Field Guides

A Field Guide to Solange

Maybe you’re one of the million-plus people that follows her on Twitter. Maybe you’ve spotted her as the face of Madewell’s fall ad campaign. Maybe you can’t get her new single ‘Losing You’ out of your head after seeing the South African shot music video pop up on blog after blog as a must-see. Or maybe, like yours truly, you’re a little sister, too, who appreciates seeing someone come into her own. Solange isn’t living in anyone’s shadow. She’s been blazing her own trail in indie music and fashion for the past few years, and now no one can deny that it’s hard to ignore the younger Knowles sibling.

For those that are new to the Solange celebration, check out this field guide below to get up to speed. If you don’t want to be best friends with her by the end of it, you should take a long hard look in the mirror.

Name: Solange Piaget Knowles (With names like Solange Piaget and Beyoncé Giselle, I hereby give Tina Knowles naming rights to any of my future children.)

Common Reference: Little sister to THE Beyoncé

Proper Title and Nomenclature: Anyone who thinks that Solange is trading on her older sister’s success is completely wrong. She’s just as deserving of single name status as her sister. Her name derives from French, meaning dignified, and this chick more than lives up to it. She’s a musician, D.J., model, and actress (Bring It On: All or Nothing, you know you’ve watched it on ABC Family) on top of being a mom and, as HelloGiggles’ own Molls would say, boss bitch.

Solange first started dabbling in the entertainment business as a backup dancer for Destiny’s Child and guest vocalist on a Lil Romeo album. She released her own album in 2003. Solange put her music career on hold, though, when at the age of seventeen she became pregnant with her son Julez. A marriage to Julez’s father ended after three years. Being a teen mom could have ended with her lumped in with MTV personalities and Jamie Lynn Spears, but Solange reinvented herself as the hippest single mom around. I have no real clue, but as a little sister myself, I imagine she stopped trying to live up or differentiate herself from her sister and just embraced being different. Her second album in 2008 cast aside any traces of the pop princess before in favor of a sixties soul and dance sound. I dare you to put on ‘I Decided, Pt. 1’ and not immediately try to enlist your friends to start a girl group.

Solange would be cool enough if she did nothing but release catchy records, but she decided to add model and D.J. to her resume. I know we’ve already covered her Madewell modeling, but can we all just pause to acknowledge that no one else can pull off that technicolor and polka dots. Also, that’s a mother rocking those tiny shorts. That’s her as well in those Rimmel ads and in the D.J. booth at Brooklyn Bowl and Fashion Week’s hottest parties.

Now’s just released the previously mentioned ‘Losing You’ single off her upcoming third album. I don’t know who is squawking in the background, but I’m digging it.

Natural Habitat: Solange recently moved from Los Angeles to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn to be closer to her family and the opportunities in the modeling and music scenes. Incidentally, Solange’s move to Brooklyn practically made us neighbors (not that I know one of her favorite local restaurants is Buttermilk Channel and have plans to stalk her or anything). Beyond her permanent residence, she’s equally at home kicking it with the Carter family on glamorous vacations in the Mediterranean and at the concerts of all the bands you won’t hear of until five months from now. I don’t know anyone who didn’t lose a half day of their lives to looking at all the personal pictures on Beyoncé’s Tumblr, many of which were adorable sisterly love shots. When Solange isn’t with her family, you can probably spot her browsing the racks at Opening Ceremony, among the crowds at Coachella, or hanging out with Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear at Beach House concerts.

Identifying Characteristics: Her sister might often be associated with the word icon, but Solange has the indie edge. She’ll shift from shaving her head to letting her hair grow and go natural, and tell anyone who has an opinion about it to shut up. She’s got that sense of style where she can put the most random, contrasting items of clothing into an enviable outfit. That oversized sweater of your dad’s from the late ‘80s that you wear around the house? Solange could belt, throw on some bright pumps, and look like she just stepped off the pages of a Nylon shoot no matter what. She dresses the way I wished adults dressed when I was a kid. She seems to have that attitude of, ‘F*ck it. Life’s too short to wear something boring.’ Who wouldn’t beg to raid her likely rainbow-hued closet?

Maybe it’s part of being a mom, but the thing I love about Solange is that she always seems to be owning who she is and allowing herself to evolve. She doesn’t shy away from bold choices. And neither should you.

Images via Madewell.

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