February 19, 2014

[Style Series Africa Edition] Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

After a full week in Cape Town, it was time for this MBA student to move on. The class had run its course in Cape Town and was on our way to Johannesburg.

This outfit was inspired by Stephanie of Pretty Is This, whose picture I snagged over a year ago.  I'd been so taken by her outfit and how she modest-ified what could have been a slightly scandalous dress, loving the transformed look of the delicate lace against a white canvas.
So, I did what any good blogger would do - I copied the look.

Admittedly, these are not the greatest photos of my outfit, but it still was one of my favorite ensembles of the trip. The outfit consists of a Michael Stars ikat tank dress and simple white Gap skimmer pants, which were a gift from Zeena after a photo shoot. The exact dress is shown below, with almost the same pants:

(more shopping and actual discussion of the apartheid museum after the jump! click on 'Read More')

The backside looks like this:

In addition to traveling, our class toured in and around Johannesburg - we went through Soweto, the township where Nelson Mandela lived, passed the house where he died, visited the Hector Pieterson memorial, and ended at the apartheid museum - a full day being out and about.

The Apartheid Museum was established in the mid-90s as a way to honor those who lived during the terrible institution, honoring those who fought to tear it down, and remembering how life should never again be that way for anyone. In a style similar to the Holocaust Museum in DC (coincidentally, which I work directly across), there were separate entrances for whites and non-whites. Passing through the exhibits, you could feel the unfairness pulsing through the corridors as each artifact continually reinforced the minority rule over the majority simply on the basis of skin color. It was by far the most emotionally evoking experience in my time in South Africa. We'd hear and witness the legacy in the stories of our cab drivers and miles of rampant poverty, but to see the images, videos, and sadness still remaining from a false notion of "separateness to preserve our cultures" drew hot, uncontrolled tears. (I am very much for combining cultures, races, and religions - which sadly, does not happen enough in first and sometimes second generation immigrant communities of which many Muslims are part of.)

We were not allowed to take photos inside the museum, hence the lack of photos of my outfit this day.

As a modest fashionista, my goals in styling an outfit are to 1) provide an adequate amount of coverage and 2) maintain a sense of style. I specifically saved this combination for the travel day to prevent that dreaded backside flash that shorter shirts tend to do when sitting, a problem particularly on a plane. The silky drape of the tunic dress made it easy for me to lug two overweight suitcases through two South African airports, prevent midriff from peeking out, and still feel like I was a stylish tourist out and about in Africa. As a Muslim, I felt comfortable and confident and as an American tourist, still felt very much like myself.

If you're not into the Michael Stars ikat tank dress but do want something similar, here are a few options. Pair with your favorite skimmer/skinny pants in a solid color.

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