Gele is a special kind of headgear that is worn by (Nigerian women and indeed other African women) to special occasions. It exemplifies their womanhood and femininity, and almost all young women are taught how to dress up with Gele right from their childhood and adolescent stage. The colour and texture of the Gele often serves to complement the blouse and wrapper, and it is hard to see any traditional female who does not have an assortment of Geles in their closet.
There are different Gele styles for different occasions. The most popular places you see Geles on display are at ‘Owambes’, which are common in the south west region and the eastern part of Nigeria.
This post explores the top five ways of styling your owambe Gele for that classy and elegant look. The top styles are: Layers Gele, Fan Gele, ‘V’ Gele, Unconventional Gele (which can be styled anyhow) and the Pencil Gele.
We shall also look into how to tie some of them.
#1. Layers Gele
The ‘layers’ Gele style is the regular and perhaps most popular way of tying Gele. It is unique and features a set of layers arranged in fine recurring patterns, suitable for a wide variety of occasions. To style your Gele in layers, follow the steps outlined below:
- First you must select the right fabric and the right colour of gele. Your Gele should be a complement to your other attires, not a distraction. Therefore, pick a suitable colour and textile material. Let the nature of your other attires and their colour influence your decision of Gele fabric and colour, for optimum aesthetic appeal. It is also advisable to choose light fabrics, for maximum comfort
- Put your hair together. If you want to make this style properly, or any other style of Gele, your hair must be neatly packed. You don’t want your hair pulling out from underneath the Gele after it has been tied
Now to the tying proper:
- Fold the Gele fabric in two unequal halves. It is essential for one fold to be longer than the other, for best results
- Starting from the back, wrap both halves around your head in such a way that their tips meet in front of your head
- Take the left half and wrap it gently towards the right one. Under normal circumstances, it should be shorter than the right one
- Cross the right half over the left one. Afterwards, gently wrap the right half towards the back of your head, securing the motions with your hands to ensure neatness. In all your wrapping, ensure that your forehead and a good part of your ears are covered.
- Back to the front where wrapping has occurred: now begin to arrange the front layers, one after the other. Do this for the right side too.
- Tie the ends in a double knot, which should be hidden near your lower neck region.
- Starting from the back, arrange the layers neatly at the top. Also ensure that the highest point is in the middle
- You can make pleats and lines amid all of this, and you can also carefully add frontal layers.
- Again, ensure that your forehead and ears are covered. If it is too close to your forehead, you can also push it back a bit to prevent any unfortunate slip off your head
- Adjust in front of a mirror until it looks perfect for you!
There you have it! Nigeria’s most popular Gele style, all by yourself.
#2. Fan Gele
The fan Gele bears striking similarities to the popular traditional handfans used to assuage the effects of hot weather. Each handfan typically has a handle, and a broad circular or v-shaped outline which provides maximum comfort in times of heat. Similarly, the fan Gele features a nice spread of Gele fabric in a fan shape. This style is easy to tie and very convenient for a variety of occasions.
#3. ‘V’ Gele
The ‘V’ Gele is unique for its V-shaped arrangement at the tip of the forehead. When styling other Geles, the forehead region is usually round-shaped, but in the V Gele the part of the fabric that makes contact with the hairline is V-shaped. This is made possible by the ingenious styling technique that has been developed and introduced by many Gele tying experts today. Interestingly, the V gele also bears many similarities with the layers Gele. As a matter of fact, from a distance, the only noticeable difference between both may be the V-shape at the hairline, as the rest of the fabric is usually made into layers too.
#4. Unconventional Gele (which can be styled anyhow)
This is perhaps the most interesting of all the top Gele styles. This is because it allows for boundless expression of creativity and imagination. There is no definite style or pattern of tying the Gele; all you have to do is imagine how you want the Gele to look like, develop a mental image of the pattern and technique for it, and begin tying with aplomb. You could tie an indefinite style that complements your head shape and body physique, or you could decide to try a combination of known styles. Just let your creativity come into play! However, you may be limited by experience, skill and knowledge about fashion.
#5. Pencil Gele
The Pencil Gele is an interesting style. It is very similar in orientation to the layers style, the only difference being that, rather than arrange the layers roundly, they are made to have a sort of pointed tip in the middle. It’s more like all the layers from the front and side converge towards a tip up in the middle. This bulge is very similar to the tip of a sharpened pencil, hence the name Pencil Gele. It is very unique, and adds beauty to whatever attire that is put on. However, it is advisable to be mindful of body physique and face outline, so as to optimize the aesthetic appeal of the pencil Gele style.
Geles never go out of vogue. For years they have remained relevant in the fashion world, and going forward they are set to continue the trend. New styles may be on the horizon, so keep your eyes out!