Art, Culture & Events Fashion & Beauty

African Wear Wednesday: 7 Tips on What to Wear to a Pro-Black Affair

April 19, 2018

A month ago, I finally got to attend an event I’ve been involved with for 2 years now! The Black Love Experience was everything I thought it would be and then some!

Anika Hobbs, the owner of Nubian Hueman, really curated a truly amazing program with the help of the awesome team! Even though I was stressed out (wifi spotty, data acting up, organizing the social media coverage), I still had awesome conversation with amazing people, caught up with old friends and made new ones, and just soaked in all the melanin magic in every corner.

One of the things that really stuck out to me – besides the heart pounding music and insightful workshops – was how fabulously dressed everyone was! Even if their outfit was casual, it was still so trendy and chique. It got me thinking about how you really have to come looking correct to pro-Black affairs like The Black Love Experience, AfroPunk, Essence Fest, Summit 21 and the like!

So here are my top 6 tips (and a bonus break down of my outfit), on what to wear to a pro-Black event:


1. All Black Everything

Too obvious? This one is a no-brainer and one you can’t go wrong with. Did you just find out about the event and don’t have time to pull an outfit together? Are you trying to make a statement? An all black outfit can accomplish both of these! I’m sure you have something black in your closet; pull out a few statement accessories and you’re good to go!

Black is a color that is always on trend, at once powerful and somber, sexy and bold, chic and rebellious.

All Black Everything also works because it is a fashion staple that fits the moment on many levels. Black is a color that is always on trend, at once powerful and somber, sexy and bold, chic and rebellious. It’s been the go to color for various movements and battle cries such as the Black Panthers, Black Lives Matter and most recently the Time’s Up Golden Globes Blackout.

Read more about the significance of the color black in fashion here.

So yeah, you can’t go wrong with all black everything.


2. Afro-chique

Many pro-Black events have a Afro-centric or Pan-African flair to them. They call back to the origins of Black skin and humanity itself: Africa. That’s why wearing anything Afro-centric or made with ankara (wax print), will certainly turn a few heads, but you’ll also fit right in! You can wear an ankara head wrap or statement accessories. You can also try pairing some African pants with a plain top, wearing a patterned top with more casual bottoms, or roll in wearing ankara head to toe!

Looking for some Ankara pieces to add to your collection? Make sure you check out:

3. Go all out

The thing about Black events is that I don’t think it’s possible to be over dressed. I wrote this article for Face2face Africa on how to dress to a Pan-African gala, and honestly many of the tips would suffice for almost any pro-Black event that you attend.

Wear a ball gown, cocktail dress, button up shirt, or whatever it is you feel comfortable in! Growing up in an African home, I know for sure it was better to show up over dressed than under dressed, and even now, we are among the more dressed up families at Mass.


4. Support Black Businesses

This one is kinda obvious as well. But it’s important to reiterate that we must be pro-Black in word and deed. Even if it’s a simple or classic outfit, knowing you are wearing a truly pro-Black outfit will get your head in the space to attend an awesome pro-Black event. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter if someone asks about your outfit! Especially if you’re wearing one of those statement T-shirts!

Official Black Wall Street has a massive and growing list of local Black businesses we should patronize! Check it out and find a local boutique near you! And if you are in the DMV, Nubian Hueman boutique is a great place to start. She sources from Black businesses around the world. And the sites I mentioned above, in tip #2, are all owned by Black women.


5. Bold Colors & Trendy Pieces

You can’t go wrong with bold colors, unique prints and avant garde outfits. Bright colors look great against our skin, so this is the time to wear those outfits you might think are too “loud” for other events!

It’s also the time to show off your unique sense of style or an outfit combo you have been wanting to try out. Black people are known for being trendy. Otherwise, why would people stay copying us? So a pro-Black affair is the perfect place to whip out your trendy and unique outfits!


6. Check the vibe

Okay so I know I said you can’t be over dressed, but what would be worse is being under dressed. To get a feel for the vibe, you should check out photos from previous iterations of the event, ask friends who have gone, or reach out to the organizers.

Basically you want to get a feel for what people usually where, the venue (outdoor or indoor) and the program (will you stand a lot or not). This will help you decided how you want to dress and if you should wear those stilettos.

7. Show your style

And this should probably go without saying as well, but BE YOURSELF! The most important thing is dressing how YOU want! Whether that’s classic and chique, bright and sexy, casual and fun or anything between above and below that!


BONUS: You can’t go wrong with casual chique and unique.

So I went with casual chicque because I had to be running around behind the scenes but also get in front of our social media platforms, be comfortable and look cute as hell. Also it was cold outside. With all these constraints and things in mind, I went with this hoodie and shorts combo.

It meets tips 2, 4, 5 AND 6:

  • Tip 6: It was my first time attending Black Love Experience, but from the pictures, I knew what people wore varied from jeans to ball gowns, and lots of Afro-centric pieces. I also asked my friend Chineme what she wore last year.
  • Tip 7: Shorts with tights isn’t something I would usually think to pair together, but it seemed trendy, and I knew I would be cold.
  • Tips 2, 4 & 7: I got the hoodie while I was still in Nigeria. My sister and I designed the look together and she picked out the material.

I finished it with boots I bought in Parisaccessories I love worn in unique ways, and my afro came out to play to complete my cozy, Afro-chique and casual outfit!

What do you think? Did I nail it?

Now that you know just how to dress for a Pro-Black Affair, here are some ideas for events you could attend and put these tips into practice:


I’d love to know if you plan on attending any of these events or other pro-Black affairs this year or next and what you usually wear to pro-Black events or other events that highlight or celebrate a community of people!




The crowns featured in this post were designed and created by Risikat, Charles Jean-Pierre, and Hadiya Williams. The photos were taken by Mayowa Ojo and Mark F. Jones.

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  • Reply Chineme April 19, 2018 at 21:36

    Great post with a lot of information! Personally I usually go with Afro-chic or trendy/statement pieces, which always tend to support Black businesses, since all of my ankara was sewn in either Nigeria or Senegal by local designers. Also, you looked fly at BLE this past year and did an amazing job with the coverage the past two years.

    • Reply Omolayo Nkem May 10, 2018 at 10:19

      Stop! You’re going to make me cry! You did amazing as well. I’m excited to do more projects together!
      Alsooo, yes, you ALWAYS have to dopest pieces. Your tailors are talented.

  • Reply Chidera August 15, 2018 at 17:27

    This post. Amazing it is. Well done, Omo. Really you do all you do with all of your heart. And you looked great. I should start planning on getting an ankara hoodie.

    • Reply Omolayo Nkem August 16, 2018 at 13:18

      Thank you so much Chidera!! You know that means SO much to me!! I do very much want to put my heart in all I do, and I’m glad it is showing! And YESS Anakara hoodie is CLUTCH! Especially useful for those Harmattan nights, so do get one!!

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