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An Interview With Randi Nichole Joan

Randi Nichole Joan refuses to let her style be defined, and in an age of stereotyping and classification, that's something worth admiring. If you look through her blog or Insta, you'll find a cascade of pastel hues, but also tartans, plaids, and darker colors. You could swear that it isn't the same person in all of those gorgeous outfit posts. It's this contrast, this duality that is the only characteristic that could possibly define her. Her style at first glance appears a testament to femininity, but she confesses in an Instagram story that she's never felt entirely female. She doesn't limit herself to a certain creative discipline either, she's a musician as well as a fashionista. She likes living in New York because it reflects the contradiction in her character, containing bustling city and tranquil nature in the span of a few miles. Naturally, I wanted to interview her to learn more about her enigmatic personality, and although her answers offered insight into her life, she still remains as  delightfully puzzling as her Instagram feed.

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1. What work are you most proud of?
I'm still really proud of winning this medal in high school for the national scholastic art and writing contest. Some really cool people won it & went on to do big things. Not that success defines you, but the work I put into creating in order to qualify (for 2 years in a row) showed me what I could do when I pushed myself.

2. How would you describe your style?
Cinematic? Dolly? It's hard to say! It's definitely a mix & match of many different styles & things I'm inspired by. It's always changing, like me!`I mix old & new, masculine & feminine, different decades & color palettes, it's like being a different character in a different movie every time.

3. What's your favorite outfit?
I'd have to be super specific because it depends on the occasion, but anything that's nice to wear in moderately warm weather! I love to dress up but ideally whatever is the most comfortable to move around in. I love being comfy & lounging around. I'm really digging ankle boots & military inspired stuff right now. Growing up I was afraid of dresses/skirts & felt vulnerable in them but as a teenager they ended up liberating me. I thought the 50s dresses of the past fit my body in a way that made me feel beautiful when I didn't.

4. In what ways do you think fashion extends beyond aesthetics?
Fashion is self-expressive, so fashion is art. And art can change the world. When I was a kid, maybe blame all the barbie dress up games I played, but I started drawing my own collections down to the fabrics used in my sketchbooks. Your body is a temple, so decorate it & love it and honor it & everyone has that right. Taking good care of your skin, makeup, jewelry, tattoos, clothing are just some of those ways to let the world know a bit more about you. We were born with a judging mechanism to protect, categorize & identify. Like being in a tribe. Fashion can help you find people to connect with through that or even just a compliment brings kindness to life. It can make you feel confident as a "second skin." For me, fashion has always been my armor. Like Joan of Arc! But it can also get you by when you need it to, like Marilyn Monroe.

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5. Who do you think is the most creative person alive right now?
I have to admit these days I really only pay close attention to my inner circle. So I'd have to say my best friends who are also my bandmates. Like me, they are in this life to create as much as possible.

6. Would you say that your fashion sense reflects your personality?
In that it's complex, creative, colorful, all over the place & constantly evolving? Yes! But nothing more than that. Like I said before, fashion is also my armor. I'm a pretty reserved person unless you know me very well. And even that doesn't always come across that way. The biggest parts of my personality can't be described through fashion. They are through action & beliefs.

7. What's your favorite part about living in New York? What are your favorite places in the world?
I haven't been able to see much of the world yet, but it's always been the duality. You have what was previously a huge mecca of world culture & black culture, of music, of rich & poor, one of the most famous cities of the modern world. But an houror 2 outside of it, you have this huge state full of so many beautiful sights of nature. So many NYC residents are in this bubble that they consider everything that isn't there upstate and they've never left. I grew up in the Hudson Valley which is full of so much rich American history. You can be in an inner city, the suburbs, and the farming countryside all in the same tri-state area.

8. Where do you get inspiration for your outfits?
Honestly, a big part of it was the fashion blogs in the pre-Instagram days, but definitely books, anime, shows, movies & music. I've always loved escaping through them. Or dressing like the characters or my idols.

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9. Is it hard having an online presence/following? How do you deal with hate? Has it changed you at all?
I don't really consider myself to have much of a following especially next to my friends who are bloggers, but it can be hard if you let certain things get to you. It's nice because it's an outlet to inspire & help lots of people. However some people get caught up in the game of having followers or getting lots of attention. When you have more followers you get more opportunities, and some of these bloggers make a living doing this. But some really do get an ego about themselves & I've had people unfollow me simply because they felt a sense of competition. Yet I've connected with some amazing, inspirational people I consider friends. I've also noticed when you reach a certain point, people place expectations on you & when you deviate from them people start telling you you've let them down. Or even worse, they stop treating you as an actual human being and instead this online persona that must bend to meet their insecurities & perceptions of what you should be. They start sending you hate, calling you names. When I first started my blog, I was called the n-word, ugly & that I should hurt myself repeatedly. I've had male followers that would feel a little too close to me because the internet can create this false sense of a relationship/friendship to the point it made me extremely uncomfortable & on one occasion a girl local to me stalked me & my friends for months. She looked up where my family lived & I had to go to the police. All because she anonymously targeted me for having "white features" & not being a "real black woman." She had this hate-love thing going on & tried to make herself be the victim when she did nothing but victimize me. This whole experience has really only changed me in the regard that I need to really set a bold line between my private life & my "public" life.

10. What's one thing you never leave the house without?
Fashion-wise? Lipstick for sure!

11. What do you look for when shopping for clothes?
I always look for a mix of & unique-ness but it really depends on what I'm shopping for. If I'm looking for something practical or a statement piece, or something trendy, or something that's basic. I sacrifice quality often with trendy things to try it out, but if I feel like it'll be timeless I try to find one that's durable. I don't like to have too many of the same kind of things, I like diversity but I also flow in & out of themes. I like to have tiny sub-wardrobes!

12. Has your style undergone any changes over the years?
I've been into style from the moment I was able to trade in my catholic school uniform and pick out my clothes. It's kind of hard to name all the types of styles I've gone through since then & I've been inspired by. I had a scene phase. I had a classic Ralph Lauren preppy phase. A Victorian-inspired phase. My style changes like the weather!

You can take a look at Randi's blog here, and check out her Insta, @randinicholejoan.


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