How To Tie Nigerian Gele

How to Tie Nigerian Gele: A Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners

If you're new to Nigerian culture, you may have noticed the stunning, head-turning gele headwraps worn by women at weddings, parties, and other special events. These stylish pieces are not only a way to complete a traditional outfit, but they are also a symbol of cultural pride and identity. However, for many beginners, the art of tying a gele can seem daunting. Fear not! In this article, we will guide you through the process step-by-step, so you can tie a stunning gele and feel confident at your next event.

What is a Gele?

Before we begin, it's essential to understand what a gele is. A gele is a type of headwrap that originates from Nigeria and is traditionally worn by women. Gele is made from a stiff, thick fabric that is wrapped around the head, twisted, and tied to create a stylish, head-turning look. Nigerian women often wear gele to weddings, parties, and other special events as a way to complete their traditional outfits.

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Choosing the Right Gele

Choosing the right gele is essential to creating a stunning look. There are different types of geles available, and it's essential to choose one that complements your outfit and face shape. When selecting a gele, consider the following:

  • Color: Choose a color that complements your outfit. If you're wearing a bright, colorful outfit, consider a plain, neutral-colored gele. If your outfit is neutral, you can opt for a bold, colorful gele.

  • Fabric: Geles come in different fabrics, including aso-oke, damask, and ankara. Consider the occasion and outfit when selecting the fabric.

  • Size: Geles come in different sizes, and the size you choose depends on the style you want to create.

Preparing Your Hair

Before tying a gele, you need to prepare your hair correctly. Ensure that your hair is clean and well-moisturized. If you have straight hair, you can create some volume by teasing it. If you have curly or natural hair, you can slick it back into a bun or use a headwrap underneath the gele.

Tying the Gele

Now that you've selected the perfect gele and prepared your hair, it's time to start tying the gele. Follow these steps:

Step 1: Place the Gele on Your Head

Start by placing the gele on your head, with one end longer than the other. The longer edge should be on the side where you want to create more volume.

Step 2: Create a Base

Next, create a base at the center of your forehead by folding the longer edge of the gele back and forth in a zig-zag pattern. Ensure that the base is wide enough to cover your forehead.

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Step 3: Twist the Longer End

Take the longer end of the gele and twist it tightly. Hold the twist with one hand while you wrap it around your head.

Step 4: Tuck the End

Once you've wrapped the twisted end around your head, tuck the end under the base of the gele at the center of your forehead.

Step 5: Create Pleats

Take the shorter end of the gele and create pleats by folding it back and forth. Ensure that the pleats are even and well-defined.

Step 6: Place the Pleats

Place the pleats on top of the base at the center of your forehead. Ensure that the pleats cover the base entirely and are centered.

Step 7: Tie the Knot

Take both ends of the gele and tie them tightly at the back of your head. Ensure that the knot is secured and doesn't slip.

Step 8: Style the Gele

Now that you've tied the gele, it's time to style it. You can create different styles by adjusting the pleats and knot. Be creative and experiment with different styles until you find one that you love.

Tips for Tying a Gele

  • Practice: Tying a gele takes practice. Don't be discouraged if you don't get it right the first time. Keep practicing, and you'll get better.

  • Use Pins: To keep the gele in place, use hairpins to secure it.

  • Don't Overdo It: When tying a gele, less is more. Don't overdo it with pleats or make it too tight.

  • Have Fun: Tying a gele should be fun. Be creative and experiment with different styles until you find one that you love.

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Tying a Nigerian gele can seem daunting, but with practice and patience, anyone can do it. By following the steps outlined in this article and considering the tips provided, you can create a stunning, head-turning gele that complements your outfit and style.


Q1: How long does it take to tie a gele?

A1: Tying a gele can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the style you want to create and your experience.

Q2: Can you tie a gele with short hair?

A2: Yes, you can tie a gele with short hair. Ensure that your hair is well-groomed and use a headwrap underneath the gele to create volume.

Q3: What type of fabric is best for geles?

A3: The best fabric for gele depends on the occasion and outfit. As a general rule, aso-oke and damask are best for formal events, while ankara is best for casual events.

Q4: What is the best way to store geles?

A4: To keep your geles looking their best, store them flat in a cool, dry place. Avoid hanging them, as this can cause the fabric to stretch.

Q5: Can you tie a gele without a headwrap?

A5: Yes, you can tie a gele without a headwrap, but using a headwrap can help create volume and make it easier to tie the gele.