As Kenyans all around the world celebrate the Golden Jubilee, and as the festive season arrives, almost all our social calendars are full. Stuck on what to wear? Fashion guru Olive Gachara gives you tips to ensure you step out in style every single time…
No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up… is my credo this December. There are many people who will often decide not to go to an occasion simply because they do not know what to wear. Well, I have come to the conclusion that being fashionable is very much like taking a psychometric test – the longer you think about it, the more complicated it becomes. So let me take it back to basics, and simplify it for you with my shopping recommendations from my favourite Kenyan designers. One thing I love about the Kenyan (and indeed African) fashion scene is that it is slowly moving away from using solely your typical African print fabrics. Designers are now using them mostly as highlights to outfits, making the looks ever more wearable on a day-to-day basis. You can look modern and chic with a twist.
For the Ladies
I believe that dresses bring out a woman’s true femininity – it brings out her true essence. If you are trying to become more ladylike, but don’t know how, try putting on a short dress (or a long dress with a high slit), a pair of pencil heels and go out in the town. You will be surprised at how everything changes! From the way you sit, stand, get into and out of the car – and even how you walk. It therefore goes without saying that my number one recommendation this festive season is a stunning dress – or five! Let us leave our perfectly cut pants for the office and denim for the road trip.
My personal favourite is this classic silk fuchsia maxi dress by Deepa Dosaja. Full of character, it screams confidence and elegance, and will definitely be a head-turner. You also can’t have enough LBD’s and this structured raw silk dress from KikoRomeo simply does it for me. Top it off with statement jewellery pieces and a shoe you can dance in all night – and you are good to go.
For the Gentlemen
I went for a dinner not too long ago and the dress code read, ‘Black Tie’. As expected, all the men turned up looking impeccably groomed and dapper in black suits and tuxedos, black ties and bowties. All except this one gentleman, who showed up in a white African kanzu. They say, ‘style is not about being noticed, it’s about being remembered.’ Well, that was a stylish man. It then got me thinking: very few men wear African outfits, yet it is one of the easiest looks for any man to pull off. It may be safe to say that the African shirt to men is what an LBD is to women. It will work all the time – everywhere you go!
You can decide either to dress it up in a full kaftan such as this from Yaka Yeke, or to tone it down in simple yet characteristic linen. Whichever way you go, it works for all men, of all sizes, the world over.
For the Kids
Kids have it all these days, not like back in our time, when the only thing to wear was the puffy white (or puffy red, or puffy pink or puffy blue) dress, better known as ‘Sunday best’, to every single function! Woe unto you if you had a sister almost the same age as you… then it was puffy dresses all round! Kids now have it ALL! Anything you do, they can do better, and it is absolutely adorable. In my personal opinion – and not to objectify the little ones – walking around with your superbly dressed toddler is like walking around with a beautiful purse. Everybody will notice, and it reflects on your personal sense of style as well.
The best part is you do not have to break the bank to have super-swanky kids. I particularly love this baby blue outfit for boys from Yaka Yeke, and these gorgeous dresses from Fever Fashions. I recommend that you let your kids play a role in the decision-making process of what they should buy and/or wear every so often. You will be surprised at their innate ability to mix and match perfectly.
• Deepa Dosaja: +254 711 573 758, 14 Riverside, Chiromo Road, Westlands, Nairobi, www.deepadosaja.com
• Fever Fashions: +254 20 520 7915, +254 722 722 322, Nyanja House (Opposite Prestige Plaza), Ngong Road, Nairobi, www.fever-group.com
• Yaka yeke: +254 722 200 868, Bishop Magua building (Opposite Uchumi Hyper), Ngong Road, Nairobi, www.yakayeke.com
• KikoRomeo: +254 733 516 317, +254 714 647 538, 1st Floor Yaya centre, Kilimani, Nairobi, www.kikoromeo.com All accessories available at the KikoRomeo Shop