Nicole Sullivan

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— STYLIST, CREATIVE

Nicole Sullivan’s style represents just how diverse femininity truly is–it can be lace or leather, all black or encompass the colors of the rainbow. A realization that stems from her strong sense of self-awareness. She knows just what cuts and silhouettes will complement her frame, and it’s almost as if everything she puts on was specially designed for her. This energy she radiates is what makes her personal style so enticing. How her style ties into who she is at her core, is the very reason for our Style Study’s on DREAM IN HD. It’s such an important part of our personal blueprints and Nicole’s connection to the garments she drapes herself in everyday shows that.

 

What's the most personal element about your style? Does it have a direct connection to a person, place or thing? 

The most personal element about my style are the items passed down to me from the women in my family. I’ve always been a sucker for vintage, but these particular items represent a maternal bond that runs deep. The khaki jumpsuit my mom wore right before giving birth to my brother, my grandma’s purple snakeskin bag, my late aunt’s tennis bracelets. They’re all invaluable because it’s less about the objects and more about the relationship and connection I have with these women. My grandma, the matriarch of our family, is the strongest and most diligent woman I know. She taught my mother to follow suit and greatly aided in my upbringing. The clothing and accessories that have been lived in and given to me are a visual representation of our kinship.

Describe your style trajectory. How has it changed through the years? Where are you now on your style journey?

I think we almost all had a moment in time where our style choices reflected that of a background dancer in one of Missy’s videos. When mom gave me the green light to shop on my own, my closet went through phases depending on what my favorite recording artist was wearing. After graduating high school, I grew out of my impressionable stage and started wearing what I pleased, being more confident in my choices. After being the party girl, my wardrobe and I matured in unison. A bit toned down but still bold and playful. Now I've replaced a lot of my cut-offs for wide legs, for proper air circulation, ya know?

Has Instagram's dominance influenced your style at all?

Instagram is one giant mood board of daily inspiration. With almost every company pushing out content through this platform, you don’t necessarily have to sift through two to three sites when the same information has been condensed and paired with a stimulating pic. At times it can be overstimulating, so I draw inspiration from accounts that challenge fashion in a slightly humorous way. Because we sometimes need a reminder to keep it light and fun.

How have you dealt with struggle and learned to overcome it while on your path? Or would you say it’s ongoing learning experience?

How to stay grounded and practice mindfulness have been two of the biggest life lessons this hard-headed Taurus had to learn. Not every day is going to go as planned, so I try to stay aware and in control of my thoughts, whether I’m excited about life or completely exhausted by it. Acceptance is the second lesson that took me years to unravel. For a while, I thought the answer was always self-improvement when I was essentially trying to change who I was. Now I focus on self-acceptance and living in the present, and I’m happier as a result. 

Letting go of fear is the ultimate life hack but was once something I struggled with considerably. My world no longer flips upside down when I hear the word “no”, because every no leads to character development and often a chance for me to grow. Being told no has helped me tremendously in unlocking my confidence. 

Not every day is going to go as planned, so I try to stay aware and in control of my thoughts, whether I’m excited about life or completely exhausted by it.
— Nicole

When going through a rough patch in life, do you tend to overdress or underdress? 

When people see you as this sort of “fashionista,” not a day goes by when it's not all eyes on you. As a millennial-aged black woman, life is not always peachy-keen. I have a pretty good poker face, but I do tend to underdress in times of distress. What’s happening at home, in my community, and around the world all greatly affect me, and some days, it’s hard to iron a blouse and prep myself to put on that pump. 

What do most people assume about you based on the way you dress? 

It’s always entertaining to hear the assumptions people make about me based on what I wear. For the most part, it’s that I’m some well-paid girl boss chick, when it’s more of a dress for the job you want type of situation. When I realized that garments can control what I want people to perceive of me, I began presenting myself in the best light, clothes included. Then opportunity followed. 

Do you think you have a clear idea of what your style identity is? Why or why not?

I used to give myself a hard time for not having a uniform or a formula to the way I dress. I can go from lace to leather depending on the occasion. Do I want to be strong, soft, or unapproachable today? What about a mixture of all three? It just depends. I don’t think I have a crystal clear idea of what my style is because it is evolving at the same rate as me. I just love those moments when I catch myself in a reflection and know that who I am is evidenced.

Aside from personal style, what other forms of self-expression do you indulge in? How does it alter your style, if at all? 

I express myself through visual storytelling. Outside of the office, I spend my time directing, styling, and assisting with editorial and commercial projects. When I’m not digging through my own closet, style continues to play a big role in my work. Working with photographers allows me to see things conveyed in a variety of ways, and these new realizations push me to experiment with my style.

How do you DREAM IN HD? 

I DREAM IN HD by living in the present. Whether it’s through self-care, collaborating, bonding with my family, or having a glass of wine and good conversation with my girls, living in the now allows me to stay focused, prioritize, and plan for the brightest future. 

Follow Nicole on Instagram @cleopatrathefox. 

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Written and produced by: Maricia Josephs | Photography: NateShuls