Casual Fridays in Sierra Leone

By Aaron Kaye, Kiva Fellow, Sierra Leone

In some workplaces in the west, “Casual Fridays” are a way for office workers to dress down a bit from more formal dress codes.  In Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital, office workers have their own version of alternative dress once a week: African Fridays.

Cloth samples in Freetown

Each Friday many office workers here trade in the western office dress code that is standard for the rest of the week.  In its place, women wear a variety of brightly-patterned dresses and the men wear different prints or shirts with bold trim.

Office workers I talked with feel the tradition is somewhat unique to Sierra Leone (please leave a comment if you’ve seen the trend elsewhere among the office-going crowd).  In addition, those I spoke with point out that the trend has even received the support of the president as a way for the country to show pride in its culture.  ”We wear those clothes the rest of the week,” one man says referring to western style business clothing.  ”We can have one day for Africa.”

The result is expressive and fun clothing to end each week.  It’s a great way to bring traditional African styles to the workplace.

Check out these Sierra Leonean businesses selling traditional cloth and clothing that are currently raising funds.

About the author

Aaron Kaye