Waikinya Clanton

You might know this political operative from recent headlines. In April, she joined two other newly appointed women of color on the DNC’s senior leadership team. That’s about the time she was nominated by multiple people for Spotlight. It was instantly clear that Waikinya was someone we all needed to hear from and see in action. She proved us right on set and we’re incredibly grateful to her for being a part of our collaboration.

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Waikinya Clanton Sets the Style Agenda

D.C. based Senior Political Advisor Waikinya Clanton say it’s all about what you say and how you say it. She uses the same approach when it comes to styling - which explains why she sports a flourish whether she’s shaking hands with elected officials or going out after a long conference day.

Waikinya’s plan for the day changes with the 24-hour news cycle. Today, she might be reaching out to gubernatorial nominees in her home state of Mississippi. Tomorrow, she might be building infrastructure for presidential candidates in Iowa. The one thing her days have in common is people. “I looooooove people,” shares our dynamic Spotlight feature. “My passion and purpose is rooted in helping people - finding solutions to people’s problems and helping leaders who do that every single day.” 

She’s known for being bright and bold in her strategies - and in her style, too. 

Fun and unexpected, Waikinya’s signature looks tap into the daring nature of color. She uses it as a tool to channel how she wants to feel that day, which explains why her closet is a rainbow. “[When I started modeling in college], I discovered I can have fun with fashion,” declares Waikinya, who can often be found in suits that push the edge with extra personality. It’s anything but the usual black, navy or white found on the Hill.

Being different is powerful and she lets that show. 

That’s why you won’t see any powersuits in this Spotlight shoot. Waikinya felt her best in looks that were still bold and versatile enough for her days such as jumpsuits, separates, and dresses in energizing palettes. Her favorites? The Tie Neck Dress in purple and orange that lets her show off her legs. Also, the matching set in purple with a long loose pant. And, most of all, the striped Dolman sleeve dress in pink and green - the same colors as the blazer that made her feel like the most fashionable girl in the world during her days at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. This shows just how fashion fits into her life - as another avenue to make a statement.

Her bold vision has been a constant in her life. A calling, according to Waikinya. It’s why she ran for student council in school, why she knocked on doors to remind people to vote and what compelled her to become the president of her college’s NAACP. “Once you’ve been called to something, it’s hard to shake it. You’ll see your calling demonstrated at various phases of your life and you have to pay attention,” Waikinya recalls. Today, it’s led her to spearhead the black-women engagement program, Seat at the Table, and start her new work as an Equity Advocate for Sephora. Where does this path lead? 

We can’t wait to find out as the work continues for our alliance builder as she takes Washington by storm & style.

The ELQ&A

How do you define success?
Success is not how much money I have in my bank account or how many awards are on my shelf or how fancy my friends are. It’s who I am and where I am and who’s surrounding me.

How has your style evolved?
Oh girl, my style has definitely evolved. I used to be all jeans and sweatshirts and then I started modeling in college and that changed my style. 

What was your gateway ELOQUII purchase?
The bell-sleeve, off-the-shoulder dress. I bought it in purple, red and black. I want that dress to come back. 

What’s the best advice you’ve received?
Stay focused. This is advice from my former boss. No one determines your success but you. Also, stay humble. It’s what I live by. My work is to serve people at every level. 

What trends are you excited about this season?
More off-the-shoulder and scoop neck styles. I love my shoulders.


Love Waikinya’s story? Want to see more? Check out our new arrivals and shop her favorite looks!