My Personal Uniform: Minimalism & Celebrity

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?It is true that when it rains it pours I found myself attending several amazing events in one week, yes, in one week. Being the un-famous actress that I am there was, of course, the trouble of figuring out what I would wear… You see, I don’t have stylist or designer at my beck and call, I just have to find what I find and make it work… Keeping in my mind what I may or may not of worn before. I’ve definitely gotten some stylist for certain events but sometimes it’s not so easy.

Supposedly, it’s a taboo for celebrity women to repeat… But I loved when our former (Forever) First Lady Michelle Obama mixed and matched and people noted when she remixed a skirt or remixed a cardigan to make another outfit.  Allowing the cameras to catch her wearing gasp the same item again or two and three times! The funny thing is I’m very attracted to the minimalist personal wardrobe. Some of my close friends know this about me because every time I came home from a long trip I would bag up a bunch of clothing and donate them, sell them, or give them away! In a huge desire to simplify and pick a basic look a.k.a. the personal uniform. Seriously what is my personal uniform?

A PERSONAL UNIFORM pays homage to a discreet and singular style of wear. [A Personal Uniform]

A personal uniform doesn’t mean wearing the exact same thing on a daily basis. But rather, it means having an organized system for getting dressed.[Iron and Tweed ]

I’d like to really solidify what that is for myself and I’d like to figure out how I will function as an actress with a personal uniform. Women are praised for changing outfits, celebrities especially will change hairstyles textures and colors on a dime. Those truly known for personal wardrobe are mostly men. Many of us know about Karl Lagerfeld and his personal uniform: the variations of the black jacket the high starch color and silk and tie. We also recall how Steve Jobs would not be caught without his jeans and a black turtleneck. Simon Cowell is infamous for his black long or short sleeve fitted top and simple casual bluejeans and Russell Simmons for his argyle sweater shirt collar blue jeans and sneakers …fresh ?fresh kicks at that. (In all my life, kicks have never been a concern to me. I did not grow up poor, but I did not grow up in a household where having  the latest sneakers was ever  a priority. My big brother was more into designing sneakers than buying a bunch of them)

  I find myself at odds with my career when it comes to fashion  because I’m not famous enough to have unlimited access to all the latest designer gear, I’m not famous enough to be known for any particular style, perhaps kinky curly hair … perhaps??? I’m curious to know what my friends might say my personal style is, because I’m not too sure my public persona has one. In New York City I’m only recognizable between the blocks of 59th St. and 42nd St. TIMES SQUARE — Other than that, there are the random “Did we go to school together?” “ Do You go to insert name of church here?”– Thanks to my face settling into peoples minds after seeing me on the 6th season of Scandal. But I have famous friends and they always look amazing!!! Lupita Nyong’o, for example, has taken style to the next level, as a red carpet darling and fashion chameleon and Susan Kelechi Watson has exploded on the scene with a vibrant fresh style and braids to match.
I say that I’m at odds with the idea of fashion because when I get invited to an event, my first thought usually does not begin with excitement for attending the event my first thought is actually nervousness, thoughts on if there will be a red carpet or a ‘step and repeat’ with professional photographers and (gasp) what will I wear?  This is not something that I talk about with my friends, most folks love to party and spend money on outfits. But I’ve never been a big shopper, always preferred a day at Barnes and Noble versus a day at the mall. And New York life is expensive. Yet at the same time I love putting on make up and luxurious hair styles and wigs. But that becomes difficult when you are invited to five back to back events in one week, I’m not complaining, I had a wonderful time but woo lord  that’s a lot of outfits!
I am very attracted to the idea of a personal wardrobe I’m very attracted to the idea of minimalism or at least it’s more comfortable twin “essentialism”. Less is more in my opinion but I do understand how the game works and I do enjoy glamour.
You guys, remember a couple years back when Alicia Keys decided to stop wearing make up…I recall this specifically because I can really feel her, I could really relate to the idea of not wanting to keep up with the Joneses and spend so much of your time in hair and make up chair every single day as an entertainer. Yeah, of course, Alicia Keys took on this anti-establishment look with a couple of Grammys already in her pocket and a solid career already but I genuinely wonder how she would’ve done that with the “no make up look” earlier in her career. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to boycott make up, honey I loves me “a lash” and “a hair extension” but the clothing thing is a whole other thing it’d be great to have it all be simplified to have it all be more simple. In the words of Lauryn Hill “it could all be so simple but you’d rather make it hard…” Love Ms. Hill’s personal style sooo much by the way. When I was searching for an example of females with a personal uniform Diane Keaton and her sublime wide legged suits came to mind of course! And also, a prominent name came up, Elizabeth Holmes, but she, alas, is connected to lots of negative connotation due to charges against herself and her medical testing company Theranos . We ain’t trying to copy nobody that’s being illegal.

Her straight hair and black turtleneck made her a bit of an icon when she was positively popular. Marilyn Monroe has made the ruched dress and ruched  bathing suit, uber famous, and so has Breakfast at Tiffany’s star,  Audrey Hepburn, with her pedal pushers flat ballet slippers, clipped bangs, and black turtleneck hell I guess I should just wear a black turtleneck would that solve the problem? Perhaps various colored turtlenecks?
Besides having to find outfits this particular week my outfits have to have a high neck due to bandaid and that made it slightly more difficult.  I am the queen of supple bosom when I want to be! Not unlike fashion maven, Bevy Smith, an ample bosom can sometimes be my calling card… I guess cleavage can be a personal uniform as it has been for Pamela Anderson for many years.
Somehow, due to the nature of my lifestyle, my personal uniform currently seems to be a gown or a formal type of thing… But I’m really looking to expand YET simplify my inner, everyday style. That costs money to do on a grand level, but in the long run it will save money if my focus is on quality and not quantity in my every day life. I want to own my style and yet also adopt a minimalist approach to my day-to-day comings and going’s at the same time.  The Madamenoire website actually did a small piece on my personal style and I was so flattered! Let me tell you, the fact that Brande Victorian, the author, decided to take the time,  and that brought tears to my eyes, because I have not felt very consistent when it comes to style. Now that I’m actively blogging again and being social going out to events and even just talking on social media I wonder, are people like “did she have that sweater on last week?”
My Instagram page is not a “minimalist page” so I don’t think it will naturally cross peoples mind that I was embracing minimalism and got rid of half the sweaters I owned last year. This past Christmas my cousin saw me in the same sweater three days in a row I dressed it over each outfit I wore and she said “don’t you have another sweater” and I said “that is thee sweater for this trip.”
Traveling as much as I do has made me simplify my luggage to an extreme level! When I’m going to LA for meetings and auditions that suitcase basically consists of 2 jeans and A few tops. And audition gear = Lawyer, teacher, grieving mom and cop outfits.  Sounds hilarious right? But these are my daily uniforms! I tell my manager when I travel to LA I keep a little bit of everything in my suitcase “The black actress audition gear is packed from district attorney to slave!” * and that’s a whole other conversation. Sidebar: everyone thinks I live in LA but I still live in New York… ?
Anyway, as an actress it might be difficult to find your personal style when you are constantly “saving your body” for characters —keeping your nails simple, keeping your hair in wig prep, not wearing a lot of tattoos… All of this can affect the types of jobs that you get but it reeks havoc on one’s sense of self —in finding personal style. Sometimes I feel super-modest and conservative in fact I follow modest bloggers like Danielle M. Bah and  #modestfashion on Instagram, yet I also love a bear midriff and cleavage for days– go figure… I love Erykah Badu’s wild eyeshadow colors and fingers dipped in henna… and I just don’t want you guys to be shocked if you see me dressed in the total opposite of conservative! Lisa Bonet aka Lilakoi Moon,  Erykah Badu, and voice over queen Cree Summer are some of my favorite natural earthy goddesses who adhere to no man’s style.
I honestly think my Southern upbringing prevents me from displaying that side of myself a little bit more also the fact that my “A” personality gets me cast onscreen as lawyers and cops, when on the inside I’m a lot more earth child! ??
My oldest sister Evie has been designing clothing for a long time, in the NJ area, and I have desperately wanted her to make something for me our busy schedules and distance keep us apart. Last month, I took her some lappa, some fabric, that I bought in Liberia this past fall and I also took her some my dad gave me before he passed (RIP?) and she made me a lovely skirt I wore it to the FaceAfrica VIP cocktail reception this past Friday night and got many compliments. I can’t wait to wear the other outfit she made for me check out E.designs_and.Alterations on Instagram.
*on the lookout for the newest photo plugins*
I think this article will have a part two because I would like to seriously find more black women or women of color who have a personal uniform. Someone who comes to mind right now is Janelle Monet. Monet’s dedication to “the tuxedo”— in all it’s forms, was quite a feat, she let her talent speak for itself. She swizzle footed her way around the world in those shiny shoes and perfectly fitted suits. I see now, she has expanded to serving ass-less chaps from time to time to and I ain’t mad at her!
I have had some relationships with up-and-coming designers like Liberian-American designer, Korto Momolo and Afro-Colombian designer Edwing D’angelo. Also Tracy Reese has been amazing for events, whenever Tim Yates ( my friend/ publicist) can coordinate it . I make a living as an actress I am not famous, but I do make my living working in the arts. Singing, acting, speaking, voiceover, and occasionally modeling have all led to a small amount of popularity in certain communities. It is quite something to choose or have an interest in a minimalist lifestyle when you work in a business that’s all about excess stay tuned for part two on this discussion and thanks for visiting
Take a look at all the outfits I wore this past week: *caught in the rain?

Check SAYCONTALKS Podcast for the audio version of this blog and more! Complete with singing ? too!

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