A conversation with NYC-based stylist

- DIONE DAVIS -

A little bit about Dione...

I’m originally from South Florida, but I grew up in Alabama. My fixation with beautiful clothing can most likely be traced back to my mother. Despite living in areas with limited resources when it came to elegant clothing, she still managed to look elegant regardless of her settings. She always wore a tailored high waist pant, her hair slicked back in a low ponytail, and always had on a red lip. My personal interest in clothing started as early as age 4. I always wanted to wear interesting clothing and was obsessed with tonal colors. I was so particular about my clothes that my mom got me pink Reebok sneakers to wear with my all pink outfits.

Originally, I had no plans to work in the fashion industry at all, and my shift to that came from a genuine love of clothing and not a clear career plan at all. My passion was ballet and I was an apprentice at a professional company in college until quitting due to injury. The fashion industry was very closed off and still is especially for people of color so I took retail jobs to start. I was lucky and a case of mistaken identity started my career as an assistant for editorial stylists. I was still working retail to pay the bills and eventually started working at Tibi in 2013. My job at Tibi started out in retail as an assistant manager at the flagship, then I transitioned to corporate and started styling e-commerce in 2015. My responsibilities evolved over the years to a broader role in styling for campaigns, content shoots, still life, and runway. I also had the opportunity to travel around and help out with our showroom in Paris and also do product trainings in the U.S and abroad.

Dressing in Strange Times

COVID-19 definitely affected the way I dressed initially. I felt weird about what I was wearing outside. I didn’t want to look too frivolous by wearing designer clothing to the grocery store like I would be doing in normal life. It suddenly felt ostentatious to wear an outfit during the pandemic. I started dressing down more but I always made sure that my shoes, bag, and coat were tailored to balance out my sweat pants or nylon joggers. Now, I’m back in my office part-time so it’s business as usual, but the big change for me has been finding that perfect balance between comfort and luxury.

Style Hacks

I am known for my style hacks and that has also helped me not spend all of my time and money online shopping during the shutdown. Some of my favorite hacks include repurposing button down shirts by converting them into one shoulder and off shoulder tops, and my go-to suiting hacks A black suit is always a staple, but if you want to make it stretch, you can use accessories to customize further and even make your suiting look like evening wear. I like an earring to cinch the waist of a blazer by criss crossing the blazer past the buttons and fastening it on the side.

On Cultivating Personal Style

I like to think that I have figured out how to dress for my body; however, now that I’m in my 30’s I feel more comfortable with my body and have been trying new things. Knowing what really works for me has really helped me not fall for every trend. A lot of my style hacks keep me from buying things again that I will get tired of. Proportion is key for good dressing. I love oversized suits, but I also want to look long and lean so I never do a classic button down underneath suiting. I try to do something with an open neckline and fitted like a bodysuit. Also, if I do wear a tee shirt under my blazer, it’s never a v-neck because a V with a V feels very redundant.

Lines Dione Loves

I love Lemaire, Jacquemus, Margiela, The Row, Tibi, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Peter Do, Christopher John Rodgers, Dries Van Noten, Pyer Moss, Acne Studios, A.W.A.K.E MODE, Bottega Venetia, Vaquera, Jil Sander, JW Anderson, Loewe, Khaite, Nina Rocco, Material.

On Letting Go of Trends

The pandemic makes atheleisure feel very tired. If I never look at a pair of sweatpants again, it will be too soon. Another thing I’m not a huge fan of is those ultra feminine voluminous dresses everyone was wearing with sneakers last summer. Sartorial choices that infantilize women always feels unsettling especially since culture and media already has such a strange fascination with youth. Growing older has opened up many more clothing options despite what fashion magazines say. The less we body shame ourselves into thinking we can’t wear things because of our age, the better. When I put on an outfit, I don’t want to have anything on my body that is just for the sake of a trend. My taste has been pretty consistent even throughout college. I just got better at dressing myself and buying better fabrics along the way. I want the clothes I wear to feel good as well as look good so I don’t sacrifice my principles for the latest trend. I value not only the artistry that comes with design, but all of the creative people it takes to execute a beautiful piece of clothing. Working in house for a brand really pulled back the curtain on what it really takes to make clothing and it takes a village. When I wear something special, I can feel the love and care that was put into it. It’s why I stopped buying fast fashion, and started investing.

On Fast Fashion

I try to refrain from preaching about this because oftentimes when people discuss this they excuse themselves from the privilege that comes from access to high quality clothing that isn’t mass-produced. If you do have the means, shop smart. If you don’t, shop vintage and gradually build your dream wardrobe. I think a lot of my style hacks can easily be executed with affordable vintage pieces as well. Style shouldn’t break your bank account. Also, if you invest you will save more money over time because of cost per wear which is something that people don’t think about when diving deep into trends.

Current Wishlist

Current things I really want are going to enhance my classic pieces like The Row PVC Sandals, or the tall Davis Zebra Boots from Khaite. I also really want to get a chic twin set for summer and fall. Being a blazer gal has made me have a wardrobe deficit for chic cardigans. I still love a good shoulder pad tee because it works great solo, but also to update your existing wardrobe by wearing it under a suit, or a pullover to add extra structure.

Humor in Dressing

I definitely have a sense of humor with my dressing. I also never want to look too sexy, so I’ll wear a bodysuit with men’s dad shorts for a contrast. Approaching style with a less literal lens and allowing for a bit of whimsy and humor is always a good thing in my eyes. Something that seems gross in real life all of a sudden looks chic and elevated paired with the right things, and keeping balance in mind. In 2017, I remember loving sheer tights with strappy heels - it was so elegant and unexpected, but also reminded me of faux pas that I had seen in the past. I like to have something a little weird on all of my outfits because I want my personality to show through my dressing. I’m definitely a bit quirky, so I think my personal style would be considered quirky elegance. Sometimes I do stand-up comedy, and when I do, dressing more normcore on stage feels more comfortable to me. I don’t want my clothing to distract from my performance. The audience creates a dozen assumptions about you as soon as you hop on stage, but before you even speak.

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