Unveiling Legacy: Economy of Style and the History of Black Fashion in St. Louis

Last week, I had the privilege of joining a panel at the Missouri History Museum. I was tasked with representing a contemporary view of fashion in the city of St. Louis. An invitation like that one was made possible because of your support during the tenure of Economy of Style.

I thought it would be useful to reflect together, so I’m sharing a snippet of the questions along with excerpts from my responses. Of course, I’m also sharing outfit details. Can you tell I’m a huge fan of menswear for women?

What I’m wearing:
Zara tuxedo belted vest
Zara flowy pants
Banana Republic sleeveless shirt (new version)
Fendi Twilly as tie
Valentino one stud pumps (sold out, see them here in all black)
Dior Medium Toujours bag
Saint Laurent SL 545 sunglasses

What sparked your interest in fashion? Is there a particular person or movement (past or present, in or outside of St. Louis) that made a lasting impact on you?

My mother and grandmother taught me an important lesson early in life. Namely that your style says something about how you think about the world because clothes are literally ideas. How you put them together says something about how you think.

Today, I’m a software engineer, where problem solving is central to what I do. Little did I know that the act of figuring out what to wear in various contexts was preparing me for my career in technology.  

What does it mean to you when we say “Black Fashion” in St. Louis? Are there factors that make Black fashion in St. Louis unique? Do Black fashion expressions here say something about this region?

Black fashion’s diverse. St. Louis’s centrality to this entire country made it a haven for immigration, and that has certainly shaped black style, black fashioning, black culture. So when I think of Black fashion in St. Louis, I think of a convergence of people, ideas, and ways of communicating.  

What’s interesting is that Black fashion in St. Louis happened and happens because of all these communities converged.

Can you talk about #blackstyleblogger and the role that Black fashion influencers play? How do you see yourself within that world?

Listen. In 2007. In 2010. In 2017. In 2022. And just last week, I always appreciated when people would thank me and say that I gave them a chance to see how a shirt or dress or skirt looked on a Black body. 

Representation matters. And being a Black style blogger gave me a deep sense of purpose and all kinds of opportunities to serve an audience that had been overlooked for far too many years by the fashion industry. 

For some footage from the event and a look back at some major Economy of Style moments, check out this Instagram post.

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