Let’s Steal The Dera


Wearing a Dera feels like a dip in a hot tub after a long day, with a mojito in hand and a dude in your brain. This is one item I picked up in one of my many travels that landed me in La Costa. I was resistant to it at first though. See, the Dera seemed to me very simple, decent and comfortable, and being the errant young adult I was; simple, decent and comfortable sounded like something my mother would approve of, so I wrote it off without as much as a second thought. Eventually I had my moment of confounded realization. And now it is safe to say that the Dera is truly God’s gift to women. This shit is awesome I tell ya!

The Dera, for those of us who don’t know, is that long, Somali dress that’s common among Muslim ladies. No, not the buibui; Deras are those colorful ones worn with matching hijabs. They are traditionally made of cotton, but there are more tricked-out versions made of chiffon, linen and even silk. The Dera is quite practical, considering most of its wearers live in the coast. The dress is usually designed to fit loose, giving ample room for aeration and movement. Among other perks, the Dera is also authentically and undeniably feminine. You can never put on a Dera and not feel all kinds of woman about yourself. Aaaand… I think this is the part where we tell our Muslim sisters – sorry lovelies, but we’re stealing your look.

So let’s talk Dera, for the non-Muslim woman, shall we?



Little Girl
Like I said, you can never put on a Dera and not feel all kinds of woman about yourself. To begin with, the Dera makes you feel like a little girl. Maybe It’s something to do with the coverage, but a Dera always gives you that feeling of safety. It’s the overprotective big brother that shoots stern, warning looks at anyone who dares look at you wrong, or a second too long. It’s your full body armor that defends your innocence while you do everything wrong. When I want to play up that aaaaaw! – look, I wear my Dera with nude makeup, sandals and a huge, butterfly hairclip on my head. (Sweeet!)

My lady
If you’re tired of the ratchet, sick of making vacuous statements and are looking to redefine your femininity, the Dera is your redemption. Its long hemline gives you that vibe of maturity, subtlety and sensuality that allows you to stand out without even trying. The Dera does not judge either. It understands that fries are tempting and the gym is nobody’s mother, so it doesn’t go all Njoki Chege on you when you let yourself go. I normally put on the Dera when I feel like self pampering. It is gentle and kind. It’s the doting mother that tells you you’re beautiful and that you matter; and you believe it because you know it comes from a place of love. The Dera defends your honor and protects your dignity, and we could all use a little more love in the world, couldn’t we? So keep your head up, my lady. Get yourself a Dera in linen or chiffon. I have one in linen that I sort of altered; I gave it a low-plunging v-neck and gathers under the bust. I like to wear it with my hair short or tied up in a bun, then work I it up with a pair of sleek heels or wedges. For the extra glam I normally strap on a metallic bracelet and put on a ring or two. Then I complete the look with bold makeup and a pair of sunglasses for a chic, mysterious uuuuuh! look.

Your Grace
Put on a long-sleeved Dera in a solid grey, black or blue. Make it silk or chiffon, and preferably one with an interesting neck detail. Slip on a pair of solid pumps and some shiny dangly earrings. Let your makeup be minimal and then let your hair down and you’re royal baby! That right there is the look of a goddess. So graceful and majestic that every time I’ve worn it, I swear I must have heard a few halleluiahs chanted my way. So pamper yourselves with Deras this coming warm season lovelies, after the El Nino has washed away. It’ll do you as much good as a day in the beach.

Image Source: Costume Planet

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  1. Dera is the swahili name for dirac. Im from the coast and have a bazillion of them, both for chilling in the house, hosting guests and for outdoors. I like that you put pictures. Waaaaaayy better read!

  2. For me this is your most beautiful piece so far! It’s unique and one can hear your voice in it. You have convinced me to get a dirac! Nice.

  3. I love this piece. Very improved writing and the category should be ‘fashion’ I think.
    Now is there a way you can recommend possible shopping spots for this. I
    I loved this piece. Keep it up fashionista

  4. Hooray for the dera!!! It’s my absolute must have. Thanks for the new and refreshing ways to glam it up. I have 5 pieces in my wardrobe in many vibrant colours.

  5. ohhh I miss the days when high school was all about the world from biko’s eyes……..older gang members know what i mean,,nice writing though

  6. i love the piece, n the pics, or is it the damsel in the pics hmmmmm…..indeed, beauty in the confines of decency…perfectly simple, thnx 🙂

  7. Much better writing this week. Thanks for the pics. At least now I can visualize what you are saying. Never thought about wearing a dera but now that you mention it…

  8. In my language we call it a dirai, but it’s essentially the same thing. I’ve several of them and I can attest that they are the best investment I’ve ever made in terms of clothing.

  9. Lovely read! #Dirac For those asking where you can get them,they are sold in Eastleigh.I would trade my Pjs for a cotton Dirac anyday.As for the silk/Chiffon Diracs,Those are only worn at weddings/parties.Beautiful photos @Biko

  10. It was stolen sometime back and those who stole it made some modifications on it…the modification, darts running from armpit all the down and returned it to the shops for ladies endowed with big behind/hips

  11. Awesome read. You are getting there love. When talent is honed and nurtured with rigor, and presented with the right opportunities, it leads to extraordinary results. Kudos biko. Now we need a LIKE button for us shy readers

  12. “The Dera does not judge either. It understands that fries are tempting and the gym is nobody’s mother, so it doesn’t go all Njoki Chege on you when you let yourself go. ”
    spoken like a true friend ,thumbs up to the Dera

  13. Very nice.’..full body armor that defends your innocence while you do everything wrong.’
    Entertaining, practical and forward moving.

  14. Throughout the great pattern of thgins you get an A for effort and hard work. Where you misplaced me was on all the specifics. As people say, the devil is in the details And that couldn’t be more correct at this point. Having said that, permit me reveal to you just what did work. The article (parts of it) is certainly incredibly engaging which is possibly the reason why I am making the effort in order to comment. I do not make it a regular habit of doing that. Second, even though I can see a jumps in reason you come up with, I am definitely not sure of just how you seem to connect your details that help to make the final result. For the moment I shall yield to your point but trust in the future you connect your facts much better.

  15. Awww dera nation right here. It should be our national dress. I have several pieces and given how cheap it can be, I always get two or three diracs for my housies/nannies (uniform nini nini)

  16. Trust me: you can make someone marry the crippled. I love your article…. you are a genius. Am a writer who looks forward to learning from you. Masha Allah