I have talked about my mom in past posts because she was my first style icon as well as being instrumental in helping me identify and define my own style. As a kid, I learned to take pride in my appearance and carry myself with importance worthy of the prime minister. This was not about pretending to be someone I’m not or trying to impress anyone, but was more about sending a message to the world – a message of valuing life, expression and affirmation.

When I was young, my siblings and I would get cool clothes and accessories from hustlers in the neighborhood. We could get whatever we wanted for 70% off, which was perfect for us since we cared about style and looking good, but didn’t have a lot of money. I was also blessed with a creative sister who was a fashion designer and stylist, and she would help me make alterations to my clothes such as adding leather or making them unique in other ways.

Even then, I loved mixing pieces of clothing and accessories in unexpected ways. For example, I had pieces from Morocco that I loved mixing in to my wardrobe. Today, I continue to take this approach with my style. When I look for clothes, I don’t care about designer names, price points or even require the highest quality. The most important thing for me in designing my style is about carrying myself well and knowing how to put things together. I’ve been known to wear something from Forever 21 with Gucci for example. I love researching and experimenting to design outfits that suit my identity, my lifestyle and me.

Expressing a style that is a true and unique representation of myself means that it doesn’t matter to me what others might think and their opinions don’t dissuade me from wearing what I want or being what I want to be. I am not fearful of what others will say because I recognize it is their own discomfort that is speaking when they ask why the hell I’m wearing a man dress. All I can do is put on a big smile and say, “that’s my thing, I love it, and I don’t care!” And that is just the truth about being who you are.

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