Igbo traditional dress styles

Igbo traditional dress styles

Colorful and bright Igbo attires have the spirit of authenticity and ancient traditions in it. It’s amazing how it has survived through centuries and kept many of its characteristic features untouched. Blending with the culture and traditions of the colonial period, the Igbo traditional dressing has turned into something bright and very interesting. Let’s take a look!

Igbo traditional dress styles

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The styles of Igbo traditional attire in ancient times

Through the period of colonization, the general look of an Igbo traditional dress and the attire has changed a lot. For example, before colonization, Igbo men wore traditional materials without all those western pants and shirts.

Igbo traditional dress styles

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However, the western culture has made Igbo people revise their point of view on the attire, its functions and its look. Now, the majority of traditional elements are seen in wedding dresses mostly and in men’s clothes meant for formal occasions.

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At ancient times, the dressing of Igbo people was quite different from what we see now. Younger women wore short wrappers and plenty of beads of different types and styles. Older ones who already have children also added a piece of cloth that was wrapped around the bodies of both mothers and their babies. Such a way of carrying babies and infants has transformed into the modern child carriers.

Today, it’s possible to see young girls wear dresses styled like those wrappers, which are meant for some formal occasions. For instance, such dressing can be chosen by bridesmaids for their best friend’s wedding. Sometimes, girls and women choose dresses that look like wrappers, long or short.

Igbo traditional dress styles

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The youngest children during ancient times often go about naked. Today, of course, this is not the practice, which would suit the society. In rural regions both men and women keep on wearing cotton wrappers for their everyday tasks. Women pair such wrappers with blouses and men – with shirts.

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It’s also a tradition to wear heavy handing beads and both men and women do it on special occasions. They are a perfect Igbo traditional dress decoration, no matter modern or old-fashioned.

Igbo traditional wedding outfits

Igbo traditional dress styles

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Today, the majority of traditional Igbo dresses look either like the mentioned wrappers that cover the entire body or like a blouse and a wrapper skirt.

Dresses of these types are often seen on women who attend wedding ceremonies and on brides, of course. They are made out of much more expensive fabrics than the plain cotton wrappers, which are used by ladies as everyday clothes.

Such dresses are decorated with lace and rhinestones and look really luxurious. For the majority of special occasions, women pair their traditional dresses with headpieces, sometimes more tribal and less modern head decorations can be seen.

Igbo traditional dress styles

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Igbo clothes and their meaning

For wedding outfits, a color code is very important since the entire bride’s family and her bridesmaids are supposed to wear something that matches the colors chosen by the spouses. If there are two colors like blue and golden, the blouse will always (or most likely) be made out of the golden material and the wrapper will be finished in blue.

The wrappers are mostly long enough to cover the legs to their feet. The wrappers are also richly decorated. For authenticity, they can be wrapped and tucked in as at the ancient times or just imitate the style with the help of the cut and elastic bands in the waistline. The wrappers are normally made in the darkest color out of the ones chosen for the bride.

Igbo traditional dress styles

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It’s more likely that younger women (bridesmaids and guests) will prefer something shorter, more convenient and flirty but elder ones in the majority of cases will be wearing elegant wrappers. Sometimes the designers who create these outfits make wrappers out of several layers of material to add some drama and brightness to the dress. The decorations used in such cases can be literally any.

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All you need to know about Igbo traditional attire

Igbo women also appreciate probably the most beloved Nigerian fashion of a female dress – the one that resembles a mermaid tail. Such a fashion can also be used for a dress that imitates a blouse and a wrapper. After all, an Igbo woman may always choose to wear a usual contemporary dress of a modern fashion and still look authentic and gorgeous.

Igbo traditional dress styles

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Surely, there’s no wedding dress for Igbo people that’s not decorated with heavy hanging coral beads, put on a string in many layers. No matter what the style and colors are, coral beads are a necessary part of any wedding outfit for both men and women. Women often use these beads to decorate their heads also and create fantastic hairstyles.

The meaning of Igbo traditional attire

Igbo traditional dress styles

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The wrappers which have once been a part of the Igbo traditional clothes for men and women have once had a merely practical purpose since they were convenient during everyday work such as farming and helped to endure the heat.

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Igbo traditional dress styles

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Now, all those richly decorated garments and accessories are meant to show the status of their wearers, like, for example, walking sticks and golden chains men wear over their traditional Agbada outfits or the luxurious and dramatic fans women use as accessories to their wedding dresses.

It’s a great that at least for their special occasions young people still keep on wearing traditional clothes and feeling proud of their roots.

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Source: Legit.ng

Authors:
Adrianna Simwa avatar

Adrianna Simwa (Lifestyle writer) Adrianna Simwa is a content writer at Legit.ng where she has worked since mid-2022. She has written for many periodicals on a variety of subjects, including news, celebrities, and lifestyle, for more than three years. She has worked for The Hoth, The Standard Group and Triple P Media. Adrianna graduated from Nairobi University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in 2020. In 2023, Simwa finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. You can reach her through her email: adriannasimwa@gmail.com

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