We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what's "you"? These are some of the questions we're putting to prominent figures in our column "How I Shop."
It's hard to imagine a superstar Grammy-winning recording artist nearly 20 years into her career still having dreams she's yet to achieve, but Ciara only recently made one a reality: a clothing line.
"It's surreal," she tells me sincerely at the launch event for her contemporary womenswear line, LITA (which stands for 'Love Is the Answer') by Ciara at Nordstrom in Los Angeles. "It's just another reminder of why you don't give up on your dreams. Having a vision is important. I just think about how I was a little girl, and I dreamt of things like this."
Ciara may be a glamour queen on the red carpet, but her debut collection of elevated everyday wardrobe staples is a distillation of her more laid-back off-duty style.
"I was inspired from my own closet, with creating things that I knew I would love," she says. "My hope is that every girl will love it, too. My goal with LITA by Ciara is for it to be like a woman's best friend in fashion — 'I'm going to find everything that I need,' whether it's a good basic or a bit of a fancy [faux] fur coat or the cool sneakers, the combat [boots]."
Along with stylist Mariel Haenn of Rob & Mariel, Ciara spoke knowledgeably and passionately about every piece in the line as models walked up and down a small runway inside the department store. LITA is very much a celebrity clothing line, but it's clear Ciara did more than slap her name on someone else's work: She's invested in this, and has loved clothes for a long time. Below, she talks about style, her obsession with combat boots and the time she blew $7,500 on a pair of sandals.
"I fell in love with fashion right away when I understood what getting dressed up meant, when I was a little girl, watching my grandmother always be incredibly fashionable. She had her own seamstress that would make suits with her. She was really into the detail — it was super high-level — and I was a little obsessed with watching her do that. And then also, my dad, he was in the military; he passed me down his military suit. I just thought he was so cool. I loved also playing in my mom's closet.
"My style is tomboy chic. I'm a tomboy to the core. I definitely love getting dressed up, and I also love finding a way to bring attitude and edge to my looks. Attitude is always important to me, even if I'm wearing a girlier dress, more feminine dress, I still like to bring some edge to it. For example, with the collection, I wore combat boots with the dresses. I just wanted to bring attitude to the line.
"I think even when I'm getting dressed up for red carpet, I always want to find the attitude in it. When a look starts getting really girly or extra, I'm kind of like, 'I don't really want to do that so much,' even if it's a really fancy event. I always want attitude to be there.
"When I'm not on the red carpet, I love things that are comfortable. I love pieces that can also flex in different ways. I love classics. I love pieces that will last for a long time.
"A car was my [first] biggest splurge. I know that when I first started [in music], I loved shoes. I feel like I've had some shoes that would be super expensive. I remember there was one pair of shoes that I got that were $7,500. I think they were Balenciaga — I can't remember the name, but it was a pair of gladiator sandals, and they were $7,500. I don't even have them anymore.
"I love combat boots. I have so many of them, and then these are also the cool LITA combat boots, the tall black ones. It's really shoes [that I buy a lot]. I think shoes really make an outfit. My most recent big purchase might have been some Louis Vuitton sandals, some fluffy ones. I love fluffy shoes.
"I don't want to buy something every day just to buy it, but I do like to have pieces that are timeless. I'm really big on how well you can wear it, how long it can last. I would just think about more so quality versus quantity. I do have moments when I'm shopping and I'm like, 'That's dope, I'm going to get it,' but I'm less of an impulsive and more a strategic shopper. You really want pieces that make a difference in your wardrobe. They become staples.
"I love shopping in Nordstrom. I think Nordstrom has really great range, for the whole family, which is great. It's a one-stop shop in that way. I also love, when I get to go to Europe and shop, stores like Cos —¸ there's a lot of range there too — and finding those cool boutiques, and not necessarily the biggest name brand shops. They have so many cool pieces. I kind of like that experience, too. I love Bottega Veneta. I also love Gucci, Dolce, Prada. I love Peter Dundas. I love Burberry, and I love what Riccardo's doing Burberry as well.
"I wasn't the biggest online shopper, if you would've asked me a few years ago. But now, I've come to really like online shopping, when you know how consistent the brands are going to be. I've had experiences with the brand in the store, so I know that I can trust when I'm clicking online. With LITA by Ciara, DTC is a big part of our business, so I'm a super supporter of online shopping. And that's been really fun to experience and also learn about, that whole world, and understanding how important that space is. That's what a lot of our world is driven by. Tech is really running the world, and it's also created convenience. I've grown to like online shopping."
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