We probably don’t need to tell you there’s something wildly compelling about Zendaya: the actress and businesswoman—(yes, she’s a woman now, at the ripe young age of 20)—is an articulate, intelligent celebrity who keeps her head down and focuses on herself, which makes her an excellent role model for girls, boys and pretty much everyone. Sure, she probably has a killer PR team (and an A-List stylist in Law Roach), and of course, it helps that she’s gorgeous and has talent in spades, but I think Zendaya’s true appeal comes from the fact that the girl knows who she is and where she comes from—her style and presentation is never fussy or pretentious, and she makes everything she does seem effortless because she seems to truly love herself. There’s no better style star to take tips from, honestly; so here are some of her street style hits and what they can teach us about our planning our own outfits for the rest of the summer.
Here’s the thing about mixing casuals with formalwear—it’s completely chic as long as you’re going for attitude and personality above looking either fully casual or fully formal. If your pieces are in classic colours and fits, a quick statement piece that you identify with (like the faux-mariachi florals on the blazer above) can tie the outfit together without making it look like you’re trying to be someone you’re not, because it turns the ensemble from a mix of influences into something that you’ve just influenced. And the white sneakers just make the whole thing look unbelievably chic, clean and cool.
Alternatively, if you want to pull from different sources but still want to keep the look supremely clean, make sure you only mix and match pieces that are well-tailored—which is not another term for “tight” or “extra-fitted.” Cropped jeans and pumps can give you legs for days as long as the crop hits your legs at the right point (a couple of inches above the ankle). Meanwhile, a crisp blouse or shirt in a soft blue or white with a collar and cuffs for a more dignified finish (side note: classic shirts make a great base to plan your wardrobe around because they look great with everything). As long as the bodice and shoulders of your blouse are sized right, even a tucked out or oversized shirt or ripped jeans don’t look out of place, but rather add the right touch of “artfully undone.”
Street style has no rules, which means that if you’re feeling like wearing a full ensemble in one colour like tangerine, you should go for it—as long as your skin looks good and you feel comfortable, you’re working it. The magic here is not in Zendaya’s (admittedly flawless) face or the way her shoes coordinate with her tracksuit (but those sneakers, tho!): the best part of the entire look is that Zendaya committed to it fully, and looks totally comfortable doing so.
If there was ever in any doubt, camo and denim are the PB&J of evergreen street style. Of course, this snap from the DC Women’s March is not about Zendaya’s style or It Factor as much as it is about going to war over the rights that you deserve, but the point is illustrated nonetheless: the classics are the classics for a reason, and when there’s a bigger battle at hand, you don’t have the time to fuss with designer clothes. Nonetheless, this is a pretty on-point outfit if you’re part of the resistance.
Never shy away from a jumpsuit, for it is one of the few things that can give you an entire look in one swoop. Too many people try to wear shoes or necklaces that “complete” the jumpsuit, but the thing is that the outfit is already complete, girl—all you have to do is find pieces that can play supporting roles (such as these minimal, cool-ass kicks), and complement your intentions for the day without competing for attention.
Personally, I’d have these pants hemmed just a bit higher so we could see the shoes our girl Z is working with, but this ensemble demonstrates that a simple signature colour can make your entire look. Many stylists and fashionistas are gifted with the ability to coordinate colours effortlessly, but that’s not always the point—such a bold purple might seem a little lost by itself, but I can guarantee you that if the top had even a hint of fuchsia or canary yellow, it would draw attention away from the fact that Zendaya’s silhouette here is divine and, even better, supremely uncomplicated. Note to self: invest in a pair of wide leg pants immediately in order to replicate Z’s legs for days.
This outfit would probably look good even on a mannequin—the shirt is lovely, the skirt is playful, what’s not to like?—but too often ensembles like these read, “I’m going to work” instead of “this is an expression of my fashion sense.” Clean outfits like this one need to be anchored onto your personality by something distinctly you: in Zendaya’s case, that would be her no-nonsense braided hairdo and choice of a Kate Moss-esque strappy ’90s heel. The point is not to break the monotony of the skirt-shirt combo or to reinvent the wheel. The point is to recognize that a crisp white and a fitted waist don’t have to be monotonous if everything around it is visually interesting without being overworked. A bit of rock n’ roll edge via the low-key metallic flash of the skirt doesn’t hurt either.
We’ve already established that camo and denim work well together, but here, sister Z is giving us a masterclass on how the combo can sizzle instead of just looking presentable. When working a combo full of classics like army greens and dark navy, choose understated accessories like a darker leather shoe if you really want to push it further. The contrast between the pragmatism of denim and the opulence of well-made leather (or anything similar, like suede or even a cotton scarf) is one of the ways you can highlight your particular style sensibilities: not everything has to cost a bomb, but if you’re smart about picking pieces that create a story through the clash of textures, you can at least count on looking bomb.