30 Modern Traditional Dresses and Attires in South Africa

Like most African countries, South Africa is home to multiple cultures, traditions, food, and attires. From colorful beaded necklaces and bracelets to sparkling brightly colored fabrics to abstractly embroidered robes, South Africa has various dress styles representing people from different regions. Modern traditional dresses in South Africa are highly stylized and unique.

As a matter of fact, each piece of cloth people wear has a long history and expresses pride in their identity. Most of these traditional attires also serve as an inspiration to regions outside the country and local and international elite brands. Many modern South African traditional dresses have also made it to the runway, where people with diverse cultural heritage distinctively dress themselves to show where they come from.

Nice Ndebele Traditional Attire

In South Africa, the Ndebele people are mostly found in provinces such as Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and Limpopo. Also called Transvaal Ndebele, they are part of the main Nguni-speaking peoples of the olden days. They, however, began migrations to the Transvaal area in the 17th century and have now moved to other areas in the Southern region.

The Ndebele tribe is well-known in the African continent and beyond for their incredible painting and beadwork. Their homes are usually painted with bright colors and geometric designs. As for their traditional outfit, they look beautiful and colorful as well. The basic items that make up Ndebele women’s wear are an apron and hoops.

A lady’s age determines the kind of apron she wears. Older girls in Ndebele wear a beaded apron called isiphephetu (usually given to them by their mothers), while the younger ones put on small beaded aprons. The dressing is further enhanced by the thick beaded hoops they wear around their legs, waist, neck, and arms called isigolwani.

Below are some Ndebele traditional attires:

Umbhalo-Inspired Single-Breasted Jacket

The Umbhalo is an Ndebele blanket that can be converted to anything wearable. Though it is traditionally designed to be worn across the shoulders like a blanket, some stylists are beginning to stitch into jackets, skirts, and other materials. However, one thing remains outstanding – the unique colors. As gathered, the lines colored-strap on Umbhalo are meant to be worn vertically and not horizontally.

Off-Shoulder Gown

One thing about Ndebele people is that they often pay homage to their culture and tradition in many ways. They love what they believe in and also value it so much. The off-shoulder dresses shown above were made in different colors. However, one thing that enhanced the beauty of the outfit is the multi-color designs that run through the attire.

Maxi Skirt And Tube Top 

Who doesn’t love beautifully designed tube tops? This particular Ndebele wear is worn with a matching necklace. The maxi skirt has the same color as the tube top at the edge, bringing out the more beautiful designs. Interestingly, the skirt can be made using any color of the fabric.

Beaded Maxi Gown

This particular attire screams ‘Ndebele.’ It is a reflection of the beadwork prowess. The beads are fitted to the cloth and are made with matching colors and different lengths. It is worn alongside some hand beads, a hat for the head called Inkehli, and beautiful Ndebele jewelry.

Best Sepedi Traditional Attire 

The Pedi people are mostly found in Limpopo and some parts of Mpumalanga. The ethnic group’s traditional attires are symbolic. Their colors represent happiness, a trait they value and consider essential in everyday activities.

The Pedi people’s typical attire includes but is not limited to doeks or headscarves, a front apron (ntepa), and back aprons (lebole) that girl wears. The apron is made from strips of animal products. For the men, they wear vibrant kilts as a part of their ancient apparel.

Maxi Gown With Multi-colour Stripes

The Pedi people have one of the most vibrant modern traditional dresses in South Africa. This particular dress is beautifully designed with some vibrant colors around the edge of the material. It looks simple and gorgeous.

Gorgeous Multi-Coloured Gown

We love everything about these ladies’ outfits. You can choose to go for a different design, but the color combination is simply beautiful.

Blue and White Combination

The designs, their smile, the combination, and everything we saw in this picture made us fall in love with this Sepedi traditional attire.

Off-Shoulder Free Gown

We absolutely love how this gown is styled. The designs at the back and how simple and classy the material sits close to their elbow joint make us fall in love with the attire the more. As clearly shown, it can be sown with any color of the fabric. In addition to the outfit, the white footwear and neckwear perfected their looks.

Sepedi Traditional Outfit

This is typical apparel for Sepedi women. It consists of an inner cloth tied on the waist called hele and a fabric tied as a part of the dress called metsheka. A headscarf and colorful beads are also worn alongside the outfit, making the Sepedi motif more beautiful.

Venda Traditional Attire

The Venda are significantly found in South Africa and Zimbabwe, precisely near the border that connects the two countries. Venda traditional dresses are unique and beautiful. In the region, girls wear a small apron called Shedo. The essence of wearing the Shedo is to cover their nakedness.

Nwenda is the name of the attire around one shoulder or at the waist once they begin to develop breasts. The colorful striped Nwenda fabric is worn alongside headbands, bangles, and beaded necklaces. For the men, their traditional attire is called Tsindi. It is a loin-cloth made with animal skin. It is passed between the legs and then tied at the back, thereby providing cover for their genital. They sometimes don a cloak over their shoulders, especially in colder weather.

Blue Off-shoulder Ball Gown

This outfit is ideal for brides who love blue gowns. The combination of the Venda-inspired stripe color design makes the outfit more gorgeous and classy. This downward part of (from the waist) particular attire has two steps hanging below the blouse length.

The bride has no necklace on her neck; rather, she wore a beautiful matching earring with a matching headband, looking so beautiful.

Beaded Tube And Stripe Fabric

Whether you choose to go for an all-beaded attire or incorporate the beads on your fabric, you can never go wrong with Venda’s traditional attire. They are just too beautiful to be unnoticed. This modern traditional dress is fashioned with colorful beads from the chest area down to somewhere around the waist.

The bride wore necklaces on her legs, hands, elbow, and even around her head to further enhance the traditional outfit. The striped fabric is then tied from the waist down to the knee.

Short Striped Off-shoulder Gown With Slit

This style absolutely rocks! It looks incredible and classy. The beauty of the style is apparently enhanced by the Venda multi-color stripe designs attached to the center of the bust and at the edges of her gown. This particular outfit is simple and nice. It can be worn with or without beads.

Venda Traditional Attire For Couples

Who says ladies are the ones who know how to rock Venda traditional dresses and attires better? Well, the men are beginning to come up with impressive styles that are too beautiful to ignore. The couple above absolutely looks great in their traditional attires. You can make something similar or exactly what they wear for any of your traditional occasions at Venda.

Modern Xhosa Traditional Attire

Xhosa people are known for their creative beadwork, which they usually incorporate in their traditional attire. They mostly wear traditional attire for their special cultural activities, and these dresses vary from one tribe to another. Different Xhosa groups can be easily recognized from their beadworks and color of garments.

Xhosa people’s main items of clothing include long skirts and aprons in beautiful printed or embroidered fabrics. There is also ithumbu, an elaborate beaded necklace worn around the neck, beaded anklets, and bracelets. Married women in Xhosa traditionally wear iqhiya or headscarf, and it’s so beautiful.

These two look great together. The multiple color combination running through their white outfits make them adorable. This outfit is worn with a beaded necklace for both the man and woman. The man also places a matching fabric across one of his shoulders as part of his dressing.

Mermaid Black And White Gown

This outfit must have taken days to achieve. It looks stunning and more ‘Xhosa’ than an attire we have seen on this list.

Black Xhosa-Inspired Outfit For Couples

If you look black traditional outfit, you might need to give this a try. The designs below the apparel are just out of the world, and then the beadwork on the lady’s neck looks absolutely stunning.

Two-Piece Apparel

Just rock and roll with this, and you will definitely be the center of attraction on any traditional occasion. It is simple, classy, and gorgeous.

One-Side Off Shoulder Fitted Gown

Stunning is the right word to describe this outfit. It yet another modern traditional dress that has a blend of the Xhosa traditional color.

Elegant Zulu Traditional Attire 

This outfit is a full representation of the Zulu traditional apparel for women. The colorful beads and animal skin apron makes her more beautiful. The outfit is indeed a stunning modern traditional dress.

Bra And Skirt

This young lady’s decision to cover her bra with colorful beads makes her outstanding. Others also wear beautiful beaded bra and skirt below. Whichever way you choose to rock yours, you can never look awkward in them.

Shaka Zulu Attire

Love it or not, this outfit melts the heart. The animal skin apron and every other fashion item shown in the picture above absolutely screams’ Zulu.’

Beautiful Tswana Traditional Attire For Couples

Tswana people, a Bantu-speaking ethnic group, are mainly found in the Southern Africa region. Their traditional attire is a cotton fabric known as Leteisi and Shweshwe in Sotho. This apparel is often worn during wedding celebrations and other Tswana traditional celebrations. Setswana women, including married women, mostly wear a checkered small blanket during traditional baby-showers called mogagolwane.

Strapless Mermaid Gown And Men’s Simple Wear

This is absolutely beautiful. This couple matching outfit looks gorgeous and classy. The combination is out of the world as it perfectly highlights the vibrant colors of the Tswana tribe.

Navy Blue Traditional Couple Attire

This couple surely knows their game. Everything about their dress speaks class. It is one of our favorite modern traditional dresses and attire in South Africa.

Combination Of Ankara and White Material

These two look great in their attires. Their outfit is one of the trending modern traditional dresses and attires in Tswana land.

Tswana-Inspired Modern Attire

This is a typical modern attire that has the Tswana motif attached to it. The couple really rocks, and their outfit looks amazing.

Traditional Suit

We absolutely love this couple’s Tswana-inspired attire, and we hope you do too.

Simple Tsonga Traditional Attire

The Tsonga people are mostly found in South Africa and Southern Mozambique. They are highly populated in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, numbering over 3,300,000 according to the 2019 population estimate, StatsSA. The Tsonga tribe is a Bantu ethnic group. Their women traditionally beads and colorful gathered skirts called Xibelani while the men wear animal skins. The Xibelani naturally shakes when the women wear them and dance.

Here are some Tsonga modern traditional dresses and attires.


As mentioned earlier, the Xibelani is always colorful and such a beautiful attire to behold. It is usually worn with a white top, colorful beads on the neck, waist, and hands. The beauty of the attire is amplified with the colorful headgear that women wear and simple but gorgeous white footwear. One beautiful thing about this attire is the fabric that is worn across the shoulder. It can be any color of fabric with beautiful designs.

Tsonga-Inspired Mermaid Gown

This is a beautiful mermaid gown that is worn mostly by Tsonga brides. It can be made with any color of the fabric. However, one prominent thing about the dress is the gorgeous Tsonga colorful designs that run through the material. A bride may choose to wear a bead with it or not.

Simple Male Short Sleeve Shirt

Though Tsonga men traditionally wear animal skins, many modern traditional dresses and attire for men are now being worn by the male folks. What matters most is that they look handsome and extraordinary in these attires. The shirts, which are usually designed with beautiful and colorful designs, are worn with any color of trousers and footwear.

Flower Ball Gown

This particular outfit is all shades of beauty, starting from the color of the net to the Tsonga-inspired flower that runs across the bride’s chest.

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Osondu Queen Chidinma
Osondu Queen Chidinma
Queen always has the inside scoop on the lives of your famous celebrities, she is the go-to source when it comes to everything Hollywood and South African entertainment industry, an entertainer and a true queen in her own special way.


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