How To Choose and Wear The Rwandan Traditional Attire ‘Umushanana’

The Umushanana is the Rwandan traditional wear, which speaks of elegance in many ways; such as your choice of fabric and how you wear it. Any woman can look good in this gorgeous garment; all you have to do is pick the right fabric for the occasion.

“The magnificence of the umushanana is timeless and unmatched but what usually gets to women is the question of how to wear the amazing outfit perfectly. When clients come to us we guide them on how to choose the right piece that will match their body and skin complexion,” says Francoise Uwase, a fashion expert.

She adds that it’s really appropriate for a lady attending a gusaba (traditional wedding ceremony) to opt for umushanana since it’s the attire that depicts our culture.

The prices of this dress range from Rwf100, 000 and above, depending on the fabric of the cloth. However, should you choose to hire one, you will part with Rwf3000 and above.

While buying or choosing the perfect material for umushanana, the following should be considered;

Draping piece

The way you drape the piece around your body determines how you will look. The cloth should be draped properly otherwise it can look untidy and clumsy. Pleats should be even and neatly tucked.

Mind the fabric

The fabric used is vital and will affect how you will look in an outfit, for example, stiff cotton fabrics give a heavy look so these are not suitable for overweight women.


Dark colours are great for plus size ladies. This not only applies for the umushahana but dark colours make one look slimmer.


Go easy with the detail on the umushanana. You don’t want to stand out too much.

Other things to keep in mind

•Accessorise your outfit intelligently. Clutches, shoes and statement necklaces can make or break your look. If your umushanana is too shiny, choose non sparkly jewellery and if it’s too heavy, opt for pretty danglers.

•Always pay close attention to your pleating. If it is not done properly, you will end up looking shabby. •Select the perfect top for the inside, something which flatters your body size and complexion.

This fashion is so popular that Starbucks used it for their coffee pack.