To Alice

By: Rukee Kaakunga

Growing up, nothing excited me more than dressing up in my finest Sunday dresses and looking my best at special occasions. Frilly dresses, bows, ribbons and plenty of chiffon made me the happiest girl. I remember having my hair done by either my mother or my aunts every Sunday without fail. It was the most painful hour or two every week, but the results were always worth it. Looking good made me so happy.

As a pre-teen, I was so impressed with my mothers wardrobe which at the time was the most hip, most fashionable to my young eyes. One of my cousins and I would fight over who would one day own a floral double layered eighties style party dress that my mother owned. We marveled at how it moved when she danced to the latest kwassa-kwassa tunes at family gatherings.

Throughout my childhood, clothes made the world bright. They made me look forward to social events that as a shy, anti-social child I wouldn’t otherwise want to attend. Clothes turned me into whom ever I wished to be on any given day – a princess, a tennis star or even a rock star.

As I grew older, taller and more conscious of what society wanted young women to be, my confidence in whatever I wore faded. I struggled to “feel” pretty in anything I wore. My gawky figure and skinny legs exposed me to bullying that made me hate dressing up. Suddenly, nothing I liked excited me enough to play dress up. Nothing made me feel “beautiful”.

The older I got, the more I realized that people used their own insecurities to make you feel like you were not good enough. The moment I realized this, self love birthed a renewed confidence in myself and a return to my love of fashion. I don’t know much about what it feels like to wear expensive luxury designer clothes but one thing I do know though is that I love to look good. One thing I do know is that nothing beats the feeling of a new outfit that keeps you up late at night just imagining how you’re going to style it. There’s few things that make me happier than that – one of them is you.

Photo credit : Hildegard Titus

You, my lovely daughter who turned out to be my twin in every sense of the word. You who at age three already show such passion for fashion I marvel at it. You who already so sternly tell me what you want to wear and how you want to style it.

I hope that as you grow older, this confidence remains. I hope that even with the inevitable gawky teenage years when everything seems not to fit – that a sense of wonder remains I hope you remain self assured in what you want. I hope that when no one sees you as you see yourself, that even if you sometimes forget – at the end of the day you remember who you are. 

Photo credit : Hildegard Titus


  1. Trends come and go. Always be yourself and know that it will always be in style to be you! What you wear doesn’t make you, you. No matter how much you love your favourite boots or that fur coat you’ll one day repossess from my closet, know that who you are will never be because of these things.
  2. Never spend more than you earn on what you wear – unless you can find a way to make money from it.
  3. Minimalism is your friend.

I hope you remember that whatever your body is yours alone to do with as you please. However you choose to dress yourself is nobody’s business but your own.

Finally, I hope you never lose that sense of of wonder. That sparkle in your eyes whenever you wear your “princess dresses”.

Yours always,