In Congo and in Ivory Coast and in many other African cultures, when there is an event/celebration, people usually wear a commonly agreed fabric that is sewn either into an already picked style or a design of the "wearer's" choice.
In Congo and Ivory Coast (I'm only specifically talking about both countries because I personally know the culture but I'm sure it's the same for other cultures -- I believe my Nigerian people call it "aso-ebi", right? Please correct me If I'm wrong), the groups that wear the uniform are as often large groups of friends and family (mostly at weddings, baptisms, graduation parties, funerals) or even political parties, cultural associations, church groups etc etc.
In my case I was reminded how important it was to have it and originally the uniform was supposed to be worn by a very large group, but I hate being disorganized when it comes to things like that.
The fabric was going to come from home (sent by my mom) and we needed to have a final count plus, erm... I am on a budget, so yes, you pay for your own ooo.
Not only that, but to have it sewn would mean more money as it is not as cheap as back home to have it made here.
Now, I know my people okay? Always late, disorganized, always finding excuses and stuff. People would be coming from different states, it was summer which let me remind you is "wedding season", tailors are busy and often booked for weeks and months in advance. I just thought, let me make it easy on myself.
I only asked that everybody, please everybody be dressed in native/traditional attire, or anything African.
A few people wanted to show up in evening gowns, can you imagine? like seriously? (Told them they can't come if so... I know, but you gotta be firm sometimes to get what you want).
So I kept the fabric for close friends and my sisters only so that other people do not feel discriminated against (some aunties versus other aunties, some cousins, versus other, mom vs pop's families etc.)You guys know how frustrated people can get over these kinds of things.
My other concern was to remain zen at all times. If something got overly stressful, it got x'ed from the list of things. Not about to argue or have migraines over a day that is supposed to be joyful!
Anyhow, it made my sisters and friends (as well as my aunt representing my mom) feel special since they were the only ones wearing it and I was able to just give them the fabric and pay some of the cost of having it sewn for them. I was def a win win, plus it was fun looking for styles and all that.
I originally did not like the fabric. I trusted my mom to pick something a little trendy like this newer woodin type of fabrics with goldish and silverish accents or even little glitters. One thing I did NOT want was lace, too much lace everywhere around worn by everybody lol.
The fabric she picked is an old design, I'm sure one of your aunties or gdmas might have a different color or version in their closet somewhere. So I was really kind of disappointed as I envisioned something a little "fresher". But hey... it is what it is, my mom picked and bought it with love so that is all that matters at the end of the day.
As for the outfits, everybody kind of picked what they wanted, I did not care as long you are not looking like you "tried too much" lol. I'm not an extravagant person, and not trying to be "faboulos" (I hate the way girls throw this word around anyhow) so I didn't want anybody looking like they've watched too much of Project Runway or something.