Style Icon: Shani Akilah Robin

Shani1Name:Shani Akilah Robin

Your age: 29 years old.  It gets better each year!

Your location:  Bloomington, Indiana

What do you do, in your own words, and how long have you been doing it?

I am an anti-oppression advocate/activist.  My area of focus 9 to 5 pm and beyond is anti sexual assault/domestic violence work.  I also focus on Queer rights and anti-racism work.  I have been actively organizing for the last decade.

What is your personal fashion philosophy? 

These days my fashion philosophy is wearing whatever I feel the most comfortable in.  When I say “comfort” I am not just referring to physical comfort but also what feels good spiritually and helps me best perform my gender and sexuality in a way that is empowering on a personal level.  I believe in the power of femininity and have consciously chosen to perform a Femme Queer identity.  I believe in the diva stilettos, pencil skirts, and fitted tops.  I think I can be strong and fierce in red lipstick, fish net stockings, and a mini skirt.  This has been a revolution/evolution for me.  There was a day when I felt too vulnerable too “girly” in these things.  Now I love to explore the strength in these things. However, I also think I have the capacity to present very differently.  I will always allow myself access to other possibilities.

Where do you like to shop for clothes? 

In Bloomington I really like some of the smaller boutique vintage shops.  I like AZ Vintage, Cactus Flower, Body Central in the Bloomington Mall, Maurice’s in the Bloomington Mall (They have clothing for all body types! Yay!), and of course Good Will. Oh all the treasures one can find in Good Will. Don’t have me there on a sale day because it WILL be a problem. lol.

Who are your personal style icons and influences?


Channeling Afro Pin Up style!

Oh geese, there are so many.  I personally love afro pin up looks.  I pull from this as well as afro centric/artsy ways of dress and style.  I love pumps and high wasted pants.  I love big bamboo earrings and short dainty dresses.  I also love combat boots and t-shirts.  I have grown so much more comfortable with my body and what I put on it.  It is still a constant evolution and there is still so much more I want to explore. I can’t wait!

What’s one thing you’d NEVER wear? 

I’m not big on floral prints actually.  Anything with flowers I tend to stay away from.  I like bold colors, strong colors, and clean lines.  I don’t know what it is about floral print.  I have seen folks really rock it out…I just can’t get with it.

You are a working professional and a poet. Do you have separate styles for your work and personal/creative life?

I tend to dress more “formal” for work.  I do wear slacks, button downs, and blazers at times.  I also where dresses and boots to work.  When I take the stage to perform my poetry I tend to wear clothes I feel powerful in and that I can move freely in.  I don’t rock pumps, for example.  But I might rock some combat boots and a fly skinny strap dress.  I try and mix it up.  I feel a little more free to push the buck when I am performing.

Fierce femme poet in action

Fierce femme poet in action

If you could live in any era of fashion history when would it be? 

I would have to say probably the 70s.  Loved the big jewelry, the bell bottoms, and the “I’m black and I’m proud” afros.  Yesss honey!

What are your current favorite clothing pieces, accessories, and beauty products? 

I love love LOVE vintage jewelry—particularly vintage earrings.  I think earrings, necklaces, and bracelets can really make an outfit.  I don’t need much for my hair since I rock an afro.  I usually use organix shampoo and conditioning every few weeks on my hair.  Other than that its spritz and go.


Stopping traffic in neon yellow!

If a design house or clothing line approached you wanting you to develop a line with them, who would you want it to be, and what kind of pieces would you create? 

Exhale, this is a really tough question.  My mind is already bouncing up and down, lol.  I know some independent queer women of color doing some great things right now with clothing.  I think I would want to link up with one of them.  I would want to create earrings with different things on them like vagina shaped earrings, afro pick earrings (which already exist), perhaps earrings with different Goddesses on them.  Definitely women centered earrings, jewelry and accessories.  I would want to design dresses with different cuts, bright colors, high wasted pants, pants suits, and skirts…oh yes.

Any general style tips for our readers? 

Be just who you are! That is the most important thing.  If you feel good in what you are wearing don’t let anyone tell you differently—not society, not family or chosen family, not friends, not anyone!  As women our bodies are constantly policed.  We are constantly being told what we “should” and “should not” wear.  I say throw all of that out of the window.  I think style can be reclamation.  You can find empowerment in styling your body and your life in the way you see fit.

Read more Style Icon interviews here!  

Know someone you think should be featured? Email Bianca or Rashaun.


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