The Burundi clothing mainly consists of pagnes (wraparounds) which are the convenient outfits of the Burundians. In the rural parts of Burundi, young girls, women, and aged men generally wear this type of clothing.
There is a common kind of two-piece cloth usually worn by the Burundian herders- a cord around their waist.
Since most of Burundi is very poor, they can’t even afford to buy proper clothes and shoes for themselves. In most Villages, people “stamp the ground” which means that they walk on bare feet. But in Bujumbura, the people prefer to wear “designer” Burundi clothing. The style conscious men and women of the capital city are known as the “sapeurs”.
The clothing of Burundi in this part of the country comprises suits, ties, fashionable western dresses. Men prefer to wear suits with ties and women dress up in western clothes. T-shirts and Blue jeans are very common among Burundi youths.
The Burundi clothing is simply designed. It is made in such a way that the wearer feels comfortable and can perform their work properly.
In areas where Western dress codes have become usual, traditional garments are often worn at special events or celebrations; particularly those connected with cultural traditions, heritage, or pride. International events may cater for non-Western attendees with a compound dress code such as “business suit or national dress”.
Most men, rich or poor have at least one suit or jacket in their closet, which they wear for important ceremonies such as weddings and funerals. This is encouraged in young men and boys. Of course, we cannot forget the finishing touches of neck and bow ties of all colors, shapes ,and sizes. The matching shoes sometimes go to a whole new level with men, young and old sporting alligator skin shoes, leather shoes, and trainers; these in a rainbow of colors! This is when we see true confidence stepping out.
The women and girls look forward to dressing up for weddings even more. It is essential to find just the right ‘Imvutano’ – which is the traditional dress for the women of Burundi. Very simply made, the imvutano is a three-piece outfit made of an average of 3 meters of lightweight fabric.
The skirt is long and flowing to the floor with gathers which are especially prominent at the sides of the upper hip, where the skirt sits. It also carries an underskirt. The top of this ensemble is sari-like, with the fabric draping over one shoulder, across the bodice. The beauty of the traditional dress is not so much in the structure of the garment but the texture and color of the fabric.
Imagine the rainbow of colors as one enters a wedding party or other formal party. Colors galore adorn the wearers of the imvutano; with all shades of reds, blues, greens, oranges, pinks ,and white being the most popular. These colors in beautiful chiffons, silks, light cottons, and feather-light satins are all embellished with sequins, beads, or embroidery drapes.
Most imvutano is a mixture of colors and patterns. Some choose plain colors. It is a beautiful sight to see a line of beautiful African women performing their ceremonial duties dressed in their traditional dress.