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My New York City Carrie Bradshaw Moment

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I moved to New York City in 2010 for graduate school and eventually to work as a news reporter. During my time there I always wanted to snap a Carrie Bradshaw-esque photo on the streets of Manhattan. (You know, the casual t-shirt tucked into the tutu skirt and dainty heels with a statement clutch purse, hailing a cab…all that.)

Well, I finally got my moment while shooting with one of the best photographers I’ve worked with to date, Gregory of M76Photo. Not only is he easy to work with, he makes you feel comfortable and does such an incredible job never over shooting, but still getting the best shots over and over again. It truly was a pleasure to work with him. (We’re definitely collaborating again when I’m in NYC later this week!)

We shot several looks during my recent trip to New York City and this was one of them. I got my Sex and the City moment…with a plus size twist! I styled my look with a shirt I designed myself thanks to Customized Girl. They offer really great prices on custom shirts, hats, underwear, pet clothing, and even items for babies. I made a total of four shirts: two that rep for ChiefofStyle.com, this one, and another that I can’t wait to show you (coming soon)!

To complete my look, I wore this perfect tutu skirt I bought from The Plus Bus, a plus-size retail store that sells new and used clothing. It’s from Anthropologie and it once belonged to plus size style blogger, Alex Michael May. And of course, I had to have a statement clutch. This one was a gift from Roaman’s and I’m absolutely obsessed with it!

Have you had your Carrie Bradshaw moment yet? If not, I suggest you make it happen, whether in NYC or your hometown. If you do, share the link in the bio! It was a lot of fun and I felt like a true fashion diva.

xx

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, having a Sex and the City/Carrie Bradshaw moment in New York City.

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, having a Sex and the City/Carrie Bradshaw moment in New York City.

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, having a Sex and the City/Carrie Bradshaw moment in New York City.

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, having a Sex and the City/Carrie Bradshaw moment in New York City.

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, having a Sex and the City/Carrie Bradshaw moment in New York City.

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, having a Sex and the City/Carrie Bradshaw moment in New York City.

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, having a Sex and the City/Carrie Bradshaw moment in New York City.

Outfit details: Top: Customized Girl | Skirt: Anthropologie / The Plus Bus | Shoes: Forever 21 | Clutch: Roaman’s

Photographer: @M76Photo

Letting Go of Worrying About Other People’s Opinions

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“People will judge you. People will whisper about you. People will hate you. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Learn to make peace with this, and you’ll be free.” – Aletheia Luna

Growing up, I spent quite a bit of time worrying about other people’s opinions of me. I used to be a huge people pleaser and I wanted so badly to be well-liked. Thankfully, as I’ve gotten older, this need to please has dissipated quite a bit and I like to think I now have a much healthier and balanced way of thinking and feeling about other people’s opinions of me.

What absolutely hasn’t changed, though, is how many opinions people have and how strongly they feel them. More specifically, how badly they need to express those opinions about other people. Even more specifically, about people they may or may not know…and their weight and presumed overall health.

It’s undeniable at this point that “plus size,” is having a moment. Whether it be an article about plus-size model, Ashley Graham or a think piece on body positivity, It seems the whole world is contemplating the possibility that larger, curvier, thicker, fuller-figured…fill-in-the-blank-term-that-suits-you…women are beautiful and worthy of a platform, love, praise, clothing options, respect…(and anything else their thinner counterparts receive on a daily basis). With all of this positivity more voluptuous women are receiving, there has also been quite a bit of hate.

Just last month, model and plus-size beauty, Natalie Hage courageously stood up for herself when she confronted a man sitting next to her on an airplane. He’d been sending rude text message to a friend about Hage’s body size. Once confronted (Go, Natalie!), his response was typical…first denial, then an excuse, and finally, he asked why she was sitting in an exit row when she knew she clearly was unable to assist in case of an emergency. *eye roll* Besides being completely rude and offensive, what he said was just plain ignorant. But fat shaming is so ingrained in our culture, we can’t separate what we believe to be fact from what is actually reality. This man knew nothing about her health, stamina, strength…Hell, he had gray hair, so by using his logic, maybe he wouldn’t be able to help much either.

What I see over and over again everyday on social media and in the comments under body positive news articles are comments that are nothing more than cyberbullying. Everyone’s a doctor with a diagnosis all of a sudden. The way we hone in on and scrutinize larger bodies and ignore the health risks of being too thin or average size, but not eating well, working out, etc…is infuriating. Moreover, the fact that we as a culture judge other people solely by what we see on the outside is just maddening.

I want to be clear that I’ve been really lucky thus far. I honestly haven’t had a single person leave me a mean comment or send me a rude message about my body/size possibly ever (not counting family – *sad face*), but especially since I started my @ChiefofStyle Instagram account and this blog. Everyone has been so supportive and kind. I certainly hope it stays that way, but I can imagine that it may not.

In any case, should the mean messages start rolling in, I’m going to do what I want you to do: Not give any f*cks. One’s own opinions are the only ones that should count.

On a more practical note, should you receive rude comments, here are three things to help you get through it:

  1. Step away. Take a break from the app, or at least the comment. Take some deep breaths and remind yourself that you’re an incredible human being worthy of love and kindness. Don’t let the opinions of others – especially people you don’t know – affect how you feel about yourself.
  2. Consider the source. This person is probably a stranger who has nothing better to do with their time than to be mean. Keep their comment in perspective and don’t take it personally. They’re likely projecting their own issues onto you. Don’t take on their “stuff.” Remember that no successful person is without a hater or two. Also, consider that they may not know that they’re being mean given that fat shaming is so ingrained in our culture.
  3. Decide whether to respond or not. If you decide to engage (for a teaching moment?), make sure you’re not jeopardizing your own self-care. What works for me with criticism is being as straightforward and calm as possible. Don’t let the person get to you. Better yet, if you can shrug it off with a joke or something relatively funny, do that. If comedy isn’t your forte and you’d prefer not to engage, simply delete the comment. Also, having friends who have your back in these situations is really helpful. I’ve seen other people’s followers come to their rescue when a trolls come through. Know who will have your back and reach out if you need support. Then do the same for them when they need you. Look out for each other.

And, don’t forget, you have the option to report and block trolling comments and direct messages on just about any platform. Do it if you need to. Here’s a great post by Bustle that gives even more great ideas for dealing with body shaming comments. And, the advice can be applied to any form of cyberbullying.

Take care out there, babes. You’ve got so much fierceness in you, some folks just can’t handle it. Never let their opinions change how you feel about yourself. For some of us, it’s taken years to get to where we are in our self-love journey. Let’s not let anyone steal that with a mean comment.

Sending you so much love always.

xo

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, wearing Forever 21 Plus.

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, lover of plus size fashion, Louis Vuitton neverfull tote bag, iPhone, trendy glasses, and coffee.

Shirt: Target | Skirt: Forever 21+ | Shoes: Bar III (Macy’s)

Photographer: Trey Jones (IG: @cjonesphotog)

Cold Shoulder on a Hot Day

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“Elegance is the only beauty that never fades.” –Audrey Hepburn

I don’t know if it’s just me, but this summer has been hotter than any I can remember. And the day we shot these photos was no exception. My friends thought I’d lost my mind when I told them I was planning to shoot on such a sweltering summer day. But when I set my mind to something, there’s just no changing it. Especially because I couldn’t wait to rock this fierce outfit courtesy of Universal Standard.

I’d heard some buzz about the brand, so when I got the opportunity to review their clothing, I jumped at the chance. (I just love discovering new +size brands!) From start to finish, ordering from Universal Standard was a pleasant experience. I was impressed at how easy it was to figure out the sizing having never tried on their clothes. And, after putting my order through, I was able to track it seamlessly.

I ordered the single cold shoulder Candice blouse in ivory and the black Mosman leatherette skirt. While the clothes aren’t cheap, they’re definitely well-made and, to top it off, the brand offers the equivalent of a lifetime guarantee! If you change sizes, they’ll even replace the clothing items that no longer fit. (Where they do that at!?) As someone who goes up and down sizes quite regularly, I can really appreciate this service. I also like that they carry bridge and plus sizes 10-28! And, if you’re in the NYC area, they’ll gladly welcome you into their showroom for a fitting.

When my package arrived, I was pleased to see that everything was folded carefully and wrapped in tissue paper. They shipped my items in a gift box (that I’m now using for jewelry) and included a custom tote bag and a note. (Nice touch!) The whole process felt very V.I.P.

The pieces I chose are both comfortable and elegant looking. My only critique would be that the blouse should have a key hole closure with a button or a hook so it’s easier to get on and off. (I admittedly have a big head, so I was so nervous putting it on having already done my makeup. Pro tip: If you’re ever in this situation, grab a cloth napkin, a clean rag or an old t-shirt and use it as a barrier between your made up face and the clothing item you don’t want to soil.)

If you’re looking for a minimalist, classic, high-fashion look, consider giving Universal Standard a try. You really can’t go wrong with their lifetime fit guarantee!

xx

Outfit details: Blouse & Skirt: Universal Standard | Shoes: Mango | Clutch: Vintage | Necklace: Poshmark

Photographer:  CJ Edwards-Acton

*Clothing provided by Universal Standard in exchange for an honest review.

Out of the Blue

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“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

This isn’t going to be a post about body positivity – per se. And, I won’t try to explain (once again) how revolutionary (to me) it truly is that I not only wore a cobalt blue lace romper on the streets of Downtown LA that showed off my legs, but I let someone take pictures of me…and then I posted those pictures on the Internet (un-retouched no less)…and why you should, too! Nope, this isn’t that post.

Instead, I want to focus on what happens after you choose to show a little skin on a hot day. What’s on the other side of those triumphant, almost magical moments when we give the middle finger to Fear and choose to be Brave.

I assume (hope) you’ve had moments when you’ve done something your old self never would have imagined you’d do. Picture how terrified you were to do it and remember how it felt doing it anyway. (Say, sky diving or swimming with sharks…or even “just” wearing a bikini to the beach!) I don’t know the exact number, but I’d guess nine times out of 10 once it’s over (whatever “it” is), we’re glad we did it. Why is that? Because when you face your fears and do something that challenges you, you’re truly living.

So, now, I know I said I wouldn’t get all #BOPO on you, but I will say that ever since I decided to let go of the fear of wearing rompers and skirts that stop above my knees and bikinis at the beach and crop tops and and and…once I made that choice, I realized I wasn’t living my best life before. I really was merely existing, as trite as it may sound.

You see, I’ve loved fashion and clothes and shoes and all the things(!!!) my entire life. I wished so badly to wake up one day and be thin so I could wear a cute mini skirt because for some reason I got it in my head that I couldn’t. Putting ridiculous restrictions on myself, essentially self-body policing, was like living my own, personal version of Hell. I know that sounds extreme, but seriously…it was just awful not to “be able to” wear cute skirts (even in my size) because they weren’t 25″+ (the length from my waist to my knee because I measured it to make online shopping for modest clothing easier). Not only did my wardrobe suffer, but I felt like I was living a half-life, unable to fully express myself. You’d think that would motivate me to hurry up and get over it. Nope, old beliefs die hard.

Fast forward to where I am now…Now, I buy clothes that I love whether they show off no skin, some skin or alllll the skin because I’m not hiding anymore. I’m not living for other people’s opinions. I’m living for me. Once I made the choice to step outside of my comfort zone, I really began feeling alive and soon, I began living big in other areas of my life, too. I started making amazing connections (both personal and professional) and I started this blog (something I’d been thinking on for years). I really began to ‘lean in’ in so many areas of my life. Once I stopped allowing fear – of anything – stand in my way, I was unstoppable. This slight shift in attitude made all the difference for me.

If you haven’t let go of whatever is holding you back from living your best life already, I hope you will soon. Life is full of opportunities given to those who move through the world courageously. If you’re struggling, then start small. Maybe you need a cobalt blue lace romper in your life, too!

Outfit details: Romper: Charlotte Russe+ | Shoes: Macy’s | Necklace: Amazon

Photographer:  Jorge Lopez (IG: @jorgelopezmedia)

This Sunday: Website Launch Party & Meet Up

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“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m on the fast track to reaching so many milestones I kept myself from achieving before. I’m working harder – and smarter – than I’ve ever worked before because there’s really no time to waste. But, I do believe in celebrating the wins (no matter how big or small). Setting goals and tracking your progress to reaching them is so important and, in my opinion, the only way to move forward by leaps and bounds.

That said, I decided a few weeks ago to throw a party to meet my followers and the friends I’ve made thus far…and, of course, to celebrate how far I’ve come. I also wanted to take time to thank all my family and long-time friends who have supported me along the way. I truly believe in rewarding oneself (handsomely) after achieving a significant feat. #TreatYoSelf For me, that challenge was to stop talking about The Chief of Style and, instead, create it.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, I hope you’ll consider stopping by the ACE Hotel rooftop for this #SundayFunday party. I’ve invited several dozen plus size models, bloggers, influencers, hair and makeup artists, photographers, etc. Best of all, my good friend, DJ Whitney Day, will be spinning! So, it truly will be an awesome opportunity to meet folks in the industry while enjoying a beautiful, California sunset. If you aren’t able to join, I hope you’ll still celebrate with me by having a toast of your favorite beverage wherever you are.

Here’s a link with more information and link to R.S.V.P. The first 50 people will score a gift bag filled with freebies from @Bandeletes, @KurvesbyKimi, @Eloquii, @YoursClothingUK, @GoMedZone, @BareSnacks, @DrinkNeuro, @GoodWipes, @inCREASEtheFOLD, @RyzeProject…among others.

Cheers to achieving all of your hopes and dreams – starting NOW!

xo

Outfit details: Jeans: Lovestruck | Blouse: Charlotte Russe+ | Jacket: Forever21+ | Shoes: Forever 21 | Jewelry: The Limited

Photographer: Steven Means (IG: @stevenmeans67)