welcome to Style Notebooks, a new series where we research the physical manifestations of our IRL wardrobe tricks. We ask our friends and trend designers to show us what they * really * wear during the week and give a little insight into their thoughts on the current state of fashion. This week, our own beauty editor, Ama Kwarteng, documented what she wore when she attended Art Basel in Miami. As someone who sees fashion as a form of expression, she has relied on trendy dresses that are not only easy to wear and suitable for hot temperatures, but serve as a complete one-piece outfit.
What role does fashion play in your life? How does it serve you?
âI was a fashion girl long before I launched into beauty, it’s really my first love. As a child, I loved flipping through fashion magazines; I was fascinated by how clothes could serve as a form of storytelling. Then like all the other kids in the Midwest who didn’t quite match their college, I discovered Tumblr and it was a game-changer for me. My world, especially when it comes to fashion, has grown. I’ve been able to browse through archive footage from CHANEL’s’ 90s runway shows, vintage Versace ad campaigns, and read old Style.com (RIP) reviews. When I was applying to Barnard College, one of the extended essay questions asked applicants to choose a woman we would like to chat with for an hour and explain why. I chose fashion critic Robin Givhan. But above all, I grew up with women, including my mother, who loved to dress. Growing up, I remember her being so intentional about what she bought and how she put together her outfits.
âFashion plays several roles in my life; the most important being a means of personal and creative expression. You tell a story about yourself or how you want to be seen by others, through your clothing choices.
Day 1: Arrival dinner in Miami
âI landed in Miami this morning, so it was the group’s first night in the city! We had dinner at Planta, a delicious vegetarian restaurant in town. (Order the cauliflower tots, the spicy lumaconi pasta and the maybe mez-cal me and thank me later.)
âI would consider any garment that doesn’t have a pattern or print to be neutral, which meant I needed some on-trend accessories to make the look a little more fun. I opted for a pair of dangling earrings. They were sleek and elegant, just like the dress, while still being an unusual accessory.
âI fell in love with this ALC dress the moment I tried it on. This is the color that caught my initial attention – the dark burgundy hue paired with the faux leather fabric looks even more stunning in person – but I also liked the details of the dress: the ruffle hem and cap sleeves in particular. . Plus, the plunging neckline and cutout waistline highlight a bit of skin without leaving you too overexposed.
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What is your style like this week? Do you have a favorite outfit formula or do you prefer to change it up when you get dressed?
âThis week I was lucky enough to be invited to Art Basel Miami Beach with Swiss skin care brand La Prairie. Since 2017, they have been partners of Art Basel and they usually work with an artist to commission a piece where the artist expresses his interpretation of the brand. This year, the brand partnered with their first performing artist, artist and dancer Wen Chi Su. She choreographed a dance inspired by light and water, two important themes linked to a new product that La Prairie is launching in March. It was an absolutely amazing experience to see.
âI just want to be comfortable in what I’m wearing. Any outfit that doesn’t allow me to move freely is a big no. But, that’s basically the only style “rule” I have for myself. I favor playful prints and colorful patterns, but my style choices depend a lot on how I’m feeling that day.
âOn the second day we spent the majority of our time at the art fair before heading to Mandolin Miami for lunch. Being in the presence of the work was a source of creative inspiration for me. We got to see pieces created by some of my favorite artists: Hank Willis Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, Conrad Egyir. It was by far one of my favorite moments on the trip.
âBecause I knew we would be walking a lot during the day, I opted for comfortable and more relaxed pieces. I’ve been staring at this Cult Gaia top for ages. I love that it’s not just a medium black top, the silhouette and fit is playful and fun. And since I knew I was going to wear black on top, I felt like I needed something more colorful on the bottom to balance the look. These Ulla Johnson pants are everything: I love the wash, the color, the fit, the length. Seriously, they’re worth buying!
âI feel like sometimes people think laid back is boring and it sure isn’t. I loved being able to create an everyday look that still showed off my personality.
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âFor a week in Miami, I knew I wanted to create bold, modern looks. I looked for pieces that made me happy and that I couldn’t wait to wear. Plus, I’m a tall, dressed girl, so I knew I had to bring a few in my suitcase. They are so simple that you don’t have to think too much about creating a look. Just put it on, add accessories and you’re ready to go.
âHaving worked in both fashion and beauty, I am super aware of what I consume. And while I believe that the waste problem in both cases will not be solved by individual actions but rather by systemic changes, I want to invest in articles. I don’t often shop for clothes and accessories, but when I do, I’m on the lookout for trendy pieces that I can wear for years to come. Many of the pieces that I wore on this trip are now going to be the mainstays of my closet.
âIn college, I would buy an outfit for an event, wear it once, then throw it away or give it away. Now I’m going to rent a look at Nuuly or Nova Octo. One of the events on my itinerary was a gala hosted by La Prairie at the Bass Museum. I knew I wanted an eye-catching and unique dress, so I immediately went to see their inventory. They have a collection of unique dresses which are absolutely stunning.
âI wore this look at the VIP preview of artist Wen-Chi Su’s performance. The play took place on the beach at sunset, and the setting dovetailed perfectly with the larger themes that she aimed to explore and question in her work: light, water, and time.
âI love a good slip dress. (Honestly, I probably own way too many.) With a green and black animal print and an airy silhouette, this choice was a no-brainer for a beach event. If you couldn’t already tell, I also love a statement earring. Although some people initially believed that the colors of the earring and the print of the dress would clash, I found the chunky turquoise earrings I wore paired well with them. the light texture of the nightie dress.
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In terms of beauty, what is your hair and makeup routine like and how does that change depending on what you are wearing?
âI really adopted a more natural look when I was in Miami. I don’t like using a ton of heat on my hair so for most of the trip I let it fall in loose waves and embraced the moisture. (I didn’t even bother to bring a hair straightener on this trip!) I was sure to keep it hydrated too. My hair dries out very easily so I applied a small amount of Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother Reparative Styling Creme to my hair before sealing in moisture with the brand’s No. 7 Bonding Oil. This is the best duo to keep your hair healthy and healthy. hydrated.
âI’m a makeup artist girl. In fact, my approach to makeup is similar to my approach to fashion. I like to have fun with it, it’s another form of expression for me. Sometimes that means covering my lids with a bright blue liner or sweeping up a nude smokey eye. It really depends on my mood that day. In Miami I kept my makeup light most of the time (again heat and humidity is not my friend) and wore Nars tinted moisturizer, brown lip liner with shine lipstick on top, plus a ton of highlighter (for a nice shine) and blush (for a warm glow).
Day 4: Private dinner at the Bass Museum
âWe spent our last evening in Miami at a private gala dinner at the Bass Museum. The dinner was unreal, and the meal was followed by a guided tour of the works in space. As this dress was a solid color, I dressed it up with a pair of cheeky red sandals from Zimmermann. They were so comfortable to walk on (screaming at the block heel) and I loved that the ankle straps include beaded ends; this added another fun layer to the overall look.
âWhen I saw the word gala on the itinerary, I immediately thought of the dress. I wanted an outfit that wouldn’t bore the eyes and this Johanna Ortiz dress that I rented from Nova Octo ticked all the boxes. A sequined cutout dress has the potential to tip Miami a bit too much (and not in a good way). But thanks to the stitching, size and texture of the sequins, the subtlety of the cutout and the cinched waist, this piece has remained firmly in the chic and sophisticated column.
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