We've rounded up four ladies from ESSENCE Fest with eye-catching styles to share their round-the-clock cool festival looks and the story behind their style predigree. Take a cue from these ladies on how to pull off easy summer dressing.
It's hard to look past Nöne's amazing smile and dimples, but we have to admit her artful faux-wrap romper instantly piqued our fashion interest. "My style is super easy," explains Nöne. While she favors a more sophisticated look, she doesn't shy away from funky accessories to embolden her looks and show off her personality. "If all fails, I'm all about the romper, especially in this heat. A romper is perfect when just want to get up and go." The performer and freelance producer teamed her no-fail blooming romper with comfortable black studded thong sandals, a black bracelet and a large grey hobo handbag. "At the Essence Festival it's all about keeping it cute and classy." The last time Nöne attended the festival back in 2007, her style choices were worlds away from her outfit selections this year. "I would put on a pair of cut off shorts, a tank and call it a day." Her current style DNA may be more mature and feminine, still it's hard to imagine her swoon-worthy smile not elevating even the simplest of ensembles.
If you know anything about New Orleans summers, you know that the weather can be brutally hot and sticky and not too kind to looking flawless and stylish. When Nöne got dressed for day two of the Essence Festival, she first and foremost focused on staying cool and comfortable. "I woke up this morning and knew that I had to go with something easy," says Nöne. The working mom, singer and television producer is no stranger to shopping for sensible pieces that she can easily integrate into her busy life. "That is why I love one-pieces. You don't have time to think about what goes with what. I just want to put something on and feel good." She decided on a flirty printed summer dress with skinny straps and a short hem for a 24-hour chic and most importantly fuss-free look for a day of working behind the scenes at the festival as a producer. The empire waist dress is a new purchase she made in preparation for her festival looks. "I absolutely love it!" Nöne was drawn to the colorful dress for its pop of color. She perfectly juxtaposed her boho dress with a very cool and modern pair of rimless sunglasses she laughingly points out she stole from her friend. "I love things that are just a subtle detail to them."
"This is the last day so I wanted to put all the stops today," says Nöne. She dialed up the chic quotient with a navy and white loose-fit jumpersuit with a plunging neckline. "I packed my suitcase with rompers, dresses and jumpsuits for easy dressing because it takes me no time to get dressed in the morning." She dressed up her one-piece with khaki canvas sandals with a wooden high heel to add some oomph to an otherwise casual piece. When she couldn't find her earrings Nöne flexed her D.I.Y. skills used some nail art jewels instead. "I love reusing and repurposing things." In addition to her unique earrings, Nöne accessorized her look with a gold necklace and a leather cuff. "The leather cuff takes me back to my tomboy days."
New Orleans native Tassion reveals that she is still in the midst of discovering her personal style and isn't "big into fashion." Although when we ran into the 18-year-old outside the Convention Center, it was obvious from her effortless look that Tassion's style evolution is taking shape very nicely.
"I am very versatile, and I think my free-spiritedness reflects my personality," points out Tassion. For her day one Festival look, she opted for a pared-down of-the-moment white crop top paired with a pair of printed, easy pants, navy smoking slippers, and she layered her look with an oversized denim shirt. "I love these pants because they are cool and comfortable. The heat is also why I wore a crop top," she says before adding that her new belly button piercing also inspired her choice of top. Tassion kept her accessories to a minimum with a silver watch, studded earrings and a pair of dark rectangle sunnies for a flattering finish.
In Tassion's quest to build a wardrobe that fits her evolving personal style, she is thinking outside-the-box when picking her daily outfits for the Festival. On day two, Tassion continues to take some fashion risks, this time she's exploring bright hues and prints. "I'm into bright colors now and it's something new for me. I’m having fun with it," reveals Tassion, who usually tends to gravitate towards neutrals. Here she makes a colorful statement with a cropped flowy asymmetrical cut tank in soft orange which she teamed with a turquoise and black Aztec print shorts. The result is a thoroughly laid-back look that is the height of summer cool. To temper her bold outfit she turned to her first love, neutral brown with a pair of easy-to-wear leather gladiators. "I'm obsessed with brown!" Her round retro-infused sunglasses add a heavy dose of cool factor to her look. "These glasses were an inspiration from Solange. I've seen her wear these type of frames a lot. I love the shape."
On the final day of the Fest, Tassion wanted to show off her feminine flair with a maxi jersey dress. "I thought I would wear something a little more dressed up than shorts" says Tassion. The dress was given to her by her cousin. "She couldn't fit into it, so she blessed me with it. In my family when people can't fit things, they give it to me." Black may not be a traditional summer color but she makes a great case for wearing this dark hue in the warm weather. She adds a strategic pop of color to her look with a fiery red lip. "When I wear black, it's my natural instinct to wear red lipstick." A cropped denim jacket layered over her dress completes her pared-down look. "I'm excited about continuing to play around with my fashion choices.
"I'm trendy, classy and chic," says Chloe, who is very confident in what she likes and what best fits her slim frame. "I just landed, and I ran to the hotel to throw something on." The genius of Chloe's impossibly cool look is how put together it comes across. She wore a red body-hugging frock and injected some retro flair with embellished gladiator sandals and a fringe bag to make a bold seventies statement. "My mom said my entire wardrobe looks like what she used to wear back in the day." Chloe often reaches for pieces that are timeless, similar to her major style crush Tracee Ellis Ross. "I love how she shops in her closet and isn't worried about wearing the same thing twice."
Putting together looks that are both chic and comfortable enough to brave the New Orleans' heat for the entire Festival weekend can be a trying feat for some but for a planner like Chloe the key to pulling-it-off is organization and a tightly editing your choices. "Before I go somewhere I always put together outfits way beforehand," say Chloe. "I use pic stitch to put my outfits together so I can see how everything looks together." On day two, Chloe feminizes the summer staple, the denim cutoff, by partnering it with a smart cream vest for a power pairing. "These cut off shorts are very short and can look ratchet. By wearing with the vest, I think it still keeps it looking classy." These specific pair of cut offs are her favorite and she says she wears them at least once a week. "What I love about them is that they were once jeans so they are vintage. I have not been able to find another pair like this." She opted for a cadre of newly purchased distinguished extras, gold rings, elephant tusk bangle, to inject some polish into her laid-back ensemble. No doubt the star accessories are her new towering three strap sandals. "What I wear is how I express myself, so I take it seriously. The way you dress and present yourself says a lot about who you." What does she think this look says about Chloe? "It says I'm popping! No, I'm just kidding. I think it says that I'm a fun girl."
Debra lets her silhouettes do all the talking with her anything-but-basic ensemble. The illustrator cleverly combines a sleeveless crop top with a pair of a bold orange hue menswear inspired Bermuda shorts with soft pleating detail. "I love the length of these shorts! With a crop top, I kinda want my shorts to be longer." There are times when she wishes she could embrace a riot of color and print like Solange ("I love her mix of prints and patterns.") but until Debra is willing to take a style risk, Debra is happiest in solid colors and basics. "I like to leave the experimenting to my art," says Debra, who was going for a comfy look that would keep her cool during the day at the festival. There was a time when Debra's look was more nautical preppy than streamlined minimalist. "My clothes are getting more structured today because my life is much more structured."
"I felt like I was showing a little too much skin yesterday," says Debra about the sleeveless crop top and Bermuda shorts ensemble she wore to kick off the Festival. Debra chose to focus on color for day two in an emerald flowy maxi dress with an angular neckline invoking a minimalist chic spirit. "I feel great in this dress and I really like how easy it is to wear." Debra put an unexpected sporty twist to her look by pairing her dress with the cool girl shoe of-the-moment for summer 2015, the white sneaker. "White sneakers just look great with everything. It reminds me of being a kid. It's like being forever young." She punctuated her look with carefully chosen gilded accessories, a thin gold necklace and a ring and bracelet combo, that work for every occasion. "Every piece of jewelry I own my family and friends have given to me. They know my taste and know I don't like anything flashy."
Not only is Debra at the Festival for the music, food and parties, the New York based illustrator's captivating water color drawing of three little girls with natural hair was featured by McDonald's on the fast food giant's bag at the festival. This amazing opportunity for Debra had her altering the way she's approaching her style. "I'm meeting a lot people here and I wanted to take my look to the next. I’m usually in T-shirts, jeans and Converse," says Debra. "On day three, Debra reached for another white crop top. ”I'm a big fan of crop tops and this one hits me right where I want it to. It's hard to find the right one. You can't have it too short and too tight is just terrible." She usually doesn't go for prints but she fell in love with the flower print on her pencil skirt. "I love pencil skirts. I think they play well to my figure. As I am getting older, I'm trying to figure out how to dress my body." True to form the accessories are subtle. A pair of thin gold earrings frames her face and her thin gold necklace with a bird pendant adorns her neck. While she says her weekend looks have been a success, she wishes she brought more flowy dresses for her first Essence Music Festival experience. "I'll make sure to bring some with me next year!"