portraits of style: nicole, 45

Nicole Blades  , 45.  Orlando, Florida, USA, Thursday, May 11, 2017.

Nicole Blades, 45.  Orlando, Florida, USA, Thursday, May 11, 2017.

A friend once said "style is personal and political," and I love that concept:  dressing for your expression of self, what you stand for, and not for the pleasure of others.  And so Portraits of Style is a new feature, sharing the portraits and interviews of people who are over 40, and who define what it means to be stylish, focusing what happens when they throw away the fashion magazines, and instead choose what they wear based on what makes them feel great and what they want to express. This is style -- on their terms.

This week, I'm featuring my friend, writer, author and podcaster Nicole Blades.  Nicole and I have known each other for several years, and bonded over our shared passion for writing and design -- not to mention our West Indian roots.  Nicole is one of those women who always looks so wonderfully intentional about what she's wearing -- she's not afraid of colour, and her accessories are always unexpected, yet perfectly curated.  I couldn't wait to sit with her and find out her style philosophy.

I want to appear confident -- appear comfortable and at ease with myself -- but I also always want to show that I'm real.

~  Nicole Blades

KW:  Nicole, I've always loved your look:  you're not afraid of colour, of accessories (like that fabulous hat you wore yesterday), and today -- gold tennies with your dress!  So tell me -- do you put a lot of intention behind your look, and think about what you want to express with your style?

NB:  Thanks!  Honestly, I do think about it.  I guess I want to appear confident -- that I'm comfortable and at ease with myself -- but I also always want to show that I'm real.  I don't ever want to look put together in a way that feels inauthentic.

KW:  I love that.  So do you have any style icons -- people who model the kind of look you aspire to have?

NB:  Oh man, there are so many.  I mean, for sure, my mom is one of my style icons -- even from a young age, I remember my mom always dressing well, and looking put together.  She cared about shoes, presentation -- she always looked great.  And I love, Elaine Welteroth, Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue.  Her hair, her glasses, her clean-faced look -- she looks like the fashion editor you could be best friends with.  Yara Shahadi is another one -- she'e young, and plays Zoey on Black-ish -- I love how she's stylish, and fun, easy, classy -- she's never trying too hard, and she's age-appropriate.  I also love Janelle Monáe, because she always looks fresh and original, but not in a kooky way.  Lots of amazing people.

KW:  I love several of those folks too -- I love how they use colour as part of their expression.  Do you have a signature colour?

NB:  Actually, it used to be red -- and then I switched to black and grey.  But nowadays ... well, there's this very specific shade of orange that I love.  It's bright and warm ... deep ... sort of like the colour of a tangelo.

KW (laughing):  Wow -- that's specific!  Okay -- how about a signature item of clothing?  Do you have something that is your go-to thing you know you'll feel great in?

NB:  Boots.  Definitely.  Tall shaft, or booties ... I love a good boot.

KW:  Actually, I do too.  Okay, final question:  what's your best fashion advice?

NB:  Hmm ... well, firstly, don't get caught up in trends and styles.  Comfort is the most important thing -- wear what works for you.  So if that means buying a size up and having it tailored, then do that...

KW: ... Wait.  Buying a size up and having it tailored ... I never even considered that.  That's genius.

NB:  Absolutely!  Tailoring is key to style.

Thanks so much for your thoughts, Nicole!  To learn more about Nicole, be sure to check out her website.  And don't mis her podcast, Hey, Sis! that she co-hosts with her younger sister, Nailah!