It’s. About. To. Go. Down.
I know this because last night, despite having my dress and accessories planned weeks in advance, I found myself at the Zara store across from The Root’s office holding a pair of red-black-and-green heels. “Woke-ass heels,” as I now call them. So woke, they felt too good to be a good idea, so I turned to my fellow shopper and co-worker Damon Young (a 2016 honoree) to ask, “Are these too much?”
His answer? “Never too much.”
We were ostensibly there to find warmer outerwear, as neither of us had adequately prepared for a sudden temperature drop here in New York City. But suddenly we found ourselves debating whether I needed a matching velvet cape. Because, never too much.
Needless to say, I bought the heels (and quickly featured them on the ’gram). But I share this anecdote because it parallels the trajectory of one of my favorite annual events, The Root 100 gala, which happens tonight in Manhattan.
Like most things, The Root 100 began modestly: a sparsely attended but super-fun event celebrating the black influencers and leaders who’d made the previous year great and kept our collective hope alive. Early years attracted a crowd conservatively dressed in after-work attire, happy for the honor of being there to revel in an evening of black excellence.
But like The Root itself—which now reaches over 10 million monthly—The Root 100 gala has grown and, with it, the green-carpet fashion statements. Recent years have inspired some serious style moments among our illustrious attendees.
By the time I attended my first gala in 2015, we were really starting to flex our fashion muscle. Just look at Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who was a vision in jet black that year—and I promise, it was even more stunning in person. (I mean … feathered cuffs!)
Last year’s move to the glamorous Guastavino’s event space brought out the glamour in all of us, including a Basquiat moment from our former publisher, Donna Byrd; the emergence of sequins on the green carpet; fashion-forward 2016 honoree Darnell Moore; a bevy of beauties from The Root editorial and writing staff; and yours truly, pictured with one of my personal faves (and likely yours), writer Michael Arceneaux. (If only you could see the beaded booties I rocked with that dress. Epic.)
But with this year’s invitation came exciting news: Not only is tonight’s attire expected to be formal, but for the first time, The Root 100 gala will be taped by the Fusion channel and televised Nov. 19.
Cue the flurry around our office: What to wear? How to wear it? Who to do hair and makeup? Can you drop it low in a ball gown? As one of the resident style experts on staff, I’ve been privy to enough previews of our staff’s selections that I’ve dubbed this year’s gala “The Stunt & Show-Out,” because we are not coming to play with y’all.
Tonight we’re going to celebrate another year of all the blackety-black excellence our stage can accommodate, drop it as low as our gowns and tuxes will allow, and flex for the Fusion cameras every time they cruise by. Because we’re constantly elevating the game, and we’re extra like that. So it’s never too much.
Which brings me back to these woke-ass heels: I really should get the matching cape, shouldn’t I?