The Real Reason Janelle Monáe Wears Black and White So Much

When Janelle Monáe steps out, there’s a pretty good chance she’s going to be wearing black and white. Fans might think that this is just a part of her shtick — like clocks are to Flavor Flav or rainbow hair is to Tekashi 6ix9ine. But the reason for that is much deeper and more personal. Here’s more on the “Tightrope” singer and why she wears those colors so much.

Janelle Monae at an event
Janelle Monáe at an event in March 2020 in Paris, France | Julien Hekimian/Getty Images

How Janelle Monáe got famous

Hailing from Kansas City, Kansas, Monáe started singing and putting out music at a young age. Her big break came after Big Boi of Outkast heard one of her songs called “Let Me Go” and invited her to work on their 2006 album Idlewild.

“He and Andre 3000 are big supporters of me, and they wanted me to be on the Outkast album,” she recalled to Westword in 2011. “I was leaving my job at the time, and I wrote a song called “Let Me Go” and he heard it and put it out. I’ll forever be thankful for him. He’s like a big brother and somebody who definitely helped my career blossom.”

Later, Big Boi introduced her to Diddy, who gave Monaé a deal with his label Bad Boy. From there, she started releasing more and more music before breaking out into the mainstream with her 2010 hit “Tightrope.”

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Monáe has since released three studio albums and several other hit songs, including 2013’s “Q.U.E.E.N.” with Erykah Badu and 2018’s “I Like That.”

You can catch Janelle Monáe in black and white a lot of the time

Monaé is arguably just as known for her fashion sense as she is for her music. She tends to wear outfits that often follow black and white color tones, telling Access Hollywood in 2019 that it’s her way of honoring her working-class parents. (Her mother used to work as a janitor and her father drove trucks.)

 “They wore uniforms and so I wore black and white as my own uniform to pay homage to them,” she told the outlet (via Us Weekly). “That was my first inspiration.”

She especially likes tuxedos and other suit-like styles, saying, “In a tuxedo you’re timeless, and you’re right on time.”⁣

“I bathe in it, I swim in it, and I could be buried in it. A tux is such a standard uniform, it’s so classy and it’s a lifestyle I enjoy. The tux keeps me balanced. I look at myself as a canvas. I don’t want to cloud myself with too many colors or I’ll go crazy,” she added in a throwback interview with Honey magazine (via Morts & More).

But at the same time, Monaé sometimes switches up her look. She made headlines when she hit the 2019 Met Gala in a black and white dress with splashes of Barbie pink and recently turned heads in a layered brown dress for a cover story with the fashion magazine Neu Neu. Her looks have earned her recognition as a style icon and hilariously, the “queen of black and white.”