With the 2022 WNBA draft officially set for April 11, let’s talk about the least important thing: what are the athletes going to wear?
As Lindsay Gibbs pointed out in her incredible draft fashion retrospective, players spent years dressing for Draft Day like it was an interview and they were given one hour in a Sears to find the right outfit. To be fair, shopping for a suit when you’re a woman over 6’0 seems like an absolute nightmare, so I think we can give them a pass on some mistakes.
But let’s not focus on the lowlights. Here are the players that started out their WNBA career on a high note. I’ve broken down the WNBA draft fashion into categories and then selected my favorite from each group.
Satou absolutely stole the show in the 2020 draft with her custom boldly patterned suit. She later sported this custom hoodie, representing her U.S., German, and Gambian origins, which said “Mehr Als Ein Athlet” (More Than an Athlete) a nod to the quote from Lebron James and included authentic African fabrics. The message was a fitting start to the activist-athlete’s WNBA career and to the 2020 season in general, which was dedicated to social justice.
Other draftees who made the bold suit work for them include Diamond DeShields (2018, #3), who accessorized with a sleek pony and incredible shoes, and Megan Walker (2020, #9), who stood out from the pack in yellow and picked the best possible accessory, her dog Daz.
The white suit deserves a category all of its own, as it is a top choice for the top picks. A crisp white suit is such a classic, confident look, and Brittney stole the show with one in the 2013 draft. BG knew all eyes would be on her, especially with comments surrounding her at the time that she was a talent that could succeed both in the NBA and WNBA. She showed up ready (and her orange nails made clear she was dedicated to the W).
Number 1 picks Candace Parker (2008) and Seimone Augustus (2006) also celebrated their big day in a white suit, although I think Seimone chose a much better one for her wedding. Top pick Alana Beard (2004, #2) also went with a white suit and iconically accessorized it with slides. The White Suit may be falling out of fashion though, due to Charli Collier (2021, #1) changing the game with her custom dress and photoshoot ahead of being drafted at the top of her class.
Gabby looks stunning here. Perfectly accessorized with great hair, big hoops, and red lipstick, it’s a classic look with enough of a twist to keep things interesting.
Others who opted to go sleek and stunning include Jordin Canada (2018, #5) and Shatori Walker Kimbrough (2017, #6).
Aari changed the game in 2021, thinking beyond the outfit to the entire mise en scène. She used her backdrop to make sure everyone knew how to say her name, a move that is unfortunately necessary in the WNBA.
Other unique, but perhaps less successful looks include Kiah Stokes (2015, #11) modeling the Bumpit, Sylvia Fowles (2008, #2) dressed as a magician, and Courtney Williams (2016, #8), who came in disguise.
Although Zahui B. has stated that her bow tie days are over, there’s no denying the quality of this look. The bow tie is perfectly complemented by her big hair, suspenders, and baby face.
Other players who showed up looking particularly dapper include Toni Young (2013, #7), Layshia Clarendon (2013, #9), and Rennia Davis (2021, #9).
Sometimes, the best strategy is to keep it simple and let your muscles do the talking. Kendra is one of the earliest and most successful of this genre, as you barely notice the sad little flower ruffle when you’re trying to remember the last time you did a push-up.
Other players who deployed this strategy include Maya Moore (2011, #1), who would like to distract you from her open-toed flats, Crystal Dangerfield (2020, #16), who would like to remind you why it was a mistake to pick her this late, and DeWanna Bonner (2009, #5), who has nothing to hide she just looks great.
As Gibbs notes in her article, beginning around 2010, the fashion brief changed from “interview for a mid-level office position” to “cocktail party that you regret choosing to wear Spanx to halfway through.” It was a big upgrade, as demonstrated by Alysha in her chic navy skirt paired with classic pearls. She’s definitely showing up to the party with something that’s made in a jello mold.
Others invited to my small, socially-distanced gathering include Odyssey Sims (2014, #2), who is dressed literally and figuratively like a star, Chiney Ogwumike (2014, #1), who brought her sister Nneka Ogwumike (2012, #1), and Samantha Prahalis (2012, #6) because she’s dressed exactly how I would dress when going to a party in 2012 and I would like to commiserate. Finally, any good party should certainly include an invite for Michaela Onyenwere's (2021, #6) grandmother, whose fashion sense is only rivaled by her dance moves.
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