No Sweatpants In Sight: This R29 Editor Is Making Up For “The Lost Year” With Bold ‘Fits 

the optimisitc dresserthe optimisitc dresser

Live Life Loud
Created In Partnership with Macy's
Our lives have been in a state of flux — and so has our sense of style. In partnership with Macy’s, we’ve tapped R29 editors to shed light on how their personal styles have evolved in the last year, aligning them with their own specific fashion identity that offers a glimpse into who they are and a reflection of the times we’re living in. Read more about the partnership and the other fashion identities here
While many sought comfort in the last year by blanketing themselves in fluffy sweats, others, like R29 Unbothered's head of social, Laurise McMillian, found solace in manifesting a post-pandemic wardrobe. As The Optimistic Dresser, Laurise has spent her time at home in Maryland moodboarding her 2021 aesthetic, mapping out big outfits, and anticipating the occasions in which she’d wear them. It's been a period of transformation and discovery: She's loc’d her hair, experimented with looks, and honed her personal style — the result of which is a glorious amalgamation of bold fashion choices and artisanal pieces by local designers of color she supports, because, as she puts it, “I’m looking forward, honey.” Ahead, read all about her approach to anticipatory dressing. 
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My pre-pandemic style could be described as… “Prairie-chic — I loved floral dresses with boots or sneakers. I used to wear my hair in really long braids, and my makeup was always kind of natural.”
But when the pandemic hit… “I spent a lot of time reflecting on my likes and dislikes, things that make me feel like me. I had the time to experiment, too — I loc'd my hair last summer during quarantine, and it was the first time without my booty-length box braids in a while. My mom did them, and even though I wasn't looking forward to short, natural hair, I fell in love with it. When I spent a few months at my mom's in Maryland, my little sister and I would go to the beauty supply store, and I’d come back with wire, shells, studs — all kinds of things that now inspire brighter, bolder fashion choices.”
My personal style evolved… “From growth or maybe boredom. Or perhaps I’ve come into myself, but my style choices are much more elevated. But elevated doesn’t mean quieter. I’m into brighter pigments and patterns with bright swirls of color and geometric shapes. I’m a creative, and it’s reflected in my style, which is colorful, opinionated, artistic, and fun (I actually do my makeup and nails in the same shades of pinks, reds, and purples I use on my personal Instagram graphics).”
What I learned: “I've become a more thoughtful shopper as I get older. I'm more educated about product quality and ethics. Instead of my old band tees and a floral maxi skirt, I'm stepping it up a notch with sustainable, artisan pieces from designers I admire.”
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I’m The Optimistic Dresser because… “I'm looking forward, honey. I'm not letting this panini stop me from copping the latest two-piece co-ord or tulle blouse because I'm stuck inside. I think getting dressed and putting on jewelry and a bright eye motivates me for the day (and if I put on eye makeup, I can’t sneak in any naps). I love anything that feels editorial — if you see it in the magazines, I want to be wearing it down the street. I don’t care how eccentric it looks, because I'm confident I can pull it off. The confidence didn’t come overnight, and there were times when I felt that that level of ‘fashion’ was unattainable for a girl from the ‘burbs of Maryland with 4C hair, cystic acne, and a tummy. That’s not how I think anymore — my style is a slap in the face to anyone who says girls like me can't be ‘fashion girls.’”
Laurise McMillian
My essentials include: “Turtlenecks, especially thin ones I can layer with (bonus if there’s a pattern).”
The most surprising thing I discovered: “I found the challenge of dressing for quarantine somewhat fun. On Zoom, you can really only serve looks from the chest up, and y'know, with hair and jewelry (eye-catching bracelets, rings, and this gold choker chain that’s always in frame). If it's a piece I love, best believe I'll find a way to make it feel more ‘everyday’ by dressing it down with a bucket hat or chunky plastic rings. The biggest change: I dreadlocked my hair, which is something I always wanted to do, but never did. And gurl I did it.”
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My favorite pandemic purchase was… “A purse from CISE that says ‘Protect Black Women.’”
My 2021 personal style will… “Include more accessories! I'm loving the concept of these ‘bobbies.’”
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