A Uniform Response to Chaos: Janelle Monáe

With savvy synchronized moves, perfect dance-punk neo-soul beats, futuristic art, and a surreal sense of style, Janelle Monáe might as well be an ArchAndroid (the title of her newest release, out this week). My husband and I first heard about her through his friend at work. He was intrigued by the way her song “Make the Bus” sounded a lot like Of Montreal’s last three albums and soon found that they had actually collaborated. It was a smooth introduction to Janelle through a band we already loved!

Ms. Monáe was featured in the November 2009 issue of Vogue and the Summer 2009 issue of Paper. Read an excerpt from Paper’s article:

For Monáe, who is no joke about what she wears (currently only black and white—usually a white shirt, black tie, black pants and saddle shoes), uniforms have come to represent her rejection of chaos; they are the anti-chaos—the walls against which her anomalistic mind can push while she goes about creating and maintaining the persona that is Janelle Monáe.

“I have always taken to uniforms,” she explains. “I loved watching the guys and the girls in their post office uniforms. And I was obsessed with Colonel Sanders.”

“I just idolized his outfit, and it was the weirdest thing to people around me, because they didn’t understand. We would go get KFC and I’d be like, ‘Oh, my God, I love his outfit!'” So much that she tried to re-create it as a kid — mostly in her mind, though, because, “when you’re a kid, you don’t really want to go there. I was a little afraid that people would be like, ‘Why is she wearing this all the time?'” Clearly, she got over that. Later on in grade school, she wore a cape for three straight months, and dressed as a pirate for two.

Not too long ago, I was talking about a different kind of uniform, one that I had put on immodestly as a response to too much structure. I was clearly disillusioned by what I thought was setting me free. I killed creativity by flaunting my flesh as a way to get attention through my body and not my clothes. Uniforms can be so much fun after all. Just look at the way Janelle embodies this clean and prim style. She hardly ever looks like she’s wearing something from an adult costume store or a mini-uniform as a sad excuse for a Halloween costume. Janelle is displaying her choice of clothes as the avant-garde expression of her response to chaos. She successfully pulls off the look well, contrasting the rigidness of uniforms with the fluidity of her music.

My birthday is coming up next weekend, and you know what I would really like to add to my closet? A military or band-style blazer. It’s been pounding on my heart like a drum roll.

31 thoughts on “A Uniform Response to Chaos: Janelle Monáe

  1. Oh,isn’t this the girl from the Coca Cola commercial`?She looks awfully nice and I have a sympathy for dark-skinned people,reminds me of Black-Power movement and their great music.

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