weavers known as “Shemane”. The uniqueness of these dresses are the beautiful and unique large Ethiopian cross motif on the front of each dress, these designswhich are also hand embroidered.  The neckline and the sleeves of these dresses are also decorated with the embroidery.

Traditionally women wore these dresses around the house, during coffee ceremonies but that culture is not limited to this functionanymore.

Fast forward with globalization, these dresses have become ceremonial and versatile, perfect to be worn for any occasion. Designers within Africa and beyond have adopted the original design, to come up with different designs to suit today’s sophisticated women.

High quality habeshaqemis as these dresses are called; can sometime be mixed with threads of silk to give them a sophisticated design. The colour of the dress can differ from white to off white, depending with one’s choice- but for the embroidery to stand out, it is usually made out of a mix of threads in different colours.

These dresses are also accompanied by long matching shawls, complete with embroidery design that was used on the dress.

In fact these shawls are not the same. The heavier shawls are called gabi, and the lighter shawlsnetela. The choice depends solely on the wearer- of course for those who know the difference.

When going to buy these dresses it is good to ask how it is worn, so that you do not confuse the shawl and wear it as a head scarf.

As much as there is a notion that embroidered clothes should not be accessorized, it is a different case with these clothes. In most cases the Ethiopian women are known to accessorize with either gold or silver. But of course, how one will accessorize depends with one’s taste; you can chose to accessorize with chunky bangles, chain and earrings or lighter accessories, either way it will suit just fine.

High heeled sandals in this case should be in order because they complement these dresses, with a classy touch to it.

Ethiopian dresses like the Indian sari, Rwandese Mushanana and Banyankole’s Esuuka, these clothes are regal and only look the part when you walk in them majestically. To finish off the look, no handbag should be seen here, but a beautiful clutch bag.

 

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