Here’s How Beyonce’s Stylist, Zerina Akers, Nudged Me To Be A Bolder Dresser
Solange Knowles is the type of woman who looks like she came out of the womb born to be a Pinterest board style staple. Not because of the clothes provided by Ms. Tina or anyone around the musical family’s orbit, but because her soul was always a free one. Looking at Solange, you know that she knows exactly who she is and is unapologetic about how she feels. The closet is her playground, and an extension of the myriad artistic thoughts swirling around beneath those curls. Speaking her mind, no matter how controversial, doesn’t scare her.
In the same way, the practice playing with looks on the opposite side of the spectrum in the same week—hell, in the same day—doesn’t scare her. There isn’t a look that the A Seat at the Table songstress hasn’t tried. Metallics, florals, monochrome, feathers, fluorescents, ethereal tulle, rigid fabrics with molded shapes, shaved head, a fro that defies gravity, a free-flowing wig that matches the vibe of the day; you name it and Solo has done it. Scratch that, owned it.
I can’t say that I’ve ever been someone with an immense sense of personal style, but I’m drawn to people who do, and who flaunt it with that same strand of IDGAF confidence. There’s a reason why Solo is currently my computer background and the #mood that guides my 2017 vision board. Every time I look into my closet, an assortment of sporadic, unworn college purchases and a sea of shapeless browns, blacks and grays stare back at me. “I have nothing to wear” feelings happen daily, and I’m angry that I’m not bold enough to do anything about it.
In my head, I swear I’d dress like Solange if I weren’t such a slave to my sartorial fears. Like if I wasn’t terrified of twisting my ankle in skinny heels or fighting struggle walking after wearing stilts all day. Or if I didn’t get such anxiety from extra stares on the subway, regardless of if they’re good or bad. Or if I didn’t loathe sweat marks. Or if I actually had attended functions that called for fancy dressing.
So when I sat with stylist Zerina Akers, the woman responsible for some of Beyonce and Chloe x Halle’s killer looks, for a one-on-one session, I voiced these same concerns and stifled fashion visions for myself. Once she heard my fashion fave’s name, her face perked up, and she knowingly went to two summery pieces on the rack of personalized ensembles she’d picked out for me.
The first piece was a billowy Kobi Halperin Ziva cold-shoulder silk blouse from the Spring 2017 collection. The marigold yellow top, which complemented my brown skin excellently, was paired with the same Kobi Halperin rustic colored Sutton wide-leg printed silk pants that accompanied it in the designer’s lookbook. For color and contrast, Zerina topped off the look with a pair of fuchsia strappy (skinny!) heeled sandals. Talk about love at first sight when I nervously consulted the mirror.
Before I was whisked off to hair and makeup and in front of a camera like her clients, the then-birthday girl encouraged me to push my comfort limits while shopping and invest in smart, non-impulsive purchases. She also shared how to keep those pesky deodorant “Zebra stripes” off clothes, what to do when you’ve found your ideal fit, and her personal style do’s and don’ts.
Let your clothes’ true colors show with spray on deodorant.
Zerina Akers: I’m really excited to be partnering with Dove, because it’s my favorite. You don’t have to deal with all those zebra stripes. As a stylist, it’s one of the best things I’ve added to my kit. Everyone has the same issue. There’s no real way [to avoid the deodorant marks]. There’s no real formula to it. Someone said to put the turtleneck inside out, like fold it inside out, and then put it on so the marks go on the inside. But then once you roll it down… I think the really good thing about [Dove’s Invisible Dry Spray Antiperspirant] is that it goes on invisible and it goes on dry. It’s odd because when I started using it, I was like well wait, did it go on? Because you don’t feel anything. I felt like I just sprayed perfume, and you don’t have to wait for it to dry. And it actually lasts, you get that 48 hour odor wetness protection.
Maintain the longevity of personal style by shopping selectively.
I’ve always selected things that I’ve loved, so even if I was at the thrift store doing kinda what I call dumpster diving, shopping vintage, I always found things that I love. Even if I didn’t wear it, I kept some things for like two years, but then when I put it on I wore it everyday. Like wore it out every week. I remember having this tweed blazer that I loved. The rule of thumb is to really be careful and be selective and pick things you like. Don’t just kinda buy a bunch of stuff; pick things that really work for your body.
There’s nothing wrong with sticking with what you know.
Once you figure out what works, it takes a little time to try a couple things, but once you figure out what works, stick to it. Okay high waist jeans are more flattering on me, or high waist jeans with stretch. So no matter what the trends are, if high waist jeans with stretch work for you, if you wear a looser blouse, or a tighter turtleneck, that doesn’t go out of style because it works for you.
Know your go-to’s and your no-go’s well.
High waist wide-leg pants are a sure go for me. I usually don’t like teacup dresses, they’re just not… I just look too young. I’m really super slim and I can translate to a 12-year-old sometimes, so I’d say that’s one thing. Another one that does work, blazers always work for me, suiting in particular. I love menswear. It’s one of my favorite trends no matter if femininity is in or whatever, suiting always works for me. And color. Another thing that definitely doesn’t, I would say is… Bomber jackets aren’t really my thing.
Bold colors and unconventional accessories will dominate the sidewalk catwalks this summer, so don’t sit out the trend.
I’d say color [will be popular] for sure. Color in a way that is unconventional. Color blocking and mixing muted tones, I think that’s going to be really good. I find a lot of people are wanting to and willing to experiment with color in different ways, which I think is cool. But they’re sort of stepping away from the basic black or basic gray. Another one that I’m really into is wearing beach bags in the street. So you get a little bit of escape and a little bit of fantasy, but not being afraid to… Not leaving the straw bag to be reserved for the beach or for vacation. You can have that escapism as you’re going to work. I think that’s really cute.