Stacy-Ann Ellis Stacy-Ann Ellis
Dove

Here's How Beyonce's Stylist, Zerina Akers, Nudged Me To Be A Bolder Dresser

Beyonce's stylist Zerina Akers helped one VIBE editor make smarter and bolder fashion choices.

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.

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That Glow, Tho: How To Revive Your Skin After A Brick A** Winter

Whew, chile! Freshly fallen snow may be nice to look at, but the dry skin that accompanies the winter months ain’t it. And by the time the first tulip blooms come springtime, best believe your skin—which just endured months of humidity-deprived conditions—is super parched. Pass the moisturizer, please!

“The lack of humidity during the winter months is the main cause for the ‘winter’s itch’ and dryness,” Dr. Meena Singh, board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, told VIBE Vixen over email. And let’s not forget how the shorter days rob us ladies of the melanated variety of our warm and natural glow.

Luckily, there are many ways to combat such cold weather woes, both during and after the winter.

“I personally change my regimen significantly between seasons,” Singh added. “In the winter time, I am more prone to use heavier ointments and butters. Whereas in the spring, I can typically get away with moisturizing with emollient creams and lotions.”

But that’s not all you can do to whip your skin back into shape. Looking to bring your fly and radiant self back to life? Look no further. Vixen reached out to five women of color dermatologists, who’ve shared the following tips to help you get started.

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Hydrate From Within.

How many times have you asked a woman with bomb skin what her secret is and been met with the “I drink a lot of water” response? Did you figuratively roll your eyes? We’ve been there and we get it, especially since science says genetics do play a role in how your skin behaves—but homegirl wasn’t wrong!

Dr. Fran E. Cook-Bolden, board-certified NYC dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, tells Vixen that while you may not feel as thirsty when it’s cold out, it’s still important to stay hydrated and drink your eight glasses of water a day.

“The best way to avoid dry skin in the winter is to tackle it from the inside out,” she says.

Other ways to stay hydrated? Health.com suggests eating fruits such as apples, pears, and clementines, which are all over 80% water. Plus, not only will the vitamin C content of these fruits help you ward off the flu in the winter, but they’ll also keep you cool and refreshed once the weather warms up.

We stan a multifaceted solution.

Don't Forget To Cleanse.

As important as it is to drink your eight glasses a day, it’s also important to keep up with your cleansing routine—even if you’re not sweating as much.

In fact, board-certified Chicago dermatologist Dr. Caroline Robinson tells Vixen that maintaining moisture during the harsh winter months begins with cleansing. Washing our face removes makeup, dirt, and debris from the day, preventing buildup and breakouts. This also means the expensive serums and moisturizers you’ve probably splurged on are better absorbed by the skin.

But don’t overdo it!

“I find that many patients are over-cleansing, over-exfoliating or using cleansers that are not appropriate for their skin type and this is causing excess dryness,” she added. “Using a more mild cleanser can help tremendously in the battle against dryness.”

Our dermatologist-recommended favorite? CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser Bar.

It may also help to reconsider what you’re washing with when the weather changes. Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton, Medical Director of Ingleton Dermatology, adds that as the temperatures go up, your routine should become “less heavy.”

“Switch from more hydrating cleaners and oils to foamy, gel-based cleaners” and to “a lighter weight daily moisturizer,” she advises. And if you’ve been skimping on the SPF don’t—you’ll definitely need it when the sun is back in these streets.

Keeping Up With "Wash Day" Is Important, Too.

Otherwise, you may end up with a condition called seborrheic dermatitis, which often appears on the scalp as a result of product buildup, but can also show up in skin folds such as behind the ears, under the breasts, etc.

“A dry, itchy and flaking scalp is very common in the winter and becomes more common as the frequency of washing the hair decreases,” Cook-Bolden tells Vixen. “When seborrheic dermatitis presents, it’s a common belief that applying scalp lotions, gels or pomades will help to treat the condition and is indeed sometimes helpful in temporarily soothing the itching and irritation.

However, as these products build up on the scalp, they can actually worsen the inflammation and overall worsen seborrheic dermatitis.”

So keep up with your hair care regimen, and if you do find yourself with a case of the seborrheic itchies, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dermatologist for an anti-inflammatory treatment.

Ceramides & Antioxidants Are Your Friends.

If you’re not familiar with ceramides and their superpowers, now’s the time to get familiar. Why? Because they can be extremely healing for desiccated skin.

As Atlanta board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Clay explains, ceramides are fats in the surface of the skin. When added to skin care products, they not only help your skin retain moisture, but they also give your skin a boost after being exposed to the elements like pollution and icy wind.

In terms of what to use, you’ll want to look for products described as “non-comedogenic,” which means a product is less likely to clog your pores. Additionally, products containing hyaluronic acid (HA) are also a win because of its ability to attract and hold water at the surface of the skin.

“I typically recommend patients keep their antioxidant serum/lotion (vitamin C) and their retinol on board no matter the season,” Clay also notes. “Over- the- counter retinols and prescription retinoids are vitamin A derived medications that most people use in a topical form.”

And they’re a major win-win. Using retinols/retinoids short term will help exfoliate your skin and give you that Kelly Rowland glow. Their long-term use helps to promote collagen production in the skin, minimizing fine lines and decreasing excess melanin production, which will even your complexion, reduce hyperpigmentation, and help reduce photo-damage.

As for vitamin C, look at it as SPF’s best friend.

“Vitamin C is an antioxidant that, when applied topically in combination with daily sun protection, decreases free-radical damage from ultraviolet exposure,” Clay shares.

Those rays don’t stand a chance.

Exfoliate, But Make It Gentle.

It may be tempting to grab the St. Ives but don’t. Instead, Clay suggests, get acquainted with chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandolin acid, or salicylic acid.

These strong but gentle powerhouses typically come labeled as AHAs and BHAs (alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid) and are way less harsh on the skin. Those over-the-counter scrubs you’re used to? They tend to leave scrapes and cuts on the skin, which can lead to inflammation and—you guessed it—hyperpigmentation... and we ain’t ask for all’at.

If you do decide to use a traditional scrub, Ingleton suggests trying Dove’s Exfoliating Body Scrub.

“This will help to slough away dry, dead cells on the surface and also hydrate/moisturize the skin in the process,” she says. “Apply a hydrating body lotion after doing the scrub.”

But again, be gentle!

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These are $900.
Gucci

For $900 American Dollars, You Can Own A Pair Of Pre-Dirtied Gucci Sneakers

Fresh off of their announcement that they'll be working on creating programming to implement diversity and inclusion, Gucci will be selling intentionally scuffed-up and dirty sneakers for $900.

According to the New York Post, the Italian brand is releasing its latest shoe, the "Screener” sneakers, on its website and in-stores. The purposely dirty kicks were created for a "vintage, distressed effect.”

"This shabby chic sneak comes dressed with the brand’s trademark Sylvie Web trim and is available for men in both high ($930) and low tops ($870) in various colorways. Women’s styles are available, too, and many got a fresh look for Spring 2019 with a festive strawberry print ($980), and removable, embellished cherries ($1,250)."

While we'd rather let life beat down our sneakers for free, some people will actually buy these kicks, which reportedly come with *cleaning instructions* on how to make sure they stay...fresh.

Gucci is selling dirty sneakers for $1,100," one Twitter user wrote in response to the news. "Fun hack: For $700 you can buy a pair of regular Gucci sneakers and get them dirrty yourself." We agree.

Check out the reactions to these sneakers below.

Gucci is selling dirty sneakers for $1,100. Fun hack: For $700 you can buy a pair of regular Gucci sneakers and get them dirrty yourself. https://t.co/MSFApnOdn0 @10Daily

— Natasha Lee (@tashlee) November 11, 2018

Gucci getting more backlash for selling sneakers that look dirty for $870 smh

— D.Miller (@DntBlowMy_Tweet) March 20, 2019

Gucci really selling $800 dirty shoes 😭

— Muhammad Rasul (@wontonMuRa) March 20, 2019

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Gucci And Dapper Dan Announce $5M Programming Aimed At Diversity And Inclusion

February was a difficult month for luxury brand Gucci. The legendary fashion house pulled a balaclava sweater from physical and online stores that many deemed disrespectful. The black sweater with a red print around the mouth area was deemed by many as reminiscent of blackface.

With the help of Dapper Dan and other notable celebrities, Gucci is trying to make things right. They recently announced their new Changemakers Council, which according to reports will feature a board that will work together to select inclusive elements of programming. Besides the Harlem designer and Gucci collaborator, DeRay McKesson, will.i.am, writer/activist Brittany Packnett and many more will be part of the Council.

Through this new Gucci Changemakers initiative, the fashion brand and the designer will also introduce the Changemakers Scholarship, which awards a $20,000 grant to selected students over the course of four years. They will also implement the Changemakers Fund, which "is a $5 million fund that will invest in community-based programs, particularly those helping communities of color, in cities across the U.S."

“As a partner, I am proud to work with Gucci and other community leaders to help guide programs that will create meaningful impact for the Black community and fashion as a whole,” Dapper Dan said in a statement regarding the new project. “It is imperative that we have a seat at the table to say how we should be represented and reimagined. Through our work together, Gucci is in a position to lead the overall industry toward becoming a better more inclusive one.”

 

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A post shared by Dapper Dan (@dapperdanharlem) on Mar 17, 2019 at 1:50pm PDT

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