Dressing up for New Year's Eve?

New Year's Eve - and what to wear?
I will end up in something black plus flat shoes and big earrings. As always.

When it comes to clothing and fashion, my formative years were the Eighties (and by the Eighties I don't mean the Crystal/Alexis Carrington Eighties). I like black skinny jeans, oversized sweatshirts, t-shirts, men's shirts - and bulky scarves and big overcoats. I wear trainers or sneakers practically all year round, when not wearing flipflops in summer. In my corner of the Eighties girls had either short, spiky hair og big, messy hair. Both kinds usually dyed. I landed on big and messy, sometimes dyed red. And there I've stayed. When it comes to colors in my clothing, I actually like it a lot, but mainly do the safe accessories thing with colorful scarves, bags and outrageous jewellery. Otherwise my clothes are boring and comfortable. I have long since accepted this in a very relaxed way, I am way too old to change this now, I think! I like my clothes exactly the way they are.

But that doesn't keep me from having a lifelong admiration of people who dress very flamboyantly!

I always stated that my style icons were Frida Kahlo, Bette Midler (in her burlesque showgirl 70s period) and Vivienne Westwood. Added to the list would be someone like Iris Apfel - I just saw the lovely film about her - watch it!

So obviously I was delighted, when I discovered the African Sapeur culture!

'Sapeurs' are men who belong to a fashion happy working class subculture, 'La SAPE' (an acronym, meaning: Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes) centered primarily in the big Congolese cities, Brazzaville and Kinshasa.

A Sapeur is friendly, polite, respectful of others and obeys the intricate fashion rules of his brotherhood. The Sapeurs use fashion as a statement of tribute to life, self respect and personal freedom, and do so with such crazy, creative outfits, in spite of very limited resources and shopping opportunities.

They make the most of us look fairly dull!
Maybe they'll inspire you just a bit, before dressing for tonight?

Curious about them? Check this five minute mini documentary, produced by the Guiness Breweries - they focused a whole campaign on the Sapeurs!

And a fine looking book has been written and photographed on the subject:
'Gentlemen of the Bacongo' by Daniele Tamagni

Per-Anders Petterson's photographs from Kinshasa are great as well!

So here's to pink suits and fancy umbrellas - or what ever you may come up with for this evening - and a very Happy New Year to every reader of this blog, thanks for following it in 2015, see you in 2016!

(Photo credits for this post, from top: the young men posing is by Francesco Giusti, cool dudes with umbrella center is by W. Massamba, next two are by Francesco Giusti again, the green Western boots are by Per-Anders Petterson, and the last one is yet another fine shot by Francesco Giusti.)

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