In today’s edition of What to Wear This Week, Chioma Nnadi, Fashion News Director of Vogue.com, breaks down the mechanics of what she wears and why.
What do you think about when you get dressed in the morning?
I had a shaman by the name of Colleen McCann come over and help me clear out my closet this past summer. She told me that my energy flow would be better if I planned my outfits the night before. Now I wake up thinking, “Did I remember to lay out my clothes? Is the forecast still the same?”
Do you start from the shoes and work your way up, or clothes and then down?
It really depends. If I’ve bought a new pair of shoes, I’ll usually try and figure out a way to wear them immediately, but the same goes for any new item. I’ve been known to build my entire outfit around a pair of earrings.
Do the pieces you choose to wear aim to say anything specific?
I generally pick pieces that will boost my mood on any given day. I think clothes should make you feel happy.
What’s your foolproof styling trick?
If in doubt, layer over a turtleneck sweater.
The one garment that never lets you down?
A good midi-heel sandal never lets me down. Two inches is the golden height for heels in my opinion, which is why I always buy at least one pair of Maryam Nassir Nadeh shoes every season. They’re so chic and also comfortable.
What item of clothing makes you feel most like yourself? Why?
I would have to say a bias-cut 1930s chiffon dress, preferably layered over a brightly-colored slip, possibly worn with Chelsea boots. I guess I’m a true romantic at heart, and there’s something super whimsical about that look that always sits well with me. I’m not a girlie girl, but I love a pretty dress, especially if it’s kind of coming apart at the seams. I like it when clothes have a past life.
At what point in your life did you really start to come into your own in terms of personal style?
My earliest memories involve fashion, so I guess it’s always been my thing. I remember when I was five years old, wanting these patent leather Mary Janes so badly I literally bullied my parents into buying them for me. I was relentless! I remember the rush of euphoria I felt when my dad finally took me to the store to buy them. It was a very visceral experience.
How does your Instagram/social media presence play a role in you get dressed?
It can make the process of getting dressed that much more fun. If you suddenly find that your coat matches the print of a wall or something, it’s like, why not have fun with it? I’m not obsessive about it, though. I actually think I forget to post the looks I’m most into more often than not.
You’ve been traveling a lot: how do you pack without panicking (or do you?) and what’s your number one pack-for-travel tip?
People ask me that a lot. I’m actually terrible at packing. I would say, don’t leave it to the last minute like I do.
What are your favorite three places on the Internet to get inspired?
I’m prone to falling down Instagram rabbit holes like most people, but honestly nothing beats getting out to into the real world for inspiration — go see a movie, a new exhibit. I went to this amazing show at the Southbank Centre in London called “The Infinite Mix: Contemporary Sound and Image” — maybe the best examples of video art I’ve seen in one place. It blew my mind. I also went to see Queen of Katwe, the new Disney bio-pic about a Kenyan chess champion with Lupita Nyong’o, and cried my eyes out! It was so touching. One of my dearest friends, Mobolaji Dawodu, designed all the costumes, so that made it extra special.
Have you discovered any fashion brands lately? What are they if so?
I’m very obsessed with Alex Mullins, a British menswear designer. He recently started making clothes for women and I have many pieces from his new Spring collection on my list. He specializes in denim, and there are these soft lime green carpenter jeans that have my name all over them. I’m a big fan of New York menswear label Death to Tennis, too, their outerwear is really good. I also recently discovered the perfect distressed denim jacket from his label in L.A. called Feelings by Alex. Strangely enough, I’ve come across a lot of good nightgown labels lately as well, including the Three Graces. Their loose shirtdresses and cover-ups saved me on the hot days in NYC this summer. People would stop me in the street to compliment me on them.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve learned in the last week?
I was lucky enough to be invited to the Bill Cunningham memorial. He was a true original, and his presence on the streets of New York will be missed every single day. I didn’t know Bill personally, and he seemed to be a very private man, so it was nice to hear the stories from his closest friends and family; how he used to invite his colleagues at the Times over for Thanksgiving, and bring home these beautiful gingerbread houses for his nieces and nephews. That was very special.