Two-piece sets have existed in African fashion for almost as long as we can remember. Looking through regional fashion archives, people wore traditional clothing involving co-ords made from Mud Cloth to Kente and Adire fabric. These pieces were designed for functionality and versatility, affording wearers with multiple outfit combinations. Today, the value these matching sets bring to our closets hasn’t changed much. However, contemporary African designers have found ways to keep re-engineering these coordinated pieces to match the current style climate, using more modern fabrics, varied cuts, and shapes. Below, we set the scene with pieces from Industrie Africa while answering your burning questions and helping you find combinations for every occasion from vacations to weddings, including some smart hacks for those of us who are still apprehensive about embracing complete coordination.
Vacations offer us the opportunities to explore new cities, try exotic meals, learn new languages, visit museums and do a host of other things, all with the goal of unwinding. For these activities, pieces like Orange Culture’s Adire two-piece and Andrea Iyamah set are ideal. The coordinating shorts and shirt taps into the ‘Adire’ trend revival and perfectly mixes style and function. Wear the set as is, or pair the shirt with some cut-off denim and the bottoms with a white tank top and these Shekudo Clogs for a requisite pop of color. If you’re looking for a more muted ensemble, you can recreate these looks with Senegalese designer Diarrablu’s Suto Black set for a monochromatic look that’s both effortless and elevated.
Andrea Iyamah’s statement swimsuit set speaks for itself—keep it simple by pairing it with a tote and cover-up that says, “I’m ready for a beach day.” But, sometimes, the best vacation you can get is a day to sleep in. And, for those times, this Taibo Bacar Pajama set with its luxe fabric will make you feel like you’re holed up in a 5-star luxury spa.
Deciding what to wear for important occasions can be daunting due to the fear of being over or underdressed. Fortunately, Industrie Africa is on hand to provide a guide on what to wear for some of life’s most joyous events.
Looking for a stylish alternative to the stereotypical wedding dress? This Viviers suit hits the spot. Besides the color—an off-white—which is perfect for weddings and wedding-related activities, this suiting set by South African designer Lezanne Viviers is made from silk-hemp, which gives it a reflective quality that elevates it completely, lending the set an opulent air. The Italian brassware and shoulder pad detailing are the icing on the cake to make you a certified head-turner. Suppose you’ve just graduated or landed a new job; Studio 189’s Green Aggie set will fit right into a celebratory soiree marking life’s major milestones.
Perhaps you’re walking the red carpet. Such an occasion calls for Emmy Kasbit’s Fafi set, balancing creative and formal. The off-shoulder cut paired with the print adds a touch of whimsy to an otherwise traditional suit silhouette. Finally, suppose you’re in the mood to party. In that case, lean into Nigerian designer Lisa Folawiyo’s love for print, a vibrant ode to Africa, and its customary fabric and pattern origins. Pair this set with Ivorian designer Loza Maleombho’s Thila heels, and you have an outfit that strikes the ultimate balance between dressed-up and casual. In short, whatever occasion you’re celebrating, a coordinated set will slot right in.
Mix and Match Sets
While many love matching sets, many are apprehensive about the uniformity and opt for contrasting pieces. One hack to trying matching sets is knowing that they don’t have to be an exact match—instead, why not give complementary pieces a go? Try pairing individual pieces from the same collection or elements that align on these three categories: print, fabric and color.
For instance, by pairing this red Studio 189 Ayumi Blazer with their Crossroads Mermaid Skirt, you get a bold two-piece set that embodies elements of West African batik and patterns.
Another instance of unconventional pairings that work is the Nkwo Parachute Top and IAMISIGO Slit Front Shorts that, together, create an ensemble that is avant-garde yet wearable.
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