She's a self-proclaimed sneakerhead (girl has more than 300 pairs of kicks in her closet), and has worn Nike gear for as long as she can remember. Elena Delle Donne and her teammates proudly sported the iconic Swoosh logo across their chests from practice to the podium during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. It's only right that the sportswear and lifestyle brand would host a homecoming event for the gold medalist.
"I'm so honored to be here," said the Chicago Sky starter and 2015 WNBA MVP. "Nike is like family to me. I've been obsessed with the brand since I was old enough to understand what Nike was. I remember feeling like a new person whenever I'd get a new pair of their sneakers."
The homecoming kicked off on Thursday night at the Michigan Avenue store's week-long styling series, a promotion that gives shoppers a closer look at its "tech pack" fall collection through one-on-one sessions with some of Chicago's most notable fashion stylists and wardrobe consultants.
Delle Donne is particularly thrilled about the collection. At 6-foot-5, she admits that finding pieces to fit her stature can be difficult, but this line seems to do the trick. "If you're tall like me, you're going to love [the collection]. The arm lengths are great and the pieces just move with you. The [Sportswear Tech Fleece] is probably my favorite."
She also joked that she'll have to keep her new favorite top away from her mother, who's known to raid her closet. "My mom steals all my stuff. So, I'm going to have to hide this from her."
At the event, which was hosted by Val Warner -- a co-anchor for ABC Chicago's morning show "Windy City Live" -- and moderated by fashion stylist BeBe Jones of styling firm Row A Seat 1, experts shared their tips for mastering the season's most swoon-worthy athleisure trends. Of course, Delle Donne had her own styling secrets to add: "If my jeans don't fit perfectly, I'll just roll them up and make them capris. Or, I'll wear really tall boots so that no one knows that my jeans are really up to here," she told Warner, as she pointed to her kneecaps. "I make it work."
Though she jokes about her height, Delle Donne admitted that she wouldn't have it any other way. "I absolutely love being tall. It makes me unique."
The recently engaged 26-year-old shared that she and fiancée Amanda Clifton have set a soft date for their upcoming nuptials -- which is tentatively slated for November 2017. As for her styling plans for the big day, you can expect to see the athlete in a wedding gown. "Maybe Nike can make you a dress," Clifton added. "That's a good idea!" replied Delle Donne.
As for her greatest accessory of all, the basketball star's Olympic gold medal is displayed on her mantle. "Being in Rio was an absolute dream come true. Getting that medal put around my neck was by far the greatest moment of the whole trip. They're sending us this awesome wooden case, so I'm going to keep it on display." She added that getting to catch events that she'd watched since she was a child like swimming and beach volleyball was "pretty special."
Friday , Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky will play the visiting Seattle Storm. Before the game, Delle Donne likely went through her regular series of game-day rituals: a big breakfast in the morning, a small lunch, and then a half of a bagel with peanut butter right before she gets on the court. She'll also jam to a playlist that Clifton has created for her, which includes "Closer" by The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey.
"I also have gum that I have to chew [before my games]. I'm superstitious about it. I chew a piece during warm-ups and then a new piece for the game. If we're not playing well, at halftime I switch the piece because it's clearly the gum's fault. And if we have a couple losses in a row, I throw the pack away and have to buy a new one. I don't know where this superstition came from but it just continued to grow." Seems to be working, so no judgement here!
Lyndsay Green is a Chicago-based style and travel editor and founder of Beauty Atlas magazine, a destination guide for beauty enthusiasts. When she's not in some far-flung destination testing natural face masks or stocking up on foreign beauty products, you can find her brushing up on her tumbling skills in an adult gymnastics class in the Windy City.