How to Wear a Bright Yellow Blouse 5 Days in a Row

Born in London and raised in Ghana, Natasha Nyanin is the creative mind behind The Ecstatic Flash. In this installment of 5 Days 5 Waysshe chronicles the journey of one yellow Tome blouse over the course of a recent work trip to Costa Rica. Scroll down to see how it went.

Despite my desire to be the perfectly put-together traveler who struts through the airport clad in imperturbable grace, I am, instead, the one you see at the check-in counter immersed in my hurried ritual of rearranging my clothes in an attempt to defy the laws of physics and reduce the weight of my luggage — because I am also the one too cheap to pay the penalty.

I am Natasha Nyanin, a writer and creative consultant who does not know how to pack light. When Amelia approached me with the idea of styling one item of clothing five different ways for five days, the memory of hand-carrying a six-pound silk taffeta robe aboard a flight from Casablanca to New York was still fresh. I thought it would present the perfect opportunity to whittle down the weight of my luggage on a work trip to Costa Rica.

Of course, I picked the lightest item possible — a yellow silk Tome shirt with blouson sleeves — and then proceeded to weigh down my luggage with myriad options with which to style it. So, you see, I defeated myself from the onset. At least I had an excuse: Four projects, one story to research and a wedding to attend in the space of five days demanded a girl have her options. Photographer Colby Blount and I stayed at Florblanca resort in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: a conglomeration of villas a stone’s throw from the ocean’s roar. Inspiration abounded.

Day 1: Travel Day

I am living what I like to call my “Year of Yellow,” and as such, the hue had to make its unalloyed debut in the drama that is Travel Day. I usually travel in some form of a suit, but I don’t always do so as an incarnation of Katt Williams. This time I did, going full-tilt monochrome yellow in a Zara suit and comfortable Rothy’s flats. My travel suits are, in my private little fantasy, a petit homage to Yves Saint-Laurent’s Le Smoking and the influence that moment in fashion had on me personally.

The Tome blouse here exists only as a whisper, a suggestion, yet enough to make a statement. To address the small matter of the bitter New York cold, I broke up the sunny color and added texture with a brown teddy bear coat from Ducie London.

Most importantly: How was I going to transport a working closet to Costa Rica? Enter three carry-ons that I find as perfect in their practicality as their presentation: Lotuff Leather’s No. 12 Weekender is androgynous and all-American; Mansur Gavriel’s new travel bag speaks deliciously to my delusions of being a minimalist; and the suitcase sample from Globe-Trotter is steeped in history and yet somehow quite modern. I find each piece of luggage speaks to aspects of my personality and the confluence of the three serves the practical purpose of allowing me to pack far more than I could ever need for a short trip. And so the stage is set for the comedy that is traveling United Airlines.

Day Two: Lounging

To say I have no aversion to color would be an understatement, but I live for the simplicity of monochrome ensembles in crisp white or dominating black. Our home for the stay, Florblanca, inspired this look, which brings together the freshness of white and the joie de vivre of print: large swaths of uninterrupted color pitted against a swirl of pigments in a headwrap by Brazilian swimwear designer Adriana Degreas. The wrap skirt, with its whimsical ruffles, seemed apropos for Costa Rica. The white Zara crop top (acquired for £5 in a long-ago sale), worn back-to-front as a bolero, was a spur-of-the-moment addition as we walked out of the door of our villa.

Day 3: Married to Yellow

Tome blouse worn as headwrap, custom made dress inspired by Saint-Laurent and Rihanna’s Giambattista Valli red dress, Bia Daidone earrings

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.” – John Keating, Dead Poets Society

This corny quote is a cardinal point in my style. I don’t have a huge wardrobe — in fact, most of it’s in storage as I make a transition from my life as a Centers for Disease Control Scientist in Atlanta to a What-Exactly-Am-I? in New York. So I re-wear my clothes with pride, and am not married to what an item is advertised to be. I wore this yellow dress — which my Atlanta seamstress, Miss Anh, fashioned out of six yards of Marc Jacobs silk chiffon in the spirit of Rihanna’s ruby red Giambattista Valli dress — while Colby and I were working in Tuscany last autumn. When I was invited to an old friend’s wedding in Costa Rica (which I used as an impetus to devise this working trip), I loved the idea of wearing it against the greens and blues of a tropical beach.

Inspired by the prior day’s look, I decided the Tome top could be worn as a headwrap to re-contextualize the dress. (One of the best things about being African is learning the joy of headwraps at an early age.) I don’t wear earrings often, but I find this pair, given to me by Brazilian jewelry designer Bia Daidone, to be elegant with an unmistakable presence.

Day 4: Horsing Around

Borrowing Delpozo’s notion of unexpected color-play (or perhaps inspired by a pack of Starburst), I paired this geometric jacket, which the brand loaned me, with yellow and pink and ecru and navy and a hint of maroon for an afternoon spent riding through the Costa Rican rainforest. In the spirit of equestrianism, I thought the Mansur Gavriel travel bag would make a fine complement; it reminds me of the rigidity of saddles and saddle bags. I did not wear heels to ride (though the ridiculous idea did cross my ridiculous mind), but had I been sporting this ensemble on any other terrain, my much-loved navy No.21 bow mules would have been the shoe of choice. For all its cliché-laden implications, riding my mare, Blanquita, against the backdrop of the setting sun was the perfect benediction to our quick stay in Costa Rica.

Day 4, Part 2: Not Fishing for Compliments

In my opinion, there’s little quite so ladylike as a blouson sleeve. Ocean-bound for a morning of fishing, comfort and sophistication had to find their middle ground. The Tome top is worn here in its purest form over a white, wide-legged jumpsuit by Cinq à Sept. The hope with this look is that sophistication is borne of simplicity. But still, for a bit of added spice (and to keep the sun out of my eyes when I wasn’t saving the hat from the wrath of the wind), I added this jumbo hat seen ubiquitously atop the heads of market sellers in Ghana, which I implored my mother to source and send to me before a trip to Chile last year. Who knew yellow matched tuna so well?

Day 5: City Mouse

Back in the city and hitting the pavement running with one more day of yellow-blousing to go, I reverted to my uniform. I wear these black stretch leggings from Club Monaco like it’s my job, just as I do these sensible Jimmy Choo boots, which are the only pair of boots I own.

To mask the unflattering waistband of the leggings and to break up the blouse and the bottoms, I added a velvet and gold belt from Tara Jarmon, which I adore for its vintage-feeling clasp. But this look is truly anchored by the coat, which was made for me in 24 hours by the sweetest seamstress in Fès, Morocco named Bouchra. I’d been ambling through the medina searching for lining for a cape (long story) when the fabric merchant, Rais, pulled out 2.5 meters of striped wool to entice me. The minute I saw the wool, all I could see was a coat, and so Bouchra sewed the dream into reality.

Wearing the same blouse all week was more than an exercise in creativity, it was a study in sustainability: a reminder that I can make so much out of one thing. Most importantly, having to analyze my approach after the instinctive process of throwing things together made me realize just how incidental clothes are in my life (well, as incidental as something so deliberate can be). I’ve always thought of getting dressed as a situation in which the whole transcends the sum of its parts. Yet, in parsing the parts, I found that the memory each piece carries within it — whether a crazed day in Fès or the sound of a piano at my first Delpozo fashion show — holds the most water. Realizing that these pieces culled from all over are the threads that link my world and dissolve its borders brought me so much joy. It reminded me of my favorite quotes from The English Patient:

“We die. We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we’ve entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we’ve hidden in – like this wretched cave. I want all this marked on my body. Where the real countries are. Not boundaries drawn on maps with the names of powerful men…That’s what I’ve wanted: to walk in such a place with you. With friends, on an earth without maps.”

Photos by Colby Blount. Follow Natasha at @natashanyanin.

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  • Oratile Moloko

    Natasha, teach us your ways. I have been following your Instagram for a while and you always deliver. Teach us your ways!!!

  • Emily M

    I sit here in AWE!!!!! These photos!! These outfits!!! This is incredible!!!! I am gasping!!!

  • Anna Impson

    I feel like I can’t wear a white button down 5 days in a row without people telling, and you’re over here wearing a total statement and pulling it off ALL DAY LONG

  • Imaiya Ravichandran

    a religious experience

    • Frazier Sandlin

      couldnt have said it better myself

  • Amelia Diamond

    Natasha, I am not worthy.

    • You started it! Haha. Thanks for the challenge Amelia. We really had so much fun shooting it. xx

  • Mary

    that last coat!!! omg! so wonderful!

  • NikNak

    Steph 1: Have Natasha’s beautiful skin tone!

  • Hannah ハナ

    I AM SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK. Everything about these outfits is perfect. I wanna be cooool

  • Ryan

    ICONIC! Where’s next?

  • brabra1

    The outfits are beautiful as is Natasha. Love the way she writes, too.

  • Suzan

    All of these… What a gorgeous looks! What a beautiful woman!

    Seeing this story made me realise how much I missed 5 Ways 5 Days! Such good inspiration always!!

  • Sarah Smith

    woooooowwwwieeeeeee. INSPIRED.

  • CathAnd

    what just happened where am I

  • Cléo Charpantier

    ALL THAT GEN Z YELLOW <3 <3 these photographs are terrific + make me want to take off for costa rica with a suite case full of sunshine

  • Kay

    Aaaaa that coattttt! Yellow flats! I want to go to there. Reading this was like opening a gift!
    And the English patient quote at the end…❤️❤️❤️

  • O m g I love these outfits, holy shit. And Natasha I want to hear about your transition from the CDC to consulting!

    Can the next installment of The Same Thing 5 Days In A Row be the conference travel edition?!?! I’m heading to a v important conference in Arizona in May for five days and need to strike that perfect balance between the stylish art bitch i truly am and trusted professional while staying warm in the potentially freezing event hall but not sweating through everything en route. Also while only travelling carry on.

  • Natasha needs to teach a class, we need your secrets!! This was amazing. What a woman, what a story. Iconic.

  • I kept thinking it couldn’t get better and then it did – that coat, WOW.
    I want it all. Just need to find a shade of yellow that works with my very pale, pink-toned skin…

    • FernieFern

      ginger lady here, the key is gold and/or mustard.

  • This is goddess level genius.

  • Betul

    I guess practical problems like washing and line drying the blouse are easy to solve if you are going somewhere hot (you can hand wash in the bathroom sink and hang it over a chair in balcony). Also, I suspect an iron was used between days 3 and 4. My favorite outfit is the last one because of the long coat and the tall boots.

    • Right you are. I travel with a mini steamer always and as you said, it being warm and with the open air environment of the rooms, it was easy to air it out daily or spot wash a stain if need be. xx

  • Maggie Lanham

    Natasha! I am in Fes now – where is Bouchra?! I would LOVE something so special as that beautiful coat! I remember watching your Costa Rica adventures, relishing all the yellow, and now I know the reason! Love this so much, thank you for taking this challenge on and sharing your travels and style with us!

  • Jennifer

    too good!

  • BW

    Your writing is beautiful, as is your style. More from you please!!

  • dutchie

    never enough of the incomparable Ms. Nyanin!!!

  • KEJR

    Natasha is perfection. I’m on insta hiatus for lent rn and she is the person I miss most

  • Maddi

    this article served as a reminder to befriend a good tailor. I never think to have things made!

  • Wow, wowie, WOW. My mind, she is blown. What a treat to see and read this afternoon. Also, can I please live in Natasha’s suitcase?!

    xx Hannah //

  • Cristina

    Holy crap. I clicked on this solely because you are so insanely gorgeous and I was not let down. YOU RADIATE and now I want everything you are wearing can we be best friends or can I just be you holy cow.

  • Selena Delgado

    look 5 is absolute gold. you are stunning.

  • Hill

    Struck by lightning!!

  • Kubla

    This person is a fairytale. Can she write next: how to befriend seamstresses everywhere you go

  • Basil

    Everything about this is delightful – the photos, the outfits, the writing. I WISH I looked so chic going through airports (i mostly look half dead and stressed, from the combo of travelling with two small children and a husband far too wedded to the idea of hand luggage only). One day, one day …
    After a really cold, hard and long winter, this article is like eating a mango sorbet after living on plain porridge for months. I’m now even more excited for summer!

    • Basil

      I’m now also desperately searching my seriously monochromatic (it’s all navy, black and grey) wardrobe for some yellow and all I have is a vote Zuma freebie t shirt from the last South African elections. Not quite the same …

  • gwendomouse

    *runs off like Speedy Gonzales to buy yellow blouse*

  • Allegra

    this is everything i never knew i needed. i am also in my year of yellow, and clearly need to take some inspiration here

  • ladybirda

    Living in Costa Rica right now for the next few months. I have a bright yellow ruffle wrap skirt I had shipped to a friend and had her bring down when she came to visit, the Farrow Grecia skirt. Similar cheery bright yellow at a friendly price point, and washable too; Ms. Nyanin’s looks are so lovely but there are no dry cleaners here! But where I live is a casual place, more eco-friendly surf town than glamorous resort style.

  • Aydan

    Day 4 is the most divine and timeless look I’ve ever seen!!!!!!

  • Christelle

    Wow. Words failed me.

  • Owiredua

    Ugh you magnificent human 💞 I suddenly have books to read, fashion shows to scour for references, and the knowledge of this top – which I think is perfect! AND they have it in pink 😍

  • Estefania Campoblanco Calvo

    this was such a ride, just WOW.

  • EP

    Just glowing!! Would you be able to give tips on wearing bright coloured tops/clothes for work? I hate wearing black and white all the time, but I am working in a financial office, so mainly its full of men in suits (not complaining), but I want to wear my colourful tops without losing on the professional side!!??