The coming of summer brings the arrival of a holiday celebrated by African Americans around the United States. Juneteenth, also called emancipation day or Juneteenth Independence Day, marks the end of slavery in Texas, two months after the end of the Civil War and two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation.
Referred to as the “second independence day,” President Joe Biden made the monumental holiday a federal holiday in 2021. This decision increased awareness of jubilee day for many African Americans, particularly those in southern states, celebrated for decades, making it one of the oldest known celebrations among African Americans.
As black people, one of the most significant ways we express ourselves is through clothing. Our adornments reflect our lived experiences, signaling our heritage and serving as a creative outlet through which we express ourselves. Read on to get some fashion inspo to honor Juneteenth this year.
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A staple in many African cultures, this precious shell is the perfect accessory for your upcoming Juneteenth event. Rich in African History , cowrie shells symbolize wealth, fertility, and prosperity within many African nations.
These shells are elaborately woven into garments and hair. Although they are no longer used as a currency, they are still precious to many African nations and used in religious ceremonies to ward off evil spirits.
Chikodi’s World offers unique, handcrafted cowrie jewelry and other African accessories. The lightweight, earthen tones of cowries make a statement against any outfit.
There are so many great options when it comes to this popular accessory. With a variety of different patterns and styles, a head scarf is sure to accent your Juneteenth fashions.
One of my favorite ways to wear a head scarf is in a low bun with hoop earrings and a dress. Something about it feels so feminine and elegant. Rose Made Us offers various headwraps in various colors you should consider purchasing for Juneteenth.
Fanm Djanm, which means “strong woman” in Haitian Kreyol, is an Austin-based headwear boutique specializing in all head wraps, from bandanas to more traditional turban styles.
If your Juneteenth celebration involves water, there are many ways to express your pride. There are so many styles of swimwear to choose from but you can make a statement by displaying bold reds and yellows.
For those in the market for a new swimsuit, shopping at black-owned businesses is a way you can honor the national holiday. Nakimuli and Melissa Chantal Crea offer size-inclusive swimwear, up to 3x, with unique color blocking and colorful prints.
Accenting your swimsuit with a colorful cover-up like a sarong or crochet dress can provide a pop of color when you’re out of the pool. Accessorizing with hoops is also a huge signifier of black culture and looks amazing against bare shoulders.
One of the most widely known textiles in the African continent, Kente is known for its bold colors and intricate design. Dating back to 12th century Ghana, Queens, and Kings would adorn themselves with silky fabric to signify royalty and status.
The cloth has roots in African American history as well, being on stoles at graduation ceremonies, representing the hardships Black Americans have endured throughout their education.
This fashion staple has regained popularity recently, eclipsing the notion that the headdress is unprofessional. Sporting items restricted through white supremacy is a great way to celebrate Freedom Day.
If you want a more formal look, switch the more common polyester fabric with silk, velvet, or denim. Whether you’re protecting your waves or making a fashion statement (or both!), the possibilities are endless.
Online stores like Taelor Boutique or Big Melanted Bearded have a wide variety of du rags in all fabrics and patterns. Whether you’re keeping it casual with jeans and a tee or looking to dress things up, there’s an option for you.
Pan African Colors
Green, black, and red make up this symbol of Black liberation. Much like the Juneteenth flag, the Pan-African flag serves as a physical representation of unity among Black Americans.
Created by political activist Marcus Garvey in 1920, the flag marks the unity of everyone within the African Diaspora. Red represents blood, black represents black people, and green represents the fertility of African soil.
Pan-African colors can be sported in a variety of combinations and are one of the best Juneteenth outfit ideas for last-minute partygoers. Most commonly seen in flag form, you can grab your very own from the popular online shop Zion Gates Culcha Shop.
I don’t know what it is, but June 19th has a way of sneaking up on you. If you’re in a pinch and looking for a last-minute outfit for your Freedom Day festivities, t-shirts are a great option. There are many juneteenth t shirts you can find online like inspirational quotes like “Brown Girl Glow” or “Young, Gifted, and Black.”
One of the great things about tees is their versatility. Whether pairing them with jeans or a dress, so many awesome Juneteenth t-shirt ideas can make you turn heads.
Online stores like Trinigee or Melanin is Life is a politically conscious black clothing brand with tees with sayings like “unapologetically black” and “Black Lives Matter,” which is sure to be a popular Juneteenth shirt at any function.
Wax Print Fabrics
These popular prints are made from 100% cotton and can be referred to as Kitenge, Chitenge, Dutch Wax, or Ankara fabric. The fabric is created through a method called batik, which is a wax-resist dyeing technique that originated in Indonesia. West African soldiers in Indonesia brought the printing method back to their countries, where they developed unique patterns and designs.
Wax Print fabrics are time intensive to produce, and over the years, manufacturers have figured out ways to mass-produce these prints on lower-quality fabrics. Luckily original Kitenge fabrics can still be found, mostly among small retailers, and are a great way to honor our ancestors and their craft.
House of Mami Wata or Wax Prints and More is a great option if you’re looking for an ethical source for your prints. Wax Prints and More is a Dallas-based business that features fabrics from Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, and more, while House of Mami Wata is an online store based out of Atlanta with more than 20 pages of wax print fabrics.