Rwandans dress differently depending on what they do, whether casual or office work, but Rwandans are known for a certain dress code. Rwandan dress was traditionally made from bark cloth, hides, and skins.
Musanana VS Umushanana
Musanana encompasses a floor-length skirt with a sash swathed over one shoulder, worn over a tank top or bustier. They made their hair in a way that consists of a bun decorated with beads and tied in place by two ribbons that pass across the forehead and over the bun, crossing above the ear. A comb is placed above one ear, beneath the crossing point of the flags. This is a way traditional Rwandan women could dress up.
Musanana gained fame and is currently used as the formal dressing style for Rwandese. Mostly, it’s worn by female artists and dancers, referred to as “Intore dance troupes.” Mushanana is the official attire for Rwanda and you will often see people, especially at wedding functions, church services, and other major events, putting on this kind of dress.
Whereas Umushanana, with the plural imishanana, is Rwanda’s traditional ceremonial dress worn for formal occasions such as church services, funerals, and weddings.
It consists of a wrapped skirt that is bunched at the hips and then draped over one of the woman’s shoulders, which is then commonly worn over a tank top or bustier. Fabrics can be used in any colour and are usually made of lightweight materials to create a nice flowing effect during movement.
The traditional dress for Rwandan men in dancing comprises skirts, both long and short, which are worn with headbands and ankle belts made with different coloured beads and headdresses which are adorned with long grass wigs. All these were traditional dress codes for Rwandan men and women.
However, nowadays, these are still worn, especially during traditional functions and at visitor entertainment centres.
Rwandan people, especially women, don’t expose their bodies via half-clothes. They put on long shorts, skirts, and dresses that cover their knees. They put on long-cut tops that wouldn’t expose their cleavages.
Most young girls and women wear tight jeans and T-shirts to elongate their figures, but some women can still be identified by their traditional outfits made from the local fabric called kitenge: beautifully patterned long dresses with sleeves (usually short) and head wraps in the same pattern. In remote areas of the country, some can be seen wearing T-shirts and pieces of kitenge fabric wrapped around their waists, like a sarong, and reaching their ankles.
During rainy or cold conditions, dressing up for Rwandans changes. Especially during the rainy season, people resort to putting on sweaters and the so-called wind jackets. They can also look smart in rainy clothes with a few headscarves on.
People are sometimes seen wearing gumboots, especially when it rains. Heavy coats are always preferred and people like them, especially during the cold months in Rwanda, to keep themselves warm.