Outfits Style Fashion Lookbook

Bras are a fashion trend men are finally trying on

If you were to ask your great-grandmother what the purpose of a bra is, she would probably say function. If your great-grandmother were to ask you the same question, you would probably say fashion. This is because Vanity Fair started selling leopard print bras in 1953, which, according to Vogue, “transformed underwear to fashion statements” and forever changed “the way we think about lingerie.”

With each decade, bras have moved closer to the surface of wearable fashion. Rather than underwear, bras have become outerwear. While our parents’ generation most likely views bras as invisible garments worn underneath clothes, millennials and Generation Z-ers are styling bras to be hyper-visible in any outfit, and even doing away with shirts altogether. But this trend didn’t start with us.

Y2K fashion (from the late ’90s and early 2000s) has made a comeback, which is arguably where the bra-as-a-shirt trend originated. In 1996, the late singer Aaliyah was in a Tommy Hilfiger campaign sporting her then-favorite look: designer boxers and low-rise jeans. Instantly iconic, this look has since been imitated by a variety of brands and celebrities. Calvin Klein, Supreme, and Savage X Fenty have all turned this look into a bra and underwear set sold as simple cotton “undergarments” lined with a band featuring the brand name.

Casual underwear sets are so commonplace in today’s fashion lexicon that it’s been easy to overlook the group—men—that wasn’t as well versed in this style. But no more. In the year of our style lord 2021, men are starting to discover what can be accomplished when one wears a bra for fashion rather than function—because obviously, anyone regardless of gender can wear a bra for any reason.

SHINee’s Taemin literally broke the side of the internet where K-pop fans dwell after releasing his latest MV for his title track “Advice.” Per usual, he showcased a variety of compelling looks, but none more compelling than a white cropped tracksuit revealing a matching Supreme set.

While fans are not quite sure if the top of the set is a bra or a cropped shirt, this look is a recreation of the casual underwear sets typically worn exclusively by women in the mainstream. The resulting look is androgynous, fun, and should be hanging in a museum.

Four days later, Holland posted a photoset on Instagram and Twitter of him wearing a bikini bra top with biker shorts. I repeat: the look is androgynous, fun, and should be hanging in a museum.

Fashion is genderless, and yet bras are still gendered in the mainstream. While more underwear brands are launching genderless bras—for functional and fashionable purposes—it’s refreshing to see men like Taemin and Holland helping to break down any remaining bra-rriers (see what I did there?).

In addition, fashion has always pushed boundaries. This has spurred movements in which various articles of clothing have been deemed more fluid. Men donning bras joins a long list of clothing pieces that have switched from traditionally coded as feminine to genderless. Crop tops, skirts, and dresses have all been worn by the likes of Billy Porter, Frank Ocean, Tyler The Creator, Jaden Smith, Conan Gray, Harry Styles, Troye Sivan, Keiynan Lonsdale, Kid Cudi, and more who are toying with the construct of gender in important ways.

If men start wearing bras for fashion, this could help challenge the sexualization of women’s bodies. Of course, breasts are not sexual. While some have more fatty tissue than others, this is a phenomenon that spans all genders. And yet, it is women’s breasts that are controversial, immodest, and vulgar—a misconception that recently inspired a Florida high school to edit its female students’ yearbook photos for “dress code” violations.

A bra is a bra just like breasts are breasts. A person wearing a bra is simply a person wearing a bra. Sometimes it’s for function; sometimes it’s for fashion. If anything, I hope this is a style trend that catches on with all genders, because it is pretty fashionable by today’s standards.

It will be interesting to see how Taemin and Holland spark conversations around possible new fashion trends. It will be even more interesting to see how these conversations inspire a greater movement around more autonomy for all.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Makeup Clothing Outfits Style Fashion Lookbook

The style tips and tricks we learned from our mothers

Mother’s Day is a celebration of all the cherished forms of motherhood. This one is for the strong mothers, the nurturing ones, for the mothers who have lost children, for the children who have lost mothers, for those who are aching to be mothers, for those who choose not to be mothers. Read more here.

Looking back at my early childhood photos, my sister said, “one thing about our mother is that she made sure her daughter looked good!” I couldn’t help but agree when I saw how she dressed me in stylish color-coordinated outfits with matching hair ribbons. It made me realize how integral our mothers were in informing our earliest identity and style. As the first people who dressed us, it’s fascinating to see how they have had a subtle or overt influence on our personal style.

As a child, I was an easy dresser. I usually just wore whatever my mother put me in and thankfully it was cute. My sister on the other hand was far more rebellious. From a young age, she was determined to dress herself. Although our styles have changed over the years, mine incorporating more black and hers becoming more casual and conservative, we can appreciate the style tips our mother taught us. She taught us that you don’t need to spend lots of money to look good and a good fitting is everything!

In celebration of Mother’s Day, I was curious to find out from The Tempest team and some friends about what they learned about fashion from their mother and how and if it influenced their current style.

Honestly, my mother shaped my entire identity and style choices from clothes down to accessories. It’s kind of weird actually because she doesn’t like fashion that much, but she has opinions about everything. When I was younger, I felt like I would live or die based on her opinions of my style choices. That isn’t to say that she was picky, it’s just that my entire existence felt like it was oriented around her and she was the only person whose opinions mattered to me. As I grew up, I found I was more comfortable making some of my own style choices without obsessively running it by her, but I had also emulated her style anyways. Makeup is one area where I truly feel my opinions are totally independent of hers, mostly because she loves neutral makeup and I want everything bold.

Neha Merchant, Editorial Fellow 

My entire thrifting culture was inspired by my mom. I wore my cousin’s clothes and some of my neighbor’s kids’ old clothes at some point! Tailoring was also a big part of that, which inspires repurposing and longevity for your clothes. However, the greatest treasure from my mother is color coordination. She truly believes in brown and beige and boy, do I believe in that combo!

Tsholofelo Masela

My mom and grandmother both have exquisite taste. Even though their fashion leaned towards the practical, they somehow still look effortlessly stylish. Their hijab always matches their outfit. I guess that’s where I picked up my approach to fashion: practical, yet still maintaining an overall chic look.

Thira Mohamad, Editorial Fellow

My mom has inspired me to be bold and challenge the norms by mixing different fashion trends and trends that are “out of fashion”.

Neo Masole

My mom still buys clothes for me. She knows my taste so well and she always does a great job! I know that she sometimes disapproves of the clothes but she buys them anyway.

Tanatswa Chivhere, Editorial Fellow

My mom has always told me that shoes and bags should be of the best quality and should last for decades. Everything else can follow.

Zama Luthuli

I didn’t particularly learn any styling tips from my mom but she taught me how to sew. In our family, it’s kind of like passing on things to the next generation. Just the basic things like how to thread a needle, simple stitches, how to sew a button, alter any price of clothing if it’s too big.

– Sameen Fatima, Community Fellow

My mom has such good taste it’s crazy! I literally base all my style on her opinion; she definitely taught me how to dress! She introduced me to the kind of style/fashion that I like and I wouldn’t know about all the fashion things that I love today if it wasn’t for her influence. I still take her shopping with me because she really knows the deal.

Laurie Melchionne, Editorial Fellow

So whether your mother is your shopping buddy and style twin or you are way more daring in your fashion choices. I think it’s safe to say that our personal style wouldn’t be what it is today without its first moldings from our mothers. Happy Mother’s Day!

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

History of Fashion Lookbook

How Bedhead, Blush and Stilettos rose to fame as “sex symbols”

It’s Friday night. You’re getting ready for a night out with the squad. You rouge your cheeks with your best, shimmery blush. You clip your hair back into a soft, messy bun and slip on your favorite pair of heels. You take one last look at yourself and think “cute, I guess.” Meanwhile at the club, men are lining up at your feet, offering you all sorts of drinks and sexual innuendos. Why the sudden interest, you think? That’s because the looks you’re rocking all have one thing in common; they make you look like you’re ‘ready for sex.’ Let’s take a closer look at how the patriarchy first assigned this ‘sex appeal’ to these items.

Blush: like a rush of blood to the face after sex

Blush dates back as far as ancient Egypt. On top of inventing winged eyeliner and pyramids, Egyptian men and women used to grind red ochre to add rosiness to their complexion. They’re not the only ancient society to have done this; the Greeks used crushed mulberries and flowers, whilst the Romans rubbed Vermillion on their cheeks. 

Once prostitutes started wearing blush for maximum allurement (and to cover bruises and tired eyes) there was a huge chunk of time where society frowned upon it. It was during this period where ‘higher class’ women would paint their faces white or use leeches to remove natural redness from their skin – like really? Y’all disgusted by sex work that much? 

Still, the reign of blush continued in many societies, albeit sparingly, and even though it was made with toxic chemicals. Only during the industrial revolution did blush become much safer to use and much more common. And just in time for WW1, when the patriarchy decided they wanted women back in the kitchen looking all pretty and ‘ready to go.’

While today, blush is just a staple makeup product to give us a rosy glow, its universal popularity came from what it represents: the rush of blood to the face after, er, getting it on. 

Bedhead: a hairdo tangled up by sex

Rocking bedhead may serve to liberate our morning routine, but Urban Dictionary defines it as “a hairdo that looks like you just finished having sex”. How did this happen? Well, similar to the rise of blush, messy hair was once only synonymous with “improper” women, whilst neatly styled locks was a symbol of decency.

In one recorded example of how scandalous messy hair could be, a man once came home to see his wife with a twig in her hair and assumed she had cheated on him with another man on the ground. So, he stabbed her in the chest, killing her. I want to make a joke about this man’s lack of communication skills here, instead I gulp down the injustice that is gender-based-violence and continue

The changeover of bedhead from “unfaithful whore” to “desirable woman” can largely be attributed to the rise of sex scenes in film, where women would be made to act as if dripping with sexual energy in the bedroom with their mussed up manes and smudged lipstick. Models like Kate Moss, and even male musicians like Robert Smith helped turn bedhead cool and effortless, too. I mean, I guess it’s only cool depending on who you are. Selena Gomez looks effortlessly sleek with a messy bun, whilst Donald Trump looks like he’s been pulled through a bush backwards. 

Stilettos: a physical sign that we’re ready for sex

The original high heels were invented for men to be able to secure their feet in stirrups, and later, for aristocrats to parade around towering over everybody. But they too eventually took on a hyper-sexualized meaning when they were later only meant for women. The story goes that the original chunky platform was deemed too dangerous for women, especially when pregnant. So for us fragile, ‘baby making machines’, voilà – we were gifted the stiletto.

While to women today, high heels represent glamour, ambition, and power; to men they once represented a woman ready for sex. This is ‘because’ heels cause an arched back which suggests openness to “mating advances”. I laughed out loud while typing that.

When asked what men find attractive about a woman in high heels, a French shoe designer once famously said that it was that “heels slowed the woman down, giving the man more time to look at her”. Clearly, no one wanted women to be able to get away either. Anyone else thinking rape culture?

Since then women and heels have become one. Like sharp weapons beneath us, we can run when we’re late to meetings, jump over hoops for our family, and dance the night away on our tippy toes. But at the end of the evening you’ll probably see us barefoot – cursed heels in hands – wiping away our contoured cheekbones when we’re home and brushing our hair before bed. And I can assure you, none of this means we’re not down for sex. But instead of judging that from the sate of a few accessories, educate yourself on consent, and ask us instead.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Outfits Street Style Style Fashion Lookbook

23 Black fashion influencers you absolutely need to follow

We all know how Instagram can change peoples’ lives, build unprecedented careers, and highlight amazing voices. However, most of the top fashion and beauty faces we see across the grid and featured on media platforms are white. From fashion tips to feeds that mirror your favorite magazine spreads, these are the women whose style we can’t get enough of.

Between the top-notch style and eye-catching imagery, we’re not sure why you wouldn’t want to follow these badasses.

1. MsKristine

MsKristine wearing fitted denim jeans, a white top, and a long yellow blouse.
[Image description: MsKristine wearing fitted denim jeans, a white top, and a long yellow blouse.] Via MsKristine on Instagram
Former plus-size blogger turned fashion designer, Kristine Thompson is the founder of KIN, a shopping destination for everyday women. Fun fact: each letter of ‘KIN’ stands for a member of her family.

Her pieces are timeless and prove that you can be both trendy and curvy.

2. Stylishcurves

Alissa Wilson wearing a blue pencil skirt with yellow vest
[Image description: Alissa Wilson wearing a blue pencil skirt with yellow vest.] Via Alissa Wilson on Instagram
Alissa Wilson is the fashion editor behind Stylishcurves, a plus-size brand featuring vibrant but classy outfits. Part of her mission is to offer stylish clothing options to women of all sizes and backgrounds.

If you’re a professional looking for cute clothes, look no further for inspiration.

3. Slipintostyle

Elizabeth Delphine wearing pink pants with a red plaid blazer
[Image description: Elizabeth Delphine wearing pink pants with a red plaid blazer.] Via Elizabeth Delphine on Instagram
Elizabeth Delphine, the model and Instagram influencer behind Slipintostyle is effortlessly chic with a style reminiscent of Parisian haute couture.

If you like colorful and unique pieces, you’ll fall in love with her feed.

4. Fashionvoice4u

Ajibe Oge wearing a red jacket dress with a black oversized purse
[Image description: Ajibe Oge wearing a red jacket dress with a black oversized purse.] Via Ajibe Oge on Instagram
Fashion designer, Ajibe Oge, created Fashionvoice in 2016. The name of the platform reflects her idea that fashion has the potential to give someone a voice.

If you like colorful flowy summer dresses and funky headwraps, you should stop by her shop.

5. Romeosfashionfix

Juliette Foxx wearing turquoise pants with black and orange top
[Image description: Juliette Foxx wearing turquoise pants with black and orange top.] Via Juliette Foxx on Instagram
Every week is fashion week according to influencer Juliette Foxx and we couldn’t agree more.

Her style is casual, yet equal parts trendy and edgy as well. If you like fierce looks with statement pieces, you’ll feel right at home on Juliette’s feed.

6. Amandafinesse

Amanda Finesse standing on a sidewalk, wearing a dress with black boots, a hat, and sunglasses
[Image description: Amanda Finesse standing on a sidewalk, wearing a dress with black boots, a hat, and sunglasses.] Via Amanda Finesse on Instagram
Amanda Finesse is a New-York based style influencer and personal shopper. She provides women the tools to dress for success and believes in promoting diversity and inclusion in fashion.

If you like fun and bright fashion with a unique twist, you’ll love her feed. You can also check her out here.

7. Karenbritchick

Black woman sitting on kitchen counter, wearing a green summer dress
[Image description: Karen Blanchard sitting on kitchen counter, wearing a green summer dress.] Via Karenbritchick on Instagram
Karen Blanchard is a fashion YouTuber and Instagrammer who encourages women to own their style. Londoner living in New-York, she vlogs about what everyone is wearing in the big city.

Her fashionably laid back style is everything and her blog ‘Wheredidugetthat’ can help you emulate her!

8. Annemarieamber

Black woman posing on a set of stairs, wearing a copper colored outfit
[Image description: Anne Marie Amber posing on a set of stairs, wearing a copper colored outfit.] Via Annemarieamber on Instagram
Chicago blogger Anne Marie focuses on fashion for petite women. Her feed is a stunning mix of neutrals and classic outfits with some accent pieces thrown in.

Follow her Instagram page if you can deal with aesthetic envy!


Black woman standing in the street wearing blue shorts and a white shirt
[Image description: Stacey Robinson standing in the street wearing blue shorts and a white shirt.] Via Thisandthatfashion on Instagram
Stacey Robinson is a lifestyle and fashion blogger from Alabama. She’s a mom of three daughters who are all into fashion.

She created her blog to show young women that you don’t need a lot of makeup or expensive clothes to look amazing.

10. Veilbydaraadams

Black woman in a white wedding dress looking at her reflection and smiling
[Image description: Black woman in a white wedding dress looking at her reflection smiling.] Via Veilbydaraadams on Instagram
Dara Adams is a bridal fashion stylist committed to helping women of color feel seen in an industry that otherwise fails to represent them.

She wants to break any preconceived notion of what a bride of color “should be” by encouraging women to be fashion-forward.

11. Lovebstyle

Brittany (lovebstyle) wearing royal blue fitted pants with matching crop top and ankle length vest
[Image description: Brittany (lovebstyle) wearing royal blue fitted pants with matching crop top and ankle length vest.] Via Lovebstyle on Instagram
Brittany is a Chicago based fashion Instagrammer. Her style is comfy, cute, and feminine. 

She’ll be your virtual shopping buddy. 

12. Monroesteele

Monroe wearing a bright yellow dress with oversized belt
[Image description: Monroe wearing a bright yellow dress with oversized belt.] Via Monroesteele on Instagram
Fashion blogger, Youtuber, and editor-in-chief of @steele.magazine, Monroe knows all about the best deals and brands to support. 

If you love colorful, elegant, and modern looks, you’ll fall in love with Monroe’s feed. 

13. SoniqueSaturday

Sonique wearing kaki colored oversized pants with white tank top
[Image description: Sonique wearing kaki colored oversized pants with white tank top.] Via SoniqueSaturday on Instagram
Sonique is a fashion designer, stylist, and overall inspiring woman based in LA. Her aim in life is to encourage women to go after their dreams and to look fierce while they do. 

Check out her designs here

14. Yvettecorinne

Yvette wearing a green ankle-length flowy skirt with matching head wrap and plunging v-neck tropical print yellow top
[Image description: Yvette wearing a green ankle-length flowy skirt with matching head wrap and plunging v-neck tropical print yellow top.] Via Yvette Corinne on Instagram
Yvette is a Texas-born blogger, model, and content creator. She’s all about fashion, lifestyle and beauty. 

Check out her blog to learn how to style the latest trends and get the latest on skin care tips. 

15. Marfarlane

Martina wearing a blue dress with white flowers, looking into the camera
[Image description: Martina wearing a blue dress with white flowers, looking into the camera.] Via Marfarlane on Instagram
Martina, the face behind Marfarlane on Instagram, is a Jamaican fashion blogger passionate about telling stories through imagery and poetry. 

16. Stephstyleguide

Stephy reading a magazine sitting in bed, wearing an orange dress
[Image description: Stephy reading a magazine sitting in bed, wearing an orange dress.] Via Stephstyleguide on Instagram
Stephy D. is a fashion blogger and stylist based in Dublin.

Love prints and dresses? You’ll feel right at home in Steph’s feed. 

17. Styledbykemi

Kemi wearing a navy blue dress, smiling at the camera
[Image description: Kemi wearing a navy blue dress, smiling at the camera.] Via Styledbykemi on Instagram
Kemi Ajibare is a personal stylist from D.C. 

She embraces the beauty of individuality both in life and fashion. Check out her blog for style and wardrobe tips. 

18. Ambermystery

Adeola Olajide wearing a white lace dress
[Image description: Adeola Olajide wearing a white lace dress.] Via Ambermystery on Instagram
Adeola Olajide is the creator and designer of Ambermystery, a brand dedicated to bringing ethical fashion to forward thinking women.

19. What_maya_wears

Maya wearing a black and white checkered pattern pencil skirt with a white top and black blazer
[Image description: Maya wearing a black and white checkered pattern pencil skirt with a white top and black blazer.] Via What_maya_wears on Instagram
Are you a tall woman? If so, Maya’s feed is perfect for you!

This London fashion blogger is all about finding cute clothes for tall women.

20. Stylebymenikkib

Nikki B. wearing blue denim shorts with a gray shirt tied up at the waist
[Image description: Nikki B. wearing blue denim shorts with a gray shirt tied up at the waist.] Via Stylebymenikkib on Instagram
Nikki is a New-York based model and personal wardrobe consultant. She’s a believer that less is more when it comes to fashion. 

Her streamline approach is reflected in her timeless and classy outfit choices.

21. Marlee_eliza

Marilee wearing a pale blue dress with matching headband
[Image description: Marilee wearing a pale blue dress with matching headband.] Via Marlee_eliza on Instagram
Fashion blogger Marilee makes comfy and casual look effortlessly chic. 

If you love a cute and approachable style, look no further than her feed for inspo. 

22. Allyne_ann

Allyne wearing a blue flowy dress and smiling at the camera
[Image description: Allyne wearing a blue flowy dress and smiling at the camera.] Via Allyne_ann on Instagram
Allyne Ann is all about “styling real life and building community” through slow fashion. 

Her style is bright and fun, it will bring sunshine to your feed!

23. Eccentric_beauty_

Erin wearing green shorts with pink flowers pattern with matching blazer and black tank top
[Image description: Erin wearing green shorts with pink flowers pattern with matching blazer and a black tank top.] Via Eccentric_beauty_ on Instagram
In her own words, Erin is “the girl next door who came here to slay” and we couldn’t agree more. 

Her looks are fierce and her confidence is inspiring. 


Did your favorite make the list? Let me and The Tempest know who else should be on our fashion radar by tagging us on social media @wearethetempest!

Also, if you’re looking for more fashion inspo, check out our 10 thrifting-focused fashion influencers you need to know about.

Fashion Lookbook

Here’s my big-chested secret to finding a supportive sports bra

I’ve never understood why it’s so hard to find sports bras or tops that are flattering on large chested women. From my experience, all of the cute ones either only come in smaller sizes, or are impractical. What I do find is never actually supportive, though, like a sports bra should be, and I wind up having to wear two sports bras just to feel comfortable while exercising. This is suffocating and not at all ideal, especially when sweat starts to build up in crevices that should just not be sweating. 

If I don’t go through the hassle of squeezing my chest into 2 sports bras at once, which is something that I think resembles a medieval corset, then I feel almost as if I’m being held back during my workout. It’s hard to push myself when I don’t really feel secure or comfortable. Not to be graphic, but if I’m going on a run or doing jumping jacks, the last thing I want to be thinking about is my boobs flopping around in every direction, basically an inch away from a wardrobe malfunction. Yet most of the time, that is all I can think about. Not to mention that all of that breast movement can also be downright painful during a workout. Frankly, it feels like my boobs are being torn right off my chest with every jump or swing. 

As a result, my exercise routine just doesn’t last very long because I’m so tired of having to deal with my boobs. Sometimes I even find myself holding my breasts in my hands to stop them from bouncing while I’m jogging. But I shouldn’t have to do that. Girls with larger chests should be able to find sports bras, or any other top for that matter, that are flattering, trendy, and fits their chest just as much as the next girl

But I also know that my big boobs are not going anywhere anytime soon. Neither are those narrow stereotypes of the ‘perfect’ female body that are the driving force of the fashion and athleisure industries. So, after a few years of dealing with this, I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks of my own for finding a sports bra that is comfortable, stylish, and that I trust to keep my chest in place and supported. 

Our boobs deserve the best — AKA not to be smooshed so I’ve always found it best for a sports bra to have some sort of light cupping on the inside. This ensures that our boobs have a designated place to go so as to limit movement. 

Freya Active Bra.
[Image description: Freya Active Bra.] Via
Another thing that is key when looking for a sports bra is a strong and substantial bottom band. This acts like a shelf for our boobs to sit on and helps keep them in place during a high-intensity workout. When looking for a bottom band that offers maximum support, however, it’s important to take into consideration whether or not that band will rub or cause irritation in the area. Rubbing is not good. For this reason, I usually try to go wire-free when picking out a sports bra. Adjustable straps and a flexible under-band are always my go to for comfort and ensuring minimal bounce. 

Natori Gravity Contour Sports Bra.
[Image description: Natori Gravity Contour Sports Bra.] Via
Another important aspect is the material that your sports bra is made of. Moisture-wicking or mesh materials are great for soaking up sweat and acting as a ventilator to keep you cool. 

Zella Body Fusion Sports Bra.
[Image description: Zella Body Fusion Sports Bra.] Via
It’s time we start taking a stand and taking care of our boobs, because if we don’t, we could be doing more damage than we’d like to think. 

Fashion Lookbook

In defense of ugly sandals

Let me say upfront that I am a very proud wearer of the original universal, sun and moon insignia blue Tevas. You’d be surprised how many outfits I can match with these sandals. 

A person wearing a pair of blue Tevas with suns and moons on them with a blue wall in the background.
[Image description: A person wearing a pair of blue Tevas with suns and moons on them with a blue wall in the background.] Via
When I was growing up, these kinds of sandals were worn exclusively by ‘nerds’, adults, or people going on a hike. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing these at school (unless, of course, your parents made you and you had no other choice – speaking from personal experience here). I bought these because they were comfortable, practical, easy, and quick to put on for errands, and well, they are kind of funny. Plus, I am a sucker for a statement piece, you know, the kind that everyone asks about, which these certainly are.

I’ve come to adore these ugly sandals. For one thing, I’m not even convinced that they are as ugly as everyone says they are. Sure, I’m not usually a proponent for dressing according to the mainstream. I don’t really adhere to one singular style, but rather I take my outfits day by day, and I’m always eager to try out something new or bold. So when sandals like these popped back into the market, I figured that it might be time that I gave them a try. Since then, my collection has nearly doubled. For starters, they are so flexible you can dress them up or down. They’re subtle enough not to overshadow other parts of your outfit, but still manage as a standalone piece for bringing that extra flare to any look. These shoes even play into the whole being uncool is cool ideology. It seems that everyday the unconventional becomes more and more flattering and, honestly, I’m living for it. 

I’m also a huge fan of Birkenstocks and other double-strapped, flatform sandals. These are sandals that prioritize the comfort of the wearer. They’re meant to be worn, bent, and to scrape concrete. Other sandals are made predominantly for a photo or a 30-second walk down the runway. These kinds of sandals are barely wearable and leave my feet begging for freedom. But it’s time we realize that beauty does not have to be pain if we don’t let it. I don’t want to walk around with bleeding, blistering feet and in desperate need of a bandaid anymore. And why should I? I appreciate a shoe that I can wear all day without any sort of discomfort, because they won’t hold me back from accomplishing anything that I set out to do that day. Ugly sandals are, almost by definition, durable and trustworthy. These shoes won’t let you down when you’re counting on them to have a successful, pain free day. Because we all know that almost nothing is worse than having excruciating pain in your feet while you’re on the move day and night. Ladies, it’s just not worth it. So what if they’re “ugly”? Your feet will be too if you don’t stop and listen to their suffering. Plus, maybe they’re not considered that ugly anymore after all.

In fact, brands like Prada and Givenchy are taking this look and making it vogue, which is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. These shoes were at one time considered to be the absolute ugliest, but since last year, they’ve come to be considered high fashion. I see people wearing increasingly eccentric versions, like ones with 4-inch-tall platforms on the soles, and so many more. It’s almost like a revolution. 

Not to mention that Tevas in particular are made from 100% recycled plastic and plant-based materials, making them much more environmentally friendly and sustainable than most other sandals on the market. These classics are still holding strong, which is nothing short of honorable given our rapid fashion cycle. I think – and hope – that ugly sandals will slowly but surely become timeless, and maybe even be remembered as a signature of our generation.

Fashion Lookbook

MyScene taught me about style, empowerment, and compassion

Here’s a visual: It’s 2005. You’re sitting in front of the desktop computer in your house, which seems to have a box attached to the back of it, and you’re on hour 3 of playing MyScene. That’s right, MyScene. The online gaming site that let you transform into an interior designer, makeup artist, hair stylist, nail technician, spa business owner, and go on seemingly endless glamorous shopping sprees. The MyScene franchise consisted not only of computer games, but also of dolls and movies — Jammin’ In Jamaica is my personal favorite if you want to experience 44 minutes of pure nostalgia.

At the time, there was absolutely no denying that I wanted to be them. I mean, who wouldn’t? They’re all icons with flawless fashion. Each character Barbie, Madison, Chelsea, and Nolee had their own individual brand of sass, flare, and style. Plus, as we watched their characters come to life onscreen, we learned that these ladies were also empowered, intelligent, and compassionate. Barbie was interested in technology and business, Madison was a songwriter and band manager, Chelsea loved fashion design and sold items that she customized at the market, and Nolee was the sporty one of the group with an inclination to mathematics. 

To say the least, the MyScene girls introduced me to a world of girl power and badassery, and I cannot thank them enough for that. I grew up alongside four older brothers, so when I wasn’t trying to keep up with them, I was vigorously trying to find feminine outlets. And this was that for a while. I could be as unapologetically sensitive, bold, and imperfect as I wanted to be, and it was amazing. I felt like I was right there alongside them, navigating the plights of womanhood as a young girl trying to break through the mold. 

I used to spend hours on the computer too; hours that I now look upon fondly. I think that this is where I found my fashion roots, to be honest. For one, there was nowhere else that I could be a true fashionista and transform almost immediately into anything and anyone. My closet wouldn’t suffice for the kinds of possibilities and outfits that I was looking for, and neither were the handful of dolls clothes that I had. But here the options were boundless. I could be a superstar or a diva if I wanted to. And trust me… I was!

With sites like MyScene, we were able to quite literally express ourselves anyway we chose time and time again. I quickly learned to appreciate my creativity and let it run free as I surfed through different styles or aesthetics and matched them with different activities or careers. It was expansive, fresh, and valuable. I grew to adore this part of myself. 

I found out what I liked, what I didn’t like, and — while it may seem like a stretch — I even learned about budgeting (using coins inherited through the game of course), patience, precision, and discipline. I mean, the product that I came up with just had to be perfect if it was going to be successful, which is an ideology that has lasted with me into adulthood. 

I cherish those days spent with MyScene, sifting through skirts, headbands, and purses, because they morphed me into the woman that I am today and will be tomorrow. She is curious, warm, loud, and would much rather wear a dress than a pair of jeans. She has incredible drive, values empathy over anything else, and is willing to go the extra mile to take something from good to great. Oh, and she also still cries every time she watches a romcom.

What’s even better is that those early 2000’s MyScene styles that we all adored as kids have finally returned to mainstream fashion. We get to put all those years of gaming and idolizing to the test as we put on the outfits and the attitudes to match, to decorate our own lives like we did with Barbie, Madison, Chelsea, and Nolee so many years ago. 


How important are our fashion choices in the midst of a global pandemic?

It’s day twenty-something of quarantine where I live. Comfort is something I’ve come to crave in these very bizarre and scary times. I read somewhere that this situation isn’t about simply working from home – rather, it’s about having no choice but to stay at home due to a global pandemic during which we are trying to work. In the midst of everything feeling offbeat, we turn to what is safe: warming bowls of pantry pasta, Netflix parties, endless FaceTime calls, and clothes that make us feel fuzzy and comfortable – usually our pyjamas. Whilst many of us stick to PJs or sweatpants for our quarantine OOTDs, there’s a whole movement of people not letting social distancing stop them from living their best fashion lives.

At its core, quarantine fashion too can be a source of comfort for many. Dressing as if you weren’t confined to your home is, in a way, a defiant alternative to the reality of life at this moment in time. It gives those partaking in it something to look forward to everyday, and the ability to have control over and replicate a semblance of normalcy in some aspect of their everyday lives.

An example of this is the Working From Home Fits Instagram account (@wfhfits), which documents the outfits of various followers who send in photos of their chosen ensembles for the day. As you scroll through the account’s posts, what is most eye-opening is the little glances it affords us into how we humans are living right now. The account, like a candle, illuminates different parts of the world, giving us a sneak peek into the quarantine outfits of people in the midst of their improvised home offices, with their pets and their plants. There is something incredibly special about being able to partake in the experiences being shared. Everything is so unfiltered, so real and so relatable, that it creates a camaraderie and solidarity among us as we face the world today.

Could wearing our favorite meant-for-outside outfit while stuck inside really make so much of a difference in our day?

Maybe it’s the thought of wearing their pre-planned outfit that helps someone get out of bed in the mornings. Maybe it’s the group chat’s glowing responses to a photo of said outfit that brightens up their day. Maybe it’s the thought of wearing all these different outfits outside once quarantine lifts that gives someone hope. Maybe it’s what helps them see the light at the end of the tunnel.

If you can’t understand how someone dressing for comfort or making fun fashion choices, or doing a full face of makeup can be so impactful, you have to know that the magic is as much in the process as it is in the result. In a lot of ways, our outer appearance affects our mental health. If this isn’t a time for deliberate and dedicated self-care, what is?

In the middle of thinking about all this, I took out my makeup bag and swept my favorite glitter eyeshadow across my eyelids, and put on my favorite dangly star earrings. It’s been close to four weeks since I’ve done either, yet I didn’t expect such a small act to make me feel so much better while writing. What was mundane isn’t mundane anymore. What was routine can somehow bring joy to me now. Quarantine-chic, quarantine-fits, quarantine-lookbooking – there’s something to be said in favor of it all.

It’s incredibly important to remember, however, that for all those who consider style a form of personal expression and haven’t dressed up much while staying at home, that’s okay too. It is truly about what makes us feel most comfortable in these wild times. Clothes and accessories and makeup are all tools for any individual to use to their own liking. What brings comfort? What brings joy? Is it those oversized bunny slippers, or is it a tailored power-suit? It really isn’t for anyone but you to decide.

Fashion Lookbook

As a self-proclaimed overdresser, I’m over fashion’s minimalism trend

Capsule wardrobes? Don’t even talk to me about them. I don’t like anything ‘streamlined’ nor do I want to have an ‘edited’ closet. The more I can wear, the better.  But lately, this gleeful practice of burying your body under layers of fabric seems to have fallen out of favor. Athleisure is the name of the game. The seemingly effortless outfits, look perfectly curated for Instagram and Pinterest. In all honesty, I can see how they are appealing. Simplifying your look cuts down on the time spent pulling an outfit together. Additionally, there’s a timelessness about athleisure minimalism. Lululemon has basically taken over the world.  

So if spandex pants and mesh tanks are everywhere, why do I hate it so much? It was something I could never quite put my finger on. Any time I passed a perky woman wearing Lululemon yoga pants at Whole Foods it took every single ounce of my energy to prevent my eyes from rolling to the back of my head.

However, I’ve had some time to think about it. To pinpoint what it is about the trend that grinds my gears. It’s the so-called effortlessness of the outfits. The trend’s attractiveness comes from the idea that putting effort into your appearance is a bad thing.

This goes against everything I stand for and is in direct conflict with the concept of overdressing. I’ve always been the type of girl who completely ignores her friend’s directive and comes to a casual lunch dressed to the nines. Personally, I loved the outfits on the original Dynasty show. I am in awe of Carrie Bradshaw’s closet in Sex and the City. I fully support how dedicated Kim Kardashian is to never be caught off guard. Because I am the same way. It’s a bit of a headscratcher given my precarious financial situation. However, I am a serial overdresser because of my financial situation not despite it. Breezing through thrift stores and hunting down vintage leather jackets on Depop is one of the few luxuries I can afford.

My ability to wait for the perfect moment to strike when betting on a retro Vivienne Westwood corset top brings me more pride than being at the top of the waiting list for new Yeezy’s. There is something about being stopped in the street and bonding with another person over where they got their giant pearl necklace. I love being asked ‘where are you going?!’ in an incredulous tone by family and friends alike. It’s something you simply cannot get while wearing joggers and a sports bra.

I like the clear hard work and clear thought it takes to pull off an obviously overdone outfit.  I also appreciate that for the practice of overdressing, it’s nearly impossible for too many similarities to be present. Athleisure and minimalism have a ‘sameness’ a uniform quality that threads through its ethos that I am not a fan of.  The gleeful and campy nature of dressing is missed in these trends. My fashion inspirations are people like Andre Leon Talley, Prince, and Missy Elliot. To put it lightly, these are people known for making a statement with their clothes. A bold one at that. One of the most important aspects of overdressing is not being afraid to stand out a little bit. To be bold.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but the world I’m witnessing and living in isn’t fun at the moment. Sometimes the only way I can access my joy and optimism about the future is through the small action of what I wear. So while it may be seen as completely inappropriate to wear a large patterned boubou with fringes at the bottom to Walgreens, it is one thing that keeps me sane. I have been able to create a community for myself through the ability to look like I’m attending A Very Important Thing all the time.

My spirits have been lifted through this simple and admittedly silly act. A dressed-down gym outfit may be more practical but it’s not nearly as fun. And if there’s one thing that fashion and style should be, it’s fun. Overdressing is the embodiment of that. So throw on a ton of jewelry today.  It may just change your outlook.

Fashion Lookbook

How having a personal tailor can reduce our need for fast fashion

Picture a fifteen-year-old girl swathed in itchy fabric held together by pins. She turns this way and that before she’s firmly admonished by a young woman telling her to stay still. That girl was me once upon a time. Everyone has a tailor or multiple tailors growing up in Nigeria. It’s simply a way of life. Even with the proliferation of fast fashion and social media, our tailors from the fancy to the functional remain a consistent presence in our lives.  The question is: why?

The simplest and easiest answer is because of tradition. For weddings, funerals and all events in between, a good tailor for traditional outfits is a must. I still remember the green fitted skirt with a matching gold bustier top I wore to a wedding. It’s still one of my favorite looks ever. It is also something I wouldn’t have been able to pick up at H&M.  For large events, you usually buy fabric from the event planner and then sew an outfit according to your relationship to the person hosting. For instance, men might wear one fabric, and woman another. To make it even more complicated there may be different tiers. The close family could wear green, for example, the extended family yellow, and close friends blue.

The first tailor I developed a consistent relationship with, met me when I was 12. A transition period in most people’s lives; becoming an adolescent.

I am 24 now, and she still makes clothes for me. She’s one of the most stable relationships I have ever had. Through fashion, she got to know me incredibly well. Where I’m from, your tailor is a part of pretty much every important milestone in your life. Sitting across from them, like a therapist you begin to collaborate on an outfit. It could be for your baby shower, your graduation party, or a funeral. Slowly but surely, they begin to carve out an outfit that will suit you. Most of the time they even source the fabric. Through this exercise, I learned to be bolder with my stylistic choices.

In order to meet your perfect tailor suited to your needs, you kiss a lot of frogs in the process. You will meet lots of tailors that will ruin yards of expensive fabric or who will adamantly go against your wishes and sew complete atrocities. I know I’ve been on the receiving end of unfortunate encounters with those types of tailors. But that’s what makes meeting your perfect tailor so rewarding. Meeting someone who’s on the same stylistic wavelength and knows your body intimately? Priceless.

With fast fashion under intense scrutiny from the public due to unfair labor practices and environmental destruction, I can’t help but think about the series of tailors I’ve encountered. They taught me patience and the appreciation that comes from watching an outfit slowly come together. I was shown how different fabrics sit on the body. Jersey, for smoothing and highlighting curves and linen for dressing up or down looks. I got to feel the fabrics with my own hands. Unlike many people who live in the West, I had an intimate relationship with the person who makes my clothes. Due to this, it was absolutely out of the question making them work harder than they possibly could. Or refusing to pay them the worth of their craft. The fact is, the further the relationship with the maker and creator of things; whether it’s fashion or farming the more likely for abuse.

I am fortunate that I have had the experience of learning the craft of making clothes from people who have been doing it all their lives. Recently, there has been a crop of sustainable fashion labels, with the designers and manufacturers based in the country of origin. People are more interested than ever in not letting their fashion add to their carbon footprint. This is a good step in fostering the relationship between maker, seller, and buyer. It’s not quite the same as having a woman with a thimble on both of her thumbs attempt to straighten out an Ankara skirt.  But it’s a start.

Editor's Picks Hair Beauty Lookbook

Every time I visit the salon, the West African braiders weave my culture into my hair

I used to hate getting my hair braided.

Sitting for hours in an uncomfortable chair was not my idea of a good time, although I can’t imagine spending long periods of time in one place is considered ‘fun’ for any active child. Regardless, though, those hours could have been a lot worse.

The reason it wasn’t because of the firm-handed Senegalese hair braiders who worked steadily on my hair, and for whom I have so much respect. Through them, I learned about experimenting with and caring for my hair, something that’s become extremely popular with the natural hair movement.

Pretty much every single hair braiding salon looks the same. The walls are bare, save for posters featuring women with increasingly elaborate hairstyles. These aren’t necessarily options per se, but examples of the skill that the braiders in the shop possess.

I used to hate getting my hair braided.

The set-up is pretty much the same, from the hair braiding mecca that is Harlem, New York City, all the way to the Carolinas. Across America, women primarily from Senegal, Togo, and the Gambia have used hair braiding to create a better life for themselves.

In recent years, however, things have changed.

The demographic shifts in neighborhoods, rising rent, and licensing practices all threaten to cripple the once-thriving community of hair braiders. In Washington, the Department of Licensing has begun to put hair braiders under scrutiny.  For many years, hair braiders were under the impression that a business license was the only thing they needed. About four years ago, that started to change. Now, they need cosmetology licenses in addition to a business license.

These hair braiding regulations tend to specifically target minority women. The Institute of Justice has sued on behalf of hair braiders in ten different states between 1991 and 2018.

Demographic changes, rising rent, and licensing practices all threaten to cripple the once-thriving community.

In order to get a cosmetology license, a person must complete 1,600 hours of education. In general, cosmetology courses cover everything from manicures to waxing. They do not, however, always cover hair braiding.

Additionally, many hair braiders are women with children. Going to college to study a course that they feel doesn’t benefit them eats away at the free time they do not have.

Some hair braiders are also undocumented.

With gentrification and rising scrutiny from government officials, the likelihood of some of these women going underground increases, which also affects their ability to earn an income safely. With their financial independence in jeopardy, they can become cut off from their network of socialization.

I find the increasing marginalization of hair braiders an important topic to speak out about for more sentimental reasons as well. For a period of my childhood, Senegalese, Ivorian and Gambian American hair braiders were my bridge between cultures. These hairstylists were able to combine West African hairstyles with trends happening within African American culture at the time.

My hair became a physical manifestation of both the worlds I inhabited. With a major shift in the way black women present their hair in the past decade, the role hair braiders play cannot be overstated.

My hair became a physical manifestation of both the worlds I inhabited.

Braiding hair is a source of income for Black women of all nationalities and creeds. It is also a connection to the past, a way to get to know one another.

Before I started going to braiding salons as a child, I didn’t know anything about other West Africans.

But while a Senegalese American woman burned the tips of my braids to close them, I learned about her family, where she came from, a little bit of her personality – all because I spent a few hours in her chair. I would leave the salon with my sisters, hair swinging slightly, with renewed confidence.

This is an experience every little Black girl should have.

Black hair, like Black fashion, can be a political statement. Hair braiding salons are a testament to that fact. These salons are mini-communities in and of themselves, with a long history of social, economic and cultural importance.

The proverbial house that these women have built should be preserved and respected, always.

Sign up for The Tempest newsletter. Once a week, we’ll send you exclusive stories and scoops exploring who we are, what we do, and why it all matters.