Lupita Nyong'o dressed ''formally'' for the first 16 years of her life.

The '12 Years a Slave' actress was born in Mexico but the family moved back to Kenya - her father's birth place - when she was just one year old and remembers fashion in the African country was modest and ''well fitting''.

Asked about her earliest memory of fashion, Lupita said: ''Very 80s red cord miniskirt with suspender straps. Presentation is extremely important in Kenya. You dress formally. You can't just wear flip-flops. My mother always had her own style. She wore A-line, tea-length flowery dresses, very well fitting. Her nails were always perfectly done. salons were a big feature in my life. We would go every two weeks to get our hair braided, washed, or treated. That's where I read American, British, and a few African magazines.''

Lupita and her family made most of their own clothes because it's much less expensive to create your own garments than buy them in Kenya.

The Oscar-winning actress still has great needle skills and makes adjustments to her own clothes now.

She explains: ''I would design my own clothes. In Kenya it's much cheaper to get clothes made than to buy them. We would have everything run up by a tailor, or my aunt Kitty, who is very creative, would sew things for me. I can work a pleat.''

Since finding fame in Hollywood, Lupita has fallen in love in red carpet fashion and she loves to dress to impress at premieres and awards shows.

Speaking to the new issue of Vogue magazine, she said: ''I didn't know the power of couture until I tried on a couture dress. It made me cry.''