Most stylish New Yorkers: Jendayi Keen

The designer shows off her bright, funky style; we tell you how to get the look.

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  • Photograph: Tia Ryan

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    Keen bought this capelike Acrobat top on sale at Wink. "I love unstructured silhouettes," she says. "I don't like to feel very constricted in my clothes." She purchased the Diesel pants at Saks Fifth Avenue and the boots at Macy's. "I don't wear heels very often, but I love these."

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    "Although I am fairly over big ironic hipster glasses, I still love these because they are speckled," admits Keen of her Urban Outfitters frames.

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    "I love this bag! To the point that it has holes in it, and I still wear it almost every day," says Keen of her "Miss Marc" Marc by Marc Jacobs tote. "It's my go-to bag."  She scored the necklace from Anthropologie. "I really fell in love with it because it's such a statement piece," she enthuses.

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    Keen accessorizes with a Nixon watch and an elephant ring from Urban Outfitters, but it's the silver snake ring that holds the most sentimental value. "I've had it since the fourth grade---I used to be obsessed with snakes as a kid---and I've always worn it on the same finger," she admits. "One of my friends borrowed it back in elementary school for, like, a month and she still teases me to this day about how I bothered her daily to bring me back that ring." 

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    "My sister convinced me to buy this yellow dress a few years ago from H&M," says Keen. "I wasn't originally sold on it, but she was right; it has become one of my favorite dresses." She cinches it with a belt she received while interning at fashion showroom Studio 13 in London. "We were compensated for our hard work with clothes and school credit instead of money," she explains. "That belt retailed for about 130 pounds."

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    Keen bought these lace-up boots at a Steve Madden store in California last Christmas. "They were having a great post-holiday sale!" she says. She's holding an H&M envelope clutch. "I love the print because it looks like watercolors, and it's big enough to hold a pair of flats to change into when I'm wearing uncomfortable heels."

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    Keen tops her ensemble with an A-line Marc by Marc Jacobs coat. "It reminds me of the jackets that the housewives would wear back in the 1950s when women dressed very feminine and sophisticated," she muses.

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    Keen piles on bangles she bought at a secondhand store in California and on the street in Soho, and a House of Harlow cocktail ring from Nicole Richie's jewelry line. "I don't buy into the hype of celebrity lines, but I actually really like hers," she explains. "It's the biggest ring I've ever seen and I always feel so glamorous wearing it."

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    "For the longest time, this locket was empty and people would always open it to see if anything was inside," says Keen. "So I decided to put a random picture of Macaulay Culkin in there, just to throw people off. Plus, Home Alone is one of my all-time favorite '90s pop-culture references."

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    Keen wears a Leifsdottir jacket with Daughters of the Liberation pants from Anthropologie. "They are so 1990, with the front pleating and the boxy shape," she says of her trousers. She tops it off with a pillbox hat that was a gift from her boss.

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    "These cat socks were so fun, I had to have them," Keen says of her Urban Outfitters find. Her pointy patent-leather shoes come from Keen's other go-to chain, Anthropologie. "They remind me of a dandy English gentleman," she muses. "I would totes wear them with a bow tie and a blazer."

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    Keen layers a heart necklace from a street vendor in Soho over a jade necklace that was a gift from her best friend in high school. She bought the nameplate necklace with one of her first paychecks ever. "I started working when I was 14 at [amusement park] Children's Fairyland in Oakland because I wanted extra money to buy clothes," she recalls. "I saved up for this nameplate; I was only working a few hours a week and making minimum wage, which at the time was $5.75 an hour, so it took a while."

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    "The pants are by Corey Lynn Calter and they pretty much sum up my style---the color, the fun and the funky appearance," notes Keen. She wears them with an American Apparel leotard and a cardigan from Urban Outfitters. "Yellow is my favorite color and I try to wear it as often as possible; it makes me happy."

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    Keen bought these zipper earrings from the Brooklyn Flea for just $5.

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    Keen wears Deena and Ozzy wedges with H&M socks. "They are knee-highs but I like to scrunch them down," she explains. "This is a good way to wear cropped pants in the winter, while still covering your legs."

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    "I love thin belts and this one was a great color," Keen says of her bright-pink waist cincher from J.Crew. A double-finger ring from Urban Outfitters and a La Mer watch from Wink provide added flair.

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    If you look closely at Keen's Marc by Marc Jacobs pear necklace, you'll notice that it serves a dual purpose. "It's a watch but the battery stopped working a long time ago and I never bothered to get a new one," she admits. "I bought it because it's whimsical and yellow."

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    t/m. cardigan sweater, $395, at Barneys New York, 660 Madison Ave between 60th and 61st Sts (212-826-8900, barneys.com)

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    Dents England cashmere-lined leather gloves, $115, at Loopy Mango, 78 Grand St between Greene and Wooster Sts (212-343-7425, loopymango.com)

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    Arrows & Hearts stone pendant, $66, at Callalilai, locations throughout the city; visit callalilai.com

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    Born Gwynne boots, $210, at David Z, 556 Broadway at Prince St (212-431-5450, davidz.com)

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    Alice + Olivia Chloe tennis dress, $396, at Alice + Olivia, 80 W 40th St at Sixth Ave (212-840-0887, aliceandolivia.com)

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    Spiewak Morton cape, $158, at piperlime.com

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    Kipling Pahoa checkbook wallet, $38, at kipling-usa.com

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    Free People mesh roses tights, $28, at Free People, locations throughout the city; visit freepeople.com

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    UrthBags Josephine tote, $48, at nimli.com

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    Jules Smith Super Stud bangle, two for $135, at julessmithdesigns.com

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    Aquatalia by Marvin K perforated stretch riding boot, $575, at Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave at 57th St (212-753-7300, bergdorfgoodman.com)

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    Madewell Goldrush sweater dress, $110, at madewell.com

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    Foxy Originals Cabaret necklace, $52, at foxyoriginals.com

Photograph: Tia Ryan

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Keen bought this capelike Acrobat top on sale at Wink. "I love unstructured silhouettes," she says. "I don't like to feel very constricted in my clothes." She purchased the Diesel pants at Saks Fifth Avenue and the boots at Macy's. "I don't wear heels very often, but I love these."

Jendayi Keen, 27, fashion designer; Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Her personal style: "Colorful, funky and fun."

Her inspiration: "Punky Brewster."

Jendayi Keen, 27, fashion designer; Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn

Her personal style: "Colorful, funky and fun."

Her inspiration: "Punky Brewster."

Favorite stores: "I shop at Monk, Beacon's Closet and the Brooklyn Flea Market for affordable vintage clothes. I hate vintage stores that overcharge for an item that was probably originally sold in Kmart. I like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters because I work there part-time and get a discount!"

Her signature accessory: "Printed, colorful scarves. Throw one on with a T-shirt and jeans and that's all you need!"

How she describes New York style: "Anything goes. Everything has been done and nothing is too much."

How her style has evolved through the years: "When I was a kid, I used to wear tie-dye from head to toe with a pair of pink glittery cowboy boots—I've always loved color and still do. Last year, I actually vowed to not buy any more black clothing for the rest of the season. It was hard, but I did it. Black is not a staple in my wardrobe, but I still wear it. Being in NYC and working in fashion, I always have my ears and eyes open to what's trending and popular. Traveling has allowed me to become more in tune with international and regional styles. I love being able to tell where a person is from just by what they are wearing. I've become pretty good at it too!"

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