Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.
If you know Tracee Ellis Ross, whether it’s from her 25-year career in film and television or through the lens of her vibrant social media channels, it should come as no surprise that she loves fashion. Like, really loves fashion. The actress’s love affair with beautiful clothes presents itself in its purest pursuit: to bring one joy. But what is truly remarkable about the way Ross experiences joy is that somehow, through stages and screens, it is highly contagious.
From watching her host the AMAs (somehow upstaging both Rihanna and her mom, the inimitable Diana Ross) to seeing her in wearable Moschino art at the Met Gala to watching her cackle in a pool with a glass of rosé, seeing Ross happy makes us happy in return. She has the uncanny ability to make us believe we have an intimate connection with her beyond our shoddy WiFi. What do you call stage presence when it emits from a grid post?
From our POV, Ross is a walking ray of sunshine, even if the past year brought on the clouds. And in Ross’s true, hyperbolic form, her sense of luxury remained a constant. “Glamour to me is a ‘how,’ not a ‘what.’ It’s how you choose things, what makes your heart light up and your heart sing,” she told ELLE over the phone. “I just watched that Halston limited series and I think of Elsa Peretti in those moments, and that sense of glamour is a sense of self, a sense of identity, and having the courage to live like that.”
Her own fierce brand of individuality is one of the reasons that Tiffany & Co. is tapping the Black-ish star for a new role. Announced today, the iconic high jeweler named Ross a global house ambassador where she fronts its newest T1 collection campaign ‘Give Me the T,’ shot by Mario Sorrenti in New York City. The partnership is full circle for Ross, who grew up down the street from its Fifth Avenue flagship ogling the goods for herself. (“I got my first Elsa Peretti kidney bean when I was a teenager.”)
We caught up with Ross on her personal relationship to jewelry (does she wear it during her intense Tracee Anderson workouts?) and the style question we’re all dying to have answered: Does she approve of the return of Girlfriends‘ 2000s-era fashion?
The T1 collection is all about inner strength and individuality. How did you maintain those things during such a tough year?
Anchoring myself in the spaces that I did have control over, which was my self-care, Making sure that whether it was deep conditioning my hair or putting on some lipstick or making my bed in the morning, and cooking myself beautiful meals. One of the ways I stay connected to my strengths was being connected to my fellow humans and making a conscious effort to stay connected to my friends and family even though we couldn’t see each other. And because of the year that we had, the service work that I did, and being connected both to the political environment and using my platform and voice to show up for my community. Doing the DNC and all of the knowledge I had to gain as I walked into that experience. Deepening our mission within my own hair company. Being of service is one of the ways I stay connected to my own voice and my individuality where you’re part of the larger community and not just yourself and your ego.
It’s one of the reasons was so excited about this campaign. Having this T1 collection be about individuality is so much of what all of us are making sense of as we reemerge. While we were locked down in our homes, it was all ‘who am I in the context of other people?’ This feels like a beautiful way to reemerge.
A lot of people rediscovered themselves in the past year, redefining how we move through the world. How has your relationship with glamour changed?
It hasn’t changed much. I find myself harkening to things that I feel comfortable with. I think the biggest change is footwear. I can’t say that I’m drawn to a very high stiletto heel. I’m drawn to a great flat or a great pair of socks. Honestly, I’ve been on the hunt for great socks that I can wear with my Birkenstocks.
Luxury can feel inaccessible to many. But the word can mean multiple things: a cheap dessert or a state of mind. What is the most luxurious thing to you that exists beyond the price tag?
Sometimes the most luxurious thing you can do is walk slowly from A to B. That ridiculous old saying of’ don’t forget to smell the roses’ genuinely is that. That is luxury. Some of the most luxurious things I do are lying on my bed and talking to a girlfriend on the phone, and luxuriating in the joy of that connection and the giggles with someone that knows you so well. The other incredibly luxurious thing that everyone knows I’m a fan of is taking a bath. I love taking a bath! It’s a special way to have time with myself and slow down. The other thing I love that doesn’t have a big price tag is fresh-cut flowers. Whether you buy them at the market or the side of the road or a flower shop, even if it’s one stem of a beautiful flower, it can bring so much luxurious joy in your life just glancing at something beautiful.
I think luxury is defined individually. It depends on what makes your heart sing, and what gives you access to that heart opening, and how can you do that you allow yourself the space and time to do that?
I can’t think of anyone that loves fashion and the joy that it brings more than you do. Just how big is your closet?
It’s not that big… but it will be. I am extremely organized. I can fit so much stuff into a small space. The thing about my closet is that I don’t get rid of things. I learned really young from my mother. She said ‘you can spend money on things but you have to take care of them.’ my style hasn’t really changed. I still love a high waist wide-legged trouser. I’ve been doing that since I figured out those are what looked good on my body. The blazers I’ve had forever. I’ll keep things and I’ll keep them well. Dry cleaning is not something I do often, your clothes will last longer. My closet is my happy place. It is where dreams are weaved.
Do you have any bad shopping habits?
Oh, I don’t call them bad shopping habits, they’re good shopping habits. But I do have a shopping habit let’s be clear about that. Matches Fashion is my go-to. When Barneys closed that solidified it. I haven’t been inside a store in ages. I buy everything from MatchesFAshion. I genuinely do. I am a VIP with them.
Girlfriends had some of the best style in TV history, specifically in representing the 2000s. How do you feel about that aesthetic coming back? Are you going to wear low-rise jeans?
No. I look back and it looks back. It’s the low-rise jeans that give me pause. Number one, I am not that skinny anymore but it still looks great. That first season those are all my clothes. It’s my personal clothing I was wearing as Joan Carol Clayton. That red clutch I donated to the show and took it back. Those McQueen jackets I still have. A lot of those Louboutin shoes I saved. Because they were so special.
I remember as a kid people saying that style is cyclical and I was like whatever, that’s crazy. I was wearing bell-bottoms in college and my mom was like ‘ oh my god I have these!’ and I was all ‘these are fresh!’ Then I saw acid wash and stirrup pants come back and I was there the first time! It’s fun to see what holds up over time and what absolutely doesn’t.
For you that’s low-rise jeans?
It’s not gonna happen. That’s just insane.
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