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Talking Clothes 2

Last week we published the first part of our discussion on clothes. Today, we continue on the emotional side of fashions.

Morenike: Why is everybody suddenly denying boobs?

Frank: I’ve never made any designs showing boobs or serious cleavage or show my men with those tight trousers. I’ve never done that.
Vivian: But, we don’t mind seeing some torsos.

Frank: I know people who show boobs but I’ve never made clothes to show boobs.
Remmy: What is wrong in showing some boobs?

Frank: If you must show something, it shouldn’t be more than 7 inches from your shoulder down.

Vivien: We have all outlined the mistakes Nigerian woman make in fashion. If you were to advise the Nigerian woman on her fashion sense, where would you start from?

clothesIfeoma: I‘d just give her a complete lecture, which is what I`am trained to do. About understanding her style preference that might be too technical. There are five preferences a woman can belong to. You can belong to one preference but it can have a combination of two. The “Classic” preference which is timeless and elegant. At least, she can be sharp in elegance.  At worse, she can be frumpy. There’s the “Dramatic” preference or the attention seeker. At best she can be glamorous, at worse, she can be chaotic. There’s the “Romantic” dresser, who’s feminine. At best she can adhere, at worst, she can be bows and frills confused. There’s the “Natural” dress who’s understated. At best she can be fresh and elegant, at worst, she’s unkempt. Then there’s the “Sporty” dresser who’s practical, or at worst boyish and overly equal. If you are a Classic dresser and I am trying to force you to be Romantic or Sporty, you won’t be comfortable. We are always drawn to our style. That is why women have a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear because when you buy things on impulse that don’t belong to your style preference chances are you are just rotating the things you are comfortable in but there are some things you won’t wear for a year. If something is fashionable and it belongs to, let me say, natural or practical school, chances are I ll never wear it. The next things is, what are you building her wardrobe for. Is it for work, for functions, so it’s layout the right foundation.

Remi: Is there an emotional side to fashion?

Vivian: When you dress properly you feel good. That’s one thing. There are also people who have low self esteem. There are probably those who want to show their boobs, attention seekers, they need people to acknowledge them. For me it just makes me feel good. Shopping is the best therapy for me.
Morenike: Oh, we all love that.

Ifeoma: Beyond a certain age you look like a struggler, there’s too much effort.
Remi: That’s an extreme case. Let’s go outside Nigeria and look at someone, like Madonna, she’s in her 50s. Demi Moore, Joan Collins in her 70s. How do you dress your age. Age is a number. If you have a figure to go. I’m not saying you should go over board but there are certain things you can do at 50 that is elegant.
Ifeoma: Let’s say your size 8/10 in your 53, you say a miniskirt is okay?
Remi: You can wear a mini that is acceptable.
Morenike: A mini is a mini.

Frank: This lady, Mrs. Ojora I’ve never seen her wear anything corset, this lady looks elegant always. The Mama herself is always very elegant. She buys fabrics that is expensive and she makes good use of them. What I find about most Nigerian designers is that they don’t understand that every fabric has its language.  If you don’t let them speak its language, it’s chaotic.

Vivian: Nowadays women generally like acting younger, feeling better about themselves.  So, they will still be trendy but you don’t want a 60-year old to look like a university student. At the age of 60 and above, there are clothes that are modified for our age that are classier, elegant versions of those trends. A woman can’t be 60 and start going to collectibles to start hanging on to children’s clothing. She should not. You are content to the fact you are understanding fashions and you are not in a time warp just because you are older. and I don’t think dressing for your age should mean frumpy.

Frank: Grace Egbagbe, even though she has the statistics, I’ve never really seen her making efforts.

Morenike: What I want to ask, is it not from the industry, to throw it back at you, you guys enshrine youth, and you are not sending out wrong message to younger people. Once a model is 30 years old she’s expired.

Nikki: We’re being unfair. You have got to understand people’s personality types. Some people are very outgoing, so those can be content with,  that other people might not be able to get away with. We’re looking at it from our African point of view. Nigerians are so well travelled now and all mixed up, so you don’t necessarily have to act Nigerian. Some people dress younger than their age but because of where we are, it’s like we pick on them. I’m sorry but Lanre can get away with what she wears.

Ifeoma: When in Rome dress like the Romans. There are certain things I think will make you even more elegant. One of my clients, she is going to do her 70th birthday and she settled on this lace.  Infact she had three outfit options to dress: Should I wear the dress because I want to feel comfortable, should I make it into iro and buba, or should I make long skirt in blouse?  I have to be careful not to impose my own preference on my clients but looking at the fabric if you make long skirt with this fabric, you will kill it. Iro and buba is elegant. I think the whole look with gele pulled away from your face. Simplicity is key for me no matter your style and preference.  At the end of the day, my client wore a dress and she came away looking stupid. They finished. And in some places we are going to, you want that aura, elegance. Not forgetting where we are from. We are African and we have a culture and I personally think there are other things no matter how westernized we have become that is unacceptable.

Vivien: Are you saying there should be fashion no-go-area for the Nigerian woman?
Remi: What would that be?

Ifeoma: Nakedness. In our part of the world its wrong. Its not our culture.
Nikki: I like glamour, I don’t really like showing too much skin but I can’t uphold my rule on other people because everywhere is like: ‘you’re a pastor’s daughter’.

Morenike: Like now you are in spagetti but you’re not showing anything.
Nikki: Exactly. To my father it’s showing a lot. You have to leave room for people to express themselves. For me, I think decency comes in. You should be comfortable in what you wear.  You should not be dressed and confused.
Remi: Or you are on okada and you are trying to put your …

Frank: You don’t dress to prove a point.  You dress to look good and fulfilled.
Nikki: That is when the effort comes in.  Too much effort. Dressing is not about trying to be seen or trying to be in the papers. You have to be comfortable with yourself.  You must have self respect and dignity for yourself.  There are things that are just personal.  There is no point dressing and seeing your undergarments from the distance.  You begin to embarrass everybody. For me I think its highly embarrassing. I am sitting next to you and you are trying to pull down your dress.
Ifeoma: Have you been to churches, you see girls like :we bow before your throne”. What are you bowing and revealing to the whole world? We are Africans no matter how fashionable we are. We are brought up decently and that should not be taken from us.

Remi: I wonder who made the clothes of those people then?  Carpenters?
Frank: I think decency is the key word.  We have a lot of women who are very glamorous. Lady Bianca Onoh-Ojukwu is beautiful as she is, I don’t think she needs to show anything.

Nikki: But I’m so sorry, she has a very horrible style.
Frank: That was then.
Vivien: She’s never been stylish. If she was stylish she won’t lose her sense of style.

Nikki: Frank has this aunty that’s been to me a couple of times. I have had to like say, this isn’t got to work because she’s very petite and she wants layer, layer, layer.  Aunty is got to have ruffle, bow and I know you dress her.
Frank: If you come to my shop, I don’t deal with catalogues. You don’t give me sketches, you give me the fabric. However I ask some questions. In most cases we don’t understand that if the outfit is in consonance with your spirit you are okay.

Morenike: So that answers your question about whether there’s an emotional side to fashion.

Nikki: You are 5ft  4in or 5ft 2in and you are all ruffled up from head to toe, your legs are only like this long, you look ridiculous.
Vivien: I don’t have a problem with boobs if you have great skin you don’t have stretch marks .you are a model figure, you have got boobs that look great, that’s fine, but you don’t want to do boobs at 60. No one wants to see your boobs at 60.
Remi: Is there an age limit to how anybody should dress?

Ifeoma: To be very honest there are just some things that are unacceptable if you ask me. Forget that fact that I’m an image stylist and all of that. I’m very comparative. There is a certain tightness of trousers that are acceptable for certain age bracket,  something you do some at your 20s and 30s. And maybe 40s but 50s, No!
Remi: Age is not a barrier for certain things.


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