DuVernay and Jay-Z team up for empowering music video

Eight minutes was all it took for Jay-Z and director Ava DuVernay to make a huge statement.

In the rapper’s brand-new music video for his song “Family Feud,” Bustle says the creative duo “managed to bring together some of Hollywood’s most impressive women to represent the Founding Mothers” — an all-female version of America’s political decision makers — “and rewrite the Constitution.”

Set in the year 2050, Bustle says a portion of the video imagines a diverse group of women — portrayed by the likes of Rashida Jones, Mindy Kaling, Janet Mock, Niecy Nash, Rosario Dawson, Constance Wu and Brie Larson (among others) — who are holding the reigns of power on deciding issues like gun control and the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery). Serving as the president: a grown-up Blue Ivy, says Bustle, who is played by This is Us star Susan Kelechi Watson. Bustle sums up the power of the Founding Mothers in this way:

“It’s an empowering moment of feminism backed by a genius narrative, as the discussion goes on to summarize some of the ideologies which have been instilled in Blue Ivy as a young child. The segment features Watson explaining to the council that ‘America is a family and the whole family should be free.'”

Overall, the moment creates a powerful statement of female empowerment, women in leadership roles and the ethic of women in general.

Here’s hoping life imitates art and women hold more leadership position in real life, not just in a cool music video.

It’s not goodbye, it’s ‘later, baby’

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my favorite shows of all time is The Mindy Project, which wrapped up its sixth and final season on Tuesday, Nov. 14. While endings are never easy, this one was especially emotional for me. And here’s why…

Dear Mindy Kaling,

You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but I feel like I do. Just like millions of viewers in the U.S. and around the world, I entered the universe of The Mindy Project and instantly fell in love with the quirky, over-the-top Mindy Lahiri and, in turn, became a fan of you. Your humor, your acting, your style, your confidence — I admired everything about you and the show.

So as the final scene of the series finale panned out and I watched as Mindy and Danny grew smaller and smaller in the glow of the television light in the fictional St. Brendan’s Hospital, I found tears streaming down my face. I was crying because it was over, yes, and because it ended with the hope that the duo rekindled their relationship, but also because I recognized something else in that dwindling last moment: I saw how both Mindy and I have grown, changed and evolved together.

I started watching the show on Hulu in my second year of college, which was in every way a tough year for me. From difficult courses to challenging roommate situations to being a generally shy and self-conscious person, my sophomore year began in a haze trying to find in myself the confidence to rise above the the circumstances I faced. I didn’t know what it meant to truly speak up or what it felt like to be a self-assured person, let alone be bold and brazen.

And then I ‘met’ Dr. Mindy Lahiri. For the first time, I saw someone who was completely confident in herself, someone who owned herself at every turn and never let anyone forget just how fabulous she was. Despite her immaturities, flaws and shortcomings, she was someone I wanted to be; she was successful and smart, and she knew her worth and made it known to others.

Watching Mindy Lahiri that year became a nightly ritual, ending my night with bouts of laughter that softened the edges of a rough day. I watched in amazement as she stood up to Danny in “Danny Castellano is My Gynecologist,” rooted for her as she navigated her many relationships, and hoped that she would soon find her happily ever after.

As the seasons went on and Mindy Lahiri’s adventures took her different places, I too embarked on my own journey. As Mindy applied for her fellowship at Stanford, I applied for and got my very first job on campus. When Mindy and Danny came together (and eventually fell apart), I found myself coming together, ditching my past insecurities for a greater sense of self. As Later, Baby began to take off, I was about to set off on my final year of college. When Mindy finally decided to commit herself to Ben and secure the happy ending she thought she wanted, I had my own happy ending when I graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa.

And as Mindy learned that she — along with Danny and her colleagues at Schulman & Associates — all changed for the better by the final season, I noticed that, after all these years watching and rooting for Mindy, I also changed. While I am not perfect, just like Mindy isn’t perfect by the end of season six, I now know who I am, I am at peace with who I was and the mistakes I made, and I know who I want to be going forward.

Now the show is over. Mindy has matured, and so have I. While the future is uncertain for us both, we’ve learned quite a bit from where we started: both a little messy, both in need of some polishing. We both seem to know now that, no matter what may come our way, we have the tools to tackle it head-on. We’ve come a long way.

With no more episodes left, no new adventures and no guessing what happens next, it feels as if I’ve lost a friend — the friend in my head. Mindy has seen me through so many highs and lows, from my surly sophomore year of college to my very first big-girl job in the media industry. But every story has an ending, and while Mindy Lahiri’s is over, mine is just beginning. And no matter what may lie ahead, thanks to Mindy Lahiri, I will always remember that I am a warrior, and my warrior name is “Beyoncé Pad Thai.”

So, to Mindy Kaling, thank you for creating a character that inspired me and countless  others. Thank you for showing us that women can be confident and outspoken, stylish and a straight-up boss. But thank you most of all for your talent, your art and your heart. You’ve commented so beautifully on what it means to be a female professional, friend, parent, partner and woman in the world, and we are all the better for it.

Mindy Lahiri will surely be missed, but she will always be just a click away. So while this ending is bittersweet, it’s not goodbye. It’s ‘later, baby.’

XO,

Nicole

She Leads, You Follow: Oscars After Party Edition

After a night of stunning red carpet looks for the 88th annual Academy Awards, the after parties brought on a host of other high fashion ensembles that may have topped those from the awards.

Trading in her Dior Haute Couture ceremony gown for an Alexander Wang number, Jennifer Lawrence attended the after parties in a custom two-piece gown featuring a bustier top with barbell piercing and a black skirt with the same details stitching together a thigh-high slit, says InStyle. The Joy actress topped off her look with Anita Ko jewelry, an Alexander Wang bucket bag and metallic sandals.

Rachel McAdams headed out for a celebratory night in a light pink Naeem Khan number with head-to-toe beading, according to InStyle. The sexy look came courtesy of a deep V-neckline and a thigh-high slit, in addition to her platform silver heels.

Lady Gaga gave an alternative look, wearing an ultra-chic jumpsuit that was a custom creation by Brandon Maxwell, says ELLE. Featuring a peplum and a demi-skirted bottom, the “Til It Happens to You” singer completed her look with diamond earrings and an old Hollywood glam hairstyle.

Following suit in another custom ensemble was Mindy Kaling, who worked the after-party circuit in a tailor-made Salvador Perez number says ELLE. The quasi-tuxedo style gown featured an asymmetrical satin lapel with beading on the other side of the bodice. The Mindy Project star showed some skin in a deep V-neckline and side slit that grazed the top of her thigh.

Elizabeth Banks attended the after parties in a Ralph & Russo gown with a semi-sheer lace  beaded bodice, from which a dramatic cape flowed from her shoulders to the hemline of the gown, according to ELLE. Banks completed her regal look with a small frame clutch and an upswept hairdo.

Although these ladies are dressed to party the night away after the film industry’s most important celebration, there is one very important thing we can learn from their looks to apply to the way we dress every day:

While fit, V-necklines and embellishments can all combine to create fashionable looks, confidence is the most important thing you can ‘wear’ with any outfit. If you are confident in who you are, you will feel confident in what you’re wearing; this will shine through, allowing beautiful you to be the star of your look while your fashionable outfit will play a supporting role. Looking great on the outside is great, but knowing you’re great on the inside is worth so much more.

 

She Leads, You Follow: CDGA Awards

Although awards season often pays tribute to those artists in film, television and music, an oft-overshadowed group of people behind the scenes was honored this week at the 18th annual Costume Designers Guild Awards in Beverly Hills. And of course, guests in attendance came in high-fashion looks worthy of being seen among dozens of the film and television industry’s top costume designers.

Cate Blanchett attended the Feb. 23 awards in an Atelier Versace number, says ELLEThe winner of the LACOSTE Spotlight Award stunned in her all-black ensemble, which she offset with an oversized bib necklace.

Adding a pop of color to the party was The Mindy Project star Mindy Kaling, who shared on Instagram that she was wearing a custom gown by Salvador Perez, the costume designer for her show and the president of the Costume Designers Guild. She paired her bright pink and crystal-embellished gown with a silver clutch and sparkly jewelry to match.

Attending the event in another all-black look was Kate Beckinsale, who wore a lace paneled gown by Hamel, says ELLE. The star completed her look with a black minaudière and drop earrings.

Although these ladies are dressed to celebrate the people behind the scenes — or should be say, behind the ‘seams’ — who make them look camera-ready, there is one very important thing we should take away from their looks to apply to the way we dress every day:

If you ask any of the costume designers honored at the awards what their biggest style rule is, they will most likely tell you that fit is key. If a garment doesn’t fit, no matter how gorgeous the piece is, it is ruined by a lack of proper fit. Therefore, it is important that we try clothing on before we purchase it to ensure that it fits as best as possible; this means making sure that the shoulder seams hit at the top of the shoulder, that any darts in the chest of a garment hit at your bust, that seaming that the waist falls at your natural waist, that there is no fabric pulling at the hips or thighs and that the hemlines of pants or full-length dresses are not dragging on the floor. If there are certain facets of a garment that don’t fit perfectly, try to see if a tailor can remedy the problem if it’s worth the investment.

Remember: fit is everything, and as our favorite TV stylist and imaginary best friend Stacy London once said, “If you don’t have fit, then you don’t have style.”

 

Take Her Look [For Less] – ‘The Mindy Project’ Edition

Rarely do television shows place as much of an emphasis on their characters’ wardrobe as they do on the show’s script. But The Mindy Project seems to consistently captivate its audience not only with its humorous storylines, but also with its fashionable aesthetic, which comes courtesy of the show’s head costume designer, Salvador Pérez.

Featuring brands from Chanel to Tory Burch and Manolo Blahnik to Vivienne Westwood, it should come as no surprise that Pérez’s high-fashion ensembles for the show have earned him and The Mindy Project a 2015 EMMY nomination for Outstanding Costumes For A Contemporary Series, Limited Series or Movie.

So if you’ve ever lusted after Dr. Mindy Lahiri’s chic outfits, you’re in luck. In anticipation for the comedy’s September 15 premiere on Hulu, we’ve decided to unveil a new Look for Less series, dedicated to the impossibly posh looks from The Mindy Project. Get ready, because these looks — and the low prices of our look-alike finds — will have you saying, “Ex-squeeze me?!”

On August 18, Mindy Kaling, creator and star of The Mindy Project, took to Instagram to show off a look from a forthcoming episode of their new season. Kaling was styled for the small screen in a forest green biker jacket by AllSaints, paired with an orange floral skirt by Miu Miu, a C. Wonder blouse and Manolo Blahnik pumps.

Instagram / @mindykaling

Instagram / @mindykaling

While her whole outfit is the object of our envy, we can’t help but zero in on Kaling’s luxurious leather jacket by AllSaints. Done in a forest green Italian lambskin, this jacket is the definition of perfection. But this perfection comes at price — a $491 price, to be exact. But if you covet this jacket as much as we do, we’ve found two gorgeous jackets to replicate Kaling’s on-screen style for much less. Read on for the results!

Keeping true to the biker style of the AllSaints jacket is the Members Only Pebbled Vegan Leather Jacket from Urban Outfitters. Featuring a similar lapel construction and hardware detail, this olive green jacket will give you the expensive look and feel of the AllSaints piece without paying the high $491 price. For $159, this jacket will be the first step in incorporating Dr. Lahiri’s posh Manhattan style into your own wardrobe.

The Members Only Pebbled Vegan Leather Jacket in Olive, found on UrbanOutfitters.com.

The Members Only Pebbled Vegan Leather Jacket in Olive, found on UrbanOutfitters.com.

To mimic the shoulder details and rich color of the AllSaints jacket, we chose the Sam Edelman Elise Faux Leather Jacket from 6pm. Done in a stunning hunter green, this jacket delivers a rich, deep green perfect for the upcoming fall weather. For only $54.99, this jacket will leave enough room in your budget to afford a printed skirt, a kelly green blouse and pointed-toe pumps to recreate Kaling’s look from head to toe!

The Sam Edelman Elise Faux Leather Jacket in Hunter, found on 6pm.com.

The Sam Edelman Elise Faux Leather Jacket in Hunter, found on 6pm.com.

Although we all, unfortunately, can’t be styled by Salvador Pérez, we can take the looks he styled for The Mindy Project for less, starting with these great jackets from Urban Outfitters and 6pm.

Happy Shopping!

Nicole’s Favorites: Summer Reading Edition

Have you every read a book where, once you’ve finished it, you feel like you’ve just left a conversation with a good friend?

This is exactly how I felt upon completing The Mindy Project star Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). A compilation of essays about her childhood years, her friendships past and present and her rise to stardom (among other things), it felt like when I sat down to read the book, I was also sitting down for a long chat with Kaling.

Reading this funny, honest and relatable text felt as if I had asked Kaling only three questions — ‘What was your childhood like?’ ‘How did you get to your current career status? and ‘Tell me your thoughts on anything you’d like.’ — and what poured forth was the transcript from our conversation. I tried my best to read it as slowly as possible, attempting to savor every word, but her stories kept me wanting more, leaving me no choice but to plow through the text in a few short days. My only solace is that her next book, Why Not Me?, will be released in September.

But after I finally finished the book, it got me thinking. Since it felt like I had just sat down to talk with Kaling for a few days, I started to think of all the people I would love to sit down and talk with — I guess when you’re studying to be a journalist, your idea of a good time is making list of all the people you’d want to interview in your career!

So I decided to sit down and craft a list of all the successful women I look up to that I’d want to interview in my lifetime, which turned out to be a much longer list than I anticipated! It had everyone from chefs like Anne Burrell and Alex Guarnaschelli to journalists like Tamron Hall and Katie Couric. Of course, I can’t forget about the successful guys of the world who have influenced me, so they occupied a separate list, which was topped by people like Tim Gunn, Clinton Kelly and Steve Harvey.

But instead of just reprinting my long lists here for you to read, I thought it would be fun to create a top five list (*spoiler alert: there are really six on the list, since there’s a tie!*) of the people I’d most want to interview. Although compiling this list was difficult since there are so many people I’d love to get the chance to talk with, I narrowed it down to these specific people based on how much I relate to them and their stories, as well as how much I look up to them and admire their work. So, without further ado, the list of people I’d most want to interview:

5. Barbara Walters – To me, Barbara Walters is the definition of a world-class journalist. She was never afraid to ask difficult questions, and she did so with the utmost poise and respect. What’s more is that Walters has pretty much interviewed every politician, musician and general newsmaker known to man. She is, essentially, the human embodiment of the type of career every aspiring journalist dreams about; she is proof that it is possible to be both a bold and beloved journalist.

4. Wendy Williams – As the host of her own daily talk show, Wendy Williams has the gift of delivering daily pop culture headlines to her audience with a humor and honesty that is unmatched. Her easy, conversational tone with her audience (a.k.a her “co-hosts”) makes every show seem like you’re sitting down for your morning coffee with your best girlfriend, earning her the status of one of TV’s most beloved talk show hosts.

3. Oprah – Oprah Winfrey is the epitome of an inspirational woman. She not only has had a long career as talk show host, she also ventured off to spearhead her own television network. She has overcome many hardships to get to her current position in life, and to me, she is living proof that anything is possible not only if you believe in yourself, but also if you are willing to work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life.

2. Arianna Huffington – Arianna Huffington is the reason why I started my own website; seeing her success inspired me to take a chance on doing what I love. Seeing the growth of The Huffington Post, along with the growth of Huffington’s own career, fuels me each and every day to become the best journalist I possibly can be.

Now, here’s where things get interesting — there is absolutely no way I can decide who is the number one person I would give anything to interview, so I have to declare a tie. So, in no particular order, here are the number one people I would love to interview:

Mindy Kaling – Kaling is not only the star of her own show, but she also created the show and serves as a writer and producer for the show. And what astounds me is that she reached her current status by creating her own opportunities — she wrote a play with her best friend (Matt & Ben) that drew attention to her talents, and the rest, as they say, is history. To me, Kaling is a master of harnessing own destiny in order to create the life she desires — and there’s nothing more inspirational than that.

Stacy London – I have admired Stacy London since I was a poorly dressed, fashion-illiterate 12 year old, and she inspired me to take ownership of my style and create an accurate outward projection of my inner self (to read more about my style journey, check out my post on Medium). Since then, London has continued to be a significant influence in my life, showing me that it is possible to make a career out of doing what you love. She has carved out a space in the fashion world as the stylist with a big heart, teaching women (and men) to love themselves for who they are.

So there you have it — the top *six* people I would love to interview most. Although I have yet to officially begin a career in journalism, I can only hope that my career will be graced by interviews with these lovely ladies, as well as all the others on my long lists.

That’s all for now!

XO,

Nicole

She Leads, You Follow: Swimsuit Edition

Now that summer has officially started, it’s time to start shopping for the most important purchase of the season — a swimsuit. And not just any swimsuit, a flattering swimsuit that makes you feel confident and beautiful in your own skin. This seems like an impossible feat, but it looks like some of our favorite celebrities have already done the shopping for us!

Several celebrities have taken to Instagram to post their favorite summer swimsuits, and they seem to unanimously favor one in particular: the Mara Hoffman Lattice Maillot swimsuit. Celebrities from Beyoncé to Mindy Kaling have posted pictures wearing the suit, both looking equally gorgeous in the flattering style.

Photo credit Instagram / beyonce, found on Popsugar.com

Photo credit Instagram / Beyoncé, found on Popsugar.com. Beyoncé in the Mara Hoffman Lattice Maillot swimsuit in natural.

Photo credit Instagram / mindykaling, found on Popsugar.com. Mindy Kaling in the Mara Hoffman Lattice Maillot swimsuit in Kaleidoscopic.

Photo credit Instagram / mindykaling, found on Popsugar.com. Mindy Kaling in the Mara Hoffman Lattice Maillot swimsuit in Kaleidoscopic.

The Insta-famous swimsuit retails for $253, and because of all buzz created around the suit, it has become unavailable on most websites, including the Mara Hoffman site. But, the elements of this swimsuit that make it so flattering can be found in other looks. Here are a few details to look for when you go shopping for swimsuits this season:

  1. Well-placed cutouts – What makes the Mara Hoffman suit so flattering is that the cutouts are positioned in the most flattering spot for anyone who wears it. By placing the cutouts from the center of the chest down to the hips, it creates a slimming effect; it allows us to focus on the narrow strip of material at the center of the suit, tricking us into seeing a slimmer silhouette.
  2. Proportional prints – Kaling’s suit delivers a pretty bold print, but it doesn’t overwhelm her. That’s because she chose a print that is proportional to her frame. When shopping around for printed swimsuits (or printed anything, for that matter), the print must be proportional to your stature, meaning that women who are bigger in stature (in height or weight or both) can wear bigger prints, while women who are smaller in stature (in height or weight or both) can wear smaller prints.
  3. Open necklines – One of the reasons why the Mara Hoffman swimsuit works on a variety of body types is that it has a v-neck construction, which is universally flattering. A v-neck not only helps to elongate your frame by making your neck look longer, it can also emphasize your bust, making it seem a little bit bigger to help balance out a fuller hip. So when you hit the stores in search of the perfect swimsuit, try on a few styles that that have a v-neck; you’ll be surprised how flattering it can be!

Birthday Gift to Others

If she’s not inspiring us with her impeccable fashion, she is inspiring us with her actions. Today is actress, author and The Mindy Project creator Mindy Kaling’s birthday, and what she wants for her birthday is pretty cool.

The birthday girl took to Twitter on Wednesday to ask fans to tweet her their favorite charities and not only would she retweet her favorites, she would also make a donation.

Photo credit Twitter.com / @mindykaling

Photo credit Twitter.com / @mindykaling

What followed was a barrage of replies from followers offering birthday wishes along with different charities they support. Kaling retweeted many of the replies from her followers throughout the day, featuring an array of charities from all over the country including The Ronald McDonald House, The Trevor Project, and The National Marrow Donor Program.

Way to go, Mindy! THL wishes you the happiest of birthdays — and keep living the inspired life!

#Instagrab

Heading into the weekend, we couldn’t help but sift through Instagram for any interesting fashion, and of course, we didn’t come up empty-handed. On Friday, THL-favorite Mindy Kaling posted a photo of her new summer-ready Mara Hoffman midi dress.

Screenshot of Mindy Kaling's Instagram.

Screenshot of Mindy Kaling’s Instagram.

This dress is not only covetable for the sheer fact that it’s Mara Hoffman, it also has some really great features. This dress has a universally flattering neckline, with the straps coming in at the neck to emphasize the shoulders which helps to create a perfect hourglass silhouette. The dress also has cutouts right at the natural waist, which offers a peek of skin while also drawing attention to the waist, making it seem even tinier. Besides the dress’s construction, its print is very deliberately placed, widening at the bust and hips and narrowing at the knee to further create an hourglass shape.

Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t (yet) have the capability to find stores that sell the clothing we see and want — but, that’s what THL is here for! After a little digging, we found that Zappos is selling this exact dress for $280. So if you love Kaling’s Mara Hoffman look, head over to Zappos and scoop up this stunner!

Screenshot of the Mara Hoffman Cutout Midi Dress, found on Zappos.com

Screenshot of the Mara Hoffman Cutout Midi Dress, found on Zappos.com

She Leads, You Follow: ‘Inside Out’ Premiere Edition

The purple carpet was rolled out on Monday in Los Angeles for the premiere of the “major emotion picture” Inside Out, a film about a little girl named Riley who has to learn to manage her emotions after her family moves to a new city, leaving her to start over at a new school and make new friends.

Although Inside Out has been a highly acclaimed film, perhaps more noteworthy was the fashion on yesterday’s purple carpet. Here are just a few of THL’s favorite looks from the ladies of Inside Out:

Amy Poehler wowed in an all-blue ensemble, with the electric blue of her shoes reminiscent of the blue of her character’s hair in the film. The long lines of her dress help to elongate her frame, and by keeping her shoe simpler, their bright color doesn’t take away from her dress. What is particularly great about Poehler’s outfit is that the different shades of blue really emphasize her blue eyes and intensify their color.

Mindy Kaling‘s all-black outfit was injected with a shot of color from her bright seafoam blue Jimmy Choo pumps. The overall silhouette and proportions of Kaling’s outfit are perfect: the way the straps of her crop top cut in give her a stronger shoulder and narrower waist, and her fuller skirt pulls away from her waist, making it even tinier. And the slight high-low hemline allows us to see her gorgeous pumps!

Rashida Jones seemed to have followed suit in an equally simple outfit, wearing a black top, a black and blue pleated skirt and  funky fringed heels. Keeping the rest of the pieces in her outfit rather subdued without a tone of embellishment or accessories allowed Jones to pull off a heavier, edgier shoe without looking overdone.

Poehler, Kaling and Jones may be styled for the red (or purple) carpet, but there are elements in their looks that can apply to styling ourselves everyday. Here’s what to remember:

  1. Use color to your advantage – Just as Amy Poehler used different shades of blue to emphasize her blue eyes, you also can use color to play up your best features. Just be sure to keep in mind your skin tone (for example, if you have olive skin, the base color in your skin is yellow, so you will want to wear colors that have more of a blue base, such as fuchsia, maroon, and jade green), and your eye color (you can take Poehler’s lead and wear blue to enhance your blue eyes).
  2. Crop tops and fuller skirts are always a good idea – If you love the crop top style but are hesitant to wear it, don’t be! Kaling’s crop top look is very accessible and easy to replicate on your own: pick a more fitted crop top that stops at your natural waist. Then, pick a fuller skirt that rests right in your natural waistline; when paired with the fitted crop top, it will give you a little peek of skin without being too revealing, and it will also make your waist look tiny!
  3. Make a statement with a statement shoe – We so often hear about statement jewelry, but we never really hear about statement shoes. Rashida Jones’ shoes are the perfect example of a statement shoe, and she wore them in such a way that allowed them to really be the star of her outfit. If you are going to go for a stronger shoe, be sure to keep the rest of your outfit and accessories fairly simple to let your shoes be the star of the show.