The W in Designer | Playoffs Style Matchup: Kelsey Plum and Skylar Diggins-Smith

A style comparison of two of the most aggressive guards in the league, from head to toe. 

Maybe the highlight of the first round of the 2022 WNBA Playoffs presented by Google is the matchup between All-Star Guards Kelsey Plum and Skylar Diggins-Smith. On the court, Kelsey is one of the most electric players to watch in the sport. Her ability to switch gears in transition is almost like a Maserati moving through Malibu. For Skylar, watching her hoop, you see that it’s more than a game for her. She plays the game like basketball is an art form, and the hardwood is her canvas. While both players are similar in their nature on the court, they both also utilize their off-court fashion to create the aura that exuberates off of them that matches their personality and game. 

While Diggins-Smith is an inch taller than Plum, they share key traits that make them All-Star players: they’re known for their dedication to being excellent athletes and fiercely outspoken about their experiences in the league. With a serious on-court attitude and stone-cold moves against her opponents, it’s fitting that Diggins-Smith’s only nickname is “Sky.” On the other hand, Plum’s nicknames include “KP” and, occasionally, “Plum Dawg” on Twitter, which reflects her springy, jokester, rebel energy. It’s hard to imagine Diggins-Smith rallying her team into trying the TikTok-viral Tortilla Challenge, but Plum is down to clown when receiving the WNBA commissioner’s miniature All-Star trophy. Where both players align is in the fact that they’re fearless when it comes to keeping it a buck, bringing a level of honesty that is fresh, relatable, and genuinely appreciated.

From head to toe, the differences in their on-court energies and personalities are reflected in their outfits throughout this season. No matter the temperature, Diggins-Smith has a dangerously chic look enhanced by long coats, oversized pieces, and slicked-back, all-black looks. Plum’s style is also chic but interpreted more boldly through bright pops of color, structured pants, and streetwear pieces from emerging basketball brands. They’re both elevating overall athlete style, as seen in the details of this Playoffs Style Matchup: 

 

Sneakerhead Steaze vs. Dangerously Sharp Footwear 

Leaning more into streetwear, Plum is subtly showing her inner sneakerhead with flashy colorways of Nike Dunks, multiple models from Off-White’s collaboration with Nike, and crispy pairs of Nike Air Force 1’s. Studying her pre-game outfits this season, I don’t think Plum has worn any other shoes, but there’s a satisfying amount of variety and consistency within her sneaker collection. Working with stylist Sydney Bordonaro, who’s a pro at rare sourcing pairs for her clients, Plum never lets a hyped pair of sneakers take the attention away from her. 

Although many WNBA players wear Nike Dunks, they’ve never been spotted on Diggins-Smith. Instead, Diggins-Smith tends to wear more elevated sneakers from Alexander McQueen, fashion-forward PUMA silhouettes like her well-loved pair of Regal RS Renegades, or high-heel boots. While stylist Kristine Anigwe occasionally puts Diggins-Smith in colorful outfits, her footwear choices never include eye-catching colorways or distracting styles. Recently, Diggins-Smith has been wearing White Dr. Marten Boots to bring an extra tough vibe when she arrives at games. 

 

Repping Emerging Basketball Brands vs. Retro Pieces with Renegade Styling

The influence of basketball culture touches lifestyle and streetwear brands, which has led to the birth of emerging sports-inspired brands. As a younger player, Plum is a great person to rep these brands during the WNBA’s pre-game moments. Plum has worn Bristol Studio’s Triple Hem Shorts in Gradient Grey and Ryoko Rain’s Black Paisley Shorts, introducing unconventional patterns and construction to basketball shorts. By rocking shorts from independent designers, Plum is upholding classic basketball fashion while infusing her pieces with more creativity and self-expression. 

There’s an essence of classic basketball fashion in Diggins-Smith’s outfits, but she always adds a surprising twist through her styling. Perhaps we’ll look back on this season and realize that Diggins-Smith might have started a backward jersey trend. She’s worn a rare, oversized Kobe Bryant jersey from his high school era backward and the Desert Sky Jersey Dress from her recent PUMA collaboration backward. Neither of these pieces departs from traditional jersey construction, and it’s how Diggins-Smith wears them that makes her sporty outfits feel so innovative. 

 

Strong Structured Pieces vs. Silky Smooth Flows

Plum’s impressive on-court strength is felt in her affinity for extremely structured pieces in eye-catching colors. From blazers to coats, Plum has frequently worn pieces defined by dramatic shoulder silhouettes and deep collars that never bend. The bottom halves of her outfits are equally tailored with wide leg cuts in stiff, snatched materials and perfectly fit jeans. Looking at her garments, fans are more likely to see Plum take a risk with its color than with the shape. Even the purses– a Prada Triangle bag or a Dior Book Tote– that Plum wears contain sculptural forms and sturdy materials. 

Her pre-game outfits feature loose, fluid materials and oversized pieces for added drama, capturing Diggins-Smith’s calm composure. She frequently wears custom silk or leather pieces from Anigwe’s brand KA Originals that are perfectly cropped to suit Diggins-Smith’s height. Wide-leg pants have also been heavily worn by Diggins-Smith this season, but she tends to gravitate towards muted colors and interesting textures. Unlike Plum, who tends to pair her wide-leg pants with cropped tops, Diggins-Smith will double-up with loose and long shirts for a full free-flow effect. 

 

Tight Topknot Bun vs. Slicked-Back Ponytails 

The most consistent element of Plum’s style is probably the tight topknot bun that keeps distractions away when she’s killing it on the court. She also rocks really dark eyebrows that scrunch up when Plum plots out her next moves in games. Since Plum builds her bold sense of style through a simple formula of curated pieces, she doesn’t rely on too many accessories. She’ll occasionally wear thin gold necklaces or hoop earrings and a pair of Fendi sunglasses. While some players have manicured nails or makeup, Plum is a true Southern California girl for keeping her look natural. 

Diggins-Smith is one of the only players in the league with eyebrows that are fierce enough to rival Plum’s. Beyond her collected exterior, Diggins-Smith’s brows reveal inner emotions and in-game moments when she might be frustrated. During games, this guard keeps her hair in a slicked-back ponytail, which enhances her sharp Matrix-inspired pre-game looks and the occasional slicked-back bun. With outfits composed of thoughtful layers and extra large purses, Diggins-Smith doesn’t accessorize with any headwear or signature jewelry. Diggins-Smith almost always incorporates a pair of dark sunglasses into her pre-game outfits as part of her intimidating arrival. 

WNBA reporter Kirsten Chen writes a lifestyle & fashion column on WNBA.com throughout the season and can be reached on Twitter through @hotgothwriter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the WNBA or its clubs.