ON EARLY STYLE
I grew up in Long Beach, California. I was the first grandchild in my father's family, not to mention the only girl. With a traditional Puerto Rican father, ruffled dresses and patent leather Mary Janes were my destiny. My mother and father customized most of the dresses that I wore, mostly from a local dress shop in Bixby Knolls, California. This dress shop, owned by a woman named Luan, has been a fixture in Long Beach for 64 years. I remember wearing a dress nearly every day until the age of 11, except on weekends when I lived in tomboy clothing. Around my teenage years a mixture of skate culture, Catholic school uniforms, and sneakerhead culture described my style. In middle school, I wore a prep school uniform, white-collar shirt, and my choices for bottoms were a navy blue pleated skirt or pleated shorts. I secretly thought uniforms were very chic so very early on I mastered the art of a uniform, and having a signature style. Perhaps, my childhood school uniform fostered my minimalist aesthetic! To add on my signature look I decorated with colorful accessories, handmade bracelets, and necklaces, obscure sneakers, or athletic two striped socks. My style and perceptions of beauty standards evolved as I started my career in fashion as a professional model. I did a lot of interpersonal work in shifting my perception of social constructs regarding beauty standards, while shifting my awareness of my style and how it affected my confidence. As I became wiser I realized that clothes couldn’t solve my problem and that confidence and self-expression can be stylized.
ON GETTING DRESSED IN QUARANTINE
On many days I've stood before a mirror and thought, “Do I need to get dressed today?”
Behind my own front door, I’m usually in some version of sleep or loungewear. For work I have to feel absolutely unhindered by elastic, buttons, collars, belts, and zips. On days when I need to wear functional clothes, I consider this wisdom stated by my friend Muska (but without the flowery language of a proverb) “Dress better than you feel.” On days like this, I love the ease of a dress. Extreme minimalist is how I would describe my style, more generally. I like contrasting textures, and colors. I wear very few accessories and I often add a masculine touch to my look because I don't like an outfit that is too girly.
Somedays I read Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez. I take in a few words to capture a moment and translate her words into my style for the day. I am intentional and deliberate with my style.
ON SELF-CARE DURING THE CURRENT NORMAL
I can’t think about this in a singular context but I can say that I am only as strong as my community. My personal experience during this moment is reserved for safe space with the BIPOC community. I can say the unveiling of the pandemic has affected how I show up for my family and my online community and how I choose to spend my time. I understand the value of self- preservation and I am caring for myself. I’d like to close this with a quote from a book titled, Sister Outsiders by Audre Lorde, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
THREE THINGS WITH SELENA
3 unexpected, healthy ingredients everyone should have in their pantry.
- White rice, it’s easily digestible and good for Congee, a healing soup.
- Good quality whiskey (pantry principle to make tinctures)
- Bee pollen
3 things making quarantine a bit more joyful for you.
- Assembling puzzles
- Baking with my daughter Jada-Inam
- Pouring a bath for myself
Your uniform, in 3 pieces.
- Clogs (that’s four, but the clogs are essential)
Thank you Selena!
Selena was photographed in NYC by Taylor Jewell.