It’s easy to focus on Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong’s striking ensembles when you first meet her. But you’ll quickly learn there are many layers to this writer turned communicator turned producer. The charming and witty first-generation Ghanaian-American, who was born in Sarasota, Florida, has enjoyed a globetrotting career that has taken her from agricultural research in Nigeria to a storytelling fellowship in Oakland, California, and to the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge. Through her travels, Gyimah-Brempong has created a personal style that brings together whimsical thrift-store finds, New Look- inspired silhouettes, bold jewelry and vibrant Ankara prints (also called wax print) she discovered while in West Africa. “I believe in dressing to amuse myself,” she says. “I love the idea of being intentionally put together but to look as though you could show up anywhere in the world.”
Gyimah-Brempong moved to Seattle from Oakland last year to become a producer of KUOW-FM’s midday program The Record, from which she’s embraced lessons learned from on-air guests. “Almost every guest changes my perspective or behavior,” she says. “I recycle differently because of Recology CleanScapes’ Kevin Kelly, I see Metro drivers differently because of Nathan Vass, and I have learned so much about Washington state from Tod Marshall and Claudia Castro Luna,” she says, referring to the incoming and outgoing state poet laureates respectively. Another consequence of moving here? “I have learned to dress more for comfort.” But you might still see her in a dress and cowboy boots on her way to the airport.
Style Me Pretty
"I’m very skeptical of trends,” Gyimah-Brempong says. “I think there are a lot of ideas that force us to move in lockstep with pieces that just really don’t look good on everyone.” She believes that people should dress to complement their silhouette, a lesson she learned early on as a sewing fan and personal stylist. “My mother is a banker, and I ended up styling her because she was stuck in the early ’90s,” she continues. “Then, all of her high-powered friends, who had the resources but not a lot of time, asked me to help them redo their wardrobes, too.”
Out of Africa
From 2012 to 2013, Gyimah-Brempong lived and worked in the Nigerian capital of Abuja while her father ran a think tank there. In that city, she developed relationships with tailors who crafted dresses based on Pinterest images she found. “Many of the pieces were ’50s-inspired and accented my waist, which gave me a lot more confidence while I was living there.” Afropolitanism—a term that refers to Africans who incorporate outside cultures and ideas into their daily lives—is a way she describes her creations: dresses in classic Western silhouettes using Ankara fabrics in bright colors and geometric prints. “It melded the two sides of my personality,” she says.
Earrings: Gyimah-Brempong’s own