African Head Wrap


African-Head-WrapOver time, fashion has grown to become more receptive and the African head wrap is obviously a significant part of this growth. This particular fashion item has a very distinct place in history, not only because of how stylish it appears but also because of what it represents.

African head wraps, or African head wraps, known across Africa by names like duku in Chichewa, iduku in Isizulu, dhuku in Shona and quite prominently, the Gele, which is what the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, West Africa, call it. The Gele represents a lot of things for diverse tribes of the continent. In Zulu culture, a tribe found in South Africa, the African head wraps signify respect. It is expected of a woman to cover her hair when in the presence of older family members or in-laws.

The Gele is slowly evolving and fast becoming a widely accepted fashion item across the globe. In fact, fashion designers all over the world have started to incorporate the fashion accessory into runways, both on national and international platforms. Celebrities are not left out, as a number of stars have been seen making fashion statements using the head wrap.

Why You Need the African Head Wrap

The head wrap has been known from time immemorial to serve a number of purposes. Here are some reasons you need it:

Hair Protection

One prominent reason the African head wrap was invented is for the protection of the African natural hair. They were and are still used by a lot of women to protect their hair from dirt and dust especially while performing chores. However, only wraps of special fabrics and size were used for this purpose.

Rescue for Bad Hair Days

African head wraps act as a covering for bad hair days. The Gele, for example, could come to the rescue on days one would rather keep the hair tucked away. It gives you the opportunity to look glamorous, with your hair all covered.

A Fashion Statement

The head wrap is also worn as a fashion statement. It is obviously not that prominent across the globe yet, so wearing it across some spheres could make a bold impression. The African head wrap could also be used to show wealth and social status, especially among Africans.

Tips on How to Tie the African Head Wrap

Wearing an African head wrap has become an art form. It is pretty easy to wear but not when you have no idea what the basic steps are. To properly pull it off, just follow these steps:

  • Get your hair done: This is the first step towards getting the perfect look. The head wrap needs to have some sort of balance when worn, hence the wearer’s hair is expected to be properly brushed especially towards the front area. Achieving all of these could be very difficult if your hair is left undone. The best option is to style your hair in a ponytail or better yet, a knot.
  • Find a hair covering to layer your hair: This would help smoother out the sides of the head wrap. Get a pantyhose or a very tiny hair net to keep your hair covered. This stage will help you create the perfect foundation for your head wrap. However, you can skip this step if your hair is really short and not too full.
  • Create a fold, keeping one end longer than the other: Head wraps come in different sizes and shapes, so the type of fold you would make depends on the girth of the African head wrap you are using. If it is a wide one, then you could fold it by half; from one end to the other. It is important to keep one edge of the head wrap longer than the other to enable you to wrap the fabric comfortably around your head.
  • Place the head wrap on your head: This is where the bulk of the work is done. Place the shorter part downward toward the nape while pressing the fabric to your head. Place two ends down your nape, ensuring they cover your ears. Once you are certain your ears are covered, fasten the shorter end, using the longer one and vice versa to secure the head wrap
  • Wrap the fabric around: While making sure the head wrap is still tightly placed on your head, make the rest of the fabric go around your head, shaping and forming the head wrap in the process. You can make a little indent on the first layer so more folds can be created. Maintain the fold, taking it down to your nape.
  • Wrap again and tie: The African head wrap is beautiful, but one with lots of folds is a bundle of stunning art. If that is what you are gunning for, then create a second wrap. This wrap will help introduce new folds. You can place your hands on the edge of the crease to create even more folds and pleats. Carefully fold the fabric up and move to your nape again to wrap it up. Tie both edges, forming a strong knot to help the head wrap stay in place.
  • Make adjustments: You could touch up the top part of the head wrap

How to Wear the African Head Wrap

woman wearing african head wrapWhen worn properly, the African head wrap can make a woman appear incredibly sophisticated and simply gorgeous. True, there are no hard and fast rules towards pulling off the perfect look, but there are some tips that could help point you in the right direction.

  • Be comfortable. Be yourself—it definitely adds to the glow.
  • Do not set any rules. Be willing to play with different styles and fabrics.
  • It is best paired with traditional wear.
  • Mind your colors. The last thing you need is a mix&match.
  • Be mindful of the fabric of choice, especially as regards your outfit.

The African head wrap is definitely incredibly versatile. It can be styled in numerous ways and can be embellished in different ways, using different accessories. African head wraps can be designed using stones, beads or sequins. All these help the fashion item appear brighter and unique.

Finally, African head wraps are not only limited to the Gele. There are tons of other stylish types (even for men!) and they have all started to gain relevance across several other continents. In continents like Europe, North America, and South America, the tradition has spread to include even non-Africans who proudly wear the Gele while attending African events.