Alyssa Neilson

 
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— BRAND STRATEGIST

I have an undying fondness for women who’ve been able to master the art of streetwear. Because it is indeed an art. Their tees are ever the right amount of billowy, and they always seem to find pants that are synchronously tailored and loose. Streetwear drapes over a woman’s body in a poetic way that it doesn’t on a man’s, which lends to my idea that it was secretly made for us to hijack. Or, it could be that we naturally just make everything better. Exhibit A: Alyssa Neilson–who I can only describe as a streatwear connoisseur. Streetwear is a part of Neilson’s everyday lifestyle, it’s molded into who she is. She’s a sneaker historian of sorts, with a deep understanding of athletic styles and their cultural impact. If you’re ever curious about anything in that realm, she’s your go-to girl. Ours too.

 

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

Definitely my sneakers. I only have about 6 pairs of shoes that aren't sneakers that I somewhat care about, and over 100 pairs of sneakers. I wear sneakers every single day. I'm not sure if or when I'll outgrow that. It just is what it is. Then I'd say my vintage t-shirts. They are so valuable to me, especially my Houston ones—obviously connected to my childhood and where I grew up. 

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

I would say I was super feminine up until the middle of high school. I grew up in a Caribbean household where there was an unspoken standard when it came to women's dressing. I kid you not, it is so hard for me to dress formally and it always was growing up as I aged into my teenage years. In high school, I started working at Foot Locker one summer and began buying so many sneakers. Growing up in Houston, I had a lot of inspiration when it came to Jordan’s in particular, and sportswear.

Jordan’s became collectibles to me, especially in early college. I think now, my style is just as casual, but I enjoy mixing some elements of femininity here and there as I've aged and have gained more leverage to experiment. My mother never let me leave the house without gold hoop earrings and my gold chain as a kid and I swear by that still. Jewelry is important. I love being a bit more feminine when it comes to makeup as well. I'll wear a lipstick, but I won't wear stiletto heels. I also love incorporating color to whatever I'm wearing—whether it be a bag, my socks, a sneaker or a hoodie. 

Has Instagram's dominance influenced your style at all? 

Yes, and no. The 'yes' being via brands being so much easier to discover and follow. I love finding a brand from another city, or a local, small e-commerce brand via Instagram. I think it serves as a vehicle that can really connect you to brands visually that aren't so much in the press like bigger brands that people tend to default to. So, I would definitely say it has influenced the way that I shop. As for my personal style inspiration overall, I tend to get more inspiration offline.

I'm personally not too keen on skimming through the app to recreate looks or duplicate anything that I see. I am a huge advocate for individuality and I'd never want social media to impact that. I'd say on any given day, I'm more likely to see a stranger on the train or sidewalk and be more influenced than someone on my popular page. I think if you live in a stimulating and inspiring place, you really don't need Instagram for influence so much. It's in the streets. 

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

It's definitely an ongoing learning experience, for me at least. But I think one of the biggest things I advocate for is mentorship and healthy relationships. They make all the difference and I plan on nurturing each of mine this year. 

I always write down what I want to accomplish–big or small–so that it stays at the top of my mind. I’m a huge advocate of having a game plan and making changes when I’d like to see an aspect of my life improve. 
— Alyssa

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

I definitely underdress when I'm dealing with something. But generally, I feel like I never "overdress" unless I'm at a super important function like a wedding, so I'm really not sure. 

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

That I'm not feminine or that I don't have a serious job. I think that is so dated and wack. I have never subscribed to the idea that a woman needs to be fully made up and in a dress and heels to be feminine. 

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

Definitely. I'm always just super comfortable and parred down. I like to move around and not feel restricted by what I'm wearing and that's really my only style guideline. There isn't too much thought when I get dressed and I actually like it that way. 

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

My job is definitely my primary avenue in which I express myself. Maybe not primary–because I really advocate for balance. But I love what I do, and I love being able to advocate for my ideas. I express myself through my work every day, just under the guise of brands, I guess. I also have been painting since I was little, and am buckling down on that as of late. I'm in the process of moving to Los Angeles and I'm putting a studio in my apartment since I'll have a bit more real estate to play around with, and I just plan to dedicate more time to my art. Some other forms of self-expression for me are vintage shopping and interior design. My home is my sanctuary and truly a reflection of my style. Most of my clothes literally match my apartment. 

How do you DREAM IN HD? 

One of the ways in which I DREAM IN HD is I always write down what I want to accomplish–big or small–so that it stays at the top of my mind. I'm a huge advocate of having a game plan and making changes when I'd like to see an aspect of my life improve. 

Follow Alyssa on Instagram @alyssaneilson

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By: Maricia Josephs, Founder and EIC of DREAM IN HD | Photography: Andre Gray