I found out about The Wrap Life shop through some vintage friends, and it came highly recommended. After freaking out over the gorgeousness of their IG feed and website for an embarrassingly long time, I decided it would be worth the money to try out one of their beautiful wraps.
Their store is stocked with African style head wraps from the western and southern parts of the continent along with more "culturally neutral" styles in ikat, floral, and even light denim fabrics. There are SO many pretty options! I was also delighted to find out that their prices are affordable, ranging from $22-$34. (Here's a sampling of their wares:)
I ended up buying the Yendi wrap, and it shipped quickly from their store in New York. When it arrived and I opened it... SWOON, the packaging made me melt! Exquisite photos and encouraging messaging that, needless to say, is not the type of packaging you immediately throw away. These suckers are hanging in my sewing room because they are just too darn pretty!
I'll be honest with you guys, I've never bought an African head wrap because I personally felt weird about it. I knew that giant head wraps are things specific to certain tribal groups, such as the gele in Nigeria, and I didn't feel comfortable sporting an item from a culture I really don't have a connection to. I lived on the opposite side of Africa, and though they get lumped together a lot... the cultures across the continent are really quite different from each other. Where I lived, head wraps were worn in an Islamic context and looked nothing like these.
However, the more I've learned about these styles of wraps, the more I've been able to distinguish between tribal-specific styles and prints and wraps that are more "generic" and worn by many African peoples. I took the leap with this more generic print.
It took me many video tutorial views and much wrapping practice to even get to this point, ha! Like I said, most of my experience with head wrapping stems from either vintage or more Islamic styles, neither of which use long, stiff, rectangular scarves like these. Also, Islamic styles tend to utilize straight pins more often to achieve pretty tucks, folds, and shapes, while these more West African style wraps achieve a secure fit through tucking and sometimes knots. Major learning curve!
I finally managed this wrap, though I'll admit... I still needed to use a couple straight pins to get it to stay and lay right. I'll be practicing....
For me, when it comes to styling an African wrap, I will probably not wear an African wrap with an African garment at the same time, even if it's one I've made. It's not a decision that I make on moral grounds or anything; it's just my personal stance (barring, of course, cultural occasions like weddings where full garb may be appropriate). While I have ties to Africa and lived there (albeit in East Africa) for a couple years, the combination of both an African head wrap and an African garment feels too African for me. While my life experience has twinges of Africa, I am not ethnically African, nor did I grow up there. I want my style to reflect who I am, and putting on too much Africa all at once feels contrived and inauthentic to me. Who I am has twinges of Africa, so my wardrobe does, too.
Thus, I paired the wrap with a 1930s/40s dress and 1940s heels, bakelite, blue eyeliner (also a first!) and a necklace from my part of Africa. It's Nubian, and in Nubian art triangles represent your heritage and the past. This necklace says that I am proud of where I've been and the people who have made me who I am.
It's a little African, it's a little vintage, and it's all me.
Have any of you bought a wrap from The Wrap Life? What's your favorite wrap in their store right now?
This post is not affiliated with The Wrap Life in any way and is not a sponsored post. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.