Wearing an intricately-patterned purple dashiki, a loose tunic from West Africa, LaShonda Long, Instructor in English, completes her outfit with matching purple pants and large gold hoop earrings. Clothing pieces such as these add flair to Long’s traditional wardrobe of trousers and blouses.
“I want to be stylish. I would never say that I was trendy, because I think I’m very conscious of trying to be true to myself with whatever I have to express. To be classy and comfortable at the same time – I think that’s key,” said Long.
Long defines her style as monochromatic with subtle pops of color. She utilizes accessories, particularly scarves, to accent and finish off her outfits.
“I think [a scarf] adds a certain type of character or panache. You can wear dark jeans, a black or white shirt, a leather jacket, and a scarf, and it’s like [your outfit is complete]. You can do so much with it. If I don’t know what I’m doing later, it’s easy that I can just put [my scarf] in a certain type of knot or use it as a shawl or something and it’s able to transform… a particular situation [into one] where you seem like you’re ready and you’re put together. I like the flair of it, but I really feel like it tightens an outfit and brings it together,” said Long.
For Long, being presentable and comfortable are important factors in her clothing choices. She describes her fashion sense as a fusion of West Coast and East Coast styles. Long attributes her desire to dress comfortably to her Californian roots.
“I’ve always lived next to a body of water, so that lends itself to feeling like you can be comfortable and breathe and airy. I think that [I aim for] the kind of ‘trying to be put together but relaxed’ [look], so it’s not stifling to look at and to wear. I think that really comes out, because I’ve just got to be comfortable, that’s just what it comes down to,” said Long.
Long’s primary style inspiration is Olivia Pope, a character created by Shonda Rhimes in the hit television drama “Scandal.” In addition to Pope’s fashion sense, Long admires the confidence and strength that she and many of Rhimes’s other characters embody.
“In the media, I think that Shonda Rhimes has done a lot of [connecting women of color and fashion] with ‘How To Get Away With Murder’ and ‘Scandal’; you have women that are professional, but they’re full women: they’re not just their profession, and they show that within their style,” said Long. “I think that’s really important, because it’s not just about being the professional, but it’s about [the fact] that you’re a whole person and how that comes across. It flows altogether.”