Tameka Raymond has become a recognizable force in the fashion industry, having earned her stripes by styling for the likes of superstars including Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill, Janelle Monae and of course, her former husband, R&B crooner Usher Raymond. Now this Bay Area native is on a mission to teach everyday women to leave behind common fashion faux pas (white bras are a major no-no ladies) and embrace a more polished and savvy sense of style. On her new Style Theory tour, Ms. Raymond serves up some serious fashion and beauty lessons with a side of Oakland attitude; encouraging women to stop following trends and take a no holds-barred approach to stylish living.
Tell us about your background; what drew you to fashion and lifestyling?
Growing up in Oakland my aunt Sadie was my inspiration; she was just so fashionable. She merchandized all of her looks in garment bags, so she could get up one day and say ‘I want to go to the beach’ and go to her closet and pull out a garment bag that already had everything she needed for the beach totally styled put together; it was genius. I would say single handedly, she is the reason that I am in fashion. I worked in her store from the time that I was eight years old and only made around five dollars a day and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, because that is the reason I am here.
What is your process when you style a celebrity and how do you go about shaping and influencing their actual style?
It really depends on who they are. I have to do my research on them. For example, if they’re a musician, then I like to listen to their music and get an idea of what [kind of style] they are going for and what kind of image they want to portray. I would give a rocker or someone who is looking to be edgy a much different approach than and R&B singer or someone who is trying to smooth. Styling is really about what they are trying to project and I combine my personal tastes with what they want to portray for themselves.
What are the styling tips and tricks that you have to keep in mind for celebrity clientele, verus the tricks you would use for “every day” woman?
Unanimously, I tell people not to follow trends; instead, be trend-setting if you can. And wear things that make you feel good and what makes you feel comfortable, otherwise it will be very obvious that the item or the outfit is wearing you. You have to be sure not to wear something that is so over powering that you don’t feel like yourself because then your personality can’t really pull it off.
What are three trends you wish would disappear?
[She laughs] Bad lace front wigs! Because when you are wearing one you look like you’re in the witness protection program or trying to impersonate someone. Any also the bandage and body con dresses- they are dated at this point and I’m over it.
What are your styling tips for shorter women?
It really depends on their body type and if they are thicker or more petite, but I like a long, full-leg pant as a good choice if a woman wants to elongate [her shape]. Definitely not bell-bottoms or cropped pants, but a full-leg, long pant that has a nice break and is touching mid-heel to the floor.
What about style tips for taller women?
I’m tall and I love blazers and jeans – I always think that works as a classic look that transcends all seasons. You probably want to stay away from crop tops because sometimes those can actually make you look longer; I think those look better on shorter women.
What 5 beauty products do you always keep with you?
Coconut oil! I use it as a moisturizer when I get out of the shower and I slather it on myself before I towel off, then I wipe the excess off and it’s so moisturizing. Also, I always keep a bold lipstick on me; lately it has been Flat Out Fabulous by M.A.C. or I will wear one of Kat Von D’s lipsticks; seriously, her lipsticks are on it! I am also obsessed with the Eos lip balms and I think they are absolutely amazing. And I use Anastasia Beverly Hills’ products on my eyebrows. I use the Brow Wiz when I am on the go, I keep it in my purse so if I have to do a touch up on a plane or something, I always have it on me. When I am at home and I have more time, I use the [Dipbrow] Pomade.
Can you give us a few ways to instantly spruce up your look?
I am all about transitioning a daytime look to an evening look and honestly, accessories and a higher heel can transition a look instantly. For makeup, maybe smoke out your eyes and bump up your lips a bit with a brighter lip color.
What are your favorite brands for shoes, handbags and beauty?
I absolutely love Gianvito Rossi’s shoes. For handbags, I love Reed Krackoff and I Saint Laurent. In terms of makeup, I wear Chantecaille foundation and for mascara I like a lot of cheaper brands; I really don’t think you have to go for the name brands all the time so I will wear L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes. For nail polish, I love Butter London. In the Spring and Summer I usually do a white or a cream nail because it is so versatile and transitions from day to night so easily. In Winter I go for a black nail polish.
If a woman wants to revamp her wardrobe a bit and she can only buy three things, what should she buy?
I would make sure that she has a good black pant in her closet. That is such a staple because you can wear them on an interview or on a date, it’s so versatile. It should be the perfect length, fit your bum right and be super flattering. I would say the same goes for a good black blazer, because that can be worn with shorts or with jeans to a social event or with those black pants to make a sharp suit. And then for me, it’s always a good pair of jeans. I wear skinnies a lot but today I am wearing boyfriend jeans and I love them, I really do, they are my ‘go-to’ jeans.
For more or Tameka’s tips and for more information on her Style Theory tour, visit www.stylewhim.com.