A Seat at the Table singer and performer Solange Knowles isn’t one to let others define her own personal style. The youngest Knowles sister has refined her unique aesthetic—characterized by playful proportions, subversive femininity, and unconventional beauty statements—through her experiences with adversity while growing up. 

Before Solange was Solange, she was Solange Piaget Knowles and her sister was Beyoncé Knowles—just two gals living in Houston, Texas. Growing up in the south brought with it a few sartorial-related challenges for the 31-year-old singer who felt the pressures and criticisms to conform to the way her peers presented themselves.

As anyone who has grown up in a rural or suburban town can probably attest, carving out your own personal style can be hard to do when it doesn’t match what’s happening around you. Being labeled an outsider or the odd ball for your style in small communities is all too familiar of a narrative, but it is one that helped shape Solange into the multi-hyphenate artist that she is today. 

“When I was 10 years old I visited New York City, and capri pants with the little slits on the sides were all the rage,” Solange said in a speech at Parsons 70th-annual Benefit Gala at Pier 60 this week.

“I got a pair in three different colors and went back to Houston, Texas, straight feeling myself, walking into school with a shoulder lean, head high, and them hating-ass kids dragged me from one hallway to the next. They asked if it was ‘flooding’ because my pants were so high-water. I learned then and there that I had to figure out a way in life to maintain my sense of pride when I felt good about what I did, or what I represented or created, even if the world ridiculed me.”

Solange Talks Bullies, Personal Style, and Growing Up in Texas 1

Solange’s red carpet look was designed by Parson’s student Shanel Campbell.
via Tom & Lorenzo

The event, which was held to raise scholarship money for Parsons, was a star-studded affair. Attendees included Missy Elliot, Kelela, Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes, La La Anthony, and Dapper Dan, who all gathered to honor Solange (and Marco Bizzarri, president and CEO of Gucci; and José Neves, CEO and founder of Farfetch) for her contributions to fashion, art, and design.

Talk about poetic justice.

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