Style

A Week of Outfits: April Kae

Week of Outfits: April Kae

April Kae, a self-described “silly person,” has a playful style that reflects her energetic spirit. By day, she works for an non-profit that helps fight educational inequality, and at night she sings and writes songs (her band Imanigold just released its debut single). Here, the multi-hyphenated Harlem resident shows us five outfits she wore in a week…

Week of Outfits: April Kae

Sweater: via Poshmark, similar. Skirt: American Apparel, similar. Socks: Smartwool. Shoes: Dr. Martens.

“I’ve played music my whole life. As a teen, I played bass in a blues band and toured Texas in an all-girl rock group. My current project, Imanigold, is quirky pop, but I love all music and different genres, so I hope it comes out like a hodgepodge. I like wearing skirts and Docs to perform. This outfit is inspired by the ’90s cartoon Daria — I’m influenced by her love of skirts and big ol’ boots. Daria is smart yet insecure; she’s wonderfully flawed in that she’s always calling out everyone else, but has issues with introspection. The show encourages me to practice what I preach.”

Week of Outfits: April Kae

Dress: Brandy Melville via Poshmark. Shirt: vintage, similar. Shoes: Doc Martens.

“I dress like a little kid sometimes. I like stripes and flowers and having my legs out in the winter. I had to grow up quickly — I moved out when I was 16 — so playfulness and childishness weren’t always available to me. Now that I have a stable place to live, a good education, a steady income and great insurance, I’ve got it covered and can be a kid. As a black woman with a curvy body, I’ve felt restricted with my clothes in other ways, though. Personally, I love wearing little shorts and tops because that’s how I grew up dressing in Austin, where it’s so hot! But in New York, men on the street make inappropriate comments. For a while, I wanted to be invisible and wore all loose things. But I’ve lived in Harlem for two years now, and even though I still get comments, I’ve decided that I will wear what I want up here. Also, there are lots of people around that I know — door guys, people working at the businesses, neighbors — that make me feel familiar and safer.”

Week of Outfits: April Kae

Tunic: thrifted, similar. Pants: bought in Thailand, similar. Shoes: Sperry.

“I wore this outfit to my latest work conference. A hippie vibe is part of me. When I was eight, my mom started taking me to the Quaker church, where we’d do silent worship and speak only if we were moved by our inner light. One of their main tenets is simplicity, which means dressing plainly, avoiding labels, shopping secondhand and buying only what you need. I still love muted vintage prints and am good at getting interesting things without purchasing them. My friends and I constantly trade our clothes, and I’ll even find things on the street. It’s exciting and helps me be more creative.”

Week of Outfits: April Kae

Earrings: from Costa Rica, similar. Bracelets: Bing Bang NYC and Completely Hammered. Watch: vintage, similar.

“I love long dangly earrings — they’re like pieces of art. I also always wear my Texas necklace and layers of bracelets I’ve collected over the years. I love jewelry from Altar, and I find things on Etsy. Right now, I’m coveting this and this.”

Week of Outfits: April Kae

Dress, flannel and backpack: from a friend, similar, similar and similar. Jean jacket: found on street, similar.

“I can’t escape the ’90s vibe! Flannels are nice because you can button them up, unbutton them, wear them around your waist as a belt — I always keep one in my backpack. I also like mixing patterns, and I consider stripes and plaid to be neutrals.”

Week of Outfits: April Kae

Jacket: gifted, similar. Tank: thrifted, similar. Jeans: American Apparel. Shoes: Converse.

“My mom is very curvy and petite, like I am. She taught me that clothes are not made for us, so we have to be innovative. Designers seem to think, ‘Oh, you have a big butt, you must have a big everything else.’ When I was 15, we had to go to the suburbs to the one store that sold bras in our size. Now, I buy mine online at Bare Necessitiesthis is the best T-shirt bra ever.”

Week of Outfits: April Kae

“When I was growing up, low-rise jeans were in but they didn’t cover my butt. When I tried on my first pair of high-waisted jeans, I was like, ‘I have found my home.’ I have four pairs of these, in medium and large — if it’s that time of the month or I’m going out to eat, I wear the large, and if I’m running around I’ll wear the medium. I like to be a little punk rock, so I go for the black ones.”

Thank you so much, April!

P.S. More women’s weeks of outfits, and the best affordable jeans.

(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo. Interview by Megan Cahn.)

  1. She is beautiful, and I LOVE her eclectic taste in style and that most of her clothing appears to be thrifted (big Poshmark fan over here too!). It’s so refreshing to see when often the blogger outfits we see online are just not in reasonable price ranges.

  2. Seraphim says...

    I moved to NYC from SoCal when I was 20, and also experienced the unwanted attention and comments from men when I wore my ‘hot weather’ clothes on the street – once it was so bad that I actually asked a conservative looking, older, male stranger to walk with me so that it looked like I wasn’t alone, which helped quiet the cat calls. I love April’s centered voice and fresh style; I also respect that she found her way back to wearing what was comfortable for her, regardless of the unwanted attention, and that the quiet, perhaps unknowing support of her neighborhood and community helped her feel like she could be herself. It’s nice to be reminded that bravery and heroism can show up in small yet powerful ways, both in ourselves and in those around us.

  3. Anne says...

    As a fellow ATX to NYC transplant, it fills my heart with so much joy to see that you are still wearing your Texas necklace, April! Love, love, love your style!

  4. Kim says...

    Is anyone else cracking up at the fact that she has a larger size pair of jeans just for going out to eat? Hilarious and smart!

  5. Caitlin says...

    Loved this one! Super inspiring

  6. What a stunning lady!

  7. S says...

    Seriously ladies she’s not lying that is the best t shirt bra!!! It’s the everyday bra that i have bought so many times and keep getting over and over again! If you’re skinny with boobs check it out- they’re so good

  8. LivMarie says...

    This was such a wonderful read! I am a curvy, petite woman with a Quaker mother and can relate to the struggle of finding the right fit without spending a fortune. Also- we have much different styles (i tend to be pretty minimalist), but after seeing you rock these outfits I feel inspired to try something new!

  9. Robin says...

    So gorgeous and inspiring! Love love love.

  10. SP says...

    I kind of like that you didn’t ask about her hair, because, as a woman of color, we get asked about our “ethnic” hair all the time. Thank you for continuing to share stories of diverse women! I would love to learn more about her work at her nonprofit, and I can’t wait to check out her music!

  11. Jay says...

    Love her and she’s Texan! She’s so beautiful. I can’t stop saying it.

  12. Anon says...

    First image reminds me of this month’s Seventeen magazine cover so much!!

  13. Anna says...

    I love her energy! She’s STUNNING and that HAIR! – Absolutely beautiful!

  14. Amy H says...

    So confident and carefree! Would have loved more length to the article, she seems like someone you just want to hang out with.

  15. MyHanh says...

    black girl magic (insert starry, heart eyes)

  16. Jean says...

    She’s amazing, and I’m obsessed with her hair. <3

  17. Abesha1 says...

    See how subtle and pervasive it is…. here’s a woman praised for her personal style, much of which (it seems) was informed by a reaction to regular, overt sexual harassment.
    That is so sad.
    Also, her hair is phenomenal, and is so clearly part of her look, you definitely should have asked.

    She’s fabulous, though!

  18. Amy says...

    Great style and OMG, her hair is AMAZING!

  19. Annie says...

    The most amazing hair I have ever seen!

  20. L. says...

    Where do you find these GORGEOUS WOMEN?????

  21. This chick is so stinkin cute! Not many can pull off the 90s look. But she looks (totally ;) awesome.

  22. Laura G. says...

    i love her fun 90s vibe!

  23. Rachel says...

    Wow. Her hair is so amazing. I wish I had hair like that.

  24. Jamie Quiroz says...

    Holy girlcrush! She isgorgeous with incredible style and an infectious inner shine.

  25. Genevieve Regan says...

    Ugh, she is fabulous! Gorgeous spirit and style

  26. Kate says...

    This is the best of this series yet.

  27. she is so beautiful, creative and fun. i love her style so much and wish i had her gorgeous curves and amazing hair. i hate that there are men in this world who make curvy women feel like they can’t wear what they want because they can’t keep their mouths shut. i am also short and petite but have larger breasts and growing up, guys would always make rude comments which made me feel very insecure about them and want to hide them. i love that she has the confidence to wear what she wants now. she inspires me. what a great style post!

  28. Olga says...

    I’m in love with her hair. Beautiful person!

  29. zandie says...

    She’s beautiful and seems like so much fun! Love this one.

  30. Nicole H says...

    April is lovely and inspiring in every way possible. Thank you for featuring and celebrating such interesting and unique women!

  31. Meg says...

    holy beautiful person.

  32. Love. Love. Love her style. So. Cool. She is owning it. Far more interesting to see unique and creative outfits like these, than the run of the mill stuff that is this month’s trendy. Keep it coming COJ team!

  33. B says...

    I second the request for a beauty uniform, please! Such glowy skin and beautiful curly hair.

    • Sam says...

      Hear hear! Beauty uniform, por favor!

  34. Jenn says...

    wellp, ordered two sizes of those jeans lol. the S-M-L-etc sizing is so much less intimidating than numbered sizes! just hope one of them fits :] and yes, her hair is unbelievably magical..inspired me to curl mine today.

  35. Jill says...

    What a gorgeous woman! I love how she found what works for her personality and body shape.

  36. Carrie says...

    Wow, she’s like a work of art! I am especially digging outfit #3 with the pants and the long top..I could never rock it so I love to see it on someone who can.

  37. Bean's Mom says...

    I. LOVE. HER. HAIR!!!!!!!!

    • june2 says...

      Her hair is UNbelievable! So plush and healthy looking! Would be hard to not want to reach out and feel that…lol! I know, I know, just don’t, but gosh – it’s gorgeous!

  38. Katie says...

    She is adorable! I have those exact Smartwool socks (they stay put so well!) and LOVE wearing ass-kicking boots with skirts, too.

  39. she is life – girl crushin hard!

  40. Sarah K says...

    Beautiful, confident, inspiring. Also: why didn’t I keep my Doc Martens boots from college? I think I had two pairs. Darn it, I thought those would never come back in style…

  41. Love, Love, Love! Her confidence is awesome and she is so lovely! Love her style.

  42. Amazing beautiful woman with great style! Eclectic and fun, it is nice too see a woman who has survived and prospered! Exceptional

  43. Jojo says...

    Why didn’t you ask about her hair? She looks so fabulous and many curly girls are dying know what she uses.

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Thanks for the note, Jojo. Our Week of Outfits are usually focused on clothes, but maybe she’d be up to do a Beauty Uniform too!

    • Katie says...

      Yes, pleasure ask her to do a beauty uniform! She is gorgeous.

    • Kirsten says...

      Yes, beauty uniform!!! She has glorious style and I love her confidence and self-assurance.

    • Heather says...

      I second (or fifth or sixth at this point) the request for a Beauty Uniform! I’m the mom of a super curly Texas girl who loves her curls loose and would love to know what April uses to keep hers looking so fab.

  44. asia says...

    Cool style! Very inspirational for us curvy gals.

  45. sarah-mai says...

    I love her!

  46. LJ says...

    She is so beautiful.

  47. Kristie Dahlia Home says...

    I have never seen a personal style post were most of the clothing was not purchased new. What glorious style! Her ease and self-love are so wonderful. LOVE this.

  48. Amber Olney says...

    Such a gorgeous and luminous individual! <3

  49. Kelly says...

    April is beautiful. And, has great style. What I loved about her story is what she said about when she was young. She grew up fast, so now she can dress as she wishes. When I was growing up in the 80’s I felt like I had to be so mature and serious. I have two boys aged 12 and 18 and feel more child like with them than when I was a child. Of course, I’m a great parent to them, but I have totally enjoyed every moment of delight with them.

  50. Thao says...

    I just LOVE her flair and her evident joy – what a beautiful, vibrant style she has. The best thing about your outfit features is that every woman is so distinct and yet so equally inspirational!

  51. She had me at Daria. And Texas. She’s glorious! I love how varied her style is! I tried a capsule wardrobe and HATED it! I’m not the same person every day, so I can’t dress the same every day. I feel like she’s the same!

  52. Tiffany says...

    April, gurl. Your hair, your skin, your glowing!!!

  53. Blythe says...

    That flannel and jean jacket- dress combo made me think of Angela on My So Called Life. I loved it. Thanks, CoJ, for featuring someone whose clothes don’t cost upwards of $500/outfit. I love your super stylish segments, but they are SO out of reach for someone in my shoes. It was nice to see a style I could potentially emulate on my budget!

  54. Her style reminds me of Phoebe from Friends. Doesn’t hurt that she plays guitar too. Please tell me she knows how to play “Smelly Cat”. :)

  55. Trisha says...

    whoa. just whoa. too much gorgeousness going on here! love her!

  56. STUNNING. You are beautiful, April!

  57. Love her style! I’m way too Scandinavian to pull it off myself, but it’s spectacular.

  58. kristalia says...

    While I don’t relate to her style, I’d love to know more about this gorgeous lady’s life! Sounds it’d be very interesting!

  59. Gian says...

    April has a great vibe & absolutely LOVE her style!

  60. Jamie says...

    Fun to find you on this blog post. Looks like life treats you well. Positive thoughts sent your way from Austin. Still writing?

  61. OK I love her style! Also, anyone else think that first outfit is straight out of Liv in Empire Records? That is 100% a good thing by the way – now thinking that could be a perfect Halloween outfit.

    • Quinn says...

      Yes and yes! And now I feel super nostalgic and suspect I’m going to lose a good part of my day to rewatching that classic! I’m secretly very excited that the 90s are back.

    • Sarah K says...

      Yes, absolutely Empire Records!

  62. It’s really inspiring to see someone living out their own style, and doing it with… well, style! Bravo~

    P.S. Love Alter Jewelry!

  63. Kacie says...

    She’s so vibrant and charming in her looks

  64. Kacie says...

    What an inspiring babe.

  65. Karen says...

    Glorious!!!k

  66. Lauren says...

    So beautiful! I’d love to read a beauty uniform post featuring April and her approach.

    • Yes! I was thinking the exact same thing. Beauty uniform please.

    • Fiona says...

      Yes please!

    • Darcy says...

      YES PLEASE!! LOVE HER!

  67. Laura says...

    Best one yet! Thanks CoJ and April!

    • neha says...

      yay! that is exactly what I was thinking… I am in awe that she can imagine herself in such different looks, and then carry it off with aplomb!!

    • Maggie says...

      Yes, totally.

  68. Alyce says...

    April’s hair is magnificent.

  69. Beth says...

    Could you please have her back for a guest post on how she does her amazing hair!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    As a white woman raising a child of color I need to know😁

    • Anna says...

      I’m a white mom raising a child of color too and I was thinking the same thing. Hair post please!!!

    • Tiffany says...

      can’t speak for April, but might I suggest youtube… that’s a good place to start, search “mixed chicks kids”… mixed chicks is a brand btw. good luck!

    • Sandra says...

      My sister is white and her husband is African and she has had good luck using the Mixed Chicks line of products for my 7 yo niece if you haven’t tried that. Before that she literally had strangers on the street telling her she needed to “do something about that hair.”

      I love everything about April’s look…she has such a bold and creative style!

    • Gigi says...

      Agree! Am also wondering what she does in situations such as movie theaters, concerts, etc. (and classrooms for kids) where people behind her need to see

  70. Polly says...

    She is perfection. Her hair is everything. Her style is ‘ok hand’ emoji.

    xo

  71. jeannie says...

    She is gorgeous!

  72. mary says...

    I was just thinking about rewatching some Daria! Listened to “Ride On” 3x in a row, and it takes me there. Girl crushing on April’s everything.

  73. Eva says...

    I wish I had that hair. Gorgeous! I also love her style.

  74. MA says...

    Gosh I love her style. As a fellow curvy petite woman, I can totally relate to the clothes-fitting conundrum. That’s part of the reason why I’ve learned to sew many of my clothes – so they will actually fit me!

  75. Jen says...

    Her style gives me life along with her hair. Her high waisted pants and ones from Thailand are gold! This post made me so happy !!! She’s a lovely person inside and out

  76. Kirsten says...

    Just WOW. Hair goals.
    Loved this whole post, and I love what her non-profit stands for! Badass Lady!

  77. Claire says...

    wow, she is gorgeous, and has such original, creative style. I love her conference outfit, and the dress/flannel/denim jacket combo. I also appreciated reading about who she is as a person, and thought the comments about the regional differences in culture were interesting, and how that impacted her wardrobe choices for a while. And I am simpatico with her on high-waisted jeans (pear shape over here). Thanks for a great profile!

  78. Jenn says...

    I love everything about this. So beautiful and inspiring. The 90’s. The boots. I especially loved that idea of being able to freely express yourself and find joy and playfulness in clothing and jewellery as an adult, when you didn’t get the chance to feel like that as a kid. Truly inspiring.

  79. Colleen says...

    I love her thrifty and creative style, and her music is beautiful! This whole post makes me happy!

  80. Gen says...

    As a long-time thrifter and naked-lady-party (i.e. clothing swap) attendee who feels like a sale-item-at-Loft purchase is a splurge, I high five a post about someone who looks fantastic using an approach to purchasing (or not purchasing!) clothes that is more in line with mine. I get that there are a lot of fashion-forward gals around COJ, and no judgement for the fancy among us, but it’s a personal relief to see an example of someone looking terrific and not spending $$$ to get there. Thanks, April and COJ.

  81. Brittany says...

    I LOVE her look & her band’s sound, too!

  82. This is my favorite! I love that so much is secondhand. I run a thrift shop, so it’s encouraging to see people embrace secondhand goods and make it their own.

  83. Ally says...

    She’s fab! Great post.

    One nitpick: it’s ‘tenets’ not ‘tenants’, I think.

  84. t says...

    That work conference look is stunning! This entire post made me smile. Thank you for brightening our day April and CoJ.

    side note: i first wrote ‘sexy’ instead of ‘stunning’ and then replaced it out of fear that it could be sexual harassment. Any thoughts?

    • Lauren says...

      “aggressive pressure or intimidation” – that’s the definition of harassment from Oxford. Personally I think there’s a lot of over-the-top touchiness around now, which I would appreciate more if it was in the people I know, but it seems like it’s primarily a media thing? I don’t know.

    • I think there’s nothing wrong with celebrating a women’s sexiness. The motive behind your comment was pure and admiring, not in distaste. :-)

    • t says...

      Thanks Tori. I wonder if it would be different if I was writing it in response to a man. Or if a man was posting the same comment.

      Is it all still the same?

    • neha says...

      Hey T, great food for thought! I think I would avoid sexy – it is not that people can’t celebrate their or others sensuality, but that word is dripping in terrible prejudice, belittling, commercial exploitation and even abuse. Words are what we make of them, and at the moment, sexy isn’t very nice. Maybe we will reclaim it, but this close to #metoo I am, personally, a bit raw.

  85. Cara says...

    Her hair is gorgeous!! Her style is so cute and funky and she pulls it off so well!

  86. K Love says...

    Oh, to live in New York and be able to wear whatever you damn well please!! I have always admired/envied New York women and their fashion – and she is the quintessential NY fashionista. April you are beautiful inside and out! And definitely in the right city :)

    • KBM says...

      Barring work dress code requirements, you can wear whatever you damn well please no matter what city you live in. Who cares what other people think!

  87. Anne says...

    just ordered those jeans….. here’s hoping!

    I love this series!

  88. Lily says...

    Beautiful person, inside and out!

  89. Gorgeous! Love her hair, style, and desire to stay young and free. Her music is beautiful, too! Thanks for doing this style piece!

  90. madeleine says...

    I hope this isn’t just annoying but HOT DAMN! Damn, girl. Ugh. I love her. Amazing.

  91. AJ says...

    This is like all the best 90s TV and movie characters rolled into one wardrobe!! It’s not even imitation 90s, it’s proper nostalgia vibes, love it!

  92. Alex says...

    “I consider stripes and plaid to be neutrals.” – love how she lives in color!

  93. Rachel says...

    I had the SAME thought when I first tried high-waisted pants! I can MOVE without showing anything I don’t want want to! If trends every swing back to low-rise, expect me to be in mom jeans til the apocalypse.

  94. Love love love love this!! Love her style and charm. I would wear the kilt in a hot minute.

  95. Mimi says...

    So much fun. So inspiring. Everything about this one made me smile. Thank you April, and Cup of Jo, for sharing :)

  96. Liz says...

    love her! so wise, beautiful, and stylish. and yess! — love all the thrifted and second hand choices! you can have great style without buying into the retail/mass production scam that destroys our planet + exploits workers. She is proof!

  97. Renee says...

    I will be ordering 2 pairs of easy jeans from american apparel. As a mature woman with a petite frame it’s hard to find jeans that aren’t made for 17 year olds. Thanks for the tip April love your style!

  98. Jenny says...

    She looks happy, beautiful, creative, independent, and smart! I love her style and uniqueness.

  99. Amy says...

    I definitely see some Daria in her (I used to love that show!), also her hair is AMAZING!!

  100. Sofia says...

    Well that hair alone makes every outfit. She rocks it!!

  101. Capucine says...

    Ooooh, I just love the energy she’s putting out! I have her same body, and I love that her mom just said ‘clothes aren’t made for us’ because it took me many adult years before I understood that. High rise forever! And the freedom to be immature after safety is accomplished…that touched a nerve of truth. In my singing circle I giggle like an eleven year old, unreasonably happy – and eleven was the last time I was a child, uncoincidentally. She’s got a lot of self awareness! AND: Try the Gap ‘Super High Rise True Skinny’ jean in the denim color (the black fabric is the kind that sucks up lint out of nowhere). They are truly magic for the ‘peanut’ shaped woman I am, comfortable and beautiful and affordable. Keep up the singing and silliness!

  102. Amanda s says...

    Beautiful all aroundbut I just love her hair. Her first skirt made me smile; that’s the plaid of my first school uniform. Years ago… I just turned 40!

    • Katherine says...

      Yes! The skirt was the exact same uniform one I wore in elementary and middle school! She rocks it!

    • Rachel says...

      Same but to the knees in the 80s! :)

    • Kim says...

      My daugther wears that skirt to school now!

  103. Thank you Cup of Jo for featuring more amazing women of color! The diversity does not get missed by me! Even if the persons style is different than my own, it still is so fascinating to read <3

  104. Betsy says...

    That hair!!! Swoon worthy!

  105. sc says...

    Hair & outfits are sooo on point <3 love

  106. becs says...

    I love this one! I’ve been wanting to dress without fear for awhile, expressing who I am and what I like. You’re inspiring me, April!

  107. She is stunning, and I love, love , love her style (even though it’s so different from my own). It takes true confidence to own it how she does. Her single is beautiful too.

  108. Tania Barnes says...

    She is beautiful!

  109. Carly says...

    This post speaks to me on so many levels – the struggle of being petite and curvy is so real. If anyone has any recommendations for brands that actually fit our body type, I’d love to know!

    • Yes! Me too – she put it so well. I’ve had better luck shopping in petite sections, but they can go the opposite way and think you’re small everywhere which….not the case. Tiny hourglasses unite!

  110. Keri says...

    Wow, she is so gorgeous and inspirational – I love her confidence and originality. Also, that hair is what my dreams are made of!