How To Tie Gele

The head wrap or head-tie plays an important part in Africa’s fashion styling, specifically in West Africa. There is a saying that “an attire is not complete until it is topped with a gele”.

This is one of the most frequently asked questions at African Clothes Store so we decided to put together this guide.  Below are step by step instructions that will show you how to tie an African head wrap or Gele.  But first here is a video tutorial:

Top Tips for tying a an African Head Wrap (Gele)

  • Tying your gele is as easy as making a bow but more versatile. The following steps will work you through the basic styles. Head-wrap styles are as versatile as your imagination can take you.
  • The weight, texture, and size of the fabric will affect the end result. For the basic style, use ½ to 1 yard of 100% cotton fabric.
  • Always keep your head gear piece crisp with a spray starch for better results.

Step by Step guide to tie a African Head-tie (Gele)

  1. Start by folding the head gear fabric (aso-oke) to a width of about six inches. This can be achieved by folding the piece in half lengthwise, and then folding again twice or so.
  2. Wrap the fabric around your head with the right side extending about one and half over the left side.
  3. Push in the left side but keep the ends out while crossing the right side over (on top of the left end); also keep the right-side ends out.
  4. Pull both ends as tight as desired. Push the left side while pulling the right side to get the desired comfort.
  5. Push in the right side only from where it touches the left side but without pulling it all the way through. This forms a bow.
  6. You may now move this bow to the front, to the side (left or right) or leave it on the back; the choice is yours.
  7. Spread out the two ends to obtain a rose petal look, or pin the two ends to obtain yet another look. The different possible styles and looks are endless. You’ll be surprised what you can achieve by experimenting.


There are different styles of head wrapping. Even an intricate-looking style starts with a basic procedure. We recommend that you consult an expert for help with the more elaborate and intricate styles. Most experts can look at a picture and re-create the style.


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