“To Wear So Many Pieces From Black Designers Is Such a Blessing”: Naomi Elizée’s Outfit Anatomy

Welcome to Outfit Anatomy, a series of comprehensive style analyses that aim to break down what we wear by answering questions like: How much did that cost? Where did you find that? Why did you buy it in the first place? Up this week is Naomi Elizée, Fashion Editor and Podcast Host. 

The moment I landed my first job in fashion, I knew my bank account was in major trouble. Within a month, my entire concept of money and shopping drastically changed. If you asked me three years ago if I would spend over $100 on a pair of shoes, I would have laughed at the thought. I grew up in a small town where shopping at Forever 21, Macy’s, and Zara was a luxury. Now I don’t hesitate to purchase a pair of Margiela Tabi boots for $400 because I view it as a steal (which it most definitely is!), but also because I understand the value of investing in clothing you will have for years instead of a few months. For the most part, I only buy vintage and secondhand designer pieces. I rarely buy new unless I view it as an investment piece that will get a good amount of wear. This leather patchwork jacket I’m wearing is actually one of my proudest vintage finds—I discovered it on a crowded rack in Beacon’s Closet almost two years ago. I remember it being around $85 and thinking to myself that this would become one of the best things I ever purchased. It honestly was me in jacket form!

The leather apron I styled over it is from the brand Edas, which is designed by my incredibly talented friend Sade Mims. Although Edas was initially an accessories brand, it’s evolved to be way more than that. I gravitate toward the line because of its clear brand objective: to make women feel fearless. And also the feeling of knowing that I’m supporting my friend who is a black-woman entrepreneur growing her business. I had my eye on this apron for about six months before finally taking the plunge and purchasing it for $298. I first saw it on Sade and just loved the way it moved; the asymmetrical design was like nothing I’d ever seen. And it’s an easy transitional piece between summer and winter, which is a definite plus! In the summer I’ll wear it with a mini short dress and thong sandals (I am in full support of this trend).

Naomi Elizée

These vintage Levi jeans have been in my closet for about six years now. I think it might be time to retire these bad boys—they have a hole in them now from constant wear over the years. I found them in a Beacon’s Closet in Manhattan for $16 and I have yet to find a pair of jeans that fit me as well as these. I have a small waist but larger thighs so it can get a bit tough at times to find jeans that hug both my hips and thighs at the same time. These jeans pack so much memory for me! I wore them on my first day as a fashion intern in Seventeen Magazine’s fashion closet. I stupidly paired them with uncomfortable heels which I instantly regretted when I was sent off on four runs across the city to pick up clothing and accessories for a shoot. The more I think about these jeans, the more I don’t want to get rid of them, even though I think they’re way past their shelf life.

When you see someone wearing a Telfar bag or piece, there’s an understanding that you’re both part of the same community.

The boots are Balenciaga. I bought them from a coworker who purchased them brand new via a sample sale. I think I paid a relatively low amount (around $150) for the boots, and I’ve worn them to the ground. One foot is a half size too small for me, but I still think they’re perfect! I wear them with jeans, slip dresses, leather pants, skirts… they’re my go-to boots, a wardrobe staple. The New York streets are taking a toll on them, though, so now I’ve decided to only wear them on special occasions!

Naomi Elizée

I purchased this black mini Telfar bag about 2 ½ years ago. Telfar’s another black designer that I love to support and want to see prosper in the fashion industry. I learned about him through the Fashion Fund and by seeing my friends in the New York fashion scene wearing his designs. When you see someone wearing a Telfar bag or piece, there’s an understanding that you’re both part of the same community and it’s an instant connection. Deemed the “Bushwick Birkin” through a viral tweet, the Telfar Bag is part of my style DNA. I own five and wear them often. My medium and large ones are more practical for day-to-day, but the small ones are perfect for a night out with friends at our favorite local bar, Cafe Ezrulie. Growing up, I didn’t know any black designers, so to now have the opportunity to support and wear so many is such a blessing.

Sometimes I forget I’m wearing it and get caught off-guard when I hear someone I don’t know say my name.

I don’t wear a lot of jewelry but I have three pieces that I never take off. First is my ring: It’s engraved with the word “Love.” I actually took this ring from my sister’s jewelry box (sorry, Tati!) once when I was home on summer break. Ever since I was little, I’ve been snagging things from my sisters’ closets. Honestly, I think I had just been really homesick and wanted something to remind me of home and help me cope. She luckily never noticed until last year and has yet to ask for it back, so I think it’s mine to keep for good now! The second piece, my necklace, is a nameplate from The M Jewelers. It’s a classic piece of jewelry I’ve always wanted to own. Sometimes I forget I’m wearing it and get caught off-guard when I hear someone I don’t know say my name. This happened once while I was trying to buy a train ticket in London: For a split second, I thought the guy ringing me up was some type of psychic, only to realize that he read my name from my necklace. And the third thing: I never leave my apartment without a pair of hoops on. Back in middle school, I used to steal hoop earrings from my other sister Samantha. They were about four inches in width—the biggest hoops I’d ever seen at that age. I would hide them in my backpack. Once my mom dropped me off at the bus stop and I knew the coast was clear, I would quickly put the hoops on and wear them into school. Fast forward 12 years and I’m still that girl! I love a good hoop earring. It’s such a classic staple… you can’t go wrong with hoops. These are from Argento Vivo and they’re good for everyday wear. At only $78, they’re the most affordable, perfect-sized hoops!

Naomi Elizée

Although I do work in a corporate environment, I can still have a little bit of fun with my outfits! I try not to take what I wear so seriously—fashion’s meant to be fun and full of risks. I love to experiment with textures, prints, and colors. At first I was worried that maybe a leather-on-leather situation may read to be “too heavy” or just downright doing “the most” to others, but at the end of the day I try to remember to dress for myself and not for the sake of others. I love every piece that I’m wearing in this photo and I can’t wait to wear this exact same outfit again. As told to Edith Young.

Photos by Joshua Aronson

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