At Miami’s Art Basel, Our Beauty Editor Relied on a Rotation of Easy Statement Dresses
Here’s everything she wore on her trip.
Welcome to Style Diaries, a new series where we research the physical manifestations of our closet tours IRL. We're asking friends and tastemakers to show us what they're *actually* wearing during the week and to provide a little insight into their thoughts on the current state of fashion. This week, our own beauty editor, Ama Kwarteng, documented what she wore when she attended Art Basel in Miami. As someone who views fashion as a form of expression, she relied on statement dresses that are not only easy to wear and warm-weather friendly but serve as an entire outfit in one piece.
What role does fashion play in your life? How does it serve you?
“I was a fashion girl long before I got into beauty—it’s truly my first love. As a kid, I loved flipping through fashion magazines; I was fascinated by the ways in which clothing could act as a form of storytelling. Then, like every other kid in the Midwest who didn’t really fit into their middle school, I discovered Tumblr and it was a game changer for me. My world, especially as it related to fashion, expanded. I was able to look through archival images of ’90s CHANEL runway shows, vintage Versace ad campaigns, and read through old Style.com reviews (RIP). When I was applying to Barnard College, one of the supplemental essay questions asked applicants to pick one woman who we’d want to converse with for an hour and explain why. I chose fashion critic Robin Givhan. Most importantly, though, I grew up around women, including my mother, who loved getting dressed. Growing up, I remember her being so intentional about what she bought and how she put together outfits.
“Fashion plays several roles in my life; the largest one being a means of personal and creative expression. You tell a story about yourself, or how you want to be seen by others, through your clothing choices.”
Day 1: Miami Arrival Dinner
“I flew into Miami this morning, so this was the group’s first night in the city! We went to dinner at Planta, a delicious plant-based restaurant in the city. (Order the cauliflower tots, the spicy lumaconi pasta, and the mez-cal me maybe and thank me later.)
“I consider any piece of clothing that doesn’t have a pattern or a print a neutral, which meant I needed statement accessories to make the look a little bit more fun. I opted for a pair of drop earrings. They were sleek and elegant just like the dress, while still serving as a standout accessory.
“I fell in love with this A.L.C. dress the moment I tried it on. The color was what grabbed my initial attention—the deep burgundy hue paired with the faux leather fabric is even more stunning in person—but I also appreciated the details of the dress: the ruffle hem and the cap sleeves, specifically. Plus, the plunging neckline and cutout waist shows off some skin without leaving you feeling too overexposed.”
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What does your style look like this week? Do you have a go-to outfit formula or do you prefer to switch it up when getting dressed?
“This week, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend Art Basel Miami Beach with the Swiss skin-care brand, La Prairie. Since 2017, they’ve been an Art Basel partner and they usually work with an artist to commission a piece where the artist expresses their interpretation of the brand. This year, the brand teamed up with their first performing artist, Wen Chi Su, an artist and dancer. She choreographed a dance inspired by light and water, two important themes tied to a new product that La Prairie is launching in March. It was an absolutely incredible experience to witness.
“I just want to be comfortable in what I’m wearing. Any outfits that don’t allow me to move freely are a big no. But, that’s basically the only style ‘rule’ that I have for myself. I do lean towards playful prints and colorful patterns, but my style choices are very much dependent on how I feel that day.”
Day 2: Gallery-Hopping
“On day two, we spent the majority of our time at the art fair before heading to Mandolin Miami for lunch. To be in the presence of the work was so creatively inspiring for me. We were able to see pieces created by some of my favorite artists: Hank Willis Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, Conrad Egyir. It was hands-down one of my favorite moments during the trip.
“Because I knew we’d be walking a ton during the day, I opted for comfortable, more casual-looking pieces. I’ve been eyeing this Cult Gaia top for what feels like forever. I love that it’s not just an average black top—the silhouette and the cut are playful and fun. And since I knew I was going to wear black on top, I felt like I needed something more colorful on the bottom to balance out the look. These Ulla Johnson pants are everything: I love the wash, the color, the fit, the length. Seriously, they are worth the buy!
“I feel like sometimes people think that casual is a synonym for boring and that’s definitely not the case. I loved that I was able to put together an everyday look that still showed off my personality.”
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“For a week in Miami, I knew I wanted to put together looks that were bold and modern. I sought out pieces that made me happy and that I was genuinely excited to wear. Also, I’m a huge dress girl, so I knew I had to bring a few along in my suitcase. They’re so simple—you don’t have to think too much about putting together a look. You just throw it on, add some accessories, and you’re good to go.
“Having worked in both fashion and beauty, I’m hyper-aware of how much I consume. And even though I believe that the waste problem in both issues isn’t going to be solved through individual actions but rather through systemic changes, I do want to invest in items. I don’t shop for clothes and accessories that often, but when I do, I’m looking for statement pieces that I’ll be able to wear for years. A lot of the pieces I wore on this trip are now going to be mainstays in my closet.
“In college, I would buy an outfit for an event, wear it once, and then end up throwing it out or donating it. Now, I’ll rent a look from either Nuuly or Nova Octo. One of the events on my itinerary was a gala that La Prairie threw at The Bass Museum. I knew that I wanted a dress that was eye-catching and unique, so I immediately went to check out their inventory. They have a collection of one-of-a-kind dresses that are absolutely stunning.”
Day 3: VIP Art Previews
“I wore this look to the VIP preview of artist Wen-Chi Su’s performance. The piece took place on the beach at sunset, and the setting tied together seamlessly with the larger themes she aimed to explore and interrogate within her work: light, water, and time.
“I absolutely love a good slip dress. (Honestly, I probably own way too many.) With a green and black animal print and a breezy silhouette, this pick was a no-brainer for a beach event. If you couldn’t tell already, I also love a statement earring. Even though some people might’ve initially believed that the colors of the earring and print of the dress would clash, I found that the chunky turquoise drop earrings I wore paired well with the lightweight texture of the slip dress.”
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In terms of beauty, what does your go-to hair and makeup routine look like and how does that change based on what you’re wearing?
“I really embraced a more natural look when I was down in Miami. I don’t love using a ton of heat on my hair, so for most of the trip, I let it fall in loose waves and embraced the humidity. (I didn’t even bother bringing a flat iron on this trip!) I was sure to keep it hydrated, too. My hair gets dry very easily, so I worked a dime-sized amount of Olaplex No. 6 Bond Smoother Reparative Styling Creme through my hair before sealing in the moisture with the brand’s No. 7 Bonding Oil. It’s the best duo when it comes to keeping your hair healthy and moisturized. Also, my skin gets dehydrated easily, so I apply La Prairie's Skin Caviar moisturizer—every AM and PM—to stave off dry patches. It also provides a perfect base for makeup application.
“I’m such a makeup girl. In fact, my approach to makeup is similar to how I approach fashion. I like to have fun with it—it’s another form of expression for me. Sometimes, that means lining my lids with a vibrant blue liner or sweeping on a nude smokey eye. It really depends on my mood that day. In Miami, I kept my makeup light most days (again—the heat and humidity is not my friend) and wore Nars tinted moisturizer, a brown lip liner with lip gloss on top, plus a ton of highlighter (for a nice sheen) and blush (for a warm glow).”
Day 4: Private Dinner at The Bass Museum
“We spent our last evening in Miami at a private gala dinner in The Bass Museum. Dinner was unreal and the meal was followed by a guided tour of the work in the space. Since this dress was a solid color, I dressed it up with a pair of red cheeky sandals from Zimmermann. They were so comfortable to walk in (shout out to the block heel) and I loved that the ankle straps included beaded ends; it added another fun layer to the overall look.
“When I saw the word gala on the itinerary, I immediately thought statement dress. I wanted an outfit that wouldn’t bore the eye and this Johanna Ortiz dress I rented from Nova Octo checked all the boxes. A sequined cut-out dress has the potential to lean a bit too Miami (and not in a good way). But thanks to the tailoring, the size and texture of the sequins, the subtleness of the cut out, and the cinched waist, this piece stayed firmly in the chic and sophisticated column.”
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Photos: Courtesy of Ama Kwarteng
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