Monroe Steele is a Taurus, ruled by the planet Venus and born between the 20th days of April and May. She takes the astrological delineation very seriously. “Us Taureans love physical things and touch,” she tells me from her apartment in Harlem, citing her affinity for all things cozy. True to form, her home decor looks as though it was plucked from one of Instagram’s viral memes about Taureans relaxing as an Olympic sport.
On any given day, you can find the popular style blogger and entrepreneur who boasts more than 80,000 Instagram followers luxuriating inside her Harlem apartment and surrounded by thriving plants, calming neutral tones, and oversized windows with plenty of sunlight. Her skin is glowing and makeup-free, thanks to an extensive nighttime routine, and by evening, she may trade in her coffee for “merlot. Always merlot.”
Taureans might be prone to bouts of relaxation, but Steele’s self-care routine has real-world significance. Alongside her successful YouTube page, where she posts twice-weekly videos for her more than 30,000 subscribers, and an annual digital publication, Steele Magazine, she recently launched a series of video courses to teach influencers and entrepreneurs how to “level up.” She also has a clothing line in the works.
Black women carry the burden of everything. We need comfort of mind, body, and spirit any way we can get it. Grasp it and hold it tight. I don’t want to die exhausted.
It’s fulfilling work, but in addition to her blog and sponsored campaigns — as many as five a week — it can be overwhelming. Couple that with the stress of the news — rising COVID-19 cases that disproportionately impact people of color, Breonna Taylor’s killing for which cops have yet to be charged, and an onslaught of racist and sexist attacks targeting vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris — and it’s become more important than ever for her to prioritize mental health.
“Statistics don’t lie — Black women carry the burden of everything,” she says. “We fight for everyone. It can be exhausting to simply exist. We need safe spaces. We need comfort of mind, body, and spirit any way we can get it. Grasp it and hold it tight. I don’t want to die exhausted.”
The unrelenting stress of racism and sexism — and its far-reaching effects on everything from cognitive function to mortality rate — is something Steele knows all too well. In fact, her decision to blog full time was itself a form of self-care. After practicing as a doctor of physical therapy for eight years, she says she left her job in November 2018 after being discriminated against by her then-employers.
“They wanted me to take a pay cut for six months,” she says. “I was the only female employee and the only Black employee. I found out they hadn’t asked anyone else, including the owner, to take a pay cut for the betterment of the business. I decided to walk away from that job because I didn’t feel appreciated. It was the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Free from that toxic environment, Steele harnessed her creativity into a prolific style career, where she’s known for incorporating vibrant, Instagram-friendly pieces into her wardrobe, like Rixo’s mixed-print slip dress or Jacquemus’ fuchsia shorts. But thanks to quarantine, where even International Fashion Week attendees like Steele are confined to their homes for months on end, she’s recently turned into a “loungewear queen.”
Comfort equates to feeling cozy for me. A silk slip dress against my skin. A cozy knit surrounding me on a cool autumn night.
“I used to make a beeline for dresses and skirts when shopping online but now I head straight for knits, loungewear, and matching sets,” she says. “I live for cozy knitwear, easy throw-on house dresses, and anything that’s comfortable yet still chic.” That includes a new, pared-down color palette: “I’m leaning toward nudes and neutrals paired with mints, Bordeaux, and muted [hues].”
Photographer: Nyra Lang
Stylist: EJ Briones
Fashion Director: Tiffany Reid
VP of Creative: Karen Hibbert
Art Director: Shanelle Infante