Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Mirror, Mirror: Rip it! Rip it good!

It-girls now rock tough tomboy chic, pulling on tight torn jeans instead of tight glam dresses, mixing high-fashion labels with DIY adornment.

Gallery: Mirror, Mirror: Rip it! Rip it good!

Today's It-girl pairs ripped, skintight acid-wash jeans with shrunken, cleavage-baring T-shirts. She rocks layers of gold necklaces, paints her lips glossy, fire-engine red, and her fingernails are long and loud.

But don't think this is just an ode to all things old-school. She's taken it way beyond her mother's vintage B-girl look: Her trucker hat is studded. Her Velcro sneakers are vintage Air Jordans, shiny Maison Martin Margielas, or über-high-fashion Isabel Marants.

And instead of rocking an asymmetrical cut, today's hip-hop fashionista prefers a 30-inch weave fashioned from top-quality Remy hair. It's all very Rihanna, Teyana Taylor, and Jessie J.

"This is how all the girls are dressing now," said Saniyyah Dodson, a stylist for Philly rapper Meek Mill. "It's very sexy. But it's much more casual. We like to call it tomboy chic."

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    Perhaps it's the Kim Kardashian effect: Her recent switch from curve-hugging minis to cutoff shorts, baseball hats, and throwback sneakers is proof she's been influenced by boyfriend Kanye West. On some occasions they've been spotted wearing his-and-her getups.

    Even Beyoncé, of Freakum Dress fame, is wearing lower heels and ripped jeans. This month at the Parkway's Made in America concert, she was spotted dressed down in a Brooklyn T-shirt with layers of gold chains sparkling, lips a pouty red.

    So it makes sense that today's urban chica has morphed into a woman who mixes high-end labels with a bit of do-it-yourself shine.

    "But that doesn't mean she won't break out her heels and her skinny dress if she has to," said Carmena Ayo- Davies, a publicist for many of the Eagles wives and girlfriends. "We do it all the time; we are just switching it up now."

    "The look is more laid- back," agreed Sadé Gary, owner of Philly-based online boutique denim line BoogaSuga, which features vintage jeans that she expertly rips. She sells about 15 to 20 pairs a week for about $60 apiece.

    "Guys want women to have swag, but not be so dressed up. They want a woman that's sexy, but easygoing. More laid-back. Everything comes full circle."

    Doesn't it though?

    Today's distressed jeans are just like the ones Salt-N-Pepa wore in the 1988 "Shake Your Thang" video. That's when B-girls - the female counterpart to what was then an all-male hip-hop world - took their fashion cues from LL Cool J's "Around the Way Girl," which was all about a laid-back, no-fuss, no-muss fashion look.

    "Girls were tomboy chic then because those were their only options," explained Elena Romero, author of Free Stylin': How Hip Hop Changed the Fashion Industry. "We were wearing baggy clothes because brands like Cross Colours hadn't discovered the women's market yet."

    Eventually rap-based fashion labels like Russell Simmons' Phat Pharm would expand to include Kimora Lee Simmons' Baby Phat. Artists like Foxy Brown and Lil' Kim would start glamming up hip-hop. Versace, anyone?

    By the late 1990s the clothes were tighter. The hair was longer, and faker, and it became harder to distinguish lady MCs or R&B singers from the scantily clad backup video dancers.

    Fast-forward 15 years, and hip-hop, now experiencing middle age, has seen its women through ultra-baggy Adidas suits to blingy Juicy Couture sweats - and jeweled thong sandals.

    Hip-hop is also embracing skateboarders, who come in all nationalities and states of grunge.

    So after about a decade or so of women being steeped in sexiness, they found a way to blend dressed-down roots with today's flashiness, and women of all races, cultures, and nationalities are gravitating toward the look.

    "I just love being extra," said Shakeya Miles, who hot- glues gems on trucker hats she named Junk Hats for her company, called Eye Roc Art. She sells the hats for about $100 a piece. "Everything is so pretty now, we just want to express ourselves and be comfortable."

     


    Mirror, Mirror: TOMBOY CHIC

    This millennial look is all about accessorizing. Take your basic old-school B-girl elements and add a little glam for this rebirth of hip-hop slick.

    Junk Hat. This trucker hat gets a dose of bling, courtesy of Shakeya Miles' Eye Roc Art. Hats range from $100 to $150 and are available at It's So U, 5501 Beaumont St., 215-768-0464.

    Denim. The shirt, $30, and jeans, $60, come from Sadé Gary's BoogaSuga, available at www.boogasuga.bigcartel.com.

    Tank: Try a white tank top or any graphic, girly, fitted T-shirt.

    Sneakers. High-tops are the sneakers of choice. These are 77 Retro Air Jordans, but Isabel Marants or shiny

    Maison Martin Margielas are acceptable, too. Jewelry. Gold chains are back. But this gold, faux or real, isn't the thick ropes popularized in the 1980s. These pieces come from South Philadelphia's Pnk Elephant, 504 South St.


    Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @ewellingtonphl.

    Elizabeth Wellington Fashion Columnist
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