Planning my trip to Kenya was a bit of a challenge. Besides the fact that it was my first solo trip, my first time in Africa, and my first time I was going somewhere almost exclusively to volunteer, there was so much I needed to get ready. I had a billion and one questions ranging from medical concerns to phone service to the most pressing….what to wear.
Although it may seem unimportant (especially to men as they can’t quite understand), deciding what to wear when traveling is incredibly critical. Is the country more traditional? Are shorts acceptable? Is it dangerous to wear a low cut shirt? A million questions run through a woman’s head when it comes to travel. A million do’s and don’ts that need to be figured out before each destination.
As I was traveling alone, I had to be even more careful. From what I researched, Kenya is a very traditional country, the women rarely show their knees, and you will certainly get some looks if you do. In the tourist areas, everything goes, but I wasn’t going to the touristic areas, at least not for most of the trip.
Feeling safe and comfortable was the most important thing for me, and of course being respectful to the culture. I decided that I needed to bring mostly long pants or skirts, but the shirts I wore were of less importance (anything really goes with that, except maybe crop tops).
As I am a girl of the summer, I honestly didn’t have too many comfortable and appropriate things to wear. I generally dislike wearing pants and much prefer shorts or a dress, so my only solution was to start sewing! I planned to be volunteering most of my trip in remote Kenya villages, so simple but functional was also important.
And so the fabric search began!! I was going to make a couple of jumpsuits that could be easily worn on any occasion. I scavenged through the stores on Nahalat Binyamin (Tel Aviv’s fabric row) with a goal of at least one color I was sure on – khaki. Not only is it perfect for safaris, but I just generally love earthy tones. I found a perfect linen in one of my favorite shops, bought a few meters, and continued my search.
A lightweight jean fabric? It seemed like the perfect idea at the time. I could make a pair of overalls that would still be lightweight enough to survive the warm summer months. I bought a few meters of that and headed home to begin.
I started with the khaki jumpsuit. I knew exactly what I wanted. The picture was so clear in my mind, everything that I imagined from any picture I’d ever seen of safaris. The colored top with brown buttons lined down the front. At least one pocket on the bodice. And of course, for functionality, pockets in the pants portion.
I combined a few of my favorite pattern pieces that I made in the past and created my ideal safari jumpsuit! Lightweight, comfortable, and very versatile. It could be worn as a casual day’s outfit, but it is even fancy enough for a dinner date.
What started out as a blue jean set of overalls soon became a green jumpsuit. How did that happen, you might ask. Well, after doing some research I found that blue is not the ideal color to wear in Kenya, especially if you’re on a safari. Apparently there is a fly called the tsetse fly that is attracted to dark colors, especially blue. The tsetse is a biting fly that inhabits all of Africa and is infamous for it’s potential to transmit African Trypanosomiasis or “sleeping sickness”. I wasn’t going to take any chances.
I went in search of a new, more suitable fabric, found this lovely green in the attic of a small fabric shop, and began my second jumpsuit. This one was far simpler than the safari khaki jumpsuit, but just as lovely! And of course it has pockets!!
FYI: I wore blue many many times once I was actually in Kenya. Although I’m sure the risks of the tsetse fly are real on occasion, I never experienced them!
To be honest, I really hadn’t planned on taking quality photos in these pieces. The outfits were meant to be more functional. And they certainly were! Throughout my entire 2-month trip to Kenya, I wore them for fancy and casual occasions. I was however lucky enough, on my second trip to Kenya, to be able to take some real quality photos in the handmade items that I made. (I packed them just for that purpose).
Outfit 1: Khaki Safari Jumpsuit
Although I wore this jumpsuit literally all the time, a chance to take a nice picture in it never presented itself until a day near the end of my trip. We were driving back from the Ngare Ndare forest when I saw these amazing barren expanses with the lonely, but stunning tree right in the middle. It exemplified how you would picture a safari (minus the animals). Even though it started raining just as I wanted to take the picture, we ran out of the car, snapped a few shots, and jumped back in before the downpour began. The perfect photo!
As I truly love this jumpsuit, we also used it for some other photoshoots like our visit to Masada Fortress in Israel. Check out the post here: DISCOVER MASADA FORTRESS, ISRAEL (AND THE MONOCHROME FASHION CREATIONS WE DESIGNED FOR THE VISIT)
Outfit 2: Earthy Green Jumpsuit
This one was also worn so many times of my trip, especially during my volunteer days in Rusinga. The chance to take quality photos in this jumpsuit just happened upon us as we went to stay at Olepangi Farm Lodge in central Kenya one weekend. Picking organic vegetables from the garden with a view of Mount Kenya in the background? Couldn’t be more ideal.
What do you think of the outfits I made for Kenya?
Questions about visiting Kenya? Check out my post: ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TRAVEL IN KENYA | TIPS & TRICKS FOR FIRST TIME TRAVELERS
If you want to see some of the other handmade items we’ve made for countries around the world, check out our posts on Israel: SOUTHERN ISRAEL: THE 4 OUTFITS WE MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR OUR TRIP TO THE DESERT and Turkey: THE 3 OUTFITS I DESIGNED AND CREATED SPECIFICALLY FOR MY TRIP TO TURKEY
Lots of Love and Safe Travels,
Danielle and Brooke, Colorful Sisters