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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.

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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)

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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)

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Stop Saying ‘No’ to Living the Life You Want

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“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. […] Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” – Helen Keller

“No.”

It’s a powerful word. One I’ve heard many, many times. Still, for whatever reason (maybe because I’m a typical, stubborn Taurus or because I’m determined as hell), I never ever ever give up. Never in my life have I let the word “No” stop me. I’ve been laid off, told I didn’t have enough experience, reminded of my lack of qualifications, dumped, pigeon-holed, misjudged, misunderstood, shown the metaphorical “exit,” not been granted entry, and I haven’t always fit in. There’s really no one, simple road to success and my winding career path is an example of that. But, lately…lately, thankfully, I’ve been hearing “Yes”…a lot.

As you may (and hopefully) know, in a couple of weeks, I’m throwing myself a party to celebrate the launch of this very site. (Yes, you’re invited.) You see, I’m determined AF, but in the past I allowed “perfection to stand in the way of good enough” as they say. I’ve never thought twice about taking risks when I didn’t have much at stake and I didn’t care about the outcome. But, I’ve definitely let my fears and insecurities hold me back from achieving what I want most. I have big – huge – dreams, but I stood in my own way for far too long, living small and playing it safe. I’m so over that! And the party I’m throwing will be to celebrate this transformation.

Since I’ve moved out of my own way and become laser focused, I’ve seen so much success. In just a few months, I’ve gained nearly 10,000 followers on Instagram, I’ve secured about one dozen brand partnerships, including sponsorships for my launch party (my gift bags are killer, y’all!), and I’ve received interest from several news outlets who want to share my story with their readers. I’m really just getting started, but I’ve seen so much growth in such a short period of time because I Decided (with a capital D) to be Brave (with a capital B) and get serious about making my dreams a reality. As a result, I’ve found support from my friends, family, followers…and I’m so very grateful for you. Thank you.

I may not know you IRL, but I think it’s safe to assume that you’ve held yourself back before, too. If so, I have one question for you: WHY!? Why are you sabotaging yourself from having that thing – whatever it is – that you want most? Seriously, there’s a reason and if you’re honest with yourself, you probably know what it is. Name it and stop it! Life is too short and you’re too incredible to live a mediocre life (whatever mediocre looks like for you).

What big dream do you have that you’ve been struggling to reach? Share it in the comments. Maybe I’ll have some suggestions.

May the fierce be with you, babes.

xo

Outfit details: Top: Forever21+ | Skirt: Torrid | Shoes: Macy’s | Necklace: Amazon

Photographer:  Jorge Lopez (IG: @jorgelopezmedia)

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A Low-key Patriotic Look in Slink Jeans

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“You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.” -Diane Von Furstenberg

Because I’m a person of color and particularly because I’m Native American, I have a complicated relationship with the federal government. Nevertheless, my grandfather proudly served in the Army and I am grateful for the rights and privileges I receive as an American, many of which are thanks to the sacrifices made by our armed forces. That said, rather than decking myself out in Stars and Stripes this Independence Day, I opted for a low-key patriotic look. As such, it was the perfect opportunity to show off my new Slink Jeans.

I’d heard so much about SLINK Jeans (which stands for “Sexy Lovable Intelligent Noticeable and Kind”) and their denim on Instagram. It seems a lot of plus size models I know and recognize have shot with them. And, best of all, they carry sizes 0-24. I love brands that carry straight, bridge, and plus sizes, so no one is left out. So, naturally, I wanted to check out their jeans.

They sent me their frayed hem high/low (also known as “distressed step-up hem”) “Dorothy” jeans ($98) and a high-low short sleeve scoop neck t-shirt in red ($48). As soon as I took them out of the box, I could tell the jeans, in particular, were super high-quality. They’ll definitely last a long time. And, they’re made with 2% spandex, so they’re not only stylish, but they’re comfortable, too. (2% spandex seems to be the sweet spot for me with denim.) Sturdy enough to hold its shape, but stretchy enough to fit these thick thighs I’m working with.

The shirt is made of the most comfortable rayon/spandex blend, but it feels like a stretchy, loosely woven cotton. It’s so comfy, I could sleep in it! It truly is a great basic piece that can be worn in a variety of ways. (I’ve paired it with a pencil skirt twice — once tucked in and once belted and worn out).

If you want to jump on the frayed hemline trend, you should definitely try a pair of SLINK jeans! They have several styles that feature distressing on the ankles. Best of all, both Nordstrom and Macy’s carry the brand, if you’d like to try them on before buying. It might be a good idea given that their clothes have so much stretch, you may want to size down. I wore my usual size in the jeans, but could have worn a smaller size shirt.

So, what are your plans for the 4th of July? I’ll be baking funfetti cupcakes to bring to my family’s BBQ/pool party.

However you decide to enjoy the long, holiday weekend, please be safe.

Clothing was provided at no cost by Slink Jeans in exchange for an honest review. As always, the opinions expressed are my own.

Outfit details: Jeans & t-shirt: Slink | Jacket: Charlotte Russe+ | Shoes: Forever 21 | Jewelry: The Limited

Photographer: Steven Means (IG: @stevenmeans67)

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