Fashion Icon Tracee Ellis Ross Talks the Power of Style: "I Wear My Insides on the Outside"

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She is a fashion icon, indeed. On Nov. 15, Tracee Ellis Ross accepted the award for Fashion Icon of 2020 at the People's Choice Awards, and her speech was about so much more than style — it was about how our fashion choices reflect who we are and who she is. Tracee thanked the fashion magazines where she worked at the start of her career, as well as the designers and stylists she's worked with over the years. The most personal thank you, of course, was for her mother, Diana Ross.

"I have to thank the icon herself, my mom. Not only for her great parenting, but also her example of her sense of style, her epic closet, and her glamour that introduced me to the power of fashion," Tracee said. "After she would finish a show and the curtain would fall, I would go on stage as a little girl and collect all of the beads that had fallen off her sparkly dresses so that I could have pieces of the magic, the seeds of the fashion dreams that I was cultivating for myself." She went on to call Diana's closet "the best fashion playground of all time."

"Style has nothing to do with money; it's the way you put things together."

But for Tracee, it didn't matter who her parents were; it was her passion for putting together outfits that helped her express herself. "Second-hand clothing helped me understand that style has nothing to do with money; it's the way you put things together. Style is the how, not the what," she said. "I wear my insides on the outside."

Tracee's acceptance speech was four full minutes of inspirational quotes and words of wisdom about vintage shopping, but nothing hit as close to home as her final statements about the power that fashion can have. "Use fashion as an entrance. Let your clothes be your superhero cape allowing you to be the best you you can be. Activate the clothes through your joy and commitment to the world that you want to see. It doesn't matter if you wear black tie or a Black Lives Matter T-shirt, but suit up and show up, because our action creates our destiny, our joy creates space for our freedom." Watch the empowering speech above.