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A 30 something housewife blogging about her love affair with Fashion.....and travelling and food!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

B'lingo Dakar fashion launch

You guys! Guess what? I attended my first real fashion event. Yeppee!!!!
 A friend of mine knew a lady who was organizing a fashion launch and she got me and other friends passes to attend. I obviously went with my best friend.

The event was for a sportswear and swimwear African fashion house called B'lingo. I have never heard of it but I did Google it before the event. What I found were cute sportswear with a splash of African prints. It was different from your usual sportswear.

The event was held at the Radisson Blu hotel in Dakar. I have never been there but I got to admit that the place is amazing. My Spidey senses were tingling upon entering and I told my best friend that I needed to come here more for my blog photoshoots.

The event itself was outdoors in a beautiful garden with lots of greenery. Since we arrived early (but still fashionably late) we were seated like front row even though there were no rows. There were many comfy sofas and couches placed around the garden. I was enjoying myself, taking pictures, talking with my friends, acting like we were on E Fashion police. I got to admire several people with absolutely crazy sense of style. The outfits were trendy, colorful and fun. Many women wore African prints, and headwraps. Some were casual in jeans and some wore fancy dresses. The crowd were a mix of designers, ambassadors, influent people and I guess common people like myself.

Here is what I wore

Scarf - Reliance Trends
Vest - Made it
Jumpsuit - Westside
Bag - borrowed from my Mom
Shoes - Zara
Ring - M.G. road

When I knew I was going to the event, this outfit immediatly came into my mind. It was simple, I feel comfortable in it plus it had that extra "I am a fashion blogger" vibe to it. On top of it, I did not have to buy anything new. All these items have been inside my closet for years.

I did not stay the entire time of the event for I had to leave early to go take care of my babies (story of my life). Yet I watched part of the fashion show and I liked what I saw. Unfortunately this is not the type of clothing I like. I never work out. And If I do, I would feel better in some lose sweats rather than tight leggings. And do not even get me started on the swimwear that was fly but oh so sexy. To top it all off, the price is way out of my range. There were booths where one could purchase the collection.

The highlight of the night for me was when I got to meet with Fashion Designer Selly Raby Kane and Stylist Afua Rida.

With Afua Rida

I had vibes that Afua was going to be at the event when I saw on her Instagram feed the same pic the designers posted. Therefore that was an extra incentive for me to go. I caught up on her when she was alone using her phone. She was really nice and down to earth. I even took pics with her. Meeting Selly was also beyond. I came to her, giving her my hand and she was like I am a kisser. She gave me a kiss.

With Selly Raby Kane 

Waouh! She was so nice and her outfit was a killer. Her designs are not for everybody but I like her because she is different. I took pics with her as well.

After that I went home happy, on cloud 9. I can't wait to attend another fashion event.

With my Bff 

Laughing way too hard coz I can't pose!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I wore a kurta for an interview

A few months back, I was called for an interview. It was at the Indian embassy.

As usual I was in panic mode, because they called me the day before the interview. In my mind, all kind of questions were swirling. But obviously the most important one was :"what was I to wear?"

For interviews I always want to go the classic route aka black suit with a white shirt. But I had to mix it up a little in the past. One time in Summer, I wore a bright orange sleeveless blouse with a dark blazer because wearing anything with sleeves with that heat would have been suicide. Another time I wore a grey two buttoned vest with a black and white blouse. I always go for dark slacks as well.

For this interview I was going to go for the same dark slacks, a dark blazer, a white shirt and pumps when my husband who was watching me pulling clothes out of my closet suggested I wore Senegalese ethnic wear. I was puzzled a first . "What the hell are you talking about?" I asked him. He went on to tell me that since the day of the interview was Friday aka Masjid day (prayer at the mosque) everyone in town would be wearing Senegalese ethnic wear and I should do the same. For some reason, I rejected the idea. Senegalese ethnic wear was not formal for interviews I thought. But the more I looked at it, the more plausible it seemed to me. My jacket was outdated, my blouses all had to be ironed which I did not have the time to do now anyway. And my pants were too big for me after I lost some weight. Instead of going for that, I could easily slip in some Senegalese style dress that was not too fancy and already ironed ready for the interview. I wanted to go for the pink tunic featured on the blog before, but upon trying it it was a tad too sexy. When I was ready to give up, I noticed a vibrant Kurta (tunic) I had bought on sale in India two years ago and never got to wear. Plus it did not need ironing. I added a black pencil skirt, black scarf, black pumps and I was set.

Printed Kurta in Liva - Global Desi
Pants - HM
Glittered loafers - M.G. road
Sunglasses - M.G. road
Bag - gift
Watch - gift

This is what I wore after the interview to go run errands around town with my sons

The day of the interview I arrived to find three other candidates: two women and one man. The ladies were dressed in short pencil skirts and blouses but the gentleman had on Senegalese ethnic wear.

The interview went well and they offered me a job. However when I started asking questions, they rudely turned me down. I still do not know what happened.

Yet I was happy about my outfit choice because it stood out, and more importantly I was comfortable. I did not have to fidget with it therefore I was able to concentrate on the interview.

I am not sure what I did is something you call pull off somewhere else. I know that in Sénégal and even India it would be OK depending on where you are applying. I doubt banks, or other formal businesses would approve of it. I am pretty sure I would not have done that if I was in Japan for they are all into dark formal suits, the more formal the better. I may have future interviews but this time I will be ready. I already purchased a more fitted pair of pants. I just need a nice dark blazer that is trendy and I will be all set. Wish me luck!


If you would like to know what is appropriate to wear for interviews particularly in my home country of Senegal, go check my other blog here.

My best friend took these pictures while we were at CityDia supermarket sitting in the make up chair. It made me feel like I was a movie star, getting ready for her close up. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Am a grown woman

Since I have been back home, women in my family particularly my mother are constantly on my case to dress better. Although they want only the best for me, it gets on my nerves.

Women ( and men) in my country dress differently than I do. SENEGAL is a country where being casual is misunderstood. People like to dress up, men and women. Even if they wear jeans, they will wear it in such a way it does not feel dressed down at all. Girls would add nice blouses and sometimes blazers and spruce things up with sandals and a matching tote bag. Men would wear loafers and a shirt with also a blazer. As for traditional wear, the fancier the better. They also like to follow trends and color coordinate. It is not unusual to see someone wearing one color from head to toe. They spend huge amount of money to be trendy because we live in a country where only people who dress up are respected. If you do not, people either do not acknowledge you (try shopping in a fancy place wearing tattered clothes, no one will pay you no mind) or they put you down.

Scarf - old HM
Jacket -super old Ross 
Denim shirt - random shop in India
Pants - Big Bazaar, India 
Shoes - TRF then diy 

 As for me, I always dressed differently. I always had my own style even if it made my mother cringe. From the moment I was born, she would dress me preferably in floral print dresses with ruffles or pastel suits. I liked them, the girlier the better. But when I started getting curves, I became so self conscious I started hiding my body in baggy jeans and my father's polo shirts. My mother was mortified. And she tried everything she could to make me stop.  I rediscovered my feminity when I discovered boys. The way they looked at me when I was wearing skirts and dresses made me guidy. So for all of my teenage years, I was a tomboy who liked to dress feminine from time to time (like for parties). Things started to get complicated when I went abroad to Japan. For the 1st time in my life I had the financial power to buy my own clothes. And I took advantage of it. Half of my clothes were casual with jeans and tops. The other half was over the top sexy things for clubbing. I still had a small percentage of decent clothes reserved for formal events. For the first time also my body was no longer an issue. I did not hide it as much as before. I was proud of it, and flaunted it. I loved my legs, my flat stomach and small chest. I was feeling myself. Only when I started gaining weight did I return to covering my body. And that stayed with me till today.

What I also discovered in Japan was the free style of the young crowd. Some Japanese can be fearless when it comes to fashion. They would try anything and everything. They were not afraid of colors as well. It is there that I learned that my bag did not need to match my shoes. But experimenting in Japan screw me up so good, my Fashion sense is not appreciated back home.

For one thing, when I chose clothes in the morning, I put into account three factors: where am I going? What is the weather like? And it is comfortable. Say, I am off running errands in the city, which means walking a lot and riding the bus. For that I will certainly wear a pair of jeans or fitted pants, a tunic and some flats. There is no way I will wear a dress and heels. And if it is cold, I am grabbing my denim jacket or a cardigan.  I will dress accordingly when I go out to visit friends, for dinner or even for a formal event. I would put out preferably in a dressy pants and top or a maxi dress and blazer. I will also wear make up  But that is about it. I like my style clean, simple, modest and comfortable. I rarely wear high heels (even if I loooovvvve them) and do not even get me started on daily make up. I have two hair styles that I change every 3 months.  I do not dress sexy at all. My bag will probably not match my shoes and I like color blocking instead of color coordinating.  I am not judging anyone who is flashy, and sexy and well put togeter . My best friend is flashy, and wears lots of make up. You can count on her to dress up even for running errands and I love that about her but that ain't me.

People here keep on telling me that eventually I will give in and start dressing like them particularly when I start working. I would not have any other choice. I will be forced to do so when I see everyone around me doing the same thing. I am not sure of that. I know my style, I know what I like and more importantly I know what I am comfortable wearing. I may be influenced but at the end of the day, I wear what I like whether it makes my mother cringe or not.

After all, I am grown woman !

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

DIY Kente printed off shoulder top

Wow! It has been a while since I have done a Diy. And I got back in the game with a relatively easy one. (Or so I thought!)

A few months ago, I was checking out the Fidak (Foire Internationale de Dakar) with my hubby and mother in law when I saw a stylish woman walk by. She was wearing this bright red accent Kente printed off shoulder top with a contrasting printed head wrap and lots of bangles. Her style was so on point that I asked if I could take her picture. I wanted to add her to my inspiration board on Pinterest. She declined but said that I could come to her booth and buy one of her tops. They cost 12.500 CFA (less than $20) a piece. I declined her offer because it thought it to be a tad pricey for a top that looked easy to make.

I was still obsessed with her look though. So I went home and googled how to make the top. I found several links on YouTube. But I settled for an easier DIY that I found on my inspiration board aka Pinterest.

I styled it like this:

Scarf - old

Top - made it
Denim jacket and skirt - thrifted
Leggings - Star bazaar

Shoes - gift

Necklace - bought over 14 years ago at a FIDAK (Dakar International Fair)

You might note that I am not wearing the top off shoulders. For modesty reasons, I am wearing it as a normal top. That is what I like about it. I can rock it sexy by pulling it down at home or surrounded by girlfriends or I can rock it as a normal top by pulling it when I am out and about. 

The top was relatively easy to sew but I had a few difficulties figuring out the sleeves. To be fair, it had been almost a year since I had used my machine. Therefore, I needed time to get re-acquainted with the entire ordeal. The top cost me just 300 CFA (less than a $1) for the elastic (and I only used a quarter of it) since I already had the fabric at hand. But, what do you think of it all? Do you like it?

If you do, I will be giving away another one in African prints. All you have to do to enter the giveaway is like my Facebook page Ode to Fashion and follow me on Instagram at Chilelai. For now the giveaway will be only open to people living in my home country of Senegal. ( I may go international on the next giveaway. Bear with me cause it is the first time I am doing this!) More details will be posted on Instagram.
 Good luck!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

African printed jacket

Hello dear Readers!

How did you ring in the New Year? Mine was spent with my family and best friend, eating a lot, arguing and laughing even more. Happy New Year by the way!

I am going to start this new Year with a banging post (if I do say so myself!!!).

My best friend gave me a jacket/coat made in Woodin print fabric or commonly known as African prints for my birthday. It is bright yellow with brown and cream circles. Truth be told, I would have never picked such a bright fabric for myself even if I love me some yellow. Therefore it was hard for me to see about styling it. But, during a phone call, my best friend gave me some ideas. And after brainstorming a bit, I found two ways to rock this jacket.


Scarf - old
Jacket - gift
Bodysuit - HM
Jeans - HM
Bag - Carrefour Dubai
Shoes - Zara
Beaded Necklace - Sandaga market


Jacket - gift
Dress - made it
Clutch - Sandaga market
Shoes - Gossip
Ring -gift
Necklace worn as belt - old
Maang tikka ( that thing on my turban) - Chandra Nagar market

What do you think? Did I nail the styling on this jacket? 

But wait! There is more. My BFF made herself a matching coat. And here is what hers looks like:

Queen Marieme Faye in her Woodin coat

PS: We were supposed to be matching with our coats on New Year's eve but I went for a black jacket because the Yellow printed one did not match the pink shoes I wanted to wear. And what do you know, I did not even get to wear the shoes. (LOL)

Friday, December 30, 2016

So long 2016!

2016 is coming to an end.

 For once, I could not wait for the year to end. 2016 was a hard year for me, a year of change. It started all bright and happy but by March, it all went downhill. We were forced to move back home. We had to live in a country we have not called home for more than 18 years. Our life was unstable and filled with uncertainties. Every day was a struggle to re adapt to the culture and way of life in Senegal. It was hard and stressful. There were days I felt like going home only to be reminded that this was now my new and only home. There were weeks I cried at the drop of a hat. There were nights I contemplated suicide or running away. If I had been a celebrity with millions in my bank account, I would have checked myself into a facility due to exhaustion. But I did not have that luxury. Besides, it is not about the physical exhaustion. That kind, you get over it by taking a nap. It is the mental exhaustion that takes a toll on you. You end up wandering if you are sane or just going mad .

Thankfully for me, I had a rock to hang on to: my FAMILY.

Scarf - M.G. road
Striped blazer - Gossip
Peplum top - so old, Walmart
Jeans - gift
Shoes - Forever21
Bag - Carrefour Dubai
Earrings - gift 
Studded Necklace - Clover Center 

 For years I lived away from my parents. When things got bad, which they did sometimes I would either call them and have them worry or prefer to not say anything and stay strong. As year passed, I stopped worrying them with my troubles because after all they were so far away. What could they do? But now that I am here, I rely heavily on them for anything. And they spoil me. For example, I would call my Dad asking him where he bought that yummy fish I ate at his place, and the next day he would deliver me fresh ones he got at the market early in the morning. My Mom would ask me what things I needed for my new house and get it all for me, even things I pretended having just to avoid her the burden. And my brothers are the shoulders I cry on, and the ears I rant about. They also always tell m the truth whether I want to hear it or not. It is to my family I run to after a bad interview, or a fight with the hubby. I do not even tell them that something is wrong but their presence heals me and gives m the strength I need to move on. Sometimes I even wonder how I could have lived without them. They spoil my children rotten and respect and appreciate my husband. And it is not only them, it is also the extended family: the in laws, the aunts and uncles, the cousins, the grandparents, the friends, everyone is extremely supportive.

Isn't this normal you may ask? Yes, it should be normal. Yet, I have lost that notion because for many years, I used to be on my own . Well, actually I had my husband and my two kids and no one else to rely on except from really good people I met abroad. Moreover, it is not always the case to have a supportive family. I know some folks with family that put them down instead of lifting them up. All the more reason for me not to take my family and my friends for granted. I just pray that God gives a long and healthy life to my parents. I need them around me for as long as eternity. And I pray God to give a successful and happy and long life to my brothers. I pray God to give them good wives and great kids that I will spoil in return. I pray God to give me the means to pay them back and make them all proud.I pray also for my extended family and for my friends, those I see and those I have not seen in years. I pray for you, who read me and enjoy my blog. I may not know you all but you are appreciated.   It is what I wish for 2017 and all the years that follow.

Happy new year!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I protest!

"Breathe in, breathe out!"

After a few frustrating months living in India, I had decided to not let outside influences affect me. I had decided to be Zen. I did fail a few times but overall I could control my emotions. Now I have to do the same in my own home country and it is not as easy.

I often said that India resembled my country in so many ways, negative and positive. The lack of service is one of those negatives. There is a rampant lack of service in Senegal in the public and private sector alike. People are slow to take care of you. Also, some of them are basically incompetent. But what I hate the most is that they do their work with the utmost poor attitude. They never smile and they are rude. Take this case: I had to buy a SIM card from a telephone company. I went with my husband to their store and waited for our turn . The lady who served us did not smile, barely greeted us and to top it all, she could not even set up my phone. She just gave up and return it. FYI, I set it up easily once I was back home. I was so outraged by her behavior that I was about to tell her that if she did not want to be there, she should just quit.

The reason for this lack of service, at least according to my dad, is that most people in Senegal are too proud to serve people. They all want to be the boss and bark orders. They all think that providing a service is beneath them like that waitress at a popular restaurant who waits for you to signal to her instead of coming to you and asking you what you want. Or that clerk at the bank that looks down on you and cannot believe you have that big amount of money in your bank account.
But everyone cannot be the boss.

What frustrates me the most about this problem is that once you complain to people who have been living here their entire life, they all tell you to be patient. They all agree that this is the way things are in Senegal and one should just bear it all. It is like they gave up. I feel like shouting to them "Wake up! This is not how things should be! Why accept it all?"

No! We have to do something to change it all.

Scarf and dress fabric - Shivaji market
Dress- Custom made
Bag - Pratunam market
Shoes - Custom made
Ring - old H&M
Earrings - Chandan nagar market

How? You may ask?

First, through education. We should educate people at school but also train them once they start working. In Japan, new employees will be trained on work etiquette for weeks before starting their real work. And some companies in retail or other services go so far as to repeat that training every morning before they open doors. Why don't we do the same here? And why don't we check employees to see if they are following the basic rules?

Another solution is to protest. Nowadays with social media it is way easier to protest and denounce than back in the days. A simple post on Facebook tagging the business that is poor can inform people but more importantly push the business in question to do something. It works like a charm in the US or Europe. But that does not mean it cannot work here as well. Anyway what do we have to lose to try?
Plus as a consumers, we have the power. The power to say to a business if you do not improve, I am not giving you my hard earn money. That is what I do. Once I am treated poorly at a place, chances are I will never set foot there again. This may limit my choices but it may give me a chance to discover new places that will treat me better.

Some of you will be very skeptical. What can we, common people, do against big companies like Orange who have the monopoly. My answer is: keep trying. Orange was the only phone company in Senegal for the longest time, which made it entitled and lazy. And what happens to companies like that? In the end, they lose steam and clients. Soon, they won't be the big boss anymore. Let us just keep on protesting. And I know people who already started to do something on social media. You can find many groups where people denounce companies with poor service.

The Bun!

All I am trying to say is that let us not accept this situation any longer. Let us take measures, actions that guarantees things will change. If not in our time, at least in our kids. But first of all, we need to change the way we think. I am sure people will critique me by saying that I am a Toubab (White person) for thinking the way I do. But in response, I think that Senegalese people have to start embedding in their minds that being like a Toubab is not always a bad thing. What is wrong with being on time at meetings? What is wrong with being courteous to another person? What is wrong with giving ones word and keeping it? What is wrong with providing a service with care and efficiency? How can anyone expect to do business without these values and be successful?

Camouflage Boston bag! 
Now, I just need a pair of camouflage stilettos to match!

I had these custom made modeled on my fave Indian chappals. 
  And you wonder why we are still a developing country!
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