Gentille Ntakarutimana, a Lexington Fox

What are you thinking about you get dressed in the morning?

The weather. Because that affects my mood. And how I’m feeling emotionally at the moment. Certain colors feel make me feel happy. Weather, mood, and practicality–what I’ll be doing that day. If it’s going to be a long day I have to think about shoes.

Where do you start your outfit? For ex. Shoes first or shirt, etc. 

I start with color. That’s why I’m obsessed with fall because the colors of fall are my favorite. I start with a color that caught my eye in my closet and from there I build it up. Today, it was burgundy. My favorite color is mustard.

Are you aiming to say anything when you put together an outfit?

Yes, this is me and this what I like to wear. And also to say that I’m not just simple. Simple is boring–doing nothing is boring. Yes, I do take the time to put something together. And it doesn’t have to be a dramatic outfit. But it is still saying that I tried this morning. It’s saying that because I tried this morning, I have to try with everything else.

What’s your go-to styling trick?

Go for whatever makes you confident. Don’t think about anything else. Don’t question what people will think. I wear heels when I’m about to take an exam because it makes me feel confident.

What’s your go-to outfit?

Booties. Mostly Black. And either a skirt or high-waisted shorts with a crop-top. With a blazer.

What’s an outfit that never works?

Colors. I have to be careful. There are certain colors I can’t wear because it would clash with my skintone. It washes me out more than brightens me. Bellbottom pants make me look shorter, so I’m not a fan of them. Or bellbottom leggings– I’ve noticed a lot of people are wearing them.

What are you wearing when you feel most yourself? Why?

I tend to wear an African head wrap and a burgundy or a deep orange top and high waisted shorts. I feel confident in that because the hair wrap reminds me of where I’m from. I usually put an African print in my hair and it let’s everyone know this is where I’m from. High-waisted shorts make my legs look longer– confident. The mustard color reminds me of Africa– dusty dark orange.

When do you recall coming into your own personal style?

It took a long time. It was a struggle. Not going to lie, it started like last year in college. It’s been a long process of coming from a girl who just came from Africa and didn’t understand how American style worked, so I just wore black. Black and tshirts. Then I went to a Catholic high school and just wore uniforms. I came into my own style when I had my own job and had my own money and could buy what I wanted. I went to the mall more and realized all the options I had. I could take a look from a celebrity and do what I could to pull off a similar look and color concept to what they were wearing.

How did you experiment with style in earlier years?

Fifth grade. I remember I was wearing a jean skirt–don’t ever do this— with jean pants and a top. I don’t know why I thought this was okay. It was right after I had seen Britney Spears wear a jean skirt pantsuit kind of thing. My mother and my sister questioned my choices in outfit. I learned from it. I know what to pair with jeans now.

Do you dress to reflect your mood or to change your mood?

Reflect my mood. When I get dressed, I’m getting dressed because I’m feeling a certain type of way. And I’m going out there to express this is how I’m feeling. I can’t say that many outfits have changed my mood.

Is there anything that holds you back from achieving the style you want?

Money.

Have you ever gotten bored with your closet? How do you get out of a style rut?

I get bored with my closet every day. Spend your money wisely, and go for something can transition into the next outfit. I just got this vest. I liked it because of the color, it transitions well to fall– but I also can wear it with pants, a leather skirt, shorts. If you can envision it transitioning to several other outfits, it’s a good purchase.

What are three places on the internet do you consult for fashion inspiration?

Instagram is the biggest place. Gabifresh. She’s a thick model. I also follow friends who are obsessed with fashion, as well. Lupita Nyong’o. I love how the colors splash on her skin– and she’s very cute. Beyonce. I’m going to her concert on Sunday. She wears the weirdest outfits all the time that work so well for her.

What are three places not on the internet do you find inspiration for fashion?

Art museums. I love art! There’s so much fashion inspiration at an art museum. I used to go to the Chicago Art Museum when I lived there, and sometimes you see a painting and it totally blows your mind because it’s beautiful. You can create something out of it. Nature is another perfect place to get inspiration. That’s why I get so inspired by fall and spring. You see these colors interact with each other that you never think would normally interact. People. People make mistakes with their outfit and that’s the greatest way to learn what doesn’t work and does work. A lot of ladies nowadays are wearing colorful gym shoes with their regular outfits and that hurts me. I know what kind of gym shoes you can wear your outfit.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve done in the last week?

I went to MASOCon at NKU with four of my friends. I’m in an African Student Association as an event coordinator. MASOCon is a convention for all Africans, or anyone interested in African topics to get together. We had a three day weekend where we talked about fashion, culture appropriation, everything. It was great because meeting because living in Lexington, I don’t get to meet very many Africans. Meeting 300 people from all over Africa, some of them speak the same language as you– and all of us in our African clothing– it is so exciting. African fashion is amazing. I was obsessed to see how the girls were doing their hair. I’m Burundian so my fashion relates to a Nigerian girl’s fashion, which relates to Ethiopian girls fashion. We had a fashion show.

There’s going to be a Afropalooza in Ohio coming up and it’s going to be awesome. There’s a huge African population in this area. We’re mostly scattered between Lexington, Louisville and Ohio. I have a group of friends that get together and go to anything African related in the area. It’s so much fun. It’s a great place to get African fashion inspiration.

What’s the best place to eat in Lexington?

Mimi’s Southern Cooking. It’s a small place with homemade southern food. With huge portions for so cheap and I think it’s so good.

Where’s the best place to shop in Lexington?

Fig Leaf is a cute boutique. Country Club Prep. I went through a preppy phase and it’s good for that.

Who in Lexington inspires you?

One of my best friends Corinne. She’s extremely intelligent and she’s so casual about it. She’s going to achieve so much in life.

I met Gentille for ice cream at Graeter’s close the UK’s campus. She is a double major in psychology and sociology at the University of Kentucky. She plans to go into law after graduation. She moved from the Burundi to the Chicago at age 8, and later to Lexington to be close to Lexington’s growing African community.

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