By Chioma Chinweoke
Photo credit: Segun Gele
Often times at African traditional occasions like weddings and thanksgiving celebrations, the female attendees are fabulously dressed in tailored African tops and skirts each uniquely made.
However, one can argue that attention is not focused solely on the outfit but on the head tie. "The taller the better" is often the motto when it comes to African head tie.
This style piece has arguably become the make or break it statement piece to complement your outfit. If done right, it can overshadow your hip accessories and even your heavily planned outfit.
The traditional African head tie comes in different variations, thanks to the various materials which can be used. It’s best to use a heavy fabric like cotton or silk to get the attainable style like the turban trend of the moment. Part of the charm of the head tie comes down to the material. Popular African textiles for a head tie is the khanga cloth, kente cloth, Vlisco Hollandais Wax, Aso Eke fabric, Adire from the Yoruba People, mudcloth from the Nambara tribe, Kitenge from Kenya and Eastern Africa.
The head tie has quickly become the fashion staple piece lately thanks to the turban –wearing trend of the moment energized by stylist June Ambrose, Zed Eye’s recent collections and modern fashionistas globally using it as their outfit’s center piece.
Versatility is the best way to associate the head tie. Traditionally speaking, a head tie is quite easier to fold than a gele. The endless possibilities for the head tie are evident in style variations, from making a turban-like style, or a headband. What material do you prefer for your head tie look?
Traditionally speaking, the African tie is a woman’s head scarf and depending on the African country that you are from, it could reflect religious purposes and also make a fashionable statement. In Ghana and in South Africa it is called “Duku.” In Zimbabwe it’s called “Dhuku,” in Botswana it’s called “Tukwi,” and in Nigeria it’s called “Gele.”
You most likely heard the expression that a woman’s hair is her crown of glory. The African head tie is that and much more. Your head tie not only makes your outfit outstanding but also enables you to make a bold fashion statement. You can either use the left over material used for your wax print outfit to achieve the head wrap look or you can go for the gele style.
Let’s examine why your African head tie could be your outfit’s deal breaker.
Gele, the popular gravity-defining stylish head tie, has quickly become the ultimate fashion accessory that will make or break your outfit. Generations of African women have reserved this particular style to complement their Aso-Obi outfit. Because this particular style pick is just as important as your outfit, women are paying for professionals like Nigerian Houston-based designer Oluwasegun Olaleye of Segun Gele , to give them jaw-dropping designs. Names are given to this particular head tie style runs from “Showstopper,” “First Lady,” “Goddess” and more.
F2FA female contributors Ngozi Onuoha , Mazuba Kapambwe, Onye Gelora, and Chioma Onyewuchi agreed that the head tie is easier to produce than a gele. For Ngozi, the head tie is a fashion statement. “I’m all about the head-wrap/turban which I’m rocking now. Partially because I'm natural and I don’t always want to rock a fro, but also because it adds a nice touch to an outfit,“ she expressed.
Mazuba , Onye, and Chioma are eager to learn how to tie a gele. “I have honestly never tied a gele in my life. This is coming from a born and raised Nigeria. I honestly have no idea how to tie one. I need to join you guys in checking out videos on YouTube!” said Chioma.
Mazuba not only felt that the material used for the head tie is pocket friendly but also a great way to wear a protective hair style. “Head ties seem more for the younger generation and can be worn for anything from looking fashionable to just simply following the new trend. The head tie can also be used as a fun birthday hair-day, or even to protect your hair and give it a rest from extreme heat and styling, “said Mazuba.
Onye said she’ll give the head tie look a try this summer with “… a nice African print fabric.”
Ultimately, the head tie is the ultimate fashion accessory to use to protect your hair, complete your traditional African outfit, or in many cases, for religiuos purposes. If you’re going for a glamour look, go with the gele and you’ll definitely get comments like “Where Did You Get That From?” If you’re looking for something more refined, the head tie is your style pick!
Also important to note is that your head tie can be a symbol of your social status and class. In most African countries, the material of the head scarf, the size of it, and how you rock it with the rest of your outfit can detrmine whether you are from the upper class, middle class, or the lower class. So ladies, if you got it, flaunt it, and if you don't, fake it till you make it. Good luck on Rocking your next African head scarf.