“Suit up and show up:” Tracee Ellis Ross underlines the true power of fashion

Written by Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

“Our action creates our destiny, our joy creates space for our freedom,” says Tracee Ellis Ross.

Tracee Ellis Ross is already known around the world as an actor, singer, TV host, beauty entrepreneur, CEO, and producer. 

Now, the Black-ish star can add ‘bonafide fashion icon’ to her enviable list of titles, as she’s only gone and been named Fashion Icon of 2020 at the E! Peoples Choice Awards.

Taking to the stage in a white Alexander McQueen gown and thigh-high leather boots, she joked: “Tracee, do you take fashion to be your lawfully wedded wife? I do, I do!”

Then, clutching her award to her chest, Ross delivered the sort of two-minute acceptance speech that has everyone on their feet by the end.

“Secondhand clothing helped me understand that style has nothing to do with money,” Ross said, recalling how she would shop in Salvation Army and the Rose Bowl Flea Market when her paycheck wasn’t enough to buy new.

“[Rather], it’s the way you put things together – style is the how, not the what.”

She added: “I spent years playing dress-up in my closet as a way to find some freedom or some power and the more that I discovered who I really was, the more I was able to hone my creative expression through clothing.”

Ross continued: “I wear my insides on the outside, and if featuring Black designers at the American Music Awards helps somehow see the power of Black artistry, or if joining the call to wear black at the Golden Globes led to solidarity with women saying time’s up on sexual harassment, then you heard me loud and clear.

“If fashion is the thing that draws you in, then use it as a tool for transformation.”

After thanking her fans, collaborators, and parents, Ross used the latter half of her speech to call people to action.

“Use fashion as an entrance,” she advised. “Let your clothes be your superhero cape, allowing you to the best you you can be.

“Activate the clothes through your joy and commitment to the world that you want to see. It doesn’t matter if you wear black tie or a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, but suit up and show up, because our action creates our destiny, our joy creates space for our freedom.”

Ross finished: “GA Senate.com, donate, get involved, stay engaged, people – we’ve got work to do.

“Thank you, I am a fashion icon!”

Watch the speech in full below:

Jen Neal, general manager of E! News, Live Events & Lifestyle Digital, made a point of congratulating Ross on her well-deserved win.

“Tracee Ellis Ross’ style is transcendent,” she said in a statement. 

“Her influence in the entertainment and fashion spaces are incomparable.”

We 100% agree, quite frankly. Congratulations again, then, Ross!

Images: Getty

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