When I was little, I dreamed of being an actor on Monday, a ballerina on Tuesday, a lawyer on Wednesday… I could go on. The dreams of my youth were fast and fluid, like the highlights of a Kehlani fever dream. I never did become an actor, but I did become a writer, which is I’m currently behind the scenes of a very important style shoot to report on the realization of not one, but two big dreams: that of MR Operations Manager Crystal Anderson and MR Head of Operations Matt Little.
“My actual dream is to be the Black queer woman on Queer Eye,” Crystal tells me, “because there needs to be a Black queer woman voice on the show. That’s not to say that the group that’s there now isn’t fantastic — they are — and I love them to death, but there’s room for more inclusivity. Ten years ago, when the first [iteration of this show] came out, there wasn’t a Black queer woman — why not now? And why not me? And why not Matt as a subject?”
“Love this!” Matt is in the background, verbally admiring the second of three outfits Crystal is styling him in for his makeover as he lives out his America’s Next Top Model dreams.
I don’t want to give too much away — you’ll be able to read all about the entire experience below — but I will share my greatest takeaway of the day: A sequin embellishment is to Crystal as a french tuck is to Tan. Scroll down for a delightful dreamscape of fashion and fun.
Functional Daytime Sequins
“The first look was inspired by my full sparkle explosion lewk I wore to the Man Repeller x Adidas party,” Crystal tells me. “I knew that I needed to find something that had a sparkle but was still wearable for Matt. I can wear a head-to-toe sequined number on a Tuesday, but I didn’t want to impart my entire style ethos on Matt. I wanted him to still feel comfortable and very much like himself, but with that JVN femme/masc sensibility that can still be pulled off at work.”
“I loved this look,” Matt tells me, confirming that Crystal achieved what she was after. “It felt surprisingly functional for daytime sequins.”
According to Crystal, it was “super easy” to translate this look across genders. “I personally don’t think that clothing should live on the binary anyway, so I really just picked components for this outfit based on how they would work on Matt’s body and how he’d be able to incorporate them into his life.”
If his smizing in these photos isn’t evidence enough, Matt is on board on multiple levels: “Crystal expertly fashioned the chain harness into an equally rousing necklace halfway through shooting this look — getting creative with functionality and repurposing special pieces is a styling tip I can definitely see integrating into my routine moving forward.”
Brb, buying a sequin T and shorteralls. See you in five.
Top Gun Goes to a Royal Wedding
“This look was mostly inspired by my love of a one-piece jumpsuit because it’s quite literally the easiest thing in the universe to wear!” Crystal says. “It was also inspired by my love of doing the most at all times, hence the accessories and most glorious socks to ever be worn in the state of New York.”
She says that although this particular look might veer more conceptual than Matt might wear on an everyday basis, she wanted him to see himself in an outfit that is “very much me, in terms of just how much thought and time I can put into getting dressed.”
Besides the shoes, this entire look was pulled from the women’s section, and Matt wore it beautifully — nay, enthusiastically. It encouraged him to pull off a level-10 Tyra face-serve that had me bopping around set screaming, “WORRRRK!” and “YOU BETTER!” for the entirety of the afternoon.
What made this styling success? The upper body accouterment. “[It] honestly made me feel like my America’s Next Top Model editorial dreams were finally being realized,” says Matt. “I plan on purchasing a tasteful face net or seven immediately.”
Crystal’s inspiration for her final trick is, lucky for everyone involved, herself: “This was a literal interpretation of a suit I had worn the week before. When I pulled looks for the shoot, I pulled this suit in both of our sizes because I just KNEW it was a winner.”
She says this look is obviously pretty simple to style, since suits are “pretty much the equivalent of a pack of ramen noodles; just add water.” (In this case though, just add Kesha T-shirt.) She knew it would work for Matt despite it being a woman’s suit, and work it did — in an editorial sense at least. Matt looked fabulous. But “this was probably the look that made me feel most out of comfort zone,” he tells me. “The suit is obviously fire but it’s way bolder than what I typically gravitate towards.”
Ultimately, though, he dug the look: “It was likely a combination of the outfit and the on-set cheering (thanks Emma), but I felt like a proper rockstar in this outfit (in the best way). And if I was unsure before, this look only further validated that my prized Kesha t-shirt is in fact appropriate for literally every occasion.” For me, this look validated something a little different: that carnival-syle has never looked so chic. Or non-problematic. Hats off to Crystal and Matt for their success here.
Collectively, this entire experience validated that I’d like to amend my previous “greatest takeaway of the day,” because you know what else is appropriate for literally every occasion? Sequined socks. They make sparkles so approachable! And that, in fact, might be the greatest takeaway of all.
I didn’t know what to expect when reporting this story — except for exposure to LOTS of accessories — but I actually learned quite a bit: Matt could leave MR right now to open a modeling school (I’d be his first student). Crystal should moonlight as a stylist… and life coach. Face nets can be tasteful! The kind of lessons that stay with you, ya know? It’s not often that my job requires me to spend time outside of the office, in the trenches, as they say. But when it does happen, I want it to be for lots and lots of sequins. And stories like this.
Photos by Bridget Badore.