70+ Best Ankara designs for gowns to wear this year (pictures)

70+ Best Ankara designs for gowns to wear this year (pictures)

There are numerous Ankara designs to choose from in the contemporary world. African designers have become extremely creative in their work. They can create pieces that become show stunners and stoppers at various functions. You will definitely get inspired by the designs explored here. Ade Bakare, the visionary behind Ade Bakare Couture London, discusses the challenges faced in the process of designing Ankara creations and introduces the latest styles poised to make a statement during this festive season.

Best Ankara designs
Three women rocking African dresses. Photo: @laurenhautecouture, @arewafamilyweddings, @nguoaffordable (modified by author)
Source: UGC


The latest Ankara designs have spectacular details, styles, and prints. African fashion designers blend traditional designs from different cultures with Western styles to make unique and beautiful clothes.

Top Ankara designs for you

The African fashion industry has made international headlines ever since local designers embraced universal styles. As a result, the demand for Ankara clothes has increased significantly. Check out these designs to inspire your next African-themed outfit.

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Straight-cut peplum design

Best Ankara designs
Two ladies rocking purple and pink-blue-themed peplum outfits. Photo: @chichi.the.ankara.chic (modified by author)
Source: UGC

One of the trending Ankara designs for women is the mermaid style. It is popular because it flatters a woman's silhouette and gives them an hourglass figure. It pairs perfectly with straight-cut maxi skirts with cuts at the back to allow easy movement.

Spaghetti strap mermaid design

The fish-cut or mermaid design is timeless. On the other hand, wearing a spaghetti strap dress perfectly balances the need for a strap for comfort and the appeal of having your shoulders open and uncovered.

Ankara tassels

Ankara designs for you
Two ladies in straight-cut dresses with tassels. Photo: @chichi.the.ankara.chic, @ankarafashiongallery (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Female Ankara designs featuring tassels give a swirl and swoosh feeling. They are all the rage currently. The ruffles and frills are sleek, feminine and glamorous.

Triangle neck midi bodycon

If you are looking for classic female Ankara designs, the triangle-cut neck midi bodycon is one of the top options for you. The triangular neckline with lace is exquisite. The lacy slesves add oomph to the overall design.

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Cute midi skater

Top Ankara designs
Two ladies in fabulous skater designs. Photo: @chichi.the.ankara.chic (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Designed to hug you in at the waist and flare out at the hips, skater dresses are ideal for creating that sought-after hourglass figure. If you are looking for a simple Ankara gown for a function, try an Ankara midi skater.

Kente mermaid

If you are an African designer or tailor, you know that mermaid Ankara styles for female clients are in high demand. The Kente fabric draws its name from the term kenten, which means basket. Kente fabrics make colourful mermaid designs.

Cute Ankara office wear

Amazing Ankara designs
Two ladies wearing Ankara office outfits. Photo: @chichi.the.ankara.chic, @laurenhautecouture (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Ankara is not only stylish but fits right into the workplace. Always remember to button carefully so you do not look inappropriate for work.

Colourful iro and buba

The Iro is a wrapper made with Ankara fabric tied around the waist, while the Buba is a long-sleeved blouse. The look above is perfect for social occasions.

Long-sleeved lace-Ankara designs

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Long-sleeved lace-Ankara designs
Amazing long-sleeved lace-Ankara designs. Photo: @ankara.lace.styles (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Are you looking for the latest straight and long Ankara gown styles? We have you covered. The designs blend lace and Ankara perfectly. You can have the sleeves running all the way down to your wrists or slightly above to allow room for accessories.

Rich auntie kaftan with side cuts

Did you know the kaftan originated in Asia? A kaftan is a variant of a robe or tunic. This design is one of the latest long Ankara gown styles, especially for rich aunties.

Fancy high-low

Fancy Ankara designs
Two women rocking high-low dresses. Photo: @laurenhautecouture, @kovu_couture (modified by author)
Source: UGC

High-low dresses are longer in the back and shorter in the front. They showcase your legs and are pretty versatile. You can easily dress down a high-low outfit for casual or everyday wear. You can also accessorise for the perfect evening look.

Black and white Ankara goddess

A black and white Ankara dress is timeless. You can rock it to formal and casual events because the colours are neutral. The lacy gown on top of the bodycon maxi is classic. If you are looking for unique long Ankara gown styles, this style is perfect.

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Short halter skater

cute Ankara designs
Short halter neck dresses. Photo: @kovu_couture (modified by author)
Source: UGC

If you are searching for short Ankara gown styles, try the halter neck design because it is timeless. You can have the waist gathered or have it sewn in a tent style and use a belt for a more flattering fitting.

One shoulder off

Off-shoulder designs are flattering because they draw attention to the collarbone and shoulders. They create a more defined and elongated neckline. If you want a unique twist to the off-shoulder, have only one shoulder off.

3/4-sleeved short tent designs

cute short ankara designs
Two ladies rocking short tent dresses. Photo: @askphumydesigns, @njerimmwangi (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Tent dresses are full, loose-fitting outfits that are narrow at the shoulders and wide at the hem. They have no waistline or darts. The 3/4-sleeves can be made using Ankara fabric or lace.

Balloon-sleeved design

Balloon or puff sleeves are all the rage right now. Lovers of long, fitted Ankara gowns should have a balloon-sleeved dress in their wardrobe because they are timeless pieces.

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Midi shirt dresses

cute shirt dresses
Two ladies wearing colourful midi dresses. Photo: @africanattire_ke (modified by author)
Source: UGC

A shirtdress is a style of women's dress that borrows details from a man's shirt, including collars, button fronts, or cuffed sleeves. The midi designs above feature collars and button fronts. The buttons can run all the way down or leave a front cut.

Square-neck bodycon maxi

Did you know women with a small complex are encouraged to wear fitted square necklines? This design brings the illusion of curves to the bust line. The bodycon style is a great way to show off your assets and feel confident in your own skin.

Short patchwork shirt dresses

short Ankara designs
Two ladies wearing short shirt dresses. Photo: @fashioncole, @ankaraexclusive (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Did you know you can create an outfit with more than one Ankara fabric? Patchwork designs have become pretty common, and shirt dress designs are timeless. They are perfect for casual weekends.

Off-shoulder with pleated sleeves

Usually, pleats are used for aesthetic function and practicality because they allow for freedom of movement and airflow. When used on sleeves, pleats make statement pieces. The off-shoulder bodycon maxi with pleated sleeves is elegant and classy.

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Short shift dresses

cute Ankara designs
Ladies rocking short-shift dresses. Photo: @thefashionassaultnaija (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Shift dresses are outfits in which the cloth falls straight from the shoulders. They have darts around the bust. You can have short Ankara shift dresses made of one fabric. If you want some oomph, add a front pocket.

Lace-Ankara high tea look

Usually, ladies wear light and flowy dresses, sandals or wedges, and fascinators to high or afternoon teas. You can become the centre of attention by having a lace midi bodycon with a colourful headpiece.

Short patchwork shift dresses

Short patchwork Ankara designs
Two ladies wearing short Ankara patchwork shift designs. Photo: @thefashionassaultnaija (modified by author)
Source: UGC

An interesting twist to shift dresses is doing a bit of patchwork. You can patch your Ankara shift dress with a plain fabric or do it using an Ankara fabric with a different print.

Conservative lace-Ankara boubou

The boubou is a flowing, wide-sleeved robe worn across West Africa. This design is perfect for older women who wish to make heads turn at any event.

Midi boubou

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midi ankara designs
Two ladies rocking colourful midi boubou designs. Photo: @ankaraexclusive (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The typical boubou is long and flows past the ankle. If an overly long gown is not your cup of tea, try a midi design. You can make it fancy with a strip of plain fabric in the middle or a geometric shape in the bust area.

Frilly-mermaid gown

Frills provide an extra layer of texture and make your outfit look more interesting. This design is quite intricate and is ideal for high-end social functions like weddings.

Multi-fabric boubou

Lovely Ankara designs
Two ladies rocking multi-fabric boubous. Photo: @thefashionassaultnaija (modified by author)
Source: UGC

In the past, boubous were made using one fabric. Modern designers mix and match Ankara fabrics when making them. The result is exquisite.

Akan-inspired gold design

If you are looking for an over-the-top design for a new bride, this Akan-inspired design is a fantastic choice. The Akan people from Guinea Coast are known for their love of fashion.

Midi bodycon

Midi bodycon Ankara designs
Two ladies wearing midi bodycon designs. Photo: @kovu_couture, @afrikayla (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Bodycon dresses are trending in 2024 because they flatter a woman's curves. If you want a comfy design, try a bodycon midi outfit. You can have a front cut for style and ease of movement.

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Lacy striped mermaid design

When the word Ankara is mentioned, many people imagine colourful fabrics with flowery or geometric patterns. Well, Ankara fabrics can also be striped. Striped fabrics pair well with corded and non-corded lace.

Short tube-top skater dresses

Short tube ankara designs
Ladies wearing colourful short skater outfits. Photo: @benita_african, @africanfabricanddesignske (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Tube top dresses are alluring. They give your body an attractive corset-like outline and display your shoulders and clavicle, giving you a graceful look.

Satin-lace-Ankara mermaid

Satin is soft and shiny. Lace is classy and delicate. Ankara is colourful and African. When you combine these three fabrics, you get a magnificent piece.

Mini bodycon designs

Mini bodycon Ankara designs
Two women wearing green-themed mini dresses. Photo: @jervclothings, @suexcellencyofficial (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Short dresses are lovely to wear if you want to show off your legs. They are also visually hot and spicy.

Lacy-Ankara midi design

Midi dresses are timeless because they are not uncomfortably long or short. The blend of lace and Ankara is exquisite.

Short mermaid designs

Short mermaid Ankara designs
Women rocking short mermaid designs. Photo: @lt_peculiar_couture, @hanikhaniri (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The mermaid design is associated with maxi outfits. However, you can do short Ankara mermaid dresses that flatter your body.

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Peplum with a side cape design

Many women love the peplum design because it hides bigger tummies and gives an hourglass figure. The side cape adds extra oomph to the outfit.

Midi cape dress

Midi cape Ankara designs
Two women in colourful cape dresses. Photo: pexels.com, @dfabricana (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Cape dresses have become quite popular in recent times. They combine the features of the cape and the dress. They can be worn by expectant women.

Short-midi high-low

The high-low design is pretty versatile. Looking good is one of the things that an African lady does not compromise about. The design above is perfect for young adults.

Short Ankara wrap dresses

Short Ankara designs
Amazing short wrap dresses. Photo: @ankarazone, @kovu_couture (modified by author)
Source: UGC

There is a never-ending urge to prove how good African fabrics look. Modern stylists and fashionistas combine Ankara with other fabrics. Short-wrap dresses are timeless and can be worn to formal or social events.

Halter high-low

The halter high-low design is a great choice for the woman who does not mind showing off a bit of skin. The outfit pairs well with strappy heels.

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Wrap maxis

Wrap maxi Ankara designs
Two ladies in wrap Ankara maxis. Photo: @nguoaffordable, @thecurvesandedges (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Maxi dresses are stylish and pretty modest. Wrap maxis are elegant. They can be made with short or long sleeves, with a collar or without.

High thigh cut design

Teens and young adults can rock this design. It is modest yet fashionable. The flowy design with a high front cut makes it playful and cute.

Maxi tent designs

Maxi tent Ankara designs
Two ladies in yellow-themed tent maxis. Photo: @julzandpearl, @thecurvesandedges (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Tent dresses are ideal for the weekends. Women of all ages can rock them, especially when it is hot and airy. They are pregnancy-friendly too.

Spaghetti-halter maxi with a keyhole

There are hundreds of timeless Ankara designs to choose from, depending on preference and occasion. The keyhole design on the bust makes the design above even cuter.

Tiered maxi

Tiered Ankara designs
Two women rocking tired maxis. Photo: @thecurvesandedges, @julzandpearl (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Tiers are an easy way to make a dress a bit more visually interesting without opting for a pattern or print. Tiered dresses are a great choice because they can be dressed up for multiple situations and settings.

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Sweetheart-spaghetti-top gathered maxi

Gathers are used to make tiered or ruffle outfits. The plunging sweetheart neckline makes the design ideal for summer.

Ankara ball gown

Amazing Ankara designs
Two ladies rocking Ankara ball gowns. Photo: @arewafamilyweddings (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Ball gowns are elaborate full-length dresses suitable for wearing to formal gatherings, especially weddings. More brides are choosing Ankara ball gowns for their special days, usually blended with lace.

Challenges posed by creating Ankara fabrics

In an interview with Ade Bakare, a design director with a couture collection dating back to 1991 in London, insights into the significant challenges encountered during the creation of Ankara fabrics are revealed. These challenges encompass:

  1. Designs can be very basic and need more depth.
  2. Availability can hinder repeat orders, which is a bane of most fashion businesses.
  3. The width is also limiting as most are only 45/50 inches wide.

Bakare also guided us through the sources of inspiration that drive his creation of Ankara designs, stating that:

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We decided to design a collection for our summer 2016 collection some years ago. Many clients favoured Ankara because it is vibrant and cotton-based, especially for tropical countries due to that fact that its light in weight and easy to maintain. We discovered that some of the ones we favoured came from Benin Republic, they are known for vivid colours which I feel are unique.
We decided to make a range of jackets, dresses, blouses, and skirts which became an instant hit. We sometimes teamed them with other fabrics such as laces and organzas to give them a modern look. Due to its classism, we continued to make them in various colours and patterns over the years.

The design director further said that his Ankara collection has developed a distinctive signature, seamlessly merging classical cuts with modern styles. He emphasised that:

We don’t follow trends as these date and become old and dismissive after some years. Some of our signature looks can also be in fabrics we use often, such as chiffons, organzas, Gazar, and crepes, mostly in silks, which captures colours in vibrant hues. A lot of our styles incorporate bows, sashes, bells, or fluted sleeves, sweep coats, fitted flared dresses, and soft blouses.

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Bakare concluded that the prevailing trend in high demand for this festive celebration season is a feminine classic look with a "touch of modernity," as exemplified below:

Ankara designs for gowns
Trending Ankara design for 2024 from Ade Bakare. Photo: Ade Bakare/Ade Bakare Couture Collection/@adebakare
Source: UGC

What is Ankara fashion style?

Ankara fashion style refers to clothing made from Ankara fabric, a vibrant and colourful African print fabric. It is commonly used to make dresses, skirts, pants, and other clothing items. Ankara style is known for its bold and eye-catching patterns and is often paired with modern and trendy designs to create a unique and fashionable look.

Can you wear Ankara to a date?

Yes, if you feel comfortable and confident in it. Ankara is a stylish and one-of-a-kind fabric you can use for multiple designs. Choose a design you feel confident in for your date.

What is so special about Ankara fabric?

The fabric is known for its colourful African prints and is deeply associated with African clothing. It is special because it is associated with African cultures and traditions.

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There are numerous Ankara designs for gowns and dresses in today's fashion scene. The versatility of this material makes it suitable for pretty much every outfit today.

Legit.ng recently published multiple stunning Iro and blouse lace style outfits. West African fashion is elegant and stylish. Many people wear vibrant prints.

For many years, lace has been incorporated into West African fashion because it is classy and timeless. The iro and blouse lace style, in particular, is pretty common today.

Source: Legit.ng

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