As we celebrate Independence Day, let’s take a look of how the fashion in Nigeria has evolved over 5 decades.
Most Nigerian women wore long dresses and with complimentary hats. The women dressed in both fitted and oversized outfits depending on their personal taste and it was always finished off with a perfectly coiffed Afro. Other less sophisticated women just wore simple traditional clothes and simple, easy to manage hairstyles.
It was the swinging sixties, so mini skirts and dresses were all the rage. This trend was allegedly invented by Mary Quaint and aimed at seductively showing off women’s legs. During this time vibrant colours were wildly popular and men and women were obsessed with prints and patterned fabrics. Women’s fashion constituted of mini dresses whilst men wore loud patterned shirts.
During this time, platform shoes were very fashionable, as well as stiletto heels which were very popular at this time. Men rocked boot-legged pants, tight fitted shirts with loud prints and the first two buttons open topped by a killer afro.
The trend for women was what we now call oleku, thanks to a movie of the same name; a baggy-sleeved buba worn over an iro that stopped anywhere from a little above the knees to mid-thigh. Men wore agbadas and danshikis.
The seventies also gave rise to the jerry curls and perms for both sexes.
In the eighties, everything was bigger and better. Women wore flowing maxi skirts and the men wore baggy suits coupled with chunky jewellery, huge perms and wild Afros.
Fashion started experiencing subtle changes as the 90s came around Capri pants began to make a comeback; the miniskirts, the scousers(a pair of shorts and skirts sewn together) also sprung up amongst many others. For the native attire, bubas were the most popular in this era.
Men’s fashion also saw a change. Trouser hems became narrower and narrower while the fit in the hips and waist grew looser. Men wore their hair short and got rid of the curl activators and relaxers.
Every trend was more or less retro, inspired by a previous era. Some of the trends came better and stronger like the famous little black dress or LBD (made popular by legendary French designer Coco Chanel), the bell bottom jeans, cropped tops, capris pants, ballet flats and oversized glasses.
The year 2000(Present Day)
American fashion is still influencing what a lot of people wear, but thankfully, a lot of Nigerians are embracing ethnic and traditional clothing, wearing them to official and social functions. Although there is a lot Brazillian, Peruvian or Chinese hair, more and more black women are dumping relaxers and embracing their natural kinky locks.
Another great thing is that a lot of ‘old’ looks are making a comeback. Skinny jeans and bell bottoms have come and go, headscarves are making a comeback and even afros are back, either in the form of weaves or natural hair.
Fashion is exciting and also a repetitive cycle and Nigerian fashion is no exception to this rule.