Lessons in Style: Sade Edition

Sade, the classic Nigerian born, British bred, beauty is an icon not just because she is one of the most accomplished singer-songwriters of our time. Her music undoubtedly  continues to influence contemporary artists today, and her "Sweetest Taboo" remains an entire aural sensation to my ears–even all these years since its 1985 release. The music is stellar, but it's the style for me.

Miss Helen Folasade Adu has cemented OG style icon status, as the simplistic chic signature style she pioneered in the 80s holds true to its form nearly 40 years later. The decade in which she rose to fame was saturated with neon colors, oversized blazers, shoulder pads, leg warmers, and big permed hair. Yet she was not unknown to grace the stage donned in a simple turtleneck, high waist trousers, gold hoops, a red lip, with hair slicked back in a sleek single ponytail and a rope braid down her back. 

The enchanting chanteuse accomplished with less what those doing way more COULD NEVER. Very simply put, she is a legend. 

It makes sense, after studying at Central Saint Martins and a brief stint modeling in her early days, that Miss Adu has a keen eye for fashion. But, what she had in the 80s–and still has today–is more than fashion. Sade has an impeccable sense of personal style. In a world filled with contemporaries and peers on a markedly different page, she flaunted a style that was uniquely her own. She chose a different path than the maximalism of the 80s, and instead achieved maximum impact with minimal effort.

Through her personal aesthetic, she's served so many looks worthy of highlighting. Her classic Canadian tuxedo, the iconic double denim look, is one that the cool kids still emulate today. But let’s be honest, nobody’s touching Sade’s shine. Her style is timeless. You can browse through photo after photo of her from the 80s, and you’d be hardly able to discern that the photos weren’t recently taken. From decade to decade, we’ve been able to count on Adu for simple silhouettes, exemplary tailoring, masterful pairings, for consistent perfection honestly.

And OH, how it would be a crime to fail to mention that miss ma’am is also a master class in subtle seduction! Her sartorial stylings are the perfect blend between demure and sexy. So many times, her exquisite knack for showing just the right amount of skin has snatched all my breath away. Some of my favorite style moments of hers have been those where she seems covered from head to toe, until she turns around and you see her back’s completely bare. Gahhh. Actual sound of breath leaving my body.

I have said it once, and I will say it again.  Fashion and style are not the same. And style trumps fashion any day. I don’t have to go on; Sade has earned her place at the top of the list of style icons and it’s only right that we highlight her first in our Lessons in Style series. In her own words, during an interview with the National Post, “I have a fear of being trendy and I’m afraid of doing something someone else’s way...Music and fashion trends bore me and they don’t realistically convey what is authentic or true to my own nature.”

Brava, Miss Adu, teach the children about personal style 👏🏽 👏🏽. We stan. In honor of the queen, here's SAFIRA's take on one of Sade's most memorable looks. To achieve this classic vibe at home, pair our Nala mock neck top and Cairo jeans.