Most Stylish Black Women in History
by Alexandra Phanor-Faury
We doubt Michelle Obama ever fathomed that her personal style would be of such interest to the American public. But one year into being First Lady, it’s undeniable that her affinity for fashion has not only been a boast for American fashion but it has also reaffirmed both the buying power of African-American women and what we’ve always known-that Black women are stylish. Michelle Obama may be one of the very few Black women celebrated for her impeccable taste by mainstream America, but she certainly isn’t the first stylish sista to make an impressive fashion mark. Black women have long demonstrated their styles and personalities through their inventive fashion transformations over the past decades.
From the 40’s church going women who took pride in their elaborate hats to acclaimed author Zora Neal Hurston’s more minimal lady-like chapeau to Josephine Baker’s sensual style to Grace Jones’ strong edge, fashion has always been part of our lives. In honor of Black History Month, we're taking a look back at the most stylish Black women in history and paying tribute to their timeless style.
If everyone is going right, you can bet Erykah Badu is going left. The genetically gifted soul singer has always played the fashion game on her own terms. The quintessential cool bohemian made her fabulous video debut barefoot and wrapped in a tablecloth from head-to-toe. Talk about individual style. A ballsy move that would come to mark the Grammy-Award winning singer’s personal style philosophy of “do you.” The minute you think you’ve got her figured out, Badu switches it up. She’s gone from ethereal, folky dresses, skirts and headwraps to platform boots, leather pants, top hats and a huge afro. She continued to challenge our preconceived notion of who she is when she was spotted wearing a long Pocahontas wig. In 2008 Tom Ford chose Badu to be the model for his White Patchouli fragrance. The result was an arresting, black and white image that featured a stunning Badu. From flower child to fashion star, Badu keeps re-defining her look.