Aaliyah Dana Houghton, a.k.a. Babygirl, may she rest in peace, made me gay. She also made me want to replicate every single one of her looks: small crop tops, big baggy pants, a deep side part that can rival Frederick Douglass’s, a left eye that seemed perennially hidden behind a perfectly placed swoop. Those first two make her the perfect style icon for spring, because tiny tops paired with large bottoms are, in my humble opinion, great for transitional weather. Throw an oversize jacket over that sports bra you’re wearing as a shirt and voilà — you’re ready for whatever mother nature throws at you.
Not only does Aaliyah’s style make sense when straddling the line between winter and summer, it makes sense for anyone interested in straddling (blurring?) the line between femme and zaddy. The thing that always stood out to me most about Aaliyah’s style is that it was never only feminine, not only masc — but the perfect blend of both.
To commemorate Babygirl and her bold style, MR market wizard Elizabeth Tamkin and myself recreated five iconic Aaliyah looks. Ten bucks says you’re gonna wanna a pair of boxers (and Balmain pants) after this.
1. The Tommy One
“If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” I’m sure someone else can be attributed to first sharing this sage advice, but the most important person to ever speak (sing) it, in my book, was Aaliyah. And I’m so glad I listened! I have been trying to figure out how to get my pants to properly sag, Aaliyah-style, for over a decade. It wasn’t until Eliz stepped in with her market expertise and styling genius that I was able to pull it off. I recommend using carpenter pants and going up three sizes if you want them to sling low, sweet chariot on your derrière.
2. The Deconstructed One
Overalls sure do make a great spring look. Tbh, I’m wearing overalls as we speak. But you know what I hadn’t considered until very recently? Deconstructing the overalls just like Aaliyah did here. 10/10 recommend. What I like most about this look is the ability to be simultaneously strapped in and saggin — another lovely liminality and fun take on a timeless classic.
3. The Denim One
If you want to go with a more conceptual Aaliyah look, here’s how: Combine one part crop top and one part exposed boxer briefs with two parts denim. Shake vigorously. Top off (on the bottom) with boots — any color will do. It’s so easy even a child could do it, but please — dress responsibly.
4. The Pleather One
Please peruse the following link and let me know: Did we nail it? No spring style story would be complete without a warm-weather version of the iconic “going out look,” because what else are you gonna wear to those spring les parties (like Gush — “lesbian grindr irl”!)? This more form-fitting version of an Aaliyah look is perfect for catching curves and eyes. And the sandals say, “I really need a pedicure partner.”
5. The White One
In need of either a more professional or red carpet vibe? Might I suggest a version of this all-white number. The long-sleeved long coat is perfect for the office or evening soiree, while still allowing breathability in case the air is balmy. To offset the more high-end look, pair with a simple cropped ribbed tank — I rock a boy’s size small which alleviates the burden of homemade cropping.
Photography by Minu Han. Market and styling by Elizabeth Tamkin.