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Celebrity Look for Less: African Wax Prints

Go big, bold and bright.

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collage of women wearing different wax prints as dresses, head wrap, and a coat
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African wax-print apparel and accessories have been all the rage recently, with increasing momentum in the last year. Dashikis are now a part of everyday street style; it's not abnormal to see someone wearing one with jeans on any given day. Kente-printed accessories are becoming as commonplace as camouflage — from fanny packs to hats and vests — they’re everywhere. Now, even our favorite celebs have found ways to bring these styles, and prints like the West African Ankara and Nigerian batik, to red carpets around the country.

In spite of the popularity of this trend, most of the dresses we see celebrities wearing are custom-made and higher priced that buying a dress in the country where the garment originated. My husband was able to get a dress for me from Sierra Leone for about $20. The upside is, that because of the currency differences, the options that most celebrities are wearing are available to us, too, and not for thousands of dollars (as is most clothing manufactured by high-fashion designers). With a little digging, we can spice up our wardrobe with some of these gorgeous prints, be it from high street fashion stores or a small boutique, without breaking the bank.

This ruffled, off-the-shoulder crop top looks like its something that only a teen could get a way with, but when paired with a highwaisted skin (or pant), it creates a gorgeous silhouette, with emphasis on the waist. The Rida Top ($89, Chen Burkett NY) comes in a couple infectious prints that play with multiple shades of blue. I’d pair it with their matching Habana Maxi Skirt ($179), as seen in on the website. Whether you choose to let your shoulders and clavicle glisten in the sunlight, or to layer a cute sweater over it, this top is a great piece to have around.For a little more coverage, or something that requires less accessorizing, this longer length African Print Bnabe Top ($23, Grassfields) is another great top option.

Skirts are a great way to incorporate African print in a big way, without making the full commitment to a head to toe outfit. The styles available vary, but the most popular style I’ve seen is the maxi skirt. Selections like the Cyrah African Print Maxi Skirt With Sash ($75, Diyanu) and the Patchwork Maxi Skirt ($65, Adinkra Expo) can be worn casually with a tank or tee and some sneakers, but dressed up with a blouse, heels and some great accessories.

Dresses are my favorite garment ever. My best friend calls me Madea because I wear dresses and sometimes pearls almost every day. They’re just so easy! The styles of dress you can find in African print are just as endless as the amount of prints! In addition, the seamstresses who make these dresses are so creative. I’ve seen so many edgy and avant-garde silhouettes in these prints. Here are a few options that can inspire your search, and give you an idea as to what is out there:

Anya Baddoo Dress ($110, Shop Besida)

Lara Skater Dress ($90, Becca Apparel)

Mixed Print Dress ($115, Adinkra Expo)

Korinko Kaftan African Print Dress ($89, Kahaari)

Wearing suits can be such a chore sometimes, given the fact that the suits of old are usually looked as being stuffy, business-like, and only came in neutral colors. Today, however, we have exciting options like the African Print Ranie Set ($171) and the African Print Mosi Biker Jacket (originally $80) and Skirt (originally $60) are great ways to add some personality to your business wardrobe. Ensembles like these are great to wear to weddings too.

When looking for a cover up option for the seasons that aren’t summer, a printed coat or jacket is always a good idea. They also easily upgrade any simple outfit; just throw it on an all-black ensemble or over a tank and jeans and you’re good to go. Minimal effort. Some of my favorites are the:

Adaku Embellished Kimono Jacket ($135, ATM Kollectionz)

Ankara Bomber Jacket ($65, Adinkra Expo)

When I can’t find anything in my size at any given store, I can always find solace within the sections devoted to accessories and purses. Finding unique options is a bit more challenging, however. Here are a few printed pieces that can be matched with and complement almost anything you choose to wear:

Fanny Pack ($40, Ofuure)

African Print Bum Bag ($39, Lolly & Kiks)

African Print Head Wrap ($20, Diyanu)

Fola Head Wrap ($28, Wrap Life)

Photographs courtesy of Besida; Kahaari; D'IYanu and ATM Kollectionz