Featuring Imani randolph

For work, model and CUUP muse Imani Randolph leaves the styling to the clients. But when it comes to her own personal wardrobe, the beauty is calling the shots and cultivating a look that champions younger designers and pushes back on old values.

You seem to always champion smaller, younger brands. What about emerging designers appeals to you the most?

I think I find their uncompromising vision to be most appealing. Young brands are just trying to make a name for themselves and thus more experimental and liberated. Their designs are not (yet) swayed by the concerns of meeting budgets and securing wholesale partners.

How has dressing up changed for you over this past year? Is it still an occasion for you, a mood elevator?

It’s absolutely still a mood elevator. After working from home in sweats for days on end, having (or finding) an excuse to put together, a look has become even more of a treat. Overall, I’d say dressing up has changed as I’ve decided to be more thoughtful while putting together my outfits. I like to make every detail count (i.e., layering the ideal combination of necklaces or selecting the perfect accent sock) because the opportunity to make these choices has become so rare.

How did you style your first look?

This streamlined co-ord with loafers felt very Audrey Hepburn-classic, but I added a little twist with geek-chic white socks.

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What is one element of your personal style that is too resilient for quarantine to subdue?

I’d say it’s my sensualness/sexiness. Since I don’t always find the reason or have the energy to dress up during this pandemic, I often default to dressing down in underwear that feels special. I’ve posted at least a dozen scantily clad photos in the last year (many of which featuring CUUP, of course) — and I’m not sorry about it!  

As a model, you’re constantly told what to wear. How do you make getting dressed personal and special for you?

Getting dressed is personal and special because I’m the only judge that matters. Things like a lightly wrinkled dress shirt or my bra showing through a shirt would be an issue on set. But for me personally, it just keeps things honest and interesting.

How did you style your second look?

As someone who shops a lot and is very active on social media, I try to make sure that all the pieces I love get their due moment. I’ve been rocking this Wales Bonner zip-up for a few months now (by the way, purchasing this piece felt very full circle considering I wrote about Grace Wales Bonner winning the LVMH prize during my first writing internship at The FADER in 2016). Still, I kept feeling like I was styling it wrong. Once I wore it with jeans and another time with a vintage tan suede skirt, but neither time did the look feel complete. Once I got my Emily Dawn Long hat, I knew that was the piece that I was missing.

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What are some rules around dressing and style that you had to do away with?

I’ve tried to dismiss the concept of “flattering” from my understanding of style. Larger women have constantly been sold the idea that clothing should hide parts of ourselves and that a good outfit is gauged by how much smaller you can make yourself appear. That’s bullshit. Releasing myself from the fear of people knowing the truths about my body has allowed me to ascend to higher levels of self-assuredness and develop a taste that is surely my own.

What would you like your legacy to be – in fashion and the world at large?

I’d like to be known as someone who was unapologetically herself regarding style, body image, and opinions - and inspired others to empower themselves in those regards.

How did you style your third look?

This look was inspired by summer. I’m always in search of an outfit that can get through the entire day. The crisp, flowy cotton is effortless and allows you to breathe (but also to show some skin depending on how you button the shirt), and the sneakers provide the cool factor. I suppose the only challenging part of this outfit is keeping it clean.

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