In the Instagram age, we can't help but wonder, is personal style dead? It’s remarkably easy to get caught in a closed digital loop where everyone we see through our feeds seems to be wearing the same few recognizable brands. But take one look at Marley Parker and you'll quickly understand why we believe personal style—truly unique personal style—is still out there and thriving. The 18-year-old is a born-and-raised New Yorker to whom the cliché term "young creative" greatly applies. She effortlessly balances a modeling career and DJ sets under the name DJ She Marley Marl.
Her style is as multifaceted as her interests, at one moment channeling a very 1970s disco-themed look (patent red halter jumpsuit, platform boots, large hoop earrings) and in another a bright windbreaker and dad sneakers that give off a sportier feel. She also has a knack for novel approaches to some of the biggest trends. Take her approach to jewelry: Have you ever seen anyone wear large hoop earrings like this? It's these aspects of her personal style that make every Instagram post a veritable thumb-stopper.
We caught up with Parker to talk about not just her unique approach to fashion but also what inspires her musically and her journey to self-love. The last of which she readily shares the advice we could all use: "Self-love takes time. Being young and truly loving yourself is harder because you're still understanding who you are." Ahead, read our Q&A with this Gen Z talent.
Which artists/musicians do you look up to?
My biggest musical inspirations right now are definitely LSDXOXO, Mike Q, Quay Dash, Sateen, Xhosa, Show Me the Body.
Do you gravitate toward one genre when you DJ or is every set different?
I love many genres and subcultures of music, but I've always had a crazy attraction to house music.
Which track(s) do you play during a DJ set to up the energy and get people dancing?
"Music is the Answer" by Celeda or "Lame Niggaz" by Asian Doll.
Describe your style in three words.
Bold, retro, extravagant!
It seems like you're good at switching up your style regularly. How do you approach getting dressed every day? Where do you look to for inspiration?
I'm always switching my style up. It's actually not something I think about too much. Every day I tend to wake up feeling different, whether I feel more masculine or feminine, goth or hip-hop. So I'll represent myself accordingly. I'm inspired by the majority of my friends, really anyone who fights gender and beauty normalities through their looks.
See Parker show off three bold beauty looks from her shoot for Byrdie.
Stylist: Christine Nicholson
Hairstylist: Jeanie Syfu
Makeup Artist: Alana Wright
Manicurist: Gracie J.
How do you think music has influenced your style?
Music is connected to movement of cultures. I wouldn't have the same love for bright colors and holographic patterns if I didn't love acid rave culture. I wouldn't have an insane collection of vintage Fubu, Baby Phat, Tommy, Ecko, Rocawear, etc. if I didn't really understand hip-hop culture.
Which brands do you think are "doing it right" right now?
Your jewelry game is strong. Do you have any tips on layering necklaces or on pulling off bold chunky hoops? What do you usually wear them with?
Yes, I love layering jewelry! I make a lot of the things I wear. My biggest tip is to take risks; be creative and innovative. Chunky jewelry is a statement. I always layer, but I’ll coordinate by paying attention to the metal tones in my clothes (zippers, buttons, buckles).
You worked with size-inclusive brand Universal Standard earlier this year. Have you always embraced your figure or did you ever struggle with body positivity?
Self-love takes time. Being young and truly loving yourself is harder because you're still understanding who you are. Accept that. Be ready to learn and make positive changes to be the person you know you can be. Self-love is somewhat a mindset of understanding that life is so much bigger than what people think about you, what you look like, etc. It’s easier to love yourself if you recognize this because then you'll release yourself from society and social and physical expectations. Fem-identifying people have so much pressure to be a sexual token or goddess for the male gaze. Skinny waist, big boobs and butt, skinny legs and arms, big lips, tiny nose, small hands, and feet… The list goes on. All these expectations stem from negative patriarchal constructs.