Trendsetting Blacks

Black people have setting trends since the beginning of time. Our swag is undeniable this article will be highlighting the most fashionable influential people from different eras. These are people who I feel influenced the culture tremendously. The first era I wanted to highlight is the fifties: 

Harry Belafonte 

 Our grandparents know him for his music, where he made Calypso mainstream. Popularizing Calypso in the fifties but we know him as an activist who advocates for the advancement of blacks. 



Dorothy Dandridge  

Dandridge was one of the first black actresses to be nominated in for an Academy Award for Best Actress. This film was later remade by Beyoncé and Mekhi Phifer.  


Josephine Baker 

This woman birthed all your faves! She was risqué in a time where women were told what to do and how to do it. She truly walked to the beat of her own drum!  Baker spent the majority of her time in Europe; she was still active in the civil rights movement. 



Eartha Kitt 

Ms. Santa Baby! One of the most sultry, sauciest women ever, she spoke four languages. Her style has left a mark for generations. Many have tried to emulate her and it’s obvious why her style was just effortless. 



Nat King Cole 

This man was another one of our grandparent's favorites and it’s easy to see why. Every picture that I saw of his, there was just a cool smooth Aire. I can see why he so popular and he had the flyest perm ever. 


James Brown 

The “King of Soul” sported many looks, he truly left his mark on the world. His influence gave us the “King of Pop”. Brown was truly eccentric, known for his elaborate stage ensembles.  


Malcolm X 

 The boisterous leader who advocated for unity and advancement for his people. To some he was considered a radical, to others he was misunderstood. One thing that’s for certain is those wayfarers are synonymous with him. I’ve seen them sold in stores named” the Malcolm’s”. 




Diane Carroll 

The legendary “Shade Queen” was always eloquent and regal. Every role she had you felt bad for the people she verbally assaulted. When you think of “boujee auntie” Diane Carroll is the blueprint. 


Diana Ross 

The big-haired fashionista has been setting trends for generations. From her slick coifs, fros, loose body waves. How many of us ladies don’t have a wig in our closet named Diana? She was also known for her elaborate gowns as well. 


Marvin Gaye 

The smooth crooner was the epitome of cool! This picture here is iconic! How many times have we seen this look recreated? Those skullies! He was truly an artsy hippie before it was a thing. 


Pam Grier 

This woman is Black Hollywood royalty! She’s been a sex symbol for generations and it’s simply because of her poised nature. Some women try to be overtly sexy and her sex appeal was effortless. 




 Jimmi Hendrix 

It’s only a few Black Rock-N-Roll artists that I can think off the top of my head. Even after his death, his influence is still felt. He had grunge, punk, aesthetic hippie which many adored him for. 


Lisa Bonet  

This woman is another person who was known for the grunge, punk, hippie aesthetic as well. Whenever you’re looking for or trying to describe care-free black-girl Bonet’s name is always is mentioned. 



These women ruled the eighties with their signature haircuts that all our mamas and aunties wore. Not to mention their love for spandex, rope chains, and boots. Their haircuts were a definite staple of the late eighties and nineties. 




Michael “King of Pop” Jackson was truly an innovator. There are too many iconic looks to mention, but one thing he was also known for was sparkle, leather and penny loafers. Celebrity wise no one dressed like Jackson nor did he follow trends.  



Who else could pull off wearing women’s blouses and blouses? This man also wore heels and adorned his head full of curls. Prince was really in touch with his feminine side but no one dared to question his sexuality.  Prince was androgynous before it became a trend. 




Todd “LL Cool J” Smith 

Kangol’s and rope chains were his trademark along with being shirtless. Mr. Smith oozed sex appeal whenever mainly because of his arrogance and the way he licked those lips! Another trademark of his that’s stood the test of time is his “Bawdy” and bald head. 



Tupac Shakur 

Between his beautiful chocolate skin, nose ring, tattoos. This man was every roughneck lover’s dreamer! His haircut in the movie “Juice” was replicated too many times to count. Then he switched it up on everyone and balded his head. Before Tupac men didn’t really get their noses pierced.  


Run D MC 

Kangol, rope chains, Adidas were synonymous with their wardrobe. Adidas should’ve given this group part of ownership for their influence.  


Grace Jones 

The androgynous Jamaican beauty is still killing the runways at seventy years old! She’s been swagger jacked too many times to count. Some have paid homage to the legendary model whereas others act like they curated the greatness. Jones has never been one to bite her tongue and she nicely gathered the swagger jackers.  



Janet Jackson 

Even though she’s the baby of the Jackson clan, she’s been a trendsetter for years. Starting with her wearing the key on her earrings in the eighties. Another iconic look from her is the “Rhythm Nation” album cover which has been duplicated repeatedly. Then her iconic body plaits (box braids depending on where you’re from) in the movie “Poetic Justice”.  Ms. Jackson has been serving looks for decades and shows no signs of slowing down. 



Lionel Richie has been known to rock one of the best Jheri Curls ever! Those curls have been his signature, even after the eighties he’s kept a curly coif. 



Tina Turner 

Ms. Turner has the prettiest legs in the business! I don’t we’ve seen some who can rock a mini skirt with fishnet stocking like Turner yet!  


“A Different World” cast 

The reason why I chose the whole cast for trendsetters is that each member influenced the generation in their own way. You have Cree Summer (Freddie) who has been a naturalista even before it was cool. Then you have Kadeem Harrison (Dwayne) who was known to rock colorful shirts to match his Jordan's. Harrison was also known for his double lensed glasses.  Jasmine Guy (Whitley) was known for being the poised cute classy chic.  Daryl Bell (Ron Johnson) was known his dope hats. 


Deion “Primetime” Sanders  

Sanders has always known to be very well dressed. Despite his arrogant persona at times, his fashions matched his skills. No one can really deny that Sanders was a beast on the field.  


House Party” cast 

Each member had iconic looks throughout the movie. For instance, Christopher “Kid” Reid had his high-top fade that many tried to replicate. Then AJ Johnson and Tisha Campbell Martin rocked their pinafore jumpsuits which are back in style now.  Martin Lawrence who managed to match hats with his colorful vests. 


New Edition 

Now, everyone has their favorite member or who they think was the flyest. For me, it’s a tie between Michael and Ronnie. Bobby had some fly moments too but when I look old pictures Michael was always flyest. 




Kimberly “Lil Kim” Jones 

She birthed all your faves! It’s a shame she doesn’t get the respect that she deserves. From the raunchy lyrics and fashions, Ms. Jones’s influence is undeniable.  She took fashion risks in a time where that wasn’t even the norm. Who else was matching weaves to their furs? Or her iconic VMA’s purple dress where Diana Ross tapped her titty! Who could forget the mole on her face that other women started putting on their faces? 


Mary J Blige 

In the nineties, she was known for androgynous fashions with lined lips. Some of y’all aunties and mamas still wear their makeup like that. Or her signature blonde hair that has imitated by many. 


Nia Long 

Her short pixie was all the rage in the nineties! When you think nice pixies Long’s is in the top three. 


Will Smith 

Ever since the nineties, he’s been known for dressing really well. His looks from “Fresh Prince” are currently back in style.  


Martin Lawrence  

Known for wearing HBCU shirts on episodes of his sitcom or Kross Kolors outfits. These looks have come back in style as well. Lawrence was also known for rocking sneakers religiously. 


Sean “Diddy” Combs 

Has been fly forever, this man has been an influencer for decades. He’s told us what to drink, wear and who’s worth listening to as well. Some of the choices in fashion might be gaudy to some, for me personally Diddy can do no wrong. 


Nasir “Nas” Jones 

Mr. Jones is aging fine like wine, known for his signature fade the Caesar. I don’t think I've seen a man wear furs like him either.  


Llyod & Ginuwine 

Had all the fellas in the 2000s rocking longer tresses. They also rocked the double edge showing off their hair texture. Then the fellas cut off their signature curls. Rocking waves to make anybody sea sick!  


Alicia Keys 

Keys rocked the fiercest braids ever during the early 2000s. Now, she's known for wearing rocking natural hair styles. In addition, to encouraging women to go barefaced and love their natural selves. 


Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty 

She has been killing the game since she stepped on the scene! Her weave game has been phenomenal as well. Even the fashion world has taken notice because she’s landed Puma, LVMH contracts. Rihanna became the first woman to create an original brand at LVMH, the first woman of color at the top of an LVMH Maison.  


Knowles Sisters 

Both of these women have each influenced the culture in their own way. Solange has proved to us countless times that natural hair can be sexy. Solange is a true chameleon when it comes to wearing different hairstyles. Beyoncé is known for wearing outfits that are the perfect mix of classy and sexy.  


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