Talking sequins, scents, and “simultaneously sexy and comfortable” fashion choices with writer Hannah Eko | Fashion | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Talking sequins, scents, and “simultaneously sexy and comfortable” fashion choices with writer Hannah Eko

click to enlarge Hannah Eko - PHOTO: COURTESY OF HANNAH EKO
Photo: Courtesy of Hannah Eko
Hannah Eko
Hannah Eko is a writer and teaching artist. Her book Honey is the Knife, “an eclectic healing essay collection rooted in pleasure, compassion, and the Divine Feminine,” will be released on Wed., May 5.

Tell me what you’re wearing?
I am wearing a sequin dress from Eloquii, a plus-size retailer, copper boots from Lonia (cute, actually stylish shoes up to size 15!), a gifted malachite ring, and earrings I bought from the Santee Alley in Downtown LA.

How would you describe your overall style?
I would describe my style as sensual, powerful, colorful, with a hint of glam. My sister calls me a "broke Tracee Ellis Ross" lol. Tracee Ellis Ross is definitely a fashion inspiration, so I'll take it! I'm also inspired by Selena Quintanilla, Diana Ross, Grace Jones, Phyllis Hyman, Gwendoline Christie, Bianca Jagger, and about a dozen plus-size models to include Denise Bidot, Precious Lee, and Philomena Kwao.


Is there something you wear every day or often that is a special gift to yourself? When and why did you get it, and what does it mean to you?
I wear several of my rings daily. I mentioned the malachite one which was gifted by someone I'll always appreciate. I also have a white buffalo ring I bought for myself in Reno, Nevada, and a bumble jasper ring I bought for myself as a gift for finishing the last draft of my book, Honey is the Knife. Rings are an easy way to accessorize, and I love the whole mystical styling of a lot of rings. Many of the rings are tied to a special memory or a special person, and wearing them grounds me in the present.

In addition to my rings, I am a lover of perfume and move in between scents. Many of my perfumes are gifts from my mother, sister, or one of my aunties and so wearing them reminds me that I am loved.

What brought you to Pittsburgh and how long did you live here? What took you out of Pittsburgh and where are you located now? What are the pros and cons of both places?
I came to Pittsburgh for graduate school, specifically to fulfill a Creative Writing in Fiction degree. I was in Pittsburgh for nearly four and a half years. I am now back in California, my home state. I'd been feeling a pull to California for a while and missed my family. Then, COVID hit and well, here I am. I miss my friends and community in Pittsburgh. I loved being able to run into people waiting for the bus or going to Whole Foods. I miss watching music videos with my crew in my apartment and the art community I was in. But, as too many of us know, Pittsburgh is not an easy place for a progressive, Black woman artist. In California, I feel there is space for my experience and my art, plus I'm near family. And as much as I love rivers, I was really missing the ocean.

Has your style of dress changed as a result of the move. If so, how?
My style is a lot more fun now. I feel like I always go into fashionista mode when I'm back home (for better and for worse). I feel like I wear more color, more makeup, and, of course, the sunny days mean I wear less layers. No more burly winter coats and snow boots, which is a great change.


Your book Honey is the Knife is coming out soon. What item of your clothing or look would describe as Honey, and what would you say is a Knife?
Good question. I'm really digging suits these days a la Julia Roberts for the 1990 Golden Globes. I love the inherent masculinity of suits, the boxy shoulders and the sharp lapels. I would describe this as Knife. But I also love femme-ing up suits by having my hair down, my make-up done in a sensual minimalist type of way, and I have two pink suits. The slouchy comfort and slightly hard femme look feels like Honey to me.

How has COVID-19 changed the way you dress?
Sweats in matching colors definitely became a frequent part of my wardrobe. I love, love being simultaneously sexy and comfortable. I also dig Gen Z and their dedication to oversized T-shirts and athleisure. I have become less tolerant of binding, tight clothes. If I have to wiggle into a piece of clothing, it's not happening. I've never been good at being uncomfortable, and these days I'm even more about comfort: silky mumus, cream lipsticks, and puffy sneakers.

What are you looking forward to this spring and summer?
I am looking forward to having my book out in the world! Lord, it's been a long time coming. I also am excited to travel a bit more, to reconnect with friends and family, and to visit the beach. Also, I want this to be the summer I actually start brushing up on my Spanish.

Anything else?
I know it can be hard out there for women and femmes who are tall AND mid-size/plus-size AND want to dress stylishly. Thankfully, there are better options out there than when I was a teenager and resorting to men's cargo pants. Definitely check out brands like Nineth Closet, Prissy Duck, and Model Atelier. They are brands created by tall women for tall women. I also have had good luck with ASOS and Boo Hoo Official, which both have pretty decent tall lines. These days, I love to make men's clothes work for me (especially big blazers) and most of my clothes are thrift store finds. Having access to an affordable tailor has been a goddess-send for making too-short sleeves and hemlines work. For shoes, Smash Shoes, Lonia, and Torrid have some good options for the large footed woman. Don't be afraid to experiment and find out what works for you!

Hannah Eko
hannahoeko.com and instagram.com/hannah.eko

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