The 16-year-old talks purging clothes with grandma and influencing her “Black-ish” character Diane’s wardrobe.

We all buy clothes, but no two people shop the same. It can be a social experience, and a deeply personal one; at times, it can be impulsive and entertaining, at others, purpose-driven, a chore. Where do you shop? When do you shop? How do you decide what you need, how much to spend and what’s “you”? These are some of the questions we’re putting to prominent figures in our column “How I Shop.”

If you know anything about Marsai Martin, you know she’s one impressive teen. She joined the cast of a hit TV show at the age of 9 (and received three NAACP Image Award nominations for her role in it). At 13, she starred in and executive produced a feature film, becoming the youngest person ever to do so. Her career’s really just getting started — but she’s an example of someone who committed to following her dreams and made them a reality, at a very young age. And already, she’s devoting time to helping other young people do the same. 

Martin is working with Invisalign’s Changemakers Program, through which 100 people aged 13 to 19 making a positive impact in their communities were selected to each receive a $5,000 one-time cash reward. On Saturday, she hosted a virtual award ceremony to celebrate all the winners. “We both really want to just spread joy, and positivity to kids around the world in any sort of way possible,” Martin tells me of the partnership.ADVERTISING

The actor, producer and Cool Teen is an expert at spreading joy on the fashion front: With so many events and award shows to attend, Martin needs a lot of outfits and, with help from stylist Jason Rembert, she’s been achieving red-carpet excellence at every turn. Seriously, while doing photo research for this article, I could not find a single less-than-stellar outfit. She’s not afraid of color or embellishment, but always looks tasteful and age-appropriate.

Martin wearing Annakiki at the 2021 BET Awards.
Martin wearing Annakiki at the 2021 BET Awards.Photo: Amy Sussman/FilmMagic

When she’s off duty, Martin says she prioritizes comfortable pieces like sweats and baggy jeans — often with a cute pair of glasses, an accessory that’s become something of a signature for her. Invisalign put me in touch with Martin to hear all about defining her personal style, working with Rembert, having a say in what her “Black-ish” character Diane Johnson wore and more. Read on.ADVERTISING

marsai martin 4
Photo: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/Getty Images

“I’ve always been a fashionista in some way. I’ve always loved being comfortable as soon as I got home, but I used to love doing photo shoots, headshots and all that stuff, for my grandparents to see. I feel like my younger self would be proud of the things I’m be doing right now, because we’re in a world of style.

“I would say my personal style is comfort. I’m always staying comfortable, whether it’s a little bit oversized or maybe a little more flowy than usual. I feel like it’s always been like that — I’ve always been a person that loves sweats and stuff. If I did wear jeans, it’d be baggy jeans with rips all over it. I’ve always loved streetwear.

“Regina King has had an amazing red-carpet look so far. She looks so amazing every time she steps foot on the carpet. She would definitely be my number one [style icon].

Wearing a white tee with pink track pants and Nike sneakers.
Wearing a white tee with pink track pants and Nike sneakers.Photo: Rachel Murray Framingheddu/Getty Images for California Milk Processor Board

“[My co-stars and I] all have different styles that we lean towards, in the best way possible. I never really ask for advice and we all have our different things that we like, and I think that’s what makes us cool and unique.ADVERTISING

“My everyday style, it’s oversized, usually, with probably some slides or maybe a pair of Uggs. Working with a stylist has been so much fun. Just brainstorming and being really creative with another person that also has a creative mind has also been lots of fun. Jason’s really cool and so down to Earth. My family and I, we love him, and vice versa. He’s pretty great. I’m glad to be working with him.

Wearing Georges Hobeika Couture at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards.
Wearing Georges Hobeika Couture at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards.Photo: Liliane Lathan/Getty Images for NAACP

“The one look that I really love was the [2019 NAACP] Image Awards one. The all-black. It had gems and stuff on it. It was just so nice, and I think that was the first time I went all full-out, like super big. No one expected that. I probably need to do a big moment like that again.


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