Why We Can't Get Enough Of Tracee Ellis Ross' Supreme Style
As the daughter of style icon Diana Ross, it follows that Tracee Ellis Ross would also have a flair for fashion. (Her mom is Lucky's "My Mom the Style Icon" subject this month). Although she's considered Hollywood royalty and is an actress in her own right with an eight-year run on Girlfriends, Ross is refreshingly down-to-earth.
An avid blogger, her self-titled website traceeellisross.com explores all things stylish, while also promoting a blunt honesty about the fashion world and a natural approach to beauty. "I believe our bodies are sacred and wise and beautiful," she says. While her passion for fashion is obvious and perhaps even genetic, her blog goes deeper than just clothing, as Ross uses her own body inesecurities as inspiration for posts on body image in Hollywood—in one piece, A Culture Confused by Fake Boobs, she discusss criticisms she has encountered because her natural breasts are not as perky as implants. "Fake breasts seem to be the norm nowadays, a new aesthetic that has lead to some confusion—it’s as if people have forgotten that breasts don’t naturally protrude from your neck," she says. Ross manages to compel readers not to cave in to the pressure to be perfect, while also offering lighter health and beauty tips, from her personal recipes to a love letter she composed to M.A.C.'s Ruby Woo lipstick.
Given the striking visuals on her blog, it's no shock Tracee is also an expert pinner on Pinterest. Her vivid boards run the gamut from old photos of her mother in full '80s regalia, to cocktails, nail art, and even an homage to Kate Moss. Here, Ross discusses the inspiration for her website, her love of vintage duds, and why it shouldn't be a crime to wear an outfit more than once.
Lucky: Growing up what do you remember of your mom’s style? Did you think of her as super stylish?
Tracee Ellis Ross: I did. It didn’t grasp the magnitude of my mother’s style influence until I was much older. My joy and appreciation and longing for stealing my mother’s clothes was really about a personal connection between her taste and mine. There’s a picture of me as a little girl, naked, holding my favorite stuffed animal Tweety Bird and walking in my mom’s high heels on her shag carpet. I just had sort of a connection to that and my mother from a very young age. It’s only blossomed.
I can tell from your Pinterest board, there’s a lot of good stuff on there.
I’m always fascinated when I look back through these old pictures. Obviously it’s always fun to look back at your mother at a young age, it’s always an interesting adventure. I don’t have to search through boxes in my home, I get to look on the internet, because my mom’s life has been chronicled. You can tell not only by looking at the board of her, but by looking other places, like even on my website, how her style has sort of influenced the way I operate in my life.
Obviously, you have a strong style influence in your life. Did you ever feel like you weren’t into style, or is it a part of your DNA?
I don’t know if it part of my DNA. My sisters love style but not like me; it’s something different. From a young age I really connected. I found a lot of my confidence, I found a lot of myself and my expression through my style. I think that’s one of the reasons why my mother’s style influenced me. With my website, one of the things that has been really fun for me is having the chance to unpack a lot of that. You know, unpack what it is that sort of makes my style tick, and makes my life tick.
What made you want to launch the website?
It came from social media. I was very hesitant about social media. I come from a very public family and my privacy is very important to me. But I started slowly tweeting and Instagramming. My social following not only started to grow, I was like, “Woah! I’m not even on TV right now, what’s going on?” I started to notice people were not interested in my work, they were interested in my life, and my way of being. What products do I use in my hair? What shoes are those? All of those things. So I decided to create a deeper connection and share myself in a larger way.
Are you doing this just for fun, or are you going to take over the world? Is this the next Goop?
Isn’t the intention of everything to take over the world? My hope is that we get to connect in a larger way. If people are enjoying it and getting something out of it, I’m happy. It’s fun to feel like you have your own magazine or network. It’s all me right now, and we are trying to expand it.
Do you do all the pins, too? There are so many and they are all so good.
Nobody does that stuff for me. The Pinterest thing is fascinating to me. I have magazines from 1983, because a currency that I trade with in my life is images. I have boxes of magazines. I create inspiration boards regularly, and that’s what you see on my website. With Pinterest you don’t have to tear sheets out of a magazine. From cooking to home, this is all stuff I always did anyway. On Sunday I would have a stack of magazines and create inspiration boards. Now I sit on Pinterest for an hour.
The nice thing about your website is that it’s not just shopping, there’s a lot of inspiration, and charity elements. Was that important to you to weave that in?
I don’t know that I did that consciously. One of the things that is most important to me is authenticity. The site is about me, and my life is not all about shopping. I look back sometimes and I will realize there are weeks at a time when I don’t post pictures, it’s all posts. Right now I am writing about Patti Smith’s Just Kids. Books become companions. I get to talk about why the book touched me. It’s not just about what to go buy. We did a holiday gift guide, and I was looking at some other guides and I was like, “Who can buy this stuff? It’s insane.” We made a list of a lot of the gifts that I buy. There’s this $8 sangria in a beautiful bottle that is a great gift. It’s about creating a community and a connection based on what we all can do.
That being said, where do you shop? Do you shop high and low?
I shop low and high, I am a big vintage girl. I dress out of my closet, and I love vintage mostly because you’re not going to see it on anyone else. I will find amazing dresses for nothing and bring them to my fabulous seamstress and we make them work on my body. I went to an Essence Oscar lunch in a dress that I’ve worn three times. It’s such a great dress, I’m going to wear it again, so what?
It's oppressive that celebrities can't wear something more than once.
If I can break down that standard, I will do it. Because it’s sort of messes with the old school idea of spending money on a beautiful piece that you’re going to wear over and over again. Isn’t that the whole point? I’m a normal person. Thank God my mom saved everything. When I was in college my mom once tried to clean out her closet and I was like, “Nothing leaves your closet until I see it. Who cares if you wear it again? This should be in a museum.”
In terms of your website, what inspires you?
Honestly, I think I’m influenced more by magazines. I have always been fascinated by them. I worked at Mirabella and at New York Magazine as a fashion editor. It was fabulous. I really feel like the things that influence me most are not other websites, but the things that inspire me are books and art and magazines and nature and really fascinating interesting people. I am obsessed with people. There are so many people who have influenced my style. Someone just got me the Carine Roitfeld Irreverence coffee table book. I think every image I had already pulled out. Style is not just about your clothing, it’s about the way you do things.