Happy Monday and Happy May!
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being an Aso Ebi for an aunt/family friend (pictured below) celebrating her birthday!
She was having a thanksgiving service at her church. She asked my sister (pictured below) and I to celebrate with her in giving thanks to God for adding another year to her life. Along with her family and friends, we danced with her to the front of the church altar (Nigerians can really dance) where we praised God and then her pastor prayed for her and her five children and those of us that came to rejoice with her. Then after church, she passed out take away containers filled with yummy jollof rice, chicken stew, plantains and meat pie. #YUM
Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
1 Chronicles 16:8
What is an Aso Ebi?
Below is the definition according to allaboutnaijaweddings.com:
Aso-ebi (translation: cloth of the family) is used to refer to the outfits made from matching fabric and and pattern worn by family members (though it now applies to anyone who can afford one or would like to wear one) at a wedding ceremony or social event to denote unity, support, and represent sides of the family. Aso-ebi fabrics are typically of Ankara or Lace material for the outfit with occasional head ties (gele) associated with it. Contrary to popular belief, the aso-ebi phenomena is not strictly a Nigerian thing but applies to many tribes and countries in Africa with the subtle difference in the name; not called aso-ebi across all countries.
Below is some information on its origins according to Wikipedia.
The word aso in Yoruba means cloth and ebi denotes family, so Aso ebi can be described as a family cloth usually worn during funerals or family ceremonies. However, the practice is now beyond family dressing because strangers of a celebrant can wear the Aso ebi.
Ayodele Olukoju, a Nigerian economic historian believes Aso ebi became a novelty in 1920 during a period of post war economic boom  triggered by the higher prices for produce products such as Oil palm. However, William Bascom traced the origin to an earlier period when members of Yorubaage grades wear uniform dressing to mark fraternal bonds. In the 1950s, members of women organizations or egbes turn out to ceremonies and anniversaries of relatives in the same style of dress, sandals, lappa, smock, necklace, the culture signifies close friendship. The uniform dressing can also be a measure of personal affluence because Aso ebi involves rivalry between various egbes or groups with each group competing to out shine each other in terms of quality, originality and richness of the uniform
Go Big or Go Home
I’ve always associated this tradition/dress style with Nigeria because I only noticed it richly displayed at extravagant Nigerian weddings.
At my former church, women would buy particular cloths and laces so they could get outfits sewn for upcoming Nigerian weddings. Sometimes their cloth and gele choice were determined by who they were to represent at the wedding (the bride’s side or the groom’s side). I have seen Ghanaian women start to do Aso ebi for their traditional wedding ceremony. The bride will have her girls wear the same cloths while she is usually decked out in a kente cloth dress, see below.
The gele the women are wearing in the bottom two pictures is definitely a Nigerian style. I love it!
I used to daydream about wearing a huge gele with an extravagant outfit. Just google Aso Ebi Bella. I mean these women go all out and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a Nigerian wedding participant and/or guest. Better yet, follow @AsoEbiBella on Instagram for inspiration and drool worthy outfits like this beauty’s below that I saved from there.
However, I couldn’t truly go all out because my sister and I received only five yards of cloth to split between the two of us. Hence why she made a skirt and I made a dress.
The cloth was not enough for our seamstress Janet to sew us both dresses. Janet ALWAYS makes me a skirt. She hasn’t made me a dress since 2011 (see that dress here). Even though a dress costs more than a skirt ($70 versus $50), I am so happy I decided to make a dress. I felt so feminine. Even though the weather was terrible and very UN-spring like. I didn’t even go hiking this past weekend :-/ Just when I thought it was spring 🙁 Anyways, I am hoping to make more dresses for “summer 16” *Drake voice*..lol No more skirts! I am crossing over officially and I am excited. Though, I did make some cute dresses in Ghana last summer so I plan to pull those bad boys out! I got three made. I am excited! Even though I drool over many outfits I see via social media, I still feel clueless when picking a design to give Janet. I showed and texted Janet a picture of this yellow & green dress below (on the left) to make my Aso ebi dress after. I bought and wore this dress (only once) summer of 2014 from a fellow Ghanaian in the area. It was already made. It’s super cute in the back. It has a low v cut so my back is out a little and it also has a bow by the waist. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the back but trust me it’s super cute.
I am very safe and a plain Jane
that’s why all my clothes look the same. I like to feel comfortable in whatever I wear but also cute. On the other hand, I want to try new looks. I think it would be great for me to experiment with various styles but still stay true to my personal style. First Lady O is one of my many style crushes and style inspirations. I love her whole look and being!!
Have you ever been an Aso Ebi girl? If so what was the occasion?
Please share and comment below.
Thanks for reading!! 🙂