All Articles Tagged "Fashion"
Now that summer is over, and we’ll soon be piling on the sweaters, jackets, and boots, we may be less dedicated to hitting the gym. It is easy to hide those few extra pounds under heavy clothes. But with so many different ways to stay fit these days, there’s no excuse for letting yourself go. And with the sporty look being so popular right now, there’s an influx of stylish activewear that will have you excited about getting your sweat on. Here are some of our favorite looks.
If you’re feeling bold, try this printed unitard on for size. It’s reversible, so it’s like you’re getting two looks for one price. And while you’re burning calories, keep a record of your progress with the Fitbit activity tracker that tracks the calories you burn, your steps for the day, sleeping habits and more.
Khadija Neumann is an international supermodel and women’s advocate from Senegal. After pursuing a modeling career in Switzerland and Paris, she signed with New York Model Management in 2009. In 2013, she launched her passion project LOVERA, a natural female nutrition supplement that boosts and balances libido, hormone levels, and energy.
Check out her nomination above and for more info on how you can nominate a woman you know to “Be the Boss” and win a makeover courtesy of African Pride, click here.
Today is the last day to enter!!!!
The summer wedding season may officially be over, but wedding bells are still ringing. And putting away those warm-weather sundresses and sandals makes finding something to wear for such a special occasion that much harder. But dressing for a fall wedding doesn’t have to be a chore when you take inspiration from these three looks we’ve come up with.
If you want to stand out without taking the shine away from the bride, wear a jumpsuit instead of a dress. This pick from Topshop comes in an autumnal shade of orange and with a figure-flattering belted waist. All you need are some strappy shoes and a printed bag to take this look to the next level.
Gone are the days when women simply threw on a college t-shirt and their boyfriend’s shorts to hit the treadmill. When we workout we want to look good doing it, but we also care about how the clothing we wear helps us perform better and achieve the bodies we’re working so hard for. New Balance is getting us one step closer to our ideal with a new performance and lifestyle collection just for us, appropriately titled, NB Woman.
A lot of people sleep on New Balance, but they shouldn’t, especially since the brand is thinking so hard about us. NB Woman will reach 1 million women throughout the US with their new fitness catalog this Fall and they’re planning to drop another holiday collection in November. As a press release points out, “The Fall apparel collection focuses on form and function” offering “performance apparel and footwear for running, training, and studio, as well as lifestyle products for sporty chic street style.” And did we mention it’s cute?!
After our sister site, StyleBlazer, told us about the new collection, I reached out to try some items for myself, ‘cuz you know, I be up in the gym working on my fitness, and the fit is great. I sweat just thinking about working out so I have to wear clothing that minimizes my perspiration. Thankfully, NB Dry items are made from moisture wicking fabric which releases moisture away from the body for fast drying. Double Win! The CUSH+ midsole sneakers also offer extra cushioning that helps minimize the impact on my knees when running and provides good stabilization and flexibility during other exercises heavily involving my legs.
New Balance is also committed to helping women achieve their goals outside of apparel, offering a number of fitness-focused programs throughout the year and across the country, including the popular Girls Night Out events where ladies can come sweat away the pounds together in group fitness classes. For events in your area, visit their website here and be sure to take a look at the NB Woman catalog to get your gear on point.
It’s Labor Day weekend, and that means it’s the unofficial end of summer. While we’re sad to see another season pass us by, we’re planning on going out with a bang. With so much to do to celebrate the holiday, what you wear takes careful consideration, and we’re here to help. Whether you’ll be lounging poolside, grubbing it up at a cookout, or enjoying a festival in your city, these three Labor Day inspired-outfits are just the right fit to say goodbye to summer in style.
Make waves in a colorful print bikini and don’t forget your cover-up. This floppy hat from Forever 21 will keep you protected from the sun’s rays. Put it all together with a cute watermelon-shaped clutch.
According to the 2015 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, African American women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the United States, with firms growing 322% since 1997. As of 2015, firms owned by African American women number an estimated 1.3 million firms, employing 297,500 workers with an estimated $52.6 billion in revenue.
Meet Dr. Denyse Ray, CEO and founder of Lady Ease Wear (which includes the lines Salon Ease, Cross Culture, and Mi Nudes). Dr. Ray is also the first African American woman to own an apparel manufacturing company in the state of Hawaii. Since manufacturing is known to be a male-dominated industry, Dr. Ray’s success is particularly noteworthy. That’s why we chatted with her about the journey of being a Black female business owner in a state whose Black population is only 2.3 percent, business challenges (and successes), what’s it like being able to design clothing for the Obamas, and how she hopes to impact the larger business community.
MadameNoire (MN): How did you get interested in manufacturing fashion apparel?
Dr. Denyse Ray (DR): My background is as a Psychological Tramua Specialist. I was a clinical first responder to every major disaster on US soil. I remember standing there in the aftermath of 9/11 and there was a lot of particulate matter in the air and nothing to cover my face. As a clinician, I was there for the emotional component, but that day I realized there was an untapped market. That untapped market was women. We weren’t going to go into the home depots and buy those ugly white masks to cover our face.
Over a few years, I designed and developed washable reusable face masks. They launched in 2008. Those masks started the manufacturing component. I was adamant about keeping my products in the USA, but it was difficult for me to find someone to manufacture my product.
Ultimately, I started my own manufacturing company. It was supposed to be for my products alone, but [I later] expanded from 4,000 square feet to 7,800 square feet in order to accommodate other designers and people wanted items sewn here in the US.
It was brutal for many years to learn the components of manufacturing. I wouldn’t find out until much later that I would be the first African-American women to own a manufacturing company in the state of Hawaii. My tagline is, “Lady Ease, Putting The W-O in manufacturing.” It’s a very male-dominated industry. The fact that people fail to look at manufacturing [is interesting], specifically apparel, as it as a multi-trillion dollar industry.
I wanted the State of Hawaii to not only rely on tourism as its only resource for generating revenue. It’s been a pretty difficult climb. Today in 2015, we are about to launch a job training program teaching native Hawaiians- women, recent releasees from prison, those considered low-income, and single parents- how to sew and start up their own manufacturing business. I am pretty proud of that.
MN: What made you choose Hawaii as your business location?
DR: I’ve been here for many years. My husband got a job and I came along with him. I said that I was never going back to the mainland. We stayed and I immersed myself in the community. They adopted me and gave me a Hawaiian name. I am currently writing a book “Mirroring Images: The Traumatic Journey of Native Hawaiians.” I am writing it because the Native Hawaiian community is very much parallel to the African-American community, most specifically as it relates to the traumatic journey we had. I want to use the journey and accomplishments of the African-American community as examples to help the Hawaiian community reclaim their identity and move forward.
MN: What is it like being a Black woman in business in Hawaii?
DR: Hawaii is a difficult state for small business period. It doesn’t matter what race or gender. It’s not as difficult as it would be somewhere else where there are alot of people doing the same thing and fighting for the same small pool of resources. That’s what makes Hawaii very appealing for a minority group. There is only one of us doing one thing.
Shipping is difficult because it’s so far from everywhere else. With each challenge comes a responsibility to determine how to overcome, preserve, and make an example so that those who we work with and for will not be deterred.
MN: How did you get the opportunity to design for Barack Obama?
DR: I am very good friends with his sister. I was able to get access and custom-make shirts for him based on his direct measurements as a result of the relationship. There are many policies that exist when it comes to gift-giving the president and his family. Most of those shirts will end up in his library and museum because he will be unable to keep them past wearing them through his term.
That is my proudest moment at this point. To be able to end up in history at the first African American female manufacturing company to produce garments for the first African American president in his home state [is amazing.”] I’ve also made items for Mrs. Obama and their children. They both have items from each of my lines but I only make each in a limited edition. His shirts, designed from our Aloha pattern, were made from one fabric and were ever repeated.
[As far as tailoring and design goes], the president only has a small group of people that he works with. It tripled my pride that I am in such a small group of identified people who have made a contribution to his eight years in office.
MN: Did the opportunity to create clothing for Barack Obama impact your business?
DR: It wasn’t something that we could publicize. My employees were loyal. Their pride showed through the craftsmanship. I am not certain what it will do business wise now that people are becoming aware.
MN: How profitable has your business been?
DR: Initially, we thought we wouldn’t eat again! We cashed in our savings and retirement and invested that money into the factory. We invested in human capital. Being that we are in Hawaii and have to ship everything here by the ton…for a few years it was quite a struggle. We would sometimes look at each other and wonder whether going back into practice was the best route for me.
The type of returns we are seeing now are making my husband and my investment well worth it. We persevered with the belief that we were doing the work of the community and our life purpose. Now, we are in a position to have job training programs.
MN: What’s the greatest business lesson you’ve learned over the years?
DR: It cost me 1.2 million of our dollars to find out that we should not have ever opened the doors to a manufacturing company until we trained the people. There is a distinct difference between being a seamstress and/or tailor. They are only working with a design for one person at a time. In manufacturing, there is a time when you are pushing out 10,000 units for one garment. There is a deadline when those 10,000 need to be in the stores.
For the first few years, it was brutal. We would not make deadlines. I’d return money. Those were during the times when we thought we were doing everything incorrectly. What we found as we went along is that we were training the next generation of manufacturers. Training is critical.
MN: What are you most proud about in regards to your business?
DR: If we go back to the washable, reusable face masks, there are about 7-8 videos on YouTube and one of those stories is about a girl with an autoimmune disease. They attribute me giving her that donation of masks and her wearing them to helping to save her life. I’ve donated these masks all around the world. Having the product is not just about making money. If I have something that my neighbor needs and cannot have access to…it is my responsibility to provide that. It has everything to do with the benevolence that exists in my heart to share with the people the knowledge, gifts, and products that I have that can help them.
Even with the fabrics that I buy from around the world, the person that sells to me is now able to select an organization that they would like some of the proceeds from the sales of the garment to be donated to. Those are the types of things that make me the proudest about this journey.
MN: You didn’t plan on going international until 2017, but now plan on expanding sales to Senegal, Zambia, and the Ivory Coast in 2015. Why this choice?
DR: Everywhere we go, women are fashionable. Women are the nucleus of revenue. If we’re smart, we won’t just stay in the Americas. We’ll reach out and become global connections to everybody. Why not sell to women everywhere in the world? They are our customer!
MN: Why is it so important for Black women to support one another?
DR: Black women have finally reached the point in our lives where we understand each other and are supportive. We are right where we belong. We are a powerful group of women and are finally acknowledging that. We look around and acknowledge that every other culture and race attempts to emulate us. We are acknowledging the fact that all of these falsehoods that have been stated about Black woman have been because other cultures have created the hate climate. Now we are applauding our haters. We are so grateful for each time you try to hate on us because we look in the mirror and say, “You just trying to be me.” It’s time, girl! We need to get in front of the people. We need to be allowed to tell our stories so that the hunter is not telling the story for us.
It was the pursuit of all things chic that brought nearly 200 Muslimahs from all across Philadelphia to the campus of St. Joseph’s University last month.
More specifically, they had come for the Riyaadah Fashion Show, an annual showcase sometimes held in conjunction with the Riyaadah Convention, a conference that is usually men-centered. The fashion show is a women-only event, and photography from guests is banned to protect the modesty of the women strutting their stuff down the catwalk. Despite not being the ones on the runway, women in the audience came dressed to the nines.
Brightly-colored overgarments were offset by six-inch platform heels and beat faces. Hijabs were color blocked and creatively pinned, knotted and draped. A Muslimah in a lime green niqab adorned in an elaborate gold headpiece chain politely excused herself as she moved past two sisters in animal print khimars before taking her seat in the front row.
This year’s theme was “Modesty in the Millennium,” and as organizers tell it, the show is a chance for up-and-coming Islamic designers to showcase the latest in modesty wear. Yet for many outsiders looking in, modeling overgarments and head covers is not typically what comes to mind when thinking about what’s fashionable.
“I think that there is a misconception that Muslim women aren’t supposed to take pride in their appearance,” said Fatima Rashid, who is a board member of the Riyaadah Convention Steering Committee. “I think that people see sisters in burkas, which is a cultural thing and specific to only certain parts of the world, and believe it applies to everyone. Actually, that is not the truth. If you went to China, Malaysia, Africa and look around here in the U.S., you would see a lot more Muslim women expressing themselves through what they wear.”
Rashid has been coordinating the fashion show since its inception in 2001. It started as a way to give the women something to do during the national convention. The conference attracts thousands of men and their families from all across the country for a weekend of male-centered competitive sports and activities. But what started out as an event to help pass the time, soon morphed into one of the convention’s main attractions.
“In this particular area of the country, fashion has become a major component of the culture of Muslim women. And it has taken off as a business,” Rashid said. “There are tons of designers, boutiques and other kinds of apparel shops in Philly catering to the Muslim woman’s fashion sensibility by Muslim women.”
Philadelphia has one of the biggest populations of Muslims in the entire country, with more than 200,000 followers of Islam calling the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection home. Eighty-five percent of them are African American. Rashid is a second-generation Black Muslim whose parents converted in the ’70s. Between them, they had nine children.
“For economic reasons, mom would make all of our clothing,” Rashid said. “Sometimes I would go along with her to the fabric store – that’s how I learned how to pick out fabric. In fact, that is how a lot of Muslim women learn to sew here. It was a bonding experience.”
A bonding experience, which at one time was bred out of need. In spite of its growing presence in Philadelphia, Islam is still relatively new to North America. In fact, many Americans’ first interaction with the religion came by way of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. Some media outlets pushed narratives that indirectly (and sometimes directly) attempted to paint most followers of the faith as terrorists and nonconformist foreigners. Consequently, there are a lot of misconceptions about Islamic customs and practices, particularly around the way they dress.
But as Rashid reminds us, the garments are only meant to symbolize their modesty. And they are modest because, in the Quran, God commands them to be. As such, loose-fitting clothing, long pants, long dresses and hair coverings are all meant to not only identify themselves as followers of Allah, but to also limit earthly temptations, which might distract them from their personal relationship with God.
Although the strict clothing requirements apply to both men and women, it is the women who cover who are often unfairly stigmatized as oppressed fanatics and fundamentalists. But as Rashid notes, the act of covering is a choice. And while Muslims wear their religion on their sleeves, it doesn’t mean that the sleeve can’t be chic.
“Just because you see a woman in an all-black niqab doesn’t mean that they are not wearing some top-tier designer or in high-quality fabric, which is imported from overseas,” Rashid said. “I know people who travel to New York to get fabric because they don’t want anybody in Philly to have what they have. So while they are fully covered, it does not mean that they are not showcasing their identity.”
Saniyyah Bilal, co-organizer of the Riyaadah Fashion Show and founder of Curio Styling Consultants concurs. “Yes, you have to dress to the rules of Islam. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your dress and style just because you are modest.”
Bilal has been doing fashion styling in the entertainment industry for three and a half of years now. Her work has appeared in New York Fashion Week, at Ann Taylor Loft and in Vibe Vixen. Although much of her work centers primarily around styling non-Muslim women, Bilal said that she has seen an increase in demand for her services from women in the Islamic community as well.
As Islam continues its rapid growth worldwide – and becomes integrated into more secular, Christian-based societies – Muslimahs, in particular, are looking for contemporary attire. They want garb that puts them in more than just a simple overgarment and a khimar. Bilal said that they seek evening dresses and business suits for work. They want classic lines and vintage. They want patterns, bold colors and plenty of gaud. And most importantly they want clothing, which respects their faith as well as their styling choices.
Bilal said that a lot of the inspiration for the Islamic modesty industry in the U.S. comes from overseas, particularly from places like Dubai, Turkey, and Indonesia, where dress codes are part of the culture. However, she also notes the role that the African-American community has played in revolutionizing the modesty industry here in North America. Most notably, the Black Islamic communities in Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and the DMV area, which have cultivated unique and yet modest style.
“I would say that Muslims in Detroit are known for their turban style hijabs while the DMV area is more eclectic,” Bilal said. “And Philly is known for wearing more colors and dresses and skirts. We definitely have our own ways of doing things, which I think is good because our individual styles help to show the diversity of Islam.”
Bilal said that the rise of the fashionable Muslimah wasn’t without debate. And some in the community wondered if the colors and bold prints and designs were an attempt to sidestep strict modesty requirements. But as mainstream America continued its finicky infatuation with Islam, the demand to understand and embrace the culture, especially in the face of those who opt to vilify it, also increased.
Not only were Muslim designers being invited to feature their work in New York Fashion Week, but the proliferation of social media gave voice to Muslim bloggers, particularly in the realm of fashion, who also provide valuable insight into the culture. Bilal said that by 2011, many detractors grew to appreciate how the Muslim fashionistas were helping to paint the religion in a positive light.
“There is a word in Islam called Dawah, which basically means showcasing Islam in a positive way by Muslim having the best behavior as possible,” she said. “So I believe that being both modest and fashionable, according to Islam, shows the outside world, particularly non-Muslims, that who we are is not what you necessarily see or hear about in the media.”
Bilal also added that “I think it helped too that many non-Muslim women want to dress modestly. Modesty fashion is a sense of understanding that you don’t have to be revealing in how you dress to be considered fashionable. And I think that is what Muslim women in fashion help bring to the table.”
It’s a multibillion-dollar industry, which has caught the attention of more mainstream and secular designers. In particular, DKNY, Tommy Hilfiger, and Oscar de la Renta, who have all either introduced or explored Ramadan-inspired modesty capsule collections, which appeal to women both of and outside of the faith.
With some mainstream design houses putting more emphasis on appealing to this new demographic of fashionistas, the need for authentic representation of the culture is also being considered. “I think it is important for these women to see themselves in the industry,” said Nailah Lymus, founder of UnderWraps, which is the world’s first Muslim and modesty modeling agency.
In addition to seeing themselves in the industry, Lymus said she started the New York-based agency three years ago as a way to help Muslim and non-muslim yet modest women who wanted to model, but did not want to defile their religious and personal beliefs. “In my travels and meeting different Muslims, they had what it took to be a model including height and weight, but didn’t entertain the idea because they felt that in order to be a model, they had to conform to the sexy ideas of modeling including taking off their hajibs,” Lymus said. “But fashion does allow for different avenues of expression. And I am here to show them that they don’t have to sacrifice themselves and their comfort levels just for the sake of making money.”
With the tagline, “covered is the new couture,” Lymus also aims to promote modesty in an industry, which she says has gotten away from its roots. She points to fashion eras of the past, which catered to women and their current needs as mothers and career women as opposed to unrealistic ideas of how women should be.
Thus far, UnderWraps models have appeared in and done both editorial and runway modeling, including editorial campaigns, New York Fashion Week and photo shoots. Some of the models have even done secular, but positive, music videos. Lymus understands her agency has its niche appeal. And designers and fashion magazines who hire her models must go the extra mile to ensure that they are providing safe spaces for them to work. “Our models just can’t get dressed in unisex spaces like everybody else,” she notes.
But for those who are willing to think outside of the box, using Muslim models not only brings positive attention to a show or event but attracts an entire new clientele as well.
“I mean, just look at high-end fashion. Many times the women are covered” Lymus said. “They are making gowns and making layered pieces, cover-ups, and dusters. To me, there will always be a niche for Muslim models because there are already designers designing clothing that Muslim women can wear and do purchase.”
As mainstream design houses continue to draw inspiration as well as customers from Islamic communities, Bilal said that both the mainstream modesty fashion industry as well as the Islamic-American population are also taking some cues from the Black Islamic community. In particular, incorporating bold prints and vibrant colors as well as African-inspired tribal prints, which have long been used to symbolize heritage among the African diaspora.
“As you look into the past, especially when pertaining to the Middle East, there has been a bit of resistance to dressing in that way. But in the last couple of years, you can see more women of different nationalities expressing themselves in colors and styles associated with the African-American community,” Bilal said. “So in that respect, I do think African-American culture and styling is visually appealing enough where lots of people want to emulate it.”
Mercedes Prater of Couture Creations by Kulthulm agrees.
“Even in mainstream America, everything is pulling from the African-American culture,” Prater said. “Now we are seeing more women with full hips and bottoms, which means that there are more sizes for us, and everything isn’t so tight and ill-fitting as it was before. But it is still not perfect.”
A recent convert to Islam, Prater founded her design company two years ago after experiencing difficulty finding contemporary clothing to meet her modest needs. She said that while more luxe clothing lines are expanding their fashion palettes, more commercial, affordable brands have been slow to follow the trend.
“Before I started my company, there really wasn’t enough cute clothes to wear. And there was nowhere to go,” Prater said. “If I went to the mall I would have to buy something too big. And the things people were sewing were boring colors and didn’t have any shape. I am a lively person, so I started making my own things. Then people started asking if I could make them things. That’s when I realized I had something here.”
A self-taught seamstress, Prater describes her clothing line as a modern-day take on the ’50s fashion era, which is known for being high on glamour and short on skin. Although a lot of her business comes from her sisters in the Philadelphia Islamic community, Prater also has an Instagram page, which has helped her share her designs with Muslimahs all across the country. She says, “The thing is, social media allows us to get a glimpse of other people’s style. And, for me, social media has tripled my business in a year.”
As more women began to embrace comfort in their style, Prater said that she is also seeing a higher demand for her designs among non-Muslim sisters. “I honestly think that this comes as more Americans become interested in traveling to more modest countries. They are seeing that there is a place for modesty in the world, which doesn’t require them to dress in layers upon layers of fabric.”
One of the most requested items is her signature swing dress, which can be worn in both corporate America as well as for a night out on the town. Prater said that she often gets requests from Islamic sisters who may have received a promotion at work or a new job and don’t necessarily want to wear an overgarment to mark their special occasion. “Also, my clients definitely love color and prints,” Prater said. “You can get black anywhere.”
Prater said that what most people get wrong about modesty fashion is thinking that the only way to be covered is to hide behind big clothing and dull, boring colors. What fashion-forward Muslimahs are bringing to the table is an idea that modest women can be trendy. “I like to make clothing that women feel comfortable in, ” Prater said. “I want them to feel good about themselves when they wear something of mine.”
The U.S. Open started yesterday, and we officially have tennis fever. While we’re rooting for Serena Williams to win it all, we’re also looking forward to seeing what she’s going to wear on the court. Williams has played in everything from a denim skirt to studded hot pants, and her daring style choices are an inspiration both on and off the court. So we’ve come up with three outfits of our own that we hope would make the No. 1 tennis player in the world proud and make you look like the ultimate fitness fashionista. Get inspired by the following ensembles:
The color blocking and mesh detail on this Monreal London dress help it stand apart from the typical tennis whites. Throw it on with a fresh pair of sneakers and some shades and top it all off with a sporty backpack.
Dress, Monreal London – $415 / Sneakers, Mango – $80 / Backpack, Herschel Supply – $55 / Rings, Kohl’s – $7.99 / Earrings, Kate Spade – $32 / Headphones, Beats by Dre – $300 / Sunglasses, Ray-Bans – $160
The VMAs are known for shocking moments and insane fashion, and last night’s ceremony was no exception. Sometimes the stars knock it out of the park, and sometimes they fail…miserably. Let’s look at some of the best and (mostly) worst fashion moments from the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards.
There aren’t many women out there who don’t love to shop, but when you’re 5’8” and above, this simple task can be a bit daunting. Long legs can equate to an even longer shopping experience. But now more stores like ASOS, J.Crew, J.C. Penney, and Topshop offer clothing in longer lengths made especially for tall women. There’s even extended shoe sizes at Nordstrom and Long Tall Sally, so women with larger feet can still rock the same stylish footwear that those of a smaller stature wear.
Now that there’s cute clothing specifically tailored for longer limbs, here’s how to wear it. From a maxi dress to high-waist jeans, here are five styles that flatter a tall frame.
A maxi dress is a tall girl’s best friend. The longer lengths look great on vertically blessed women so make this your go-to look. This T-shirt dress is a sporty one when worn with some sneakers and an Adidas watch. Add a pop of lip color in a berry hue to give this neutral ensemble the spark it needs.
Dress, Iris and Ink – $110 / Sneakers, Adidas – $100 / Bag, Michael Kors – $455 / Bracelet, Monica Vinader – $120 / Watch, Adidas – $145 / Ring, Jewel Exclusive – $13 / Sunglasses, Ray-Ban – $170 / Lipstick, Sephora – $24