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Black/Indigenous Reflections on White Supremacy (During a Pandemic)

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“You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights.” — Marsha P. Johnson

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve fallen apart and put myself back together over the past few months. People have asked me how I’m doing and my answer is almost always, “Up and down.” I’m trying to keep the faith, but real talk, it’s been hard.

Like a lot of Black people, I’ve spent the past few days, weeks, (months, years…) processing deep rooted trauma as a result of witnessing how little Black lives matter in all corners of the world. It honestly feels like I’m drowning in white supremacy/colonialism/capitalism. Couple that with being single at a time when I couldn’t possibly need love and tenderness more and you’ll see why it’s a miracle if I make it through each day at all, let alone in one piece.

Last week, I was doing some journaling and wrote down any and every thought that came to mind. I burst out in tears when I wrote the words, “I can’t breathe.” I wasn’t intending to be poetic (or trite). It’s honestly the only way I can describe a lifetime of feeling crushed by oppressive systems (racism, homophobia, sexism, capitalism, ableism, fat phobia, and white supremacy, which all work together seamlessly to make life nearly impossible for a BIPOC* person like myself) not to mention the ancestral trauma that lives within me.

Recent events have brought up so many feelings I’ve suppressed my entire life just to keep moving forward. But, during a pandemic there’s no escaping them. Quarantine is like a pressure cooker that threatens to explode at any moment (and has). My hope was we’d come out of isolation a kinder and more loving world, having realized we’re all in this together. Recent events make it clear that that dream is far from reality. What gives me some hope, though, is witnessing non-Black people having tough conversations and acknowledging their privilege and responsibility in dismantling the systems that not only put various communities at a disadvantage, but explicitly target them.

As challenging as this all is, I truly believe the only way out is through. So, I’m looking inward and focusing on what’s within my control so I can hopefully, one day soon, breathe.

#blacklivesmatter ✊🏽

*BIPOC=Black Indigenous People (Person) of Color

Amy Stretten Chief of Style, All Black Lives Matter

Photos by @lyvellg

Warm Up With Lane Bryant’s Resort Collection

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“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.” – Earl Wilson

January is proving to be the longest month ever, am I right? While I’m really loving this new 2020 energy (so long, 2019, a.k.a. the worst year ever!), I am a bit tired of the cold. I’m longing for hot summer days and long summer nights! 

Thankfully, Lane Bryant recently released their new (online only!) Resort Collection featuring a selection of the cutest pieces, perfect for showing a little (or a lot of) skin on your pre-Spring/Summer vacation!

I took a little trip this past weekend to Malibu and I was really feeling the summertime vibes. I had dinner at this cute little Mexican restaurant near the beach called The Cliffdiver and had to snap some photos in their adorable front patio!

Here I’m wearing a full LB look: medium wash denim jacket, longline bikini top, crisp white skinny jeans, woven slide sandals and a woven floppy hat. I actually loved the denim jacket so much, I had to get it in white, too!

As soon as it warms up a bit, I plan to head to Joshua Tree. I’m looking forward to to sipping fruity cocktails under the night stars in an outdoor jacuzzi, wearing my favorite Lane Bryant bikini, of course.

Are you planning a getaway? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing fashion forward plus size pieces from the Lane Bryant and Cacique online only Resort Collection

 

Thank you to Lane Bryant for sponsoring this post. As always, all views expressed are my own.

It’s Comeback Season

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“Life has many ways of testing a person’s will. Either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen at once.” — Paulo Coelho

For those who follow my blog, you may have noticed I’ve been pretty M.I.A. for the better part of this year. If you follow me on Instagram, you likely know why. If you don’t (or you’re curious as to how I’m doing), this post is for you.

Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

I’ve had a rough couple of years…I had a significant breakup, lost my Grandmother, lost my job, moved a few times, got my heart broken a couple more times and just when it seemed like things were about to turn around (I got a new job and moved to a better apartment), my Dad died without any warning at all. (I’ll spare you all of the drama that has come since then, but let just say I’ve been dealing with a lot on my own and it all feels incredibly unfair.) And then my two best friends in the entire world turned their backs on me with no explanation. I wouldn’t wish that kind of heartbreak and betrayal on anyone.

If that weren’t enough, about a month ago, I was drugged with fentanyl at a nightclub, blacked out (for six hours), fell flat on my face, sliced my nose in half which required me to be rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital. It took 15 stitches to put my nose back together, and while the doctor did an amazing job and everyone has called me the Bionic Woman because of how quickly my nose is healing, I may have a permanent scar on my face and life long breathing issues. Let me tell you, it is not easy dealing with anything medical without my doctor Dad. To say these additional doctors visits for follow-ups regarding my nose are triggering AF would be an understatement!

So, yeah…I don’t quite know how to describe what’s come of my life, but if there were one word to sum it all up, it would be “unbelievable.”

That said, my social media influencing has taken a back seat while I’ve tried to piece my life together again. The thought of merely getting out of bed for the last several months was nearly impossible, let alone the thought of putting together a cute outfit and smiling for a camera! (Where would I even get the money to pay for a photographer anyway? My new job let me go two weeks after my Dad died for missing work to take care of things — by myself. No one in my life, including my family, could be bothered to help me in any way, with the exception of a few close friends.)

That’s all to say, I’m finally coming out of my funk and my groove is slowly returning. I’m starting to feel ready to move forward with a lot less baggage. I’m letting go of more people than I could imagine. Part of my self-care involves letting go of things and people that hold me back. I’m also going to do simple things like move more (I really miss the gym, if i’m being honest), eat better and more regularly, get more sleep but also spend more time out of bed, go to therapy, meditate and continue with my spiritual practices, intentionally be more kind to myself…and, of course, bring back my blog! I want to write a book about my life next year, so maybe this will help me flush out my thoughts and ideas.

I may have lost my two favorite people in the world: my Grandma and Dad (not my two ex-best friends…good riddance!), but their influence is not lost on me. I am constantly reminded to keep my head up and keep on pushing. I’m not a quitter. I have come way too damn far to give up now!

So, with that said, The Chief of Style is back (…making no promises on how regularly I’ll post LOL But, what I will promise is when I do, it’ll be worth it.) So, please stay tuned. <3

xx

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing a Forever 21+ studded leather jacket, femme t-shirt, eloquii by who what wear plus size satin skirt, charlotte russee plus suede boots and a YSL envelope shoulder bag

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing a Forever 21+ studded leather jacket, femme t-shirt, eloquii by who what wear plus size satin skirt, charlotte russee plus suede boots and a YSL envelope shoulder bag

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing a Forever 21+ studded leather jacket, femme t-shirt, eloquii by who what wear plus size satin skirt, charlotte russee plus suede boots and a YSL envelope shoulder bag

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing a Forever 21+ studded leather jacket, femme t-shirt, eloquii by who what wear plus size satin skirt, charlotte russee plus suede boots and a YSL envelope shoulder bag

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing a Forever 21+ studded leather jacket, femme t-shirt, eloquii by who what wear plus size satin skirt, charlotte russee plus suede boots and a YSL envelope shoulder bag

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, wearing a Forever 21+ studded leather jacket, femme t-shirt, eloquii by who what wear plus size satin skirt, charlotte russee plus suede boots and a YSL envelope shoulder bag

Photographer: Gabe Hernandez, @snaxophonist

Thank you to Eloquii for gifting me select pieces for this post. As always, all views expressed are my own.

The Importance of a Statement Piece

Fashion Featured Tips and Tricks 2 Comments

“A simple hello could lead to a million things.” –Unknown

Hey, girl, hey!

I just got back from Hot Springs, Arkansas (Yes, Arkansas!) where the Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) held its annual non-conference-conference called the Conference and Mentoring Project (CAMP). The trip was quite fruitful: I spoke on a panel, made several professional connections, met some new friends, got a bunch of new followers, and made memories to last a lifetime! While there, I was reminded of something really valuable that I’d like to share with you: the importance of a statement piece!

Because I’m a style blogger, I tend to feel a bit more pressure than most to wear the perfect outfit when I attend events, etc. If I’m going to be photographed, I want to wear something that makes me feel my best and is a good representation of my blog/brand. (Some days it’s a dress with high heels and other days it’s skinny jeans and boots.) Although women with jaw dropping resumes come to CAMP every year, it’s not a pretentious environment at all and everyone dresses quite casually. As such, I decided to pack several dressed-down looks that still packed a punch, like this Eloquii PJ set.

Chief of Style Tip: When you’re going to a conference, networking event…or somewhere where you want to stand out, remember to wear a statement piece. It could be big earrings, a fancy jacket, a pin…whatever is appropriate for the occasion. Not only will you set yourself apart from the crowd, you won’t have to worry about how to approach people because people will almost always approach you first.

The Jawdesses (what we call ourselves) at CAMP absolutely LOVED my outfit. In fact, the entire weekend I hardly had to make an effort to talk to people because everyone kept coming up to me! (It was like magic.)

So, what do you think of my statement look? Have you ever worn a statement piece to standout? Did it work? Tell me about it in the comments!

xo

Eloquii plus size pj set

Eloquii plus size PJ set

Eloquii plus size pj set

Eloquii plus size pj set

Eloquii plus size pj set

Eloquii plus size pj set

 

Photographer: CJ Edwards-Acton

Outfit details: PJ set: Eloquii | Shoes: Chinese Laundry | Bag: Alexander Wang

My Trip to Eloquii at the Pentagon City Mall

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For all of my fellow Eloquii lovers out there, this post is for you!

I recently went to Washington, D.C. for a journalism conference. While there, I made sure to pay a visit to the Eloquii store at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City – one of just three Eloquii stores in the country! Because I knew I’d be in D.C. weeks ahead of time, I set up a styling appointment. To do this, I e-mailed the store with my preferred dates and times and then they sent me a style survey with questions like, “What colors do you feel your best in?” and “Who is your style icon?”

I made sure to make the appointment for a day/time that would work for my friend, Ashlee, who is a photographer based in nearby Philadelphia because shopping is always more fun with a friend…and because I wanted her to document this monuments occasion, of course.

As soon as we found the store, I squealed like a school girl. I walked into the store with my mouth wide open and all I could say was “Ohmygod, Ohmygod, Ohmygod…” (There’s just something about seeing all of the amazing pieces, prints, fabrics…on hangers and mannequins, where you can reach out and touch them…after only seeing them in photographs online and in catalogues.) Clearly this is a typical response because the women who work in the store weren’t fazed at all. And, I was immediately treated with V.I.P. service.

My personal stylist, Kristin (@Styled_by_KP), welcomed me with a glass of champagne and walked me to the back of the store where the dressing rooms are. I got an extra special room (it was larger and more posh than the others) with a cute little note and candy presentation. It was absolutely adorable and so special.

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

I was also surprised to see that Kristin had already pulled several pieces for me to consider. We talked about my initial impressions of what she picked. Most of the pieces were spot on, some I was a bit iffy about, and at least one piece I was quite certain wasn’t for me.

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

With that information, I began trying on the pieces while Kristin pulled a few more. This was the first look. How FAB is this outfit?!

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

After trying on this Scandal-inspired look, it was hard to try on anything else because it was just that good, how could anything compare!?

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

But then I met this soft purple number and just about died.

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

I really wasn’t sure about this mod-inspired sheath mini dress…

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

But it fit so nicely, I really got into the look. (Clearly.)

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

I thought this sparkly dress was cute, but I didn’t love it more than this dress…

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

I loved this ruffle front panel secretary-style dress SO much, I bought it…and even took the belt, too.

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

We spent a good deal of time doing an impromptu photoshoot. I walked the invisible catwalk a number of times. LOL

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

I’d seen this floral suit on several bloggers and wondered what it would look like on me. Despite how well it fit and how much I loved it, I (sadly) chose not to buy it. I figured I’d snag it when it came on sale. 🙂

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

I absolutely fell in LOVE with this leopard scuba pencil skirt! I didn’t end up getting the blouse because I have enough tops to pair with it in my closet at home.

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

I honestly didn’t think I’d be into this look, but I loved it so much I snagged both the lace blouse and jeans. They’re now one of my newest favorite go-to looks! With just enough peek-a-boo to be sexy, but mostly covered for a bit of modesty, this blouse is perfect for a casual, but sexy date night or drinks with the girls. (I wear it with a black longline bra rather than this off white one seen here.)

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

The jeans are perfect to pair with just about anything. Gotta love a good pair of distressed jeans! (Thanks, Eloquii!)

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

Three hours and $400 later and my trip was over. I had such a good time, I really didn’t want to leave. (My heart was telling me no, but my wallet was telling me “GO!”)

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

Thank you to Kristin for getting silly with me and making my shopping experience so much fun!

How to book a styling appointment at Eloquii Pentagon City

And, thank you to Ashlee for capturing all of the fun moments!

If you’re a plus size woman who loves quality made clothing and can afford a moderate price point, give Eloquii a try. And, if you live or visit Columbus, Ohio, Chicago or Washington, D.C., make sure you pay a visit to the Eloquii store there. It’s my goal to eventually visit all three! But, it’s my prayer that Eloquii eventually opens nation-wide.

In the meantime, although Eloquii clothing always fits me so well (one reason I’m in love with the brand), I’ll be able to shop with even more confidence having tried on so many things in-store.

Have you ever been to one of the brick and mortar Eloquii stores? Did you do a styling appointment, too? If so, please tell me all about it in the comments!

xo

Photographer: Ashlee Kulp (@AshKatPhoto)

Outfit details: Jeans: Torrid | Blouse: Vintage | Shoes: Ross