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Style Muse: Sade Adu

Did you know that becoming a singer-songwriter wasn’t always the career path of choice for Sade Adu? I know, it’s somewhat hard to believe considering her incredibly sultry and soulful vocals, but the Nigerian-British icon’s approach to style makes a lot more sense knowing that she actually studied fashion at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London.

Before you continue reading this article, take a moment to pause and think about who your jewellery style muse is. Could it be the former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and her classic string of pearls? Zoë Kravitz and her dreamy antique engagement ring? Perhaps it’s Sarah Jessica Parker, who often layered diamond-encrusted horseshoe necklaces together as she dashed around New York playing the role of Carrie Bradshaw. For me, it’s the way Adu cultivated a three-part signature look that really resonates — and it’s so easy to echo.

In fact, it’s a minimalist’s dream to mimic. All you need is a pair of sleek (preferably gold) hoops, a highly pigmented scarlet lipstick and ability to create a long, low braid. To stay true to Smooth Operator styling, your rich red lip colour needs applying with deft precision (a liner, brush or an angled bullet will help) and it’s wise to allow a little time for taming any loose strands or stray flyaway hairs.

On a more personal note, my love of both Sade’s music and the artist’s wardrobe choices is partly inspired by my beautiful mother, who still plays some of her vinyls on a zingy lime-green turntable in the heart of our family home. Instead of a deep lip colour, my mum opts for brighter orange-reds or vibrant corals, teamed with an extra stud above the hoop and a crisp white blouse. She’s the perfect example of how you can make Adu’s signature look ‘you’ with just a few simple tweaks.

Finding the perfect pair of hoops is the key to really nailing the aesthetic and it’s important to remember that the rule “buy less, buy better” applies to jewellery, too. Costume gold or flimsy metals aren’t the way forward. If you can invest in a fine pair like this ‘Whoop Creoles’ design, do so and you won’t regret it. It’s essential that they’ve been responsibly made and handcrafted using traditional goldsmith techniques with the intention of long-lasting wear — after all, you’ll be wearing them on repeat.

Secure fastenings shouldn't be overlooked when you’re weighing up your purchase and, speaking of weight, the hollowed curves shouldn’t feel too light or heavy on your lobes. I fully support traceable recycled materials and plastic-free packaging is always a plus. By: Francine Heath