How to wear African prints this summer

Summer is here, but is your wardrobe ready?

Moving from dark melancholic colour palettes such as riverside blue and sharkskin grey and layers of clothing to bolder shades like primrose yellow,

mini-skirts, dresses and patterns, summer undoubtedly is the most experimental of all fashion seasons.

For most women, getting their wardrobe ready for summer equals to giving it a complete makeover. Making a tentative move into the new season, we are going from simple polka dots and florals to audacious African prints.

A textile mostly manufactured in Holland by using Asian wax techniques and brought to Africa, most prints such as the Ghanaian and Togolese Kente, hold a name and a meaning making it more than just a piece of garment.

Here, each print can have a powerful coded symbolic meaning and as a result, is often associated with life events or celebrations from funerals to weddings.

However, over the past twenty-five years, the west African textile print industry has been in decline.

Those particularly affected are Ghana and Nigeria, which have been hit by Asia’s competitive low prices amongst others, and has fallen by a staggering seventy-five per cent.

Western fashion, however, seems to be having an on-going love affair with African prints. This could be pinpointed from Yves Saint Lauren’s Africa collection in 1967 till Valentino and Junya Watanbe’s Spring/Summer 16 African inspired collections.

Nowhere near prepared for this love affair to end, our expert, Erika Degraffinreaidt, a senior fashion stylist at French Vendette, a company that specialises in high fashion wardrobe styling, shares her tips on how to incorporate these prints in your wardrobe this summer.

Let the prints compliment your body shape

Wearing prints of any sort can be daunting, but knowing your body shape and how to dress for it can make it exciting. According to our expert Erika Degraffinreaidt, there are five main body types – pear, apple, hourglass, rectangle and wedge, which she explains as broad chest, wide shoulders and narrow waist and hips.

“The number one thing that we must know as women is that body shape is all about proportions so never make your weight your main focus when dressing,” Degraffinreaidt said.

If you have an ‘apple’ body type, boot cut styled trousers are recommended due to the even line it creates from the shoulders down.

Likewise, for those with a heavier bottom, namely ‘pear’ shaped, A-line African print skirts or dresses even out proportions. Whereas, if you have an hourglass figure, Degraffinreaidt recommends V-neck dresses or sailor necklines, which give the illusion of a slimmer bust.

Accessorise your outfit with African print, but keep it simple

Kuwala tote
Kuwala tote.

If wearing print clothing seems too daunting, fear not, an African print clutch or tote bag adds just as much to your outfit as a printed dress or shirt does.

“Accessorising with waist belts are always a good idea. When it comes to accessories I tend to keep them very simple and chic,” Degraffinreaidt adds.

Find good transitional staple pieces

One aspect of African print Degraffinreaidt likes is that due to the prints they make great transitional pieces. “I am all about pieces that are transitional from day to night and from season to season,” she said.

Our expert advises getting an African print bag, like the Au Marche Tote Bag from Kuwala for £23.11, which will take you from business lunch meetings straight to after work drinks.

Cover up your locks and protect them from the weather

Fanm Djanm wrap
Image courtesy of Fanm Djanm

Feeling hot and not sure what to do with your hair? Wrapping up your hair with African print headscarves is the way for you this summer.

According to our expert, when African print headscarves are worn, they’re like a beautiful majestic crown on a woman’s head, just like the Fanm Djan Asi wrap for £21.57

“The way I would wear my African print headscarf for the Spring/Summer is with a light denim wash dress paired with a knee high boot or an animal print shoe along with a bold red lip.”

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