Wearing History Homefront Overalls

Flashback Summer: Wearing History Homefront Overalls - 1930s 1940s WWII Rosie the Riveter


You are looking at my uniform for this summer: t-shirt, overalls, flats.  It'll be happening all the time.

WHY have I not made up this Wearing History Homefront Overalls pattern before now?!  I have no idea.  I've ready many fantastic reviews from other sewists, but I haven't gotten around to making them until now.  I went with the overalls version first because... well, overalls, obviously.  I haven't had a pair since I was a kid, and I think that's wrong.

When I told my sister I was making overalls, she sneered.  

"Are they acid wash, or, like... 90s overalls?"

Flashback Summer: Wearing History Homefront Overalls - 1930s 1940s WWII Rosie the Riveter

No, they are classy, awesome, very vintage overalls!  They are fitted at the top and feature a sweetheart neckline.  The waist has a thick, comfy waistband, and the legs are roomy and have a longer rise for ease of movement.  They're fantastically 30s/40s and perfect for the non-stretch denim I had in my stash.

Flashback Summer: Wearing History Homefront Overalls - 1930s 1940s WWII Rosie the Riveter

As far as the sizing, I went with the suggested pattern sizes that coordinate with my body measurements: 32-24-35 and petite.  This coordinated with the e-pattern for size pack A.  I used size 14 on the top and bottom and graded them both to a size 12 (24") at the waist.  This worked really well on the bottom half, and the legs and hip area are comfortably baggy.  However, there is a bit of gaping at the back of the top between the straps.  The dart placement is great, though, so I think next time I will just size down to the 12 (30" bust) and make it all a bit tighter.  This should get rid of the gaping at the back and create a snugger fit on the sides.  I may even go for styling a 1930s "farmerette" look on the next version!

Flashback Summer: Wearing History Homefront Overalls - 1930s 1940s WWII Rosie the Riveter

I also took the time to topstitch a lot of the seams and serge most of the seam allowances.  It just adds a RTW, quality feel to it that I like and also reinforces the seams a bit to make them durable. ('Cuz I plan on wearing it a LOT, like I said.)  

I added back pockets as well.  They don't come with the pattern, but they're really easy to draft yourself.  The patch pockets on the front are awesome, but when it comes to bending and moving around, it's better to have back pockets to put stuff in.  I did just realize, though, in looking at pictures of other versions people have made, that I probably shouldn't have put a buttonhole through the front pocket, just under it... Oh well.  Live and learn.  Button plackets are kind of my nemesis.

Flashback Summer: Wearing History Homefront Overalls - 1930s 1940s WWII Rosie the Riveter

Flashback Summer: Wearing History Homefront Overalls - 1930s 1940s WWII Rosie the Riveter

The only other major change I made was to line the bodice instead of facing it at the edges.  I went for a fun pop of color and used this silver star and red cotton from my stash.  I thought if I did go for a farmerette look and wore the overalls as a jumpsuit that cotton would be a bit more comfortable on my skin than just denim.  It changed the construction process a bit, mostly when it came to the button placket.  I just had to be careful to think through the steps and make sure to sew each piece at the right time... sewing origami! I sewed it to the waistband seam allowance with a messy but effective blanket stitch.

Flashback Summer: Wearing History Homefront Overalls - 1930s 1940s WWII Rosie the Riveter

I am VERY happy with how these turned out.  Even with the top being a bit big, they are amazingly comfortable.  The torso is the right length for me, and the pant length gives me enough room to cuff the legs a couple times and still reach the ground. For the summer, though, I prefer to wear them Huck Finn style and roll them up to a cropped length!

Flashback Summer: Wearing History Homefront Overalls - 1930s 1940s WWII Rosie the Riveter

There is also a surprise hat pattern that comes with the overalls!  However, when I attempted it I think I rushed through and didn't do things right.  Basically... it was an epic fail and I'm not going to show it to you.  I'll try again and let you know how it goes.

Here is a summary of the pattern details and things I changed:
Fabric: Denim, 100% cotton bodice lining
Year: early 1940s
Notions: 7 buttons
How historically accurate is it? Very accurate!  Wearing History patterns are very close to originals, and denim and buttons are appropriate things to use for 1940s patterns, although they are not officially vintage.
Any tricky parts to the pattern?  The button placket.  I just struggle with these in general.
Did you change anything?  I added back pockets and lined the bodice instead of using facings
Time to complete: 3 days
First worn: April 20, 2016
Total cost: Ummm.... I think about $15 for the denim, $9 for topstitching and normal thread, and $6 for buttons, and I won the pattern in a WH photo contest!  So about $30.
Notes: My measurements are 32-24-35 and I'm petite.  Next time I will use the 30" bust size on the top and the 35" hip size on the bottoms, both graded to 24" at the waist.  The length of the overalls were fine for my torso and legs and gave me enough fabric to cuff the legs twice.  Taller people will probably want to adjust this.

Flashback Summer: Wearing History Homefront Overalls - 1930s 1940s WWII Rosie the Riveter

Outfit details:
headwrap: The Wrap Life, "Yendi" wrap
overalls: handmade by me
lipstick: Kat Von D "Outlaw"
shoes: OLL
t-shirt: gifted
bracelet: from Kenya

Other sewn-up versions of this pattern:
Playsuit version by Anneliese (post in German)
Rosie Wednesday - shorts, overalls
Va-Voom Vintage (overalls)
Pinhouse Playmate (overalls)

Fashion Revolution 2016 - Goals

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016: Goals

Today officially ends Fashion Revolution week, but it doesn't end our responsibility to bring about change!  This week has helped me think through my abilities and weaknesses in my skill as a maker, and I think I can move forward as a better creator and consumer in the fashion industry.

My personal goals to take from this week are:

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016: Goals

What about you?  Have you had any epiphanies or thought-provoking discoveries this week?  Are there any habits you have as a maker and/or consumer that you would like to work on this year?

Fashion Revolution 2016 - Skill Up

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016: Skill Up

Making clothes is a black hole of skills.  It seems to me that the more I know about sewing... the more I realize I have yet to learn.  There are so many kinds of sewing, so many types of garments, so many skills to learn!

While it sometimes seems a little overwhelming, I'm actually really okay with it.  I love learning, and what better field to pick than one that can provide a lifetime of learning?!

It's important to me to master my craft, to become exceptional at what I do.  It means that the clothes I make will be more durable and longer-lasting, thus being better uses of resources.  It also means I will be more likely to keep these garments.  Do any of you know the pain of deciding what to do with a garment you spent hours upon hours making?!  You do NOT just throw it out without a second thought!  If it must go, you find a good home for it or repurpose it into something equally as awesome.  It means something to you.

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016: Skill Up

There are a lot of areas in which I want to improve my skills.  My top three are in tailoring (suits specifically), lingerie, and sewing knits.  I'll be working on these specifically this year.

What areas of "makery" would you like to skill up in this year?  

Fashion Revolution 2016 - Secondhand First

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - Secondhand First

Today's Fashion Revolution theme is "secondhand first," and I don't need to tell you vintage lovers much about that!  Most of us realize the beauty of buying "secondhand" items, especially if they happen to be midcentury or before!

One of the reasons I love vintage is that it's not even like other secondhand purchases from thrift stores or charity shops.  It's generally higher quality and much of it gains value over time instead of losing it.  It's collectible and it's historical... and it's fabulous!

The vintage community, obviously, lives out the "secondhand first" idea extremely well.  It's what makes us the vintage community!  

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - Secondhand First

Another thing that I want to do better in, however, is in buying secondhand fabrics and newer secondhand clothing for sewing projects if at all possible.  Though I don't generally buy clothing from thrift stores very often, they are wonderful places to find clothing to create into something new, sewing notions, and fabric.  My wedding suit was made of mystery fabric from a thrift store, as well as many of my old college dorm accessories.  Now that I think of it... my wedding dress and veil were also "secondhand" vintage!

I actually prefer buying notions, especially zippers and buttons, secondhand if at all possible.  Zippers tend to be especially cost-effective this way, and oftentimes I get vintage metal zippers that hold up for longer!  Not to mention, vintage buttons are far superior in design and look to most modern buttons, in my opinion.

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - Secondhand First

Quite honestly, I don't feel the need to write a very lengthy post, because this is something you are likely extremely good at already!  You see the value; you get it!

What are some of your favorite items to buy secondhand?  Are there any items you would like to be more diligent in checking for a secondhand version before buying new?

Fashion Revolution 2016 - Upcycle

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - Upcycle

Oh, upcycling!  That is today's Makers for Fashion Revolution Week, and of course it's one near and dear to my 1940s-loving heart!  We vintage wearers know, of course, that upcycling is just the modern term for "make do and mend."  Ladies of yesteryear were creating new fashions out of old ones long before it was a trendy thing to do.  They did it out of necessity and practicality.

I've had a few of my own refashions that you might recall:

The 1930s Gray Dress
90s MuuMuu to 40s Playsuit
Straw Hat Refashion
Middle East Skirt Refashion
Turn a Button-Down into a Vintage Style Blouse
Sweater Makeover

I also have these photos of a jabot I made out of old hankies.  I'm still working on an outfit to style it with!

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - Upcycle

There are so many awesome vintage resources that have to do with turning old clothes into new ones.  Here are just a few:

"Grand Ways to Eke Out Dated or Worn Clothes"
"Another Angle on Fashions for Victory"
1940s refashioning article and illustrations

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - Upcycle

For myself, my main action step for this year is to give newer second-hand clothes a shot to be refashioned.  You know, the ugly 80s and 90s garments that are unlikely to come back into vogue ever again and are probably destined for a landfill without a refashion.  They're relatively inexpensive, and it would be a great way to cut down on clothing being thrown away.

Do you have any favorite makeovers that you've done for old garments?  Are there any vintage make do and mend resources that you love?

Fashion Revolution 2016 - I Mend My Clothes

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016: I Mend My Clothes

Mending one of those things that I have fallen into by necessity through wearing vintage.  If you've worn true vintage, I'm sure you have had the experience of a popped seam, fallen hem, or loose button that needed to be fixed.  (I've even had those happen while I was wearing them... which is why I recommend all vintage wearers carry a tiny sewing kit in their purse at all times, ha!)

Not many people know how to mend nowadays!  While people of yesteryear always mended their clothing ("make do and mend" was a real thing!), I can honestly say I never thought to mend clothing until I wore vintage.  If a shirt got a hole in it when I was younger, I figured it was ruined and usually threw it out.  No longer!

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016: I Mend My Clothes

Fixing garments, I've found, is a unique skill.  It's not exactly the same as sewing a garment.  It takes some ingenuity and creativity!

The 1930s and 40s were especially good at clever mending fixes due to poverty and war shortages.  They used mending tape embellishments to fix torn buttonholes and cover other flaws.  They embroidered over flaws and dyed garments to cover stains.  If you'd like some vintage mending inspiration, here are a few of my favorite examples and resources:

1940s Darning from Colette
"How to Mend After Moth"
"How to Patch an Overall" by Mrs. Sew and Sew

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016: I Mend My Clothes

So, here are my action steps for today:

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016: I Mend My Clothes

How do you guys feel about mending?  Have you learned any useful tips or have any favorite mending resources?

Fashion Revolution 2016 - By Hand

It's day two of Fashion Revolution 2016, and the theme is:

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - By Hand

I didn't realize this until recently, but all garments are made by hand, in the sense that a human being is manipulating the fabric and working at a sewing machine of some kind or sewing with a needle and thread.  I used to think that clothing, especially cheap clothing, was made entirely by machine, much like most of the other products we buy nowadays.  However, that's not the case with clothing!

Every item we wear has been sewn by a person.

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - By Hand

Have you ever had a clothing item that you didn't think much about until you tried to make one yourself?  For me, that has been a t-shirt.  I figured that, as the seemingly cheapest  and most plentiful clothing item available, a t-shirt had to be an easy, throw-away type garment to make.

It is no such thing!

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - By Hand

Geez, after learning about it, there is so much more to a t-shirt than I had ever realized!  Now I value t-shirts so much more, knowing all the types of machine and sewing skills that goes into each one.

As vintage wearers, many of us bemoan the loss of those gorgeous, intricate details that clothing used to have that has been cut out of most modern clothing by profitability and the throw-away mind set.  As we wear our vintage clothing and invest in these more expensive pieces, as we sew and include our own "slow fashion" details, we are reminding people around us of what clothing could be if we started to really care about it again instead of treating it as a fad that is to be thrown out in a few months.

Thinking about how every clothing item is made by hand, here are my takeaways for the day:

Flashback Summer: Fashion Revolution 2016 - By Hand

Is there a clothing-making skill or garment that seemed simple to you into you delved into it?  How did it change your perspective?

How do you think we can balance the needs of lower-budget consumers with the needs of clothing artisans to be paid fairly for their work?

Fashion Revolution 2016 - I Make My Clothes

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016 - Makers

It's Fashion Revolution week!

This is the week dedicated to looking specifically at the issues plaguing the clothing industry and how we as everyday Janes and Joes can go about changing things for the better.  The week is hosted by Fashion Revolution, a non-profit organization created in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza Complex collapse that killed over 1,100 garment industry workers and injured over 2,500.  This event awakened many of us in the world to the reality of abuse and greed in the clothing supply chain, and we began looking at the brands we love, the factories that produce clothing, and our own habits to see how we can make things better.

We believe that fashion can be made in a safe, clean and beautiful way. Where creativity, quality, environment and people are valued equally.   - Fashion Revolution

But some of you may be like me... Mostly, you make your clothes. You buy vintage.  You make do and mend.  You're already doing many of the things that are recommended for revolutionizing the industry.  But that doesn't mean we're off the hook!  We can do better, and we can help others do better!

I'm pleased to say that In the Folds and Petit à Petit already thought of this, and this week they're coming at this fashion revolution from a maker's viewpoint.  I'm joining in and will be posting on IG and on the blog this week on the issue, and I'll be adding in a vintage-wearer's two cents while I'm at it!

(I strongly urge you to read the post from In the Folds about the meaning of this week. It's got an overview, explanation, and list of resources you can check out to learn more about the garment industry.)

Every day this week there will be a "prompt" posted by In the Folds on an aspect of the revolution.  I'm sharing my thoughts, as well as weaving in my ideas as a vintage wearer.  Today is:

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016 - Makers

Although not all of you are sewists, I know that many of you do identify.   You may also be a crocheter, knitter, weaver, milliner, etc.  There are many ways to make clothes!  Whether you have made all of your wardrobe or just a few accessories, making your own clothing is an amazing way to revolutionize the fashion industry.

Sewing has allowed me to rebel against the standardized sizing of fashion in the U.S. that doesn't generally fit me as a petite woman.  It has also given me the freedom to wear what I want instead of having to choose from what is available. It also makes the vintage styles I love more affordable and durable, rather than buying original vintage all the time.  Making my own clothing is just the best!

However, making my own clothing doesn't let me off the hook when it comes to revolutionizing the garment industry.

I do still buy some things off the rack.  Socks, t-shirts, and underwear especially.  Not to mention, I also use fabric made in factories.  Just because I step into the clothing production chain at a sooner point than others doesn't mean I don't play a part in it.

So, as a maker, I still have a responsibility in this cause.  Here are my personal three action steps relating to my role as a clothing maker.

Flashback Summer - Fashion Revolution 2016 - Makers

What are your thoughts on this Fashion Revolution Week?  If you are a clothing maker, how can you still impact change in the clothing industry?  Do you have any sources of secondhand or ethically made fabric you especially love?

Prim Goods Beauty Products

Flashback Summer: Prim Goods Beauty Products Review - Primrose Hill

There are few things I love more than buying items I already want and need and knowing the profits go to a good cause.  When people from Primrose Hill contacted a blogger group I'm in to see if anyone would want to review their beauty products, I jumped at the chance!

Primrose Hill is a faith-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation center here in Missouri.  It's special, though, in the fact that it's one of only a very few centers in the country where a mother can bring her young children to live with her in the center for the twelve month program.  Their resources and training are centered on healing and recovery for both a mother and her children.  The family stays in a giant house and works through issues together in a loving environment.

Flashback Summer: Prim Goods Beauty Products Review - Primrose Hill
Since most of you readers are women, I was sure that you would be like me and appreciate this female-specific type of care.  In many centers, although they do wonderful things, they don't always take family and children into consideration.  This is a consideration that especially affects moms on their way to recovery, and it's wonderful to see Primrose Hill making family care possible.

Prim Goods Beauty Products also play a role in all of this!  You see, the products don't just fund the center, they are also made by women living there!  Each item has the name of the woman who made the product on the label.  Women are taught a trade that they can take with them back home, they grow their work ethic, and they learn to believe in themselves and their abilities again.  How beautiful is that?!  Their tagline is "Made Better by Our Story," and these items are a true reflection of that.

Flashback Summer: Prim Goods Beauty Products Review - Primrose Hill

I was sent a complimentary beauty bundle that sells for $38.00 on the Prim Goods website.  It contains chapstick, liquid hand soap, a bar of soap, a body scrub, and body lotion.  I tried each of the items, and they are great!  The body scrub, soap, and chapstick are all made of easily pronounceable ingredients like natural oils and lye.  There are several scents available for each product.

My personal favorite item was the body scrub.  It's a pretty abrasive scrub, but I used it on my winter-dry legs, and it helped remove dry skin and left a coconut oil moisturizing layer that has really helped my skin stop itching and look better.  I have sensitive skin, and none of these products bothered it at all, but Prim Goods also has versions made specifically for sensitive skin, which I'm sure would be really good for those of us with a high-maintenance epidermis! 

Flashback Summer: Prim Goods Beauty Products Review - Primrose Hill

Mother's Day is coming soon in the U.S., and spring and summer is the time for bridal showers, new babies, and all sorts of events.  Beauty products like these would make awesome gifts, and instead of funding a giant corporation, you're helping women and children get their lives back after addiction.  THAT is worth it.

- Learn more about Primrose Hill.
- Check out the other Prim Goods products on their website.
- Read some of their stories on their blog.
- Donate to this great cause!

I received free product in return for this post, but all opinions expressed are honest and my own.  For more information about my sponsorship practices, check out my policies page.

Clap for That Wrap: "The Wrap Life" Yendi Wrap Review

Flashback Summer: Clap For That Wrap - The Wrap Life Headwrap Review

I've been loving our discussions about head wraps and learning about others' styles, and today I'm sharing with you guys a wrap-leap I've taken for my own style: I bought my first West African style head wrap!

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:)
Flashback Summer: Clap For That Wrap - The Wrap Life Headwrap Review

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!

Flashback Summer: Clap For That Wrap - The Wrap Life Headwrap Review

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.

Flashback Summer: Clap For That Wrap - The Wrap Life Headwrap Review

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.

Flashback Summer: Clap For That Wrap - The Wrap Life Headwrap Review

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....

Flashback Summer: Clap For That Wrap - The Wrap Life Headwrap Review

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.  

Flashback Summer: Clap For That Wrap - The Wrap Life Headwrap Review

Flashback Summer: Clap For That Wrap - The Wrap Life Headwrap Review

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?

Related Posts:

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.

Match-Lacking Novelty Print

Flashback Summer: Vintage Novelty Print skirt - Middle East Arab Turk Deer Hunter

Oh, novelty prints.  They are the crowning jewel of vintage in many's opinion, and I am also a fan.  However, novelty prints throw off my wardrobing plans.

I have this underlying plan of curating my wardrobe over time to be certain colors, styles, and looks that can all mix and match.  However... this novelty print will be the odd man out in the closet.  I bought this fabric because of the Middle Eastern type print of turbaned men on horseback hunting deer, and it's just too good!  However, the colors are what have thrown me off as far as styling goes.  I wondered for a long time what to make out of the fabric, and I finally settled on a gathered skirt because it's simple to make and wear and easy to mix with other pieces.

Flashback Summer: Vintage Novelty Print skirt - Middle East Arab Turk Deer Hunter

HOWEVER, the ease of mixing really only applies if you have anything else in your wardrobe that is any one of the colors in the print.  This print has purple, kelly green, sky blue, chartreuse, and pink... all colors I have exactly none of in my wardrobe.

Flashback Summer: Vintage Novelty Print skirt - Middle East Arab Turk Deer Hunter

Seriously.  I tried to accessorize, tried to find a hat, tried to find shoes... and all I had was these blue earrings.  So..... in comes the neutral top, shoes, and belt!  I'm going to chalk it up to a fashion choice of letting the skirt be the "focal point" of the outfit.  Yes, that's it.  It's not an orphan garment... It's a focal point...

Anyone else have orphan garments that match nothing else in your wardrobe?  Do you get rid of them or find a way to make them work?

Clap for That Wrap: Interview with Verily Merrily Mary

Yay, it's Clap for That Wrap Wednesday!  As I continue to do this series on Wednesdays, I hope to highlight more wrap wearers and to explore their cultural and fashionable wrap styles.  I will be interviewing women from all different countries and cultures, and today I'm starting with Mary of Verily Merrily Mary, a Nigerian-Canadian-American Third Culture Kid that really rocks her wraps!  (And all the pictures are from her IG feed!)

Which countries have you lived in, and which country (or countries) does your family tree hail from?
I have lived in Nigeria, Canada, and the United States but my family’s roots are in Nigeria. 

How often do you wear head wraps?
It depends on the hairstyle. When I am wearing my afro out or a short braided style, I wear them more often (2 times or more per week). I think I do this because it sits on my head more easily. But my hair is currently in long, thick twists so I haven’t worn a head wrap in months. 

What significance do head wraps have to you? Do you wear them for utilitarian reasons and/or cultural reasons?
Oh, it’s both utilitarian and cultural for me. When you spend so much of your childhood ashamed of your African identity due to being picked on about it, it empowering to sport your African fabrics as an adult who is extremely proud of her heritage. I am more drawn to neutral tones in clothing but a vibrant headscarf can be a wonderful icing on the cake on a more “quiet” outfit. Headscarves and head wraps are also cleverly beautiful ways to hide my bath hair days.

What makes a head wrap particularly Nigerian/African/West African?
(ex: Is it the print, the wrapping style itself, fabric, a matching outfit, etc.?) 

The fabric used and the way it is worn can play into whether or not a head wrap style is authentically African. Sub-saharan African print is quite distinct to me. There are some widely known prints like Kente cloth from Ghana and Ankara from Nigeria. Both are known for their vibrancy in color. The Kente cloth alternates between two types of fabric per row, often using yellow and other bright colors and patterns. Ankara is a bit harder to explain because there are nearly countless variations of the print. But the feel of them are the same: colorful yet not overbearing.

There is one head wrap common in Nigeria called a Gele. It is worn by women only during special occasions like weddings and other major celebrations and ceremonies. The fabric used for the Gele is usually ornate and quite firm, allowing the wearer to pin and manipulate the fabric to her liking. It is so gorgeous and it kind of reminds me of a rose.

Are there any ways that non-Africans/Nigerians/West Africans can take inspiration from your culture’s head wrap styles without stealing them?  

One thing Westerners and Western culture can do is stop acting like they found a novel fashion piece whenever they are rocking African items, head wrap or otherwise. It happens so often and is so offensive. Arbitrary “tribal print” headscarves and clothing sold in stores like Forever 21 sometimes have them with patterns that are African and, of course, Africa is not given the due credit when it is advertised. It’s just a cool “new” trend. Knowing the history of the continent and how it has been (and continues to be) pillaged and colonized, the very least they can do is acknowledge and respect the origin of those fabrics and buy from African designers. At the end of the day, people are going to do what they want to do, but I would prefer that non-African people wear African fabrics for reasons other than “it looks cool.” That will challenge people to actually research the history of what they are wearing, perhaps even to the point that they would rather not wear it out of respect. When in doubt, my advice is to wear the fabric if you’re invited by someone in the culture to do so (wedding, etc.). 

Have you learned something new in this interview with Mary?  Does her insight change or affect your own personal wrap style?

If you would like to share your wrap style in the Clap for That Wrap series, just shoot me an email!  I'd love to hear from you!