At The Players’ Tribune, we know it’s not just what you wear on the field, but what you wear off of it. That’s why we’ve created Threads Report, a series where we ask our contributors to look inside their closets, suitcases, lockers and whatever else — and share some items they’ve had in heavy rotation.
Here with the latest Threads Report is Los Angeles Sparks forward (and jeggings advocate) Nneka Ogwumike.
About two years ago, I really started to get into fashion. Fashion is about feel and intuition — there’s an art to it, for sure. But at the same time, I’m a studier. I’m a thinker. And so I had to put my own personal spin on Fashion 101. I started studying different blogs.
And then I started checking out — and later shopping on — certain websites, especially those that cater to tall women. There are quite a few out there that most people don’t know about.
One of my go-to places is ASOS. They sell a lot of different clothes from other vendors, but then they also have their own ASOS line. And they have a great tall section. Long Tall Sally has a great shoe section, called Barefoot Tess. Alloy is awesome — they have 38-inch inseam pants, which is insane. And then Nordstrom Rack always has a good selection of items in my size.
Fashion has been a learning experience in general, but especially when it comes to shopping as a tall woman. One lesson I’ve learned is that any short dress you wear is going to look shorter than it needs to be. Always. I’ve also learned that maxi-type dresses or skirts look beautiful on tall women. You can never go wrong with anything floor length.
And then maybe the most important lesson I’ve learned is that looking beautiful doesn’t have to be about compromise. For example, some tall women will shy away from heels … but, personally, I feel that you can’t go wrong with them. They obviously accentuate your height — but to me, that’s the point. When tall women wear heels, it instills a confidence. And pants are the same way: a lot of times, tall women feel compelled to compromise in the store, and to just accept that the pants they want will be capris. But I say no — go find pants that are long enough. They exist. I like when my fashion choices can express that I’m not rejecting my height. I’m owning it.
Style Book app
Just as big as the blog world for me has been the app world. If there’s a fashion app, I have it. My favorite is probably this virtual closet app that I use, called Style Book. What I love about Style Book is that it isn’t just about clothes. It’s about the process of clothes — of putting different items together and making them work for you.
Style Book is basically an index of the items in my closet. To load your clothes into your Style Book, you have to either, 1) Take a picture of the item from your closet, or 2) Find a picture of it online. It’s kind of hard work but once you get them in there, it’s worth it. (And, honestly, even that “hard” part is pretty fun.)
Style Book lets me coordinate outfits in a way that works — no more rifling through drawers and making a mess, or forgetting That One Thing that would have been perfect to wear. And for someone who travels a lot for work, it’s invaluable; I can make little travel suitcases, or even a capsule closet that I want to pack. It’s really cool.
How could I forget the most important e-fashion staple of all: hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to be a part of various fashion communities, and to identify new ones. It’s just a nice way to share in a common interest. Some of my favorites are #TallGirlTuesday and #FashionFriday — when I’m posting something on one of those days, I’ll always tag them.
Stud earrings are an item that I try my best to have on, at some point, every day. I have the type of schedule where I’m always moving, always on the go — and usually it’s from one basketball-related event to the next. Having my studs in helps me to maintain a certain sense of self. Even if it’s only between practice and game time — it just kind of makes me feel a little cuter, a little less sports-only, when I’m doing my thing. It’s my touch of bling.
American Apparel Jeggings
Haters to the left — I cannot live without my jeggings. I love jeggings for a lot of reasons, but here’s the fundamental one: they fit me. My entire family is very narrow-hipped, so jeans almost never work out for us. On top of that, I have long legs, so leggings are a great, easy option. And that’s really it. Jeggings are leggings in the way that leggings work for me — and jeans in the way that jeans otherwise wouldn’t. They’re the best of both worlds. They just … work.
The second reason I love jeggings is a little sillier: they remind me of my dad. Growing up, my dad would make fun of this infomercial that always came on TV. I mean, it was always, always on. And the infomercial — maybe you’ve seen it — was advertising this pajama-jean combo thing. They were pajamas … but they looked like jeans. And whenever it would come on, we would always laugh at how funny it was. My dad would call them “pajama jeans” but I would call them “jeggings.” So, in a way, I was onto jeggings before I even knew they existed. It was meant to be.
Black Forever 21 T-shirt dress
Comfortable and chic. We have to wear business-casual after games, and the black T-shirt dress is probably my go-to postgame outfit. I just love how wearable it is, how adaptable, across all types of trends. I’ll throw my dress on, and then pretty much any shoe I could think of, to go with it. I know it’s going to be its own, cute look. Sneakers? Cute. Sandals? Cute. Platform heels? Cute. Boots? Not cute. Just kidding — boots would look cute, too. You really can’t go wrong. It’s fail-proof.
Michael Kors watch
I’m not sure people even look at their watches to tell time anymore. What I like most about wearing my watch is that it can really upgrade an outfit. It provides this “regal-ness.” I think with any look, when you put on a watch, it just pulls it all together. This watch, my dad got for me. So, in addition to being a fashion accessory, it’s also a keepsake.
As far as accessory coordination goes, I’m pretty flexible. But I do have one rule: If I’m wearing gold, I have to wear gold all around. Some people like to mix it up, but I have a hard time doing that. It’s like, if you’re going to go for it, go for it. A woman has to have principles.
You read that right. Birkenstocks. Birks are amazing.
Initially, yes, I hated them. I thought that they were horribly outdated and extremely unfashionable. (You might be thinking that, right now, as you read this.) But trends are cyclical. And I’ll hold strong on the opinion that Birks can be quite fashionable in 2015, if they’re worn correctly.
That last part, of course, is the key. I think a lot of people try to force it. You can’t go crazy and wear, like, a pencil skirt and some Birkenstocks. That wouldn’t work out too well.
But if you just let your Birks, you know, be themselves, do their thing, you’d be surprised at how versatile they can be. For example, I don’t think they’ve ever looked bad with destroyed jeans, or loose jeans. If you’re rocking something monochromatic, Birkenstocks can work really well. And then there’s the whole hipster vibe — if that’s what you’re going for, Birkenstocks can help you get there.
The clincher, though, is the comfort factor. Birkenstocks are so comfortable it should be illegal. And with Birks, they’re designed to mold to your feet, so the more you wear them, the more comfortable they become. Pretty soon, they’re like an old friend. They just know your feet.
Steve Madden platform heels
I feel like I would be breaking some sort of woman’s code if I didn’t have these on here. That’s how essential they feel. Mine are rather straightforward: one strap across the toes and then one strap across the ankles. And that’s really it. But that’s also why they’re so great.
My mom and my sister say I’m crazy, because they think platform heels look hard to walk in. But I actually think they’re pretty easy. And even if they weren’t, it would be worth it — that’s how cute they look when you have them on.
Nike Sky Hi’s
I know I probably rub people the wrong way when I call Sky Hi’s “sneaker heels,” but that’s the only way I could describe them. I think Nike was really innovative and trendy in making these. For me they were love at first sight.
Sky Hi’s resemble, I guess you could say, Air Force Ones — but they’re much more slender. And then rather than being an actual sneaker, the Sky Hi has an inch-and-a-half heel in the back. So it looks almost like a sneaker-wedge hybrid. One thing I like that Nike does is they make it a priority to texturize their shoes in an original way. So, for the Sky Hi, a part of them is a little bit fuzzy — it’s a small flourish, but in fashion it’s often the little things that make a difference.
There are about 20 pairs in my closet now. Some favorites, if you’re curious: I have a gray-and-lime-green pair that really resemble the Air Force — have the strap on the ankle and the whole deal. I have a tan pair with kind of a yellow heel. I have some in all gold, which look like someone literally spray-painted metallic gold onto my shoe. And then my absolute favorites are these army-green ones that have an almost military type of aesthetic.
And you already know I’m mixing and matching my Sky Hi’s with all of my outfits. Like I said — love at first sight. It’s just a cool, expressive shoe. Each pair is its own mood.
Black Zara V-neck
The black V-neck is one of the first staples I added to my closet when I started researching and getting into style and fashion. Before that, I used to be the type of person who would go into a store and be, like, “Oh my gosh. I’ve got this skirt but I don’t have it in these three colors.” Yeah — you know the type. The friend of yours that finds one thing they like … and then needs the whole pattern of colors. It’s kind of a college phase, I guess. But once you start realizing that you can only wear each color once or twice without someone recognizing it, you figure out that “all color everything” isn’t a practical approach. And you start taking it back to basics.
And that’s what I did. It’s really Lesson No. 1, I think, when it comes to fashion: How to dress up basic items of clothing. And the black V-neck is the best kind of “basic” possible — the kind you can turn into “classic.” It’s just universally fabulous. I can wear and accessorize my black V with anything. Anything. Call it the Nneka Challenge: If someone gave me that to wear for a whole week, as my only foundation piece, I would be able to wear it seven different ways. #NnekaChallenge — let’s get this going. Take it and see.