The Art of the Dress

When going through fashion magazines or even adverts, shopping for women is a mega glamorous venture. We see pictures of smiling girls, in high heels and perfect make up, shopping in spacious air conditioned malls or elegant shops. Oh! And on a very good day, holding the occasional champagne flute!

This highly sophisticated shopping is almost a dream to the females in my neighborhood. I would personally take you on a trip through the typical cloth shopping day in Kigali.

On an average wallet, a girl would opt for a second-hand market. Where contrary to the women you’d expect to serve you in the beautiful boutiques, you’d meet a sea of sellers trying to get your attention. Some would even physically be pulling you if your facial expression allows it. After a short fussy moment of hesitation, you follow one of them. That is if you manage to untangle yourself from the one glued to your elbow or the two others behind your back. Better yet, head to your common seller if you are a frequent buyer. Getting there, state the type of clothes you want and wait as the seller sorts them. That being done, head to the impossibly squeezed fitting space. Which mostly comprises of a curtained sheet of cloth. And try to squeeze into the clothes.

A few things will result from that:

  • Some clothes will magically fit you. Perfect!
  • Some of the few you really like will not, either being too big (then you opt to take them to a local tailor for reduction and hope to the goddess of fashion that they don’t get completely ruined). Or they can also be too tight, but because you are a female for one, (or just a holder of endless faith), you decide to take them. Your final verdict being either the hope of losing some weight or adding to the tailor heap.

That being sorted, find a place to sit or support yourself and start bargaining. That seller who knows the minimum price, will name double or triple the price and let you bargain for 30 healthy minutes. All that without even a re-conciliatory glass of water, leave alone the champagne flute.

Almost there! You reach what you decide is a reasonable price, (this is usually after developing a slight headache or voice loss) and ready to leave. The summary of your state of being now is;

Extremely dehydrated, stiff-tongued, uncomfortably hot and if you happen to have a sensitive nasal passage, you would be sneezing out a few cells from your lungs. Only to reach home to find that you picked all the wrong clothes. All because those you liked did not fit or were too expensive. Or that you picked the right trousers but they don’t match the coat you had in the wardrobe! So finally, you are in bad clothes, a bad mood and a bad wallet situation.

All is not lost, however, more sophisticated options can be looked upon. Some boutiques offer better choice for those willing to stretch the clothes budget. You could get smart and befriend a designer or owner of a fashion shop and get the good friends-only service. Without forgetting the occasional clothes you might fall upon on a street hawker on the road. Chances are they might fit and be torn or damaged somehow, or if heaven is on your side, then they do fit! Eureka! life is worth living.

With all this, if anyone (and by anyone, I literally mean everyone) would dare to say shopping is not a sport for women, a woman might fight. And hopefully, she could lose a little weight in that fight and fit in those new very tight jeans. I personally salute the Kigali females. Just for the mere fact that they look good. Also, simply because they still manage to match those pieces and not look like clowns or out of season Christmas trees! Honestly, looking decent out here is an art and it requires skill and endurance. It’s a wonder we don’t have that many female managers around here.