Five years after releasing her smash debut album, CTRL, SZA released her lauded sophomore effort SOS late last year and is currently on a sold-out tour. The singer-songwriter’s prowess undoubtedly lies in her songwriting. Who else can make the lyric “I just killed my ex…. Rather be alone than unhappy” seem both poignant and poised to go viral on TikTok? But the star is also delivering artistic messages via her clothing. The singer has occasionally leaned into bold high-fashion this promo cycle, including wearing an ethereal Iris Van Herpen design for Time magazine and a high-slit Oliver Theyskens spring 2023 patchwork dress for the Billboard Women in Music Awards. Of course, there are still the SZA signatures we know and love: oversized jerseys, baggy jeans, varsity jackets. But that’s the magic of the singer’s style right now. Whether it’s a couture dress or casual-leaning vintage jeans, everything she wears feels as down-to-earth and authentic as her songs.
Key to SZA’s latest style chapter is the performer’s longtime stylist Alejandra Hernandez. The two first connected in 2016, when they worked together on the visual for SZA’s early-career single, “Drew Barrymore.” Since then, the two women have formed a strong creative bond. Hernandez has styled SZA for the bulk of SOS—including music videos, red carpet appearances, and even handcrafted tour looks. Hernandez, who also runs the athleisure brand Year of Ours, says an overarching focus when creating SZA’s looks is comfort. “She wants to be comfortable,” the stylist said. “Literally comfortable, but also comfortable with herself.”
To Hernandez, there is quiet power in a star of SZA’s caliber performing in arenas in an enviable array of thrifted jerseys from the ’90s and menswear pieces. “Most of the girls in her space are wearing a bedazzled catsuit or a leotard,” Hernandez says. “It’s so cool that she just wears the things she feels comfortable in any setting, regardless of what is expected of someone at her level.”
Below, Hernandez unpacks the comfort-focused fashion behind SZA’s SOS era.