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‘Dressed in Dreams’ Uncovers the Black Women Who Invented Modern Streetwear

Black Women in Arts

‘Dressed in Dreams’ Uncovers the Black Women Who Invented Modern Streetwear

“The book is for all of the everyday Black girls who made magic out of a dollar store T-shirt.”

By Taylor Hosking via

There are a thousand ways to explain the importance of baggy jeans in Black culture. You could start with the hip-hop icons who helped popularize the streetwear trend in the media, and continue with the mainstream fashion industry who tried to capitalize off of the look. But for historian and journalist Tanisha C. Ford, the only way to start is with the legacy of Carl Jones, who saw Black kids wearing oversized hand-me-down jeans because they couldn’t afford their own sizes and chose to flip the stigma by giving the style a name and producing it in loud bright colors when he launched Cross Colours in 1989.

In her upcoming book, Dressed In Dreams: A Black Girl’s Love Letter to the Power of Fashion, Ford tells her own coming of age story from Fort Wayne, Indiana to life in New York City by tracing the history of ten fashion trends—like bamboo earrings, leather jackets, and Jheri curls— that each tell a broader story about Black women’s  …

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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What Does It Mean To Be “Black Butterfly Beautiful”

The image of the butterfly has come to define the many expressions of the feminine black consciousness and for a good reason. The butterfly is the perfect articulation of the exquisite beauty of nature. Whether tiny or large, brightly colored or more subdued, the butterfly’s allure is undeniable. Each one displays its own unique patterns and hues, and no one species outshines any other.

Similarly, there is no one ideal image of a black woman -- each is gorgeous in her right. All African-Americans share a glorious history of struggle and perseverance that has funneled into the modern black renaissance. And, like the graceful butterfly, the awakened black woman exemplifies the dazzling beauty of that cultural evolution.

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