Whether for a choir, performance, or to mark a holiday, children's African attire adds to the festivity and impact of the event. There are many online shops specializing in African fashion where you can buy individual garments as well as wholesale items for a group.
Options in Children's African Attire
Gone are the days when shopping for African clothing meant you were limited to a few dashikis, unless you had access to a specialty store. You can now choose from an array of shops providing traditional clothes in a number of styles. You can get two and three-piece outfits for boys and girls, including headdresses, shoes and jewelry. Girls can also choose from a number of dresses. Fabrics include prints, brocades and solids with embroidery detail. Whatever the occasion, you can dress your children like royalty.
Shopping for African Fashion
1st African Clothing
At 1st African Clothing, you can choose from a number of items imported from Kenya and Tanzania. All are handmade in traditional styles and the business itself is a nonprofit with proceeds going to a number of programs helping the poor in Kenya, particularly children. Rather than sizes, they provide measurements of the garments to help you get the right fit. Some of the clothes you can buy include:
- Bananas and Lemons Dress: A sleeveless cotton kikoy dress with a ruffled band at the empire waist and tasseled hem.
- Nasturtium Skirt Set: This features a sleeveless cotton kikoy top in bright orange with a round neck, two button closure and square hem. The skirt has an elastic waist for ease of wear and a fringed hem.
- Deep Lagoon Pant Set: In a rich blue with an asymmetrical rainbow stripe, this cotton kikoy set for toddlers features a sleeveless top and relaxed pants with pockets. Both are finished in hand-twisted fringe.
- Golden Spring: A medium-weight cotton shorts set that combines African patterns with American styling, this has a tie-dyed look in black and white with gold embroidery detail. There are cargo pockets and a button enclosure on the top. The shorts have an elastic waist. This outfit must be either dry cleaned or hand-washed in cold water. The embroidery might pucker during cleaning but this is taken care of with a steam iron.
- Solar System: A bright outfit that suits a modern girl's style, this is one of a series of outfits that are handmade by the Teenage Mother's Association of Kenya (TEMAK). The organization trains the girls for jobs that will help them achieve financial independence. This outfit is a purple tie-dye cotton cap-sleeved top with a beaded fringe hem and pockets. The elastic waist pants finish in the same beaded fringe hem.
Africa Imports is a wholesale shop geared toward helping individual resellers start businesses. They have a few pieces of children's African clothing, although the photos are small. The boys Embroidered Brocade Set from Gambia includes a three-quarter sleeve shirt in 100 percent cotton with gold embroidery detail surrounding the slit neckline. It comes with matching pants and kufi hat. You can choose a similar three-piece set for girls with a skirt instead of pants.
Popular shop Dupsies has a huge selection of African clothing for children from infants to tweens and teens. While the choices are excellent, the web site does not provide great detail. It is best to browse the photos and then call for customer assistance.
African Girls' Dresses
If you are specifically searching for African children's dresses, you will want to become familiar with the different styles available. After all, Africa is a huge continent, filled with a variety of separate tribes, all with their own customs and preferred designs. Some of the popular styles found in African dresses include:
- 3-Piece African Dresses: These items are amazing for children who enjoy the ceremony of getting dressed. This ensemble looks like a dress, but it is composed of a flared-hem top and a skirt, plus a head wrap. These dresses are made of extremely high-quality materials like rough, handwoven silk, hand-painted sateen, or woven cotton. Pieces may have touches of gold embellishment near the neck and hem.
- Dashikis: When you think of dashikis, you may think of the traditional notched-collar outfit worn by many African men. There's a version for girls as well, with an embellished front in lace, plus a tight, simple bodice in a radiant fabric. A wrap is the perfect touch with this particular piece, and it's easy to find ones that match a boy's dashiki for fall or spring.
- French Lace Sets: Lace plays a part in more formal African dress, particularly in white or cream. If you need to dress a child up in something that's outstandingly formal, sans buttons or heavy-duty zippers, then French lace dresses are your number-one choice. These pieces will look stunning when paired with practical metallic ballerina slippers for a high-profile event where the kiddies are welcome.
- Traditional Caftans or Boubous: A caftan could be your child's next go-to outfit, worn like a dress with something layered underneath like leggings or tights. These loose tops can look like tunics or dresses, depending on the length selected, and they can also be updated for a more Western feel with a basic sash or belt. If you want to continue the African tradition as much as possible and use a belt on your child, you can pick a fabric belt fashioned from African material.
- Simple Sundresses: Sundresses are a top choice for African dress, and they are simple to wear and wash. These African dresses have wide, short sleeves, sometimes in a contrasting fabric to the dress body, and then decorative accents along the yoke, neckline and sleeves. You'll often see these simple dresses paired with sandals and a coordinating head wrap, and you can do the same.
A Rich Heritage
Dressing your children in authentic African attire for special occasions allows them to explore a rich, diverse and fascinating heritage. Not only can you get truly authentic clothes made by people who often still dress in such garments themselves, but most of the sources selling African clothes for children and adults help support those who design and sew the clothes. Therefore, you can embrace your heritage while also supporting independent businesses and free trade.