Posts Tagged With: Fashion

For the Love of Custom Made Clothes

My co-worker Ben and I

I took a lot away from my time in Ghana and much of it I’m now trying to find space in my closet for.  As it turns out, I came home with a whole new wardrobe.

Traditional fashion in Ghana was one of my favourite things.  Ghanaian people have serious style and it’s easy to see why when the process of having clothes made allows for such creativity.

I would go to the market and peruse until I found 1, 2, or 5 fabric patterns that I liked (on average GHC 5.00 per yard).  Fabric shopping was at times overwhelming, but always so much fun.  By the time I left Ghana the vendors at my usual spot in the market knew me far too well…one told me that if she had a son she would offer him to me for marriage.  Then I would take the fabric to my seamstress along with a drawing or picture of what I wanted made.  In all, I had three seamstresses and a tailor. I almost had a shoe-maker but restrained myself.

This is how I justified my new wardrobe:

  1. I was supporting the local textile industry
  2. I know where my clothes were made, by whom and under what conditions.  My tailor and two of my seamstresses had small shops, and one seamstress was my neighbour who sewed in her home.  I bargained a lot in Ghana, but never on clothes.  The clothes were so beautifully made that I was happy to pay whatever they asked, which as it turns out, wasn’t much.
  3. It was far cheaper than clothes at home. On average a top or skirt was 10 Cedis, dresses and pants were from 20 Cedis to 30 Cedis. ($1 CAD = GHC1.9)
  4. Everything looks good on if it’s custom tailored!

One thing that getting clothes custom-made does is make you aware of your body.  Ghanaians like to comment on physical appearance in general, and nothing encourages commentary more than someone holding a tape measure up against you.  Actual quotes from two of my seamstresses:

“Your shape is nice oo” (Ghanaians use “oo” for emphasis similar to how Canadians use “eh”)

“Your breasts, they are very small. If they were bigger it would look so nice”

Gotta love the honesty!

Other fun exchanges with the seamstresses occurred when having short dresses or skirts made.  In Ghana showing your thighs is a little taboo.  I say a little because short skirts and dresses are common at clubs, just not for day-to-day wear.   Seamstresses tend to err on the more conservative side, so I felt a little awkward asking them to make me short things.

The quality of the clothes I had made was excellent, and for the most part I loved everything.  There was however, an unfortunate bedazzling incident with what was supposed to be a basic a dress.  In an effort to make it extra special for me; because it was too plain; my seamstress took some creative liberties with a glue gun and some silver stars.  That dress didn’t make it home with me.

I think that the outfit I’m happiest with is something that I had made for my mom.  Without seeing my mom, one of my seamstresses made her a traditional outfit just using her measurements.  Mommy loves it and so do I!

Mama in her Kaba and Slit

I am also in love with the clothes I had made for myself and thought it appropriate to share pictures.  I started a fashion show for my family at home of everything I had made, but then I got tired of all the wardrobe changes – a model, I am not – so the pictures are of most, but not all of my new clothes.  Note that I chose pictures based on what showed the clothes best, not how I look.

Photography credit to Junior West, the best little brother ever.

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Fashion Friday – Vintage Ghana

In honour and memory of Teodora Beatrice Aisiedu

This post was inspired by some sad news.  My supervisor at work (Samuel) lost his mom this week, she passed away on Tuesday at the age of 77.  Today Samuel asked me for help editing some pictures he has of her and as I was going through them I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful and stylish she was.  I asked if I could share the pictures on my blog and he graciously gave me permission to do so.  I also asked if he could tell me a bit about his mom.

Teodora Beatrice Aisiedu was born in 1935 in the village of Apesokubi, in the Volta region of Ghana.  She worked as a nurse and midwife from 1968 until she retired in 2001;  and was known as an especially skillful midwife sought out by many people in rural areas.  She had three children of her own, Samuel and his two sisters.  Teodora loved singing, which she taught in church and also had a passion for cooking.

When I asked Samuel to tell me something he will always remember about his mom, he told me that she was incredibly loving and generous.  She always wanted to give him the best she could.  She also used to tell him that he didn’t dress well; but when she bought or made him clothes he wouldn’t wear them (he describes his style as simple).

Keep Samuel and his family in your thoughts and prayers, and enjoy these pictures of Ghanaian style from back in the day.

That’s Samuel in the middle

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Fashion Friday

A few weeks ago, I attended a fashion show at Alliance Francaise, Accra. The dresses were beautiful, but only one example of Ghanaian style.  I’m hoping to capture some pictures of day-to-day Ghanaian fashion to share here in the next few weeks. For now enjoy the pictures from the show:

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And here I am in my new blazer, purchased from the designer of the Ankara Rebel line:

It’s not every day that I get to buy clothes directly from a designer

You can see the spring 2012 line of Ankara Rebel blazers and clutch purses here.

 And follow on twitter

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