Wrapper clothing is a piece of colorful garment that is largely worn in the West of Africa. It can be both formal and informal, plus can be seen on both genders. The formality and complexity of the dress depends principally on the material that is being made of, as the dresses can vary from simple designs to completely tailored ones.
The informal wrapper fabrics are: batik (mix of wax and hot die), the “fancy” print (one-sided prints), kente, mudcloth and tie-dye.
The formal wrapper fabrics are: Aso Oke, cotton brocade (shiny cotton fabric), the George cloth (originating from Indian saris), lace, linen, satin and African waxprints.
One of the common names for wrappers in Yorubaland, Nigeria is Yoruba iro and this particular wrapper is usually paired with a matching gele, which is a headscarf or a head tie. The whole ensemble consists of three parts: the iro, gele and a blouse (locally known as buba). Moreover, the wrappers consist of meters of high quality fabric and especially a set of white ones are worn during weddings, however, the non-traditional blue (the color of love) can also be witnessed.
Pagne is also a type of wrapper clothing, however it stands out due to its cuts and untailored cotton textile, which is common in Central Africa and Francophone West. The clothing is enormously worn in the most of tropical Africa and its usage and patterns depend largely on the wearer, who can choose to convey any economic, social (sometimes even a political) message.
The garment is often times being compared to those from Southern and Eats Africa – khanga or chitenge, however their sizes, usage and patterns differ. Pagne allows the creation of many garments, such as: the boubou, western style suits or dresses and, it can also be used untailored for head ties, wraps, skirts or slings for children.
Fact! The term “wrapper” is an older and informal term for house garment in the UK and North America. However, such words as housecoat, bathrobe and dressing gown have replaced it.