NEWS UPDATE: Last weekend, President Wade's reign finally ended when opponent Macky Sall won the Presidential election. Last Sunday night, the streets were filled with cheerful Senegalese as they celebrated the defeat of the worst President ever...Wade. It was a great time to be in Senegal to witness this moment.
Ok so I have read reviews of Dakar that have called it the Paris of Africa in terms of fashion. And, though the French are always a la mode, I'm sorry but they have nothing on the Senegalese!
Senegalese people in general love to always look their best. My family is constantly coming home and washing their face and their feet, ironing their clothes, doing laundry...not looking put together is not an option here. For the most part, the young people try to emulate American fashion by wearing American brands and styles that they see on television and in magazines. However, I have noticed that the youth here love to put a twist on western fashion by incorporating their own personal style with the way they do their hair, wear jewelry, apply their makeup and fusing beautiful traditional African clothes. Dakar even has its own fashion week that has drawn attention from heavy hitter designers from Europe and America. http://www.dakarfashionweek.com/
Seeing men and women looking so polished on a daily basis makes me feel lazy when I think of how many times a week I am decked out in my sweatshirt and leggings in the states. People just don't dress up anymore.
THE TAILOR SITUATION
From the second I stepped off the plane and saw women wearing the most beautifully fitted outfits with colorful patterns i knew where all my money would be going this semester. Having clothes made in Senegal is an activity that almost everyone seems to part take in...especially Americans..Before I bolted to a tailor I searched online for images of the style of clothes I wanted and printed them out. Then I ventured to the fabric market HLM. HLM is a massive market that one could spend hours upon hours in, searching through all types of fabric. Once you find a fabric you like, you have to bargain for a good price and figure out how many meters you need. A dress is about 2 or 3 meters, while a skirt is 1 or 2 meters usually. The first time I went to HLM i bought 6 meters for 5 mil. (less than 2 bucks for one meter) Then I took my fabric and my photo to my mothers tailor Goor, who happens to live right next door to me. It is important to have a clear idea of what you want so that you can tell the tailor you want a zipper, pockets, buttons, a slit here...etc. The first time I went to pick up a romper that I had him make, I wanted him to make more changes...I ended up going back four times until it came out just the way I wanted. I snagged a romper design from urbanoutfitters.com that was $60 and with the fabric and the tailoring it cost me less than 9 bucks. When I had an off the shoulder american apparel dress made it cost me around 6 bucks!
THE OUAKAM MARKET
I dabble in thrift shopping back in the states ( it is a prereq for being a college student) but nothing compares to the Marche Jeudi that occurs weekly in my neighborhood. The vendors start setting up in the morning, but by mid-afternoon the outdoor thift event turns into crowded and hectic shopping arena. It has become one of my favorite things to look forward to each week! They have everything from jewlery to fabric to clothes to flashlights to books to kitchen utencils. I find myself on the ground throwing clothes around until I find something awesome then bargaining in Wolof for the items. I snag 40 cent shirts, 60 cent pants and 2 dollar dresses. Last Thursday I somehow ended up fake crying to get a black Buffalo David Bitton dress from 2 mil 500 ($5) to 2 mil 250 ($4.50)...It has become an addiction. Going back to America is going to be extremely difficult when I cannot bargain for everything like I do here...