Black History Month Fashions and Their Meanings

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One of the thrilling things about dressing for Black History Month is knowing that what you're wearing has cultural significance and meaning. African culture is full of rich stories and symbolic messages that are revealed through fashion. A dress isn't JUST a dress - it could be a symbol of your status, whether you're married or single, or your devotion to God.

So let's take a look at what the different styles of clothing and what they signify in African culture:

The Dashiki

While dashikis are worn in Africa, their meaning and symbolism is actually rooted in the US. The dashiki found a market in America during the Black cultural and political struggles in the 1960s. The dashiki was a bright, bold look for men and women who wanted to show their independence from Western culture. It was a way for people to show pride in their African heritage. While fashions at the time were often tight and tailored, the dashiki was loose and flowing. While shirts were worn tucked in, the dashiki was left untucked.

The dashiki wasn't just a type of shirt - it was a way to protest society's disrespect for African Americans. It was a way of saying "I am beautiful - black is beautiful - my heritage is beautiful".

You can find the dashikis pictured here.

Kente Cloth Fashions

Kente cloth is native to the country of Ghana, and has often signified a type of spiritual awareness. It is considered a royal or sacred cloth and is often referred to as "the cloth of Kings". Each color in kente cloth has a meaning: Red symbolizes bloodshed or death, gold symbolizes royalty, wealth, or high status, white symbolizes spiritual purity, green symbolizes harvest and spiritual growth, and black symbolizes intensified spiritual energy.

You can find the pant sets featured here.

Mudcloth or Bogalonfini Fashions

Mudcloth comes from Mali's Bamana culture - this ancient art form involves weaving cloth by hand and dyeing it using fermented mud. In traditional Malian culture, bògòlanfini is worn by hunters, serving as camouflage, as ritual protection and as a badge of status. Women are wrapped in bògòlanfini after their initiation into adulthood and immediately after childbirth, as the cloth is believed to have the power to absorb any dangerous forces released under such circumstances.

Bògòlanfini patterns are full of cultural significance, referring to historical events (such as a famous battle between a Malian warrior and the French), crocodiles (significant in Bambara mythology) or other objects, mythological concepts or proverbs. Since about 1980, Bògòlanfini has become a symbol of Malian cultural identity. You can find more about the meaning of various mudcloth symbolshere.

You can find the dresses featured here.

The Symbolism of Color

Colors in Africa are very important, and people choose their colors wisely. Below are some of the common meanings for the colors used in African clothing:

Gold: Gold is an extremely popular color. It represents wealth and fertility.
Red:Red represents tension in the spiritual or political world and is viewed as the color of blood.
Blue:Blue represents love and peace, it symbolizes the sky, and is a harmonious color.
Green:Green represents prosperity and life and is also a medicinal color.
White:Spirituality and purity
The Africans took the meanings and spirituality of the colors in their cloth very seriously.

We hope you can enjoy the wealth of beauty and symbolism found in African fashions this Black History Month. If you'd like to see more African styles just click here (