Women are flaunting their bodies. The “almost naked” trend has taken over the red carpet, and crop tops and booty shorts are now considered every day casual. American fashion has transformed remarkably faster than our mindset surrounding women’s clothing and sexuality, creating a divisive and judgmental culture within the female community. The traditional “cover it up and be ladylike” model is challenged by a modern take on female sexuality, which does not shame women for wearing what they want (even if that’s nothing at all).
For example, when Ayesha Curry, professional chef and half of the country’s favorite basketball couple, released a series of tweets on keeping “the good stuff covered up,” she ignited a debate between traditional and modern ideals of empowered femininity. Reading through the arguments for and against Curry’s statements left me wondering: Can a woman be sexy and classy? Does sexy and classy have to be mutually exclusive?
As an empowered woman and a feminist, I am conscious of how the bodies of black women have been exploited. Although I don’t want to play into misogynistic ideals, I’m sexy and in my prime damnit, and I want to embrace my sexuality, flaunt my body. What is the line between flaunting your body and objectifying it?
There is one person that has mastered being equally sexy and powerful: Beyoncé. The superstar is one of the sexiest women alive and also one of the most respected. She mesmerizes audiences with her curves, dances in glittering bodysuits, swoons over Jay-Z, and yet affirms her title as the Queen Bey. Beyoncé can be barely clothed, and will still communicate a high level of sophistication. One man holds the secret to her fierce style: Fashion Director and Stylist Ty Hunter.
Hunter is the creative genius behind the wardrobe of the sexy Queen, among others. Since the mid-1990s, he has built an astonishing career by using his styling expertise to create awe-inspiring and empowering looks for his clients. The Texas native is the one of the most sought out stylists in the world, owner of brand “With Passion,” and the creator of the Ty Lite. Yet, he believes that being humble is just as important as being fly. I caught up with him after his keynote at Baltimore’s Glam Tech, and learned the secret to looking sexy no matter what you’re wearing.
Alanah Joseph: What is the creative process for dressing a sexy, empowered woman?
Ty Hunter: It’s important to get to know the client, and learn about her insecurities. I don’t stay away from insecurities, but instead try to get my client to a place where they feel comfortable with them. If you tell me that you don’t like your knees, my whole goal is to make you fall in love with your knees. It’s only when a woman feels confident and comfortable that she can express sex appeal. A lot of my job is mental.
The process depends on whether it’s a tour, red carpet, or an event. I’m about what my client feels, their vision. I try to get in their head, and bring their vision to life. I meet the designers. If we have time, I have them make sketches or show me what they have. I go back to my client for feedback, and make revisions with the designer. Then, we have fittings to make sure that the garment fits the vision.
It’s important to feel beautiful internally first. You have to love yourself. It’s not clothes. Fashion doesn’t make a person. You weren’t born with an outfit on. Once you get to that place, you can wear anything. -Ty Hunter
AJ: You work with a lot of top designers and up-and-coming brands. How do you find designers that match your client’s power and sex appeal?
TH: I’ve found and helped a lot of designers through social media. Some times fans tag me in photos. I’ll meet the designer, and if the quality is good, I’ll pull from them. When I’m walking down the street and I see something cute in a window, I’m going to check it out. I’ve found a lot of young designers that way, as well. That’s the thing about Beyoncé. She’s not just about high end. She’s okay with trying new things. It doesn’t matter if it’s high end or low end; it just has to look hot.
AJ: What is the secret to creating a look that is both classy and sexy?
TH: It’s not the clothes. It’s how to carry yourself. I think a woman can wear a tank top and jeans and be sexy. It’s how you feel internally. I can put something risqué on Beyoncé, Kelly, or Michelle, and it still looks classy. Then, I can put the same thing on someone else, and it looks tasteless. Your confidence makes the clothes read a certain way. If you’re doubting yourself or feeling self-conscious, others will doubt you, too. For example, if you take away the clothes, and you look at nude pictures, some are beautiful pieces of art and some just look raunchy. A woman can look powerful and beautiful and be naked.
I went to the full-figure fashion week in New York. These women had so much confidence and shut the runway down. There was no comparison between my experience there and a regular fashion show. It goes to show how much confidence matters. When you have that look that says “I don’t care what you think about me. I know what I think about me,” life is so much better. The goal is to get to a place where you know who you are. You have to be comfortable in your skin. When you love yourself, you can stand securely by yourself. Otherwise, you become needy and feel like you need validation from your relationships. Anything outside of you should be a bonus, not your body of work.
Anything outside of you should be a bonus, not your body of work. -Ty Hunter
AJ: What styling advice do you give to women that want to feel sexy and beautiful, but cannot find the right garments?
TH: Get to a place where you feel beautiful and sexy. You have to love yourself. It’s not clothes. Fashion doesn’t make a person. You weren’t born with an outfit on. It’s important to feel beautiful internally first. Once you get to that place, you can wear anything. You can just throw something on, and people will say “You look so beautiful,” because your confidence radiates from the inside out. It’s not the fashion; it’s how you feel about yourself.
AJ: Women spend so much time, energy, and money shopping for the garments that make them feel and look good. How can a woman find clothes that are empowering and sexy?
TH: The clothes won’t empower a woman. But, clothes can tell a story that empowers a woman. For example, if a woman buys a dress two sizes too small and works out consistently to fit in it, when she puts it on, she will feel empowered. Or, clothes can be associated with a beautiful memory, like a loved one that passed away. If a woman puts on a beautiful dress that belonged to her grandmother that passed away, wearing that garment is going to give her an empowering experience. She’ll wear it with pride. The clothes have to take you somewhere you’re trying to go. They have to transport you to a positive place, and positivity will radiate out of you. If you set aside a reason for a garment to make you feel empowered, then you will, but a garment on its own can’t give you strength or make you beautiful.
AJ: You recently released the Ty Lite, an iPhone case with built-in lighting. It has been quite the sensation for our selfie-loving generation. What was the inspiration for the Ty Lite?
TH: My goal is to shine my light and leave my mark on the world. I want to make people feel good and motivate people.
Lighting is so important. The whole point of the Ty Lite is to take away the usage of filters and apps. If you have good lighting, you won’t have to use a filter. You won’t have to use to apps that make you look like a flawless cartoon person. You can just look like you. You’re already flawless. I wanted to create a product that allows your natural beauty to glow no matter environment that you’re in.