The garment- a loose fitting tunic sewed from bright African patterns and colors, often with embroidery around the collar, the sleeves and bottom half- first became popular in America in the mid 1960's as a style extension of the Black Pride movement. Worn by Black Panthers, Black leaders and diplomats,as well as the people on the streets, the dashiki served as an identity marker right a long with Afros, beads and head wraps.
Today is really no different. Yes, we see them worn on people who do not traditionally identify with the culture, but the same thing happened in the '60s when the hippies who were attracted to the embroidery and bright colors started wearing them. It doesn't take anything away from the tradition, the struggle or the meaning behind the fabrics and colors because other races chooses to embrace a style of dress as long as it is done in a tasteful and appropriate way. But buyer beware because most dashikis sold in stores or online today are directly from China, some vintage ones may have been imported from India or Pakistan. Check the "hand" (the heaviness of the fabric) and ask about the country of origin if you want authenticity!
With that being said, let's talk about three easy ways to introduce the garment into your wardrobe!
- Trendy: If you are the trend setting stay fly by any means necessary type of guy then this should be easy for you. Pair a fitted dashiki with your designer jeans and the sneakers you purchased last week. Add a coordinating team snap-back, then stand off to the side so somebody can wipe you down.
- Casual: You have a pair of Polo shorts in every color? Cool, find a dashiki with a color story that will match your shorts. You can't go wrong with navy, it's less serious than black, not as flashy as a bright yellow or teal short and you probably already have a pair in your closet. Finish the look off with a laid back pair of shades and a neutral pair of sandals or a boat shoe wit' yo' grown and sexy ass...
- Modern: You might be a borderline mixture of both trendy and casual; like you have never owned a pair of skinny jeans- but you do pay closer attention to the fit of your pants. Or you might have grown up wearing Ralph Lauren, but now you don't mind experimenting with other brands that have similar cuts and styles. If so, try your dashiki with a pair of black slim fit jeans, and a sophisticated but practical desert boot. Try a camo accessory if you are feeling risque', but no pressure lol!