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The ultimate breakdown on effortless dressing for any occasion.

By Lindsay Samson

November 29, 2022

If you've spent time on social media over the past year—particularly TikTok and Instagram—you'd probably have noticed the idea of the #softlife gaining traction. The trend has become so ubiquitous that it's even been immortalized in song, with South African singer Nomfundo Moh releasing a track named after it. 'Knock, knock. We also want access to this soft life,' she laments in her native IsiZulu language. But what exactly is this Soft Life?

According to an article from ANDSCAPE, "soft life" originates in the Nigerian influencer community. Urban Dictionary describes the aspirational idea as "a life of ease without requiring hard work, sacrifice, and unpleasantness."

Look at any of the several thousand videos under the hashtag on TikTok, and you'll see pure indulgence—people sipping champagne, spending days at the spa, and generally putting themselves first. It's a mindset of leisure, something that's become increasingly appealing in a world that celebrates hustle culture and sees many of us working long hours to have it all.

Living soft is about prioritizing your joy first, and one of the best ways to do that is by making time for yourself and doing it in style. We've gathered the best designer pieces in which to live your best life should you find yourself chasing the summer somewhere in Africa, or another part of the world where the mercury is still very much high.

1.

Day at the beach

What's more relaxing and rejuvenating than a day spent oceanside? To look fit for your glorious seaside surroundings, turn to the resort-ready creations of Andrea Iyamah. The label's contemporary take on retro silhouettes has proven a favorite of numerous celebrities, including actors Gabrielle Union and Issa Rae. Choose from a range of on-trend pieces to enjoy the blue waters and beaming sun—from the intricately patterned Akacia Bikini to the ultra-feminine Kiara and Gara swimsuits. Alternatively, Taibo Bacar's Sexy on the Beach Maio cozzie offers a slightly more modest style, while Andrea Iyamah's Marigold Sade Cover Up Dress will lend a dramatic flair. Tie the look together with a beach-appropriate bag. Add eye-catching arm-wear to store all of your essentials with Reform Studio's Rebel Tote holdalls which are made from Plastex (a material the brand invented, derived from upcycled plastic waste).

Akacia Bikini
Akacia Bikini
Akacia Bikini
Akacia Bikini
Akacia Bikini

Andrea Iyamah

Akacia Bikini

$188
Sarina Cover Up
Sarina Cover Up
Sarina Cover Up
Sarina Cover Up
Sarina Cover Up
Sarina Cover Up
Sarina Cover Up

Andrea Iyamah

Sarina Cover Up

$210
Peach Gara Bikini
Peach Gara Bikini
Peach Gara Bikini

Andrea Iyamah

Peach Gara Bikini

$168
Multi Stripes Rebel Mini Tote Bag
Multi Stripes Rebel Mini Tote Bag
Multi Stripes Rebel Mini Tote Bag
Multi Stripes Rebel Mini Tote Bag
Multi Stripes Rebel Mini Tote Bag

Reform Studio

Multi Stripes Rebel Mini Tote Bag

$160
Marigold Sade Cover Up Dress
Marigold Sade Cover Up Dress
Marigold Sade Cover Up Dress

Andrea Iyamah

Marigold Sade Cover Up Dress

$232
Sexy on the Beach Maio Swimsuit
Sexy on the Beach Maio Swimsuit
Sexy on the Beach Maio Swimsuit
Sexy on the Beach Maio Swimsuit
Sexy on the Beach Maio Swimsuit

Taibo Bacar

Sexy on the Beach Maio Swimsuit

$274

2.

Art Escape 

Suppose you're spending some time as a tourist in your city and enjoying the stimulating freedom of browsing local galleries and museums. In that case, you'll want to prioritize comfort above all else. Still, you'll want to strike a fine balance between relaxed and sophisticated to avoid falling prey to the cliché tourist look. In this case, a buttoned shirt is a failsafe option. OLOOH's Fé Shirt and Viviers' Acid Banana Orchid Pajama Shirt offer spirited, modern takes on the style. Pair with one of Kente Gentleman's tailored trousers for a chic, cosmopolitan look. Suppose you're more partial to the ease and femininity of a dress. In that case, Katush's Beige Yakisukumwa Dress, UNI FORM's Ivory Lab Shirt Dress, and IAMISIGO's maxi 3-In-1 Shirt Dress all exude the kind of easygoing elegance that's simple yet utterly chic. But if you're looking to mirror the expressiveness of the space you're in, turn to Viviers' Wifi Beaded Raglan Coat. Its patchwork of striped patterns and artisan nature makes it a sartorial reflection of artistic spaces.

Wifi Beaded Raglan Coat
Wifi Beaded Raglan Coat
Wifi Beaded Raglan Coat
Wifi Beaded Raglan Coat
Wifi Beaded Raglan Coat
Wifi Beaded Raglan Coat
Wifi Beaded Raglan Coat

Viviers

Wifi Beaded Raglan Coat

$2,100
Fé Shirt
Fé Shirt
Fé Shirt
Fé Shirt

OLOOH

Fé Shirt

$140
Acid Banana Orchid Pajama Shirt
Acid Banana Orchid Pajama Shirt
Acid Banana Orchid Pajama Shirt
Acid Banana Orchid Pajama Shirt
Acid Banana Orchid Pajama Shirt

Viviers

Acid Banana Orchid Pajama Shirt

$790
Samuels I Pants
Samuels I Pants
Samuels I Pants
Samuels I Pants

Kente Gentlemen

Samuels I Pants

$295
Grey 3-In-1 Shirt Dress
Grey 3-In-1 Shirt Dress
Grey 3-In-1 Shirt Dress
Grey 3-In-1 Shirt Dress
Grey 3-In-1 Shirt Dress

IAMISIGO

Grey 3-In-1 Shirt Dress

$413
Ivory Lab Shirt Dress
Ivory Lab Shirt Dress
Ivory Lab Shirt Dress
Ivory Lab Shirt Dress
Ivory Lab Shirt Dress

UNI FORM

Ivory Lab Shirt Dress

$300

3.

Picnic in the park

We can't think of an activity that epitomizes the 'soft life' more than an afternoon picnic—a romantic outdoor set-up with a cozy blanket, maybe some candles, and bubbly. Nothing screams "picnic prairie chic" like Taibo Bacar's Bond and Elizma Dresses. Their ultra-feminine silhouettes, flattering fits, and soft hues make their unassuming elegance perfect for an alfresco-dining date. Niuku's Yellow Seleti Dress offers a similar air of relaxed chicness, while Doreen Mashika's ever-popular printed frocks imbue a mood-boosting playfulness that's always in style. But if dresses aren't your thing, Hamaji's Carmine Shorts and Stone Tie-Front Crop Top is an easy-wearing pairing that embodies that joyful summer mood. Wear yours with a set of dainty gold hoops and a pop of bold lipstick for an earthy and alluring look.

Bond Dress
Bond Dress
Bond Dress

Taibo Bacar

Bond Dress

$1,175
Elizma Dress
Elizma Dress
Elizma Dress
Elizma Dress
Elizma Dress
Elizma Dress
Elizma Dress
Elizma Dress

Taibo Bacar

Elizma Dress

$737
Stone Tie-Front Crop Top
Stone Tie-Front Crop Top
Stone Tie-Front Crop Top
Stone Tie-Front Crop Top
Stone Tie-Front Crop Top
Stone Tie-Front Crop Top
Stone Tie-Front Crop Top
Stone Tie-Front Crop Top

Hamaji

Stone Tie-Front Crop Top

$105
Carmine Shorts
Carmine Shorts
Carmine Shorts
Carmine Shorts
Carmine Shorts
Carmine Shorts
Carmine Shorts

Hamaji

Carmine Shorts

$116
Green Nia Dress
Green Nia Dress
Green Nia Dress
Green Nia Dress
Green Nia Dress
Green Nia Dress

Doreen Mashika

Green Nia Dress

$260
Yellow Seleti Dress
Yellow Seleti Dress
Yellow Seleti Dress
Yellow Seleti Dress

Niuku

Yellow Seleti Dress

$285

4.

Self-Care moments

Given the frenetic pace of modern life, we can't think of anything more indulgent than a bit of pampering when treating yourself. Take a personal day, step into a hot shower or bathtub, lather yourself in your favorite aromatic cleanser, and slip into a chic pajama set or silky robe that's as glammed up as it is comfy. The Mandevo Pajama Sets by Taibo Bacar are a dreamy delight and a fierce fashion statement that's both perfectly put-together and ready for lounging. Nothing like the snug, flannel pajama set to reserve for biting winter nights, the Mozambican designer's Street Pajama set comes in a bright, energizing red and soft, rosy pink. If that's not your thing, embrace a kimono or robe's elegant, refined form. Boasting an innate romance, Andrea Iyamah's Gamba and Eucalyptus Leaf Print Neema Robes evoke a distant regality. At the same time, Awa Meité's Kola Kimono effectively straddles the line between supreme comfort and style.

Rose Mandevo Street Pajama
Rose Mandevo Street Pajama
Rose Mandevo Street Pajama

Taibo Bacar

Rose Mandevo Street Pajama

$391
Black Mandevo Shirt Dress
Black Mandevo Shirt Dress
Black Mandevo Shirt Dress

Taibo Bacar

Black Mandevo Shirt Dress

$289
Eucalyptus Leaf Print Neema Robe
Eucalyptus Leaf Print Neema Robe
Eucalyptus Leaf Print Neema Robe

Andrea Iyamah

Eucalyptus Leaf Print Neema Robe

$220
Printed Gamba Robe
Printed Gamba Robe
Printed Gamba Robe
Printed Gamba Robe
Printed Gamba Robe

Andrea Iyamah

Printed Gamba Robe

$280
Red Mandevo Shirt Dress
Red Mandevo Shirt Dress
Red Mandevo Shirt Dress

Taibo Bacar

Red Mandevo Shirt Dress

$289
Kola Kimono
Kola Kimono
Kola Kimono

Awa Meité

Kola Kimono

$450

5.

Night on the town

In the Southern Hemisphere, it's the time of year when empty calendars slowly fill up with invites to all kinds of soirées, marking the return of the all-night, big-bash parties. Take this as an opportunity to celebrate not only the season but yourself too, and turn to pieces that exude glamor, fun, and excess. Paint the town red in Lisa Folawiyo's Geo Maxi Dress or Lucky Tie Neck Maxi Dress. Their show-stopping, geometric printed pieces are made to stand out. Meanwhile, the hand-draped Onyisi Shirt Dress from Fruché is the epitome of irrefutable femininity and reveals a deep consideration for the diversity of the female form. The brand's Efik Shirt Dress and River Dress offer similar doses of glamor and make powerful, unapologetic statements. If it's a splash of zesty color you're after, Pepper Row's Nata Draped Skirt Set and Cynthia Abila's Orie Shirt Dress offer this in spades. The former's tie-dye indigo print and the latter's complementary orange and brown tones pack a powerful punch.

Nata Draped Skirt Set
Nata Draped Skirt Set
Nata Draped Skirt Set
Nata Draped Skirt Set

Pepper Row

Nata Draped Skirt Set

$375
Onyisi Shirt Dress
Onyisi Shirt Dress
Onyisi Shirt Dress
Onyisi Shirt Dress

Fruché

Onyisi Shirt Dress

$500
Orie Shirt Dress
Orie Shirt Dress
Orie Shirt Dress
Orie Shirt Dress
Orie Shirt Dress
Orie Shirt Dress
Orie Shirt Dress
Orie Shirt Dress

Cynthia Abila

Orie Shirt Dress

$400
Efik Shirt Dress
Efik Shirt Dress
Efik Shirt Dress
Efik Shirt Dress
Efik Shirt Dress
Efik Shirt Dress

Fruché

Efik Shirt Dress

$800
River Dress
River Dress
River Dress
River Dress
River Dress

Fruché

River Dress

$1,000