Style book: How to mix patterns?

I love colors and patterns. After all, the entire African continent is widely known as the Wax continent, where colorful and bold patterns reign supreme. The “African” cotton wax fabric is so intrinsic to fashion in the multi-cultural continent I was born in that people forget its true origins: Indonesia. But I digress…

When I was asked to share my approach to styling the cotton wax through Zigida, I met many women who found the fabrics and my designs very appealing, but struggled to incorporate the bold patterns into their closet. Many reached back to me that, while they were quick to purchase my skirts and dresses, they could not pair them with anything they already own, without looking like clowns or fearing to be labelled with cultural appropriation.

I will leave the topic of “cultural appropriation” to next week’s post on Africa and Fashion. As far as rules and tips on mixing/pairing patterns, I usually follow the three rules below.

Rule #1: “Pair bold patterns with solid colors, in the same color family”.

I would typically pair my printed skirts with a neutral colored blouse or tee (beige, white, black, navy, or a pop of bright color), or a matching solid colored shirt. You can also pair any print with a simple white tee and a solid colored jacket, sweater or vest. Rule #1 is fail proof if you’re just getting started.ebelandi_colormix_2

Below, I pair the Zigida Minda skirt with a simple white tee (I have a houndstooth jacket on my arm…see rule #2) and further down, it’s a simple white blouse and matching shoes.img_6723


You can also use a very soft print, almost solid-like pattern to pair with your bolder patterns once you get more confident, as I’ve done below with another Zigida skirt paired with an old J.Crew sweater.ebelandi_colormix_1

Another combination from this model below (image credits per link).softpatternRule #2: “Pair bold patterns with stripes, animal prints or ‘simple’ houndstooth patterns – in the same color family”.

The idea here is that stripes and animal prints play the role of neutrals. This also applies to very simple houndstooth patterns. I saw this combination on many runway looks during fashion week. Below is how I’ve paired stripes with the Zigida circle midi skirt.ebelandi_colormix_4Another example is what Morethanturquoise has done with her Zigida skirt (image courtesy of linked source):morehtant

Below is an example of Olivia Palermo in a leopard print (shoes) mixed with bold florals (image courtesy of linked source):  

Rule #3: “Stick to a maximum of three different patterns together”.

I read somewhere a while back that any more than three bold patterns is too distracting to the eye and I tend to agree. My favorite pattern mixing blogger, Blair Eadie, does it well here, mixing dots, stripes and animal prints (image courtesy of linked source).

Note – This post is sponsored by Zigida, a market place for modern apparel and accessories inspired by high quality and colorful cotton fabrics.

Culture: Home and Bonobos


“Si tu pars n’oublie pas
La terre où ton coeur a vu le jour
Zanzibar ou Kinshasa
Faudra jamais que tu oublies l’amour”

– Si Tu Pars by Lokua Kanza

Last November, I went back home.  I had to go back…I was dying inside, I needed to see the house I grew up in, I had to breathe the air I remembered…I had to stare at the stars at night as I did so many times long ago…when I used to be a teenager, confused but hopeful that tomorrow would make more sense.

“C’était hier quand Mboyo jouait sur les pirogues
De l’autre côté, Dimitri faisait du roller à Prague
Tous les deux, ils ont été touchés par l’aventure
Comme toi, j’aurais un mot simplement à te dire…

So, I set a date but the Paris attack took place the Friday before my scheduled flight…yet, I refused to stay.  My friends and I visited a traumatized Europe with armed soldiers at each corner, high security and long lines in Rome, Florence, Milan, Paris and Bruxelles.  It seemed as though the world was falling apart as I was finally going home.  But I had to be home.  When I finally landed in Kinshasa, the little girl inside me felt at peace.  I wasn’t dreaming anymore.  True, a lot had changed in a decade. The airport was fully air-conditioned. The roads were not as bumpy as I remembered yet they served more cars than they could handle and this resulted in painful traffic jams and jaywalkers.


Oh, there were scooter-taxis everywhere and 24-hour churches promising prosperity in exchange for your hard-earned wage.  Kinshasa was more diverse with a larger group of Indian and Chinese immigrants. On the other hand, there were less Lebanese and they left with my favorite shawarma restaurant  😦ebelandi_kin_7 ebelandi_kin_6 ebelandi_kin_2

One of the highlights of my trip was a stop at Lola ya Bonobos or Heavens of the Bonobos.  The Bonobos are a species of intelligent monkeys only found in the Democratic Republic of Congo and nowhere else.  They are known for their peaceful attitude. Unfortunately, Bonobos are an endangered species because they are killed as bushmeat in Congo.  It was an amazing experience to see the work and love poured into preserving them at Lola ya Bonobos. If you’d like to learn more about the sanctuary, visit the official website or watch the 60 minutes episode with Anderson Cooper.

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I was home, finally.  A lot had changed, yet things had remained the same.  My mom still sang when the lights went off but this time she sang alone. Love, money and family were still the main subjects developed on television. Commercials were still ridiculously funny with catchy tunes to hypnotize us into buying milk, beer, skin lightening creams, hair products, lottery tickets and spa treatments.  The sky still shone bright in a midnight blue hue at night and my favorite stars were still there and so were the pool as well as the swing my baby brother and I played in.

I was home and could finally let my brain remember moments I tried to block out by fear that my heart would be too heavy.  This time at last,  my eyes and my hands could match the memories to concrete objects. And the people had changed, yet they were the same hard working, family oriented, fun loving, optimistic and fashion conscious people I remembered.  A decade had passed and things looked different yet it all felt the same.

“Tu verras la beauté des hommes et leur douleur
L’important c’est de pouvoir toujours garder ta chaleur
Bien des fois tu auras la visite du blues d’un soir, mais tu vois
La vie a ses beaux jours et ses déboires”

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Designer spotlight: Fenix Couture

The BrandFenix Couture


The IT Factor: Bright colors and structured lines with the expected Dutch wax prints

The Inspiration: Per the website, the label is inspired by nature, “which is reinterpreted to render its designs in dramatically romantic prints and imagery. The goal of the Label is to bridge the gap between print wax materials and other materials in the consciousness of the fashion world”


The Designer Behind the Brand: Josephine Akioyamen, Nigerian-born with formal education at Nicky Africana Fashion School in Lagos and at the George Brown College in Toronto Canada

Country of origin: Nigeria – Canada

Notable Awards: None that I could find

Website: Fenix Couture

Where to buy: Fenix Couture Online Shop

Sissi’s Notes: I love the structured looks because they say classy, polish and feminine without being overtly sexy. My favorites above and below. All images courtesy of

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Designer of week: Gavin Rajah

The BrandGavin Rajah


All pictures on this post are courtesy of Gavin Rajah

The IT Factor: Eclectic

The Inspiration: Nothing much I could find unfortunately. Lots of lace and form fitting outfits, few sarees as well. Not what you expect from a typical “African” designer and I love it, showcasing richness of cultures within the large continent.

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The Designer Behind the Brand: Gavin Rajah, nothing more on him apart for his work for UNICEF per wikipedia

Country of origin: South Africa

Notable Awards: None that I could find

Website:Gavin Rajah

Where to buy:Gavin Rajah

Sissi’s Notes: Wish there were more details on this designer 😦 but some of my favorites below.

14_MBFWCT_SDR_0278_GavinRajah_w387_h580-408a350c62 14_MBFWCT_SDR_0249_GavinRajah_w387_h580-45cbedffa8 14_MBFWCT_SDR_0205_GavinRajah_w387_h580-127cb123b4 14_MBFWCT_SDR_0220_GavinRajah_w387_h580-e87559393b

African Designer of week: Mimi Plange

The Brand: Mimi Plange.  Based in NYC. All pictures below courtesy of Google Image search.


The IT Factor: Feminine silhouettes with lots of funky lines.


The Designer Behind the Brand: Mimi Plange.  She has a great story and good advice for anyone trying to break into any field, really. Inspirational. See blog here. What I like about her is that she used her background in architecture design to fuel her passion for clothes. And her hoe collection for Manolo Blahnik is pretty awesome too.

mimplange_ss15_4 mimplange_ss15_3

Country of origin: USA (she grew up in California) but her parents are originally from Ghana


WebsiteMimi Plange


Where to buy: Could only find her clothes on ebay…anyone knows where to purchase?


Sissi’s Notes: No use of Dutch wax material, but she uses very feminine silhouettes and is not afraid of color….my type of designers! 😉