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What to Wear with Tanisha C. Ford (DRESSED IN DREAMS)

Tanisha C. Ford’s DRESSED IN DREAMS: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion takes you on a bold, witty, and deeply personal dive into Black America’s closet. Because we love a good fashion/literary crossover, we asked Tanisha to share her favorite fashion-related books and the outfit each one inspired her to wear!


THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

​Starr, the book’s protagonist loves old school hip hop music and fashion—including her favorite pair of Retro Space Jams XI Air Jordans. Its homage to 80s and 90s hip hop culture makes me think of my favorite rap girl group of the day: Salt-n-Pepa, who made ripped jeans, bamboo earrings, and crisp white sneakers a thing!

Outfit: A pair of ripped fitted jeans; white tank top; funky pair of black peep-toe stiletto booties; doorknocker earrings

AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

In AMERICANAH, Adichie explores the challenges young Nigerian women immigrants face as they try to carve out an identity for themselves in the United States. With its beautiful passages about the art of hair braiding and adornment, the book indirectly helps to explain why African prints and textiles are globally popular today. I love to mix prints!

Outfit: Long-sleeve denim shirt; high-waist Ankara-print skirt; printed turban; multi-colored bangles; electric yellow pumps

CRAZY RICH ASIANS by Kevin Kwan

To be crazy rich in Asia means not only having access to the finest jewelry and the most exclusive designer wares, but also the confidence to wear them in the boldest ways imaginable. The book encourages its readers’ minds to go wild as they try to picture what they’d wear if they were traveling through modern-day Singapore.

Outfit: Colorblocked Escada maxi dress; hoop earrings; cream Chanel cross-body bag; oversized Gucci sunglasses; gold Balenciaga gladiator sandals

HOW TO SLAY: Inspiration from the Queens and Kings of Black Style by Constance C.R. White

Black style, as White shows, is born from Black Americans’ ability to do the absolute most with very little! Within our own fashion ecosystems, we create our own ideas of what’s cool, on trend, and desirable. From the street style of nameless black youth in America’s urban centers to supermodel Naomi Campbell’s cosmopolitan glam, it all stems from the same cultural root. And that style influences so much of what becomes mainstream fashion.

Outfit: Fuschia fur stole; black body-con dress; chandelier diamond earrings; snakeskin knee-high stiletto boots

DANDY LION: The Black Dandy and Street Style by Shantrelle P. Lewis

DANDY LION takes readers into the world of the “high-styled rebels” who elevate suits, bowties, and trouser socks to the most unapologetically ostentatious level. These dandies are unafraid of color and prints, and even when they stick to a more classic color palette, they showcase the artistry of tailoring. My mother often wore men’s suiting, and I grew up unafraid to wear suspenders, bowties, and Oxfords. Performers such as Janelle Monae are making it cool to bend and break the gender line today.

Outfit: Blue and white pinstriped shirt; gray vest; cigarette jeans; multi-colored tie; two-toned Oxfords

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