Danasia Sutton knows key to style is being a good listener
This story is part of Image issue 10, “Clarity,” a living document of how L.A. radiates in its own way. Read the full issue here.
“We birth everything, so I feel like we deserve the world,” stylist Danasia Sutton said about women on Revolt TV last year. The people Sutton styles embrace this feeling of deserving the world, of moving toward it with open arms and big energy. She’s dressed Saweetie, Megan Thee Stallion, Kiersey Clemons and Ciara, who, in the music video “Rooted,” shows off her naked, 10-month-pregnant belly through every outfit. In Sutton’s eyes, the body is as important as the clothes, or maybe the body is more than the clothes. There’s always a glow of the regal in her work. She calls her inspirations Diana Ross (“Mother”), Naomi Sims (“Queen”), Nina Simone (“Monarch”).
Sutton was 6 years old when she discovered she “had an eye.” On a trip to a flea market in New Jersey with her grandmother, she spotted a sewing kit. “What 6-year-old do you know is asking their grandma for a sewing kit?” she says, laughing at the memory. When she got it home, she immediately started crafting outfits for her Barbie dolls. It was the beginning of her having an opinion on what she wore. Her mother gave up on dressing her soon thereafter.
Sutton figured she would be a fashion designer, but while working at VFiles in New York, she observed the stylists and changed course. “It’s a hard job, but it’s the best thing I can think of,” she says. She eventually started styling for an artist who was based in Los Angeles. That was four years ago; she no longer works for that artist but has decided to stay. “Honestly, the weather is unbeatable.”
Although styling has turned out to be Sutton’s calling, she’s honest about the less-than-perfect industry, which can sometimes feel “picky about who gets to talk or who progresses or who gets whatever clients.” In 2019, she started the Instagram account @coolgirlsdothings to offer comfort and a confidence boost for other women in the industry. You’ll find self-care routines, inspirational quotes from Maya Angelou and Audre Lorde and simple reminders to drink water. “I built that platform to encourage myself,” Sutton says, “but I knew other people needed encouragement. Like, get rid of the self-doubt.”
Sutton carries this generous energy into her work as a stylist. She describes herself as a source of support for the artists she collaborates with. To her, the key to being a good stylist is being a good listener.
Elisa Wouk Almino: When getting dressed, where do you start?
Danasia Sutton: I start by doing my makeup. For the most part, I go for comfort. But also, I like to be a little glam. I could wear a sneaker, but then I’m gonna wear a jacket with some feathers. I love to be sexy. It just really depends on the day and how I’m feeling and how I look at myself.
EWA: What is your favorite accessory and why?
DS: Sunglasses. Honestly, it might have started when I moved to L.A. — I’m always wearing sunglasses. Every time I’m looking on websites, I am always looking at the sunglasses first.
I don’t know if it’s me hiding behind something, like, I don’t have to face everything head-on. It’s a shield of protection for me, in a way, because sometimes I am kind of shy. But also, it’s a glam statement. It’s the first thing people see.
EWA: You’re a proud Capricorn. Does that manifest in your work?
DS: It’s so funny because a lot of people when they see me, they don’t realize that I am a Capricorn. I feel like it’s a mixture of my big three — I’m a Capricorn, Virgo rising and Aries moon. But being Capricorns, we’re bold, and in my work I am able to show that because I am such a shy person. I feel like my work speaks more for myself than I do for myself.
EWA: You’re given many clothing items to work with. How do you sift through them with purpose?
DS: I always categorize: shirts, jackets, pants, skirts, dresses. Then I pull out my favorite pieces from each section. And then that’s when I go in and do my styling from that selection of things. It’s always about trying things on, because something can look amazing on the hanger and then not so great on. But then there’s something else that doesn’t have much hanger appeal, and you put it on and it’s amazing. It’s about trial and error — put something on, take it off.
EWA: How do you get a feel for your subjects before you dress them?
DS: If I don’t know them, most of the time I just scan through their Instagram or look at other videos that they’ve done. And then I ask them: Who are you today? Because, at least for me, I’m a different person every day. I can be chill, I can be super glam, I can be street. I can be this, I can be that. We all have our different moods. I just try to get a feel for who they are by listening to them, because a lot of people aren’t listened to.
EWA: What’s a quirk that is particular to you as a stylist?
DS: I always try to have a glam moment, no matter what. If it’s streetwear, I still want it to look lux. So, I don’t know, “street-rich”? “Rich-street”? There needs to be an excellence, a luxury type of vibe for me.
EWA: Is there anywhere you like to go people-watch in L.A. and gather ideas for your work?
DS: For my job, I’m always out shopping. I love Dover Street Market. I love Departamento. The streetwear stores that also sell high fashion are my vibe, like H.Lorenzo. I’m always in a store, so I get a lot of inspiration there, because that’s where most of the “cool” kids are because L.A. is so laid-back — a lot of the people are just in athleisure a lot of the time, but when you’re in stores like that, that’s where a lot of people are dressed up and go out.
EWA: On a Saturday night, where are you and what are you wearing?
DS: If I’m out with my girls, we might go to Shabba. I don’t like to go to too many parties, but Shabba is one of the parties I love. There’s a range of things I could wear: a miniskirt with a cute, revealing top and maybe a little jacket and sneakers — I’m always wearing sneakers when it comes to like parties like that, because I like to dance. But if I do wear a heel, I’m wearing my Tabi boots for sure.
EWA: What about on a Sunday afternoon?
DS: Honestly, I could be at home on my couch. Last Sunday afternoon, I went to Central flea market, and I was wearing a Junya Watanabe harness and some leather pants. It was hot too, so, I was like, what am I doing outside? It was a leather look. With some sneakers — but they were Vivienne Westwood Asics. Glam.
EWA: What is something about style that people overlook? In other words, what do you wish was given more visibility?
DS: The hard work that goes into styling in general. People think we can just get stuff instantly. And it’s not like that. It’s a whole process — it’s not so joy, joy, happy, happy all the time. Like we’re struggling sometimes to get these brands to respond to us, or whatever the case may be. It just looks like a fun job, but there’s a lot that goes into it.
EWA: When can a look feel revelatory?
DS: Is anything ever revelatory? I feel like it’s in the eye of the beholder. What may be revelatory to me is not necessarily revelatory to someone else. When you see it for yourself, it’s like: Whoa, that’s amazing. But someone else can be like, no … Girls that get it, get it, and girls that don’t, don’t.
EWA: What kinds of stories do you want to tell with your outfits?
DS: I want to tell a story of a cool girl doing it.
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