There may be no pop song on earth that lit my fire more than when L.L. Cool J sang his ode to the "around the way" girl:
“I want a girl with extensions in her hair -- bamboo earrings, at least 2 pair. A Fendi bag and a bad attitude? That’s all I need to get me in a good mood.”
"Around the Way Girl" by L.L. Cool J, from the amazing album "Mama Said Knock You Out".
Of course I still have this record! (Even though I no longer own an actual record player.)
You know how people say something was from God’s mouth to their ears? Well, this song was that for me. It took me a good long while to save my babysitting money for a Fendi bag, but I somehow talked my mom into the fake gold doorknocker earrings almost instantly. I wear them both regularly to this very day:
I went through a short phase where I was afraid that "Sex and the City" had ruined the Fendi Baguette for life, but now I’m pretty confident that it’s a classic, especially in the original brown monogram pattern. I mean, CRISIS AVERTED, right?
I can’t explain how bad I used to wish my name was Lisa, Angela, Pamela or Renee. My definition of an "around the way" girl is a neighborhood babe who looks just as hot in a pair of sneakers as some girls do in stilettos. A girl who can hold her own with the dudes, who has street smarts and sass galore. That girl is POISON! Who wouldn’t wanna be her? "Around the way" girls also have a personal style that’s fierce, colorful, totally boss and includes copious amounts of GOLD.
A pair of huge-ass gold earrings are the cornerstone of the "around the way" girl look, and the bigger, the better:
Goldtone bamboo hoop earrings, $1.99. (No, that's not a typo!)
Goldtone shrimp hoop earrings, $8.99.
Then there's the mother of all gold earrings, ZODIAC HOOPS!
I realize that there are some insane doorknocker/bamboo earring options out there made out of REAL ACTUAL 14K GOLD, but since Wells Fargo recently let some crook drain my checking account dry via my debit card, I CAN'T AFFORD THE REAL ONES RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE. (Do a little research into the amount of fraud linked to debit card use: you'll be terrified and cut yours up just like I did.)
All these years later, someone has made a T-shirt quoting my favorite line from the "Around the Way Girl" track:
"Around the Way Girls" T-shirt, $24.00.
Wild prints are another hallmark of "around the way" chick style. I'm such a sucker for an insane print.
Blue floral print dress, $26.00
Tassel print jacket, $80.00.
Chain print dress, $37.00.
I so badly wanna hate on the crazy 80s leggings craze that just won't die, but I am inexplicably drawn to them due to some insane invisible 80s nostalgia force that is way beyond my control. They complete the "around the way" girl vibe so perfectly -- the crazy splash of color is exactly what the look needs:
Abstract leggings, $39.99.
Multicolor geometric leggings, $9.95.
MTTB peacock leggings, $50.00.
Don't sweat the leggings if you hate 'em -- because splashy accessories are really the heart and soul of the "around the way" girl vibe. Flashy trinkets with mad personality can help everyone affect a bit of "around the way" fashion. That's what the whole look is about, really: colorful, edgy style that's not afraid to make a splash and talk all loud.
Black/purple shades, $195.00.
Lion head necklace, $72.00.
X-ray backpack, $60.00.
M.I.A. "Bad Girls" USB necklace, $50.00.
CAZAL 607's, $359.99.
The Reebok Freestyle is the original "around the way" girl shoe. The Reeboks of my high school career only came in one color: puffy white moonboot.
White Reebok Freestyles, $64.99.
The recent re-issues of the classic Reebok Freestyle kicks are acid-trip freaky cool:
Black/purple Reebok Freestyles, $79.99.
Melody Ehsani X Reebok collab sneaker, $170.00.
Fun factoid: The Reebok Freestyle was nicknamed the "54.11" because they almost always retailed for $49.99 and with tax, it came to $54.11. (I learned this in Vibe magazine back in the day, where I've gleaned all my important life lessons.)
Back in the Days"--photographs by Jamel Shabazz, $25.27.
It's always one of my go-to books when I'm looking for that little special detail to make a character's look pop on a show.
Cruising around wearing my gold rope doorknocker earrings with my prized purple & yellow Lakers hightops always puts a spring in my step.
It makes me want to snap my gum a little harder and laugh with my friends as we ignore boys we pass on the street. For a little while, I'm just as cool as Lisa, Angela, Pamela and Renee.
(I’m on Twitter: @IveyAlison)