Traditional African Clothing

by biscarotte

The strong colors of Africa are reflected in by the traditional African clothing. The clothes worn by the different African nations are very different, yet a common characteristic is the use of strong pigments and simple cuts. There are all kinds of robes, hats and crafty jewelry you can admire across Africa – many of them have crossed borders and are now characteristic for a whole region, like the kanga or the kaftan dress. The best occasions to admire traditional clothes are during ceremonies like weddings or funerals, but in many of Africa’s regions national costumes are worn on a daily basis. Here are some popular types of clothing and accessories:


Djellaba is a unisex type of cloth specific to the Islamic nations of Africa, especially the Magreb. It’s made of colored wool and has a simple cut, with long sleeves and a hood. Djellaba is generally regarded as a casual outfit, and can be made from various fabrics, depending on the country’s climate or customs.

Zulu Hats

by fokko

The exuberant Zulu nation in Southern Africa is known for the colorful clothes and bead art. The extravagant hats worn by women have become one of the tribe’s international symbols. Generally known as Zulu hats, these festive accessories are made of cotton or other textile fibers which are dyed and then fixed on a specific basket frame.

Kaftan Dress

by RubyGoes

The kaftan dress is probably the most universal piece of clothing in Africa. It is believed that the tradition of the kaftan goes back to ancient times, to the Egyptian queens and pharaohs and even further. Kaftans are long, beautifully colored and embroided with tribal patterns and flowers and, depending on the quality of the fabric and the cut, can be worn both as casual or official outfits.

Mudcloth Dress

by whiteafrican

The mud cloth dress made out of mud cloth fabric has its origins in Mali. The dresses usually come in nuances of brown or black (obtained from a mixture of plants and mud) with simple patterns in white and black (sometimes made with bleach). They have a particular elegance and bear numerous significations depending on the patterns printed on them.


The kanzu, thawb or simply tunic is a garment similar to a white long robe, worn by men in Eastern Africa. This is another of the Islamic traditions that was adopted by African nations. Kanzus are worn in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania at special occasions or even by some officials – the typical embroidery on the chest and sleeves differs from country to country.

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