My mornings are so different now that I'm freelance. You have to motivate yourself and be really efficient with your time, so I'm up by 9 am and checking emails, social media, the news (even though the latter has become ridiculous to keep up with). By 11, I like to hit the gym, which just helps to clear my mind. When I'm done with my workout, I run errands around the 'hood, take a shower, and then get back to work.
Do you have a uniform, per se?
I do love an all-white ensemble of a white tee tucked into a pair of classic white Levi's. This look never fails: you're ready for any occasion and people see you coming a mile away...
Has that evolved from your style ten years ago?
I don't think I saw the value in a uniform ten years ago; every day was something new, some display of my personality I was dying to express. I was younger and experimenting, playing around a lot and trying to figure out who I was.
And have you worked that out, who you are?
I'm getting there. I think self-actualization is a life-long process, but I do know there are certain truisms about me that I have learned to accept and love. I'm opinionated, aggressive, assertive, a leader. I take charge. I'm loyal, passionate, really creative; I'm a conversationalist, so I feed off people's energy but I also need to be myself. I'm learning how to harness that energy so I can be the best version of myself.
So, what inspires you?
The stories and work of major black creatives inspire me. There is something about listening to real key players talk about their journey, their struggles and eventual success. Everyone from Kerry James Marshall, Oprah, Zadie Smith, Duro Olowu, Joanne the Scammer to Rihanna fuels me to innovate. There is nothing more encouraging than knowing you belong to such a rich legacy of creativity and that your work could someday be an integral addition to that canon.
Back to your uniform, let's talk about the tee.
I think the t-shirt is one of fashion's greatest inventions. It's simple, significant... a foundational piece that some may take for granted but, when you find the right tee, it can pull everything together.
As a fashion writer, what do you make of its history?
Well, it's certainly evolved and elevated, hasn't it? Like jeans, a t-shirt has pretty provincial roots, but now finds itself situated squarely within luxury fashion. I love that evolution.
Is there an iconic tee image that comes to your mind?
Diana Ross on the cover of her “Diana” album, for sure. Her showing up in nothing more than a cool, simple white tee tucked into a pair of crisp high-waisted jeans was so impactful. It was effortless and unexpected; classic but progressive. No one was ready.
You wore a white tee today. Were you channeling a little Diana Ross?
The hunt for the perfect white tee is an eternal one, so this one's a perfect addition to my arsenal. They're so hard to find that you have to grab them when you can! And the long-sleeved tee is the perfect layering piece for fall. Do you know how hard it is to find one that isn't bulky and doesn't cause wrinkles under a dress?!
Maybe I was subtly channeling Diana Ross here with this jeans and t-shirt combo, but there is something so classic about the combo that never lets you down. You don’t need to over-style the look: just add other classics, like a red lip, silver jewelry, and a sturdy boot. I’m also a sucker for slip dresses – I have too many to count! – so styling this together felt natural and a great way to ease into early fall dressing.
A good tee is such a reliable go-to. You can dress it up, dress it down. It’s almost like the glue to an ensemble.
How do the creative processes of writing and self styling connect for you?
Well, both are meditative, that’s for sure. I’m a slow writer and a slow dresser, which can make both processes either really fun or just painful! But choosing what I wear is a small act of self-expression that's connected to my happiness.
Is there power in that?
I would say style is a kind of power, sure. You can grab a room’s attention with an electrifying outfit. You can exude confidence you don’t always have. But ultimately, who you are, what you have to say, and what you stand for is your true source of strength and influence.