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Set Yourself Free

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“The ultimate tragedy is not the brutality of the bad people but the silence of the good people.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

The past couple of weeks have been heart-wrenching. From hurricanes that caused total devastation on Caribbean islands like Puerto Rico to a terrorist attack on unsuspecting concertgoers in Las Vegas…it feels like the world has flipped on its head.

Before I jump into talking about fashion, I’d just like to ask that if you’re able, you consider donating blood, money, supplies…whatever you can to help. If you aren’t able to donate money or something tangible, donate your time and call your local congressman.

We need our representatives to do their jobs and come up with quality legislation that protects our country from gun violence, while also not disproportionately prosecuting black and brown folks. Let’s make sure we don’t have another senseless attack on U.S. soil.

Our death toll is far too high. The shooting at Pulse Nightclub. The Aurora, Colorado shooting. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. Columbine. San Bernadino. Killeen, Texas. Fort Hood.

Seriously, America. Enough is enough!

Thankfully, there are beautiful and lighthearted things to make us smile despite tragedy. In the face of such ugliness, things like art and fashion make the world a more beautiful place which to live. In times of pain and sorrow, we need art more than ever. Freedom of expression is so very important.

When I conceptualized this look, I knew I wanted to pair a bodysuit with a sheer overlay. I’ve seen similar dresses and I always wanted to get the look, but didn’t think I could pull it off. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to find a similar dress in my size, and when I did, I wondered if I should wear something so revealing. (The saying, “Just because it fits doesn’t mean you should wear it.” crept into my mind.)

Never in a million years did I think I’d ever rock a sheer dress with just a bodysuit underneath. Let alone in New York City…or anywhere for that matter! As I’ve shared, I’ve always hated my legs (because of my thick thighs and calves) and they’ve always been my biggest insecurity.

Over the past year, I’ve grown by leaps and bounds with regard to loving myself more (inside and out). So, when I turned heads on the streets of SoHo as my photographer took my picture, I didn’t care in the least! As far as I was concerned, they were probably looking because I looked damn good, booty out and everything!

So, this post is really all about getting free. Life is short. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Let go of whatever is holding you back and be who you’ve always wanted to be. Live the life you’ve always wanted. Now’s the time.

What have you always wanted to do that you’ve held yourself back from doing? Share it in the comments!

Here’s to being big and bold for the rest of 2017…and beyond!

xo

Plus size sheer embroidered roses dress from Forever 21 Plus

Plus size sheer embroidered roses dress from Forever 21 Plus

Plus size sheer embroidered roses dress from Forever 21 Plus

Plus size sheer embroidered roses dress from Forever 21 Plus

Plus size sheer embroidered roses dress from Forever 21 Plus

Plus size sheer embroidered roses dress from Forever 21 Plus

Plus size sheer embroidered roses dress from Forever 21 Plus

Plus size sheer embroidered roses dress from Forever 21 Plus

Plus size sheer embroidered roses dress from Forever 21 Plus

Outfit details: Dress: Forever21+ | Jacket: Forever21 Men | Shoes: Mango

Photographer: @M76Photo

The Chief of Style Featured on The Curvy Fashionista

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Hey babes! Exciting news – The Chief of Style was profiled last week in a “Fashion Blogger Friday” feature by The Curvy Fashionista! I’m a huge fan of the website, so it’s a big honor to have been interviewed. Here’s an excerpt:

TCF: What or who inspired you to become a fashion blogger? What led you to it?
Cos: I have always loved fashion – since I was a little girl. I’ve always loved the feeling of wearing something new (or new to me) and the power it gives you to create a new image each and every time if you want. It was only natural that I’d eventually blend my writing skills with my “passion for fashion” (especially when it became clear there was room in the body positivity and +size fashion space). Part of my fashion journey and style expression have also been, in part, related to my self-love journey.

The more I see myself in photos looking thick and curvy…and beautiful at the same time, the more I accept all of the parts of me I hated for so long. The idea first came to me, though, when I started selling vintage clothing on Poshmark and eBay while I was unemployed and living in Miami, Florida. It was my main source of income. I felt like I would have had even more success had I had an already established audience on another platform to drive customers to my store(s). Now, I have a quarter of a million followers on Poshmark, but I’m rarely on the app. (I really need to get back to it!)

TCF: What’s your favorite thing about being plus size?
CoS: In some ways, I think being plus size is the ultimate expression of feminism. Specifically, it means taking up more space in a world that tells women they should be small. Men are allowed to “man spread” on trains and buses, etc., allowing little room for a woman (or anyone else) to sit. As a bigger woman, I take up more space than the average woman and do so unapologetically. Being plus size and knowing you’re beautiful also flies in the face of established beauty standards for women. Wearing cute, sexy, fierce, etc. clothing when you’re thicker is basically a “F-you” to anyone who’d dare tell you you’re anything less than a damn goddess!

Click here to read more at TheCurvyFashionista.com.

The below photos were shot at Olvera Street in Downtown Los Angeles.

 

 

Outfit details: Top and skirt: Forever21+ | Shoes: Macy’s | Necklace: Amazon

Photographer:  Jorge Lopez (IG: @jorgelopezmedia)

Farewell to Summer 2017

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“It’s always summer somewhere.” – Lilly Pulitzer

This summer has been really incredible. Life changing even. I launched my blog in May and continued to grow my Instagram following over the next few months all while working with new and established brands, growing my own reach, and establishing The Chief of Style as a legitimate blog and brand of its own.

I traveled a bit this summer, too: locally and to New York City – twice. I attended CurvyCon, saw a couple of fashion shows during New York Fashion Week, shot with photographers here in LA and back East, made several handfuls of new blogger/influencer-friends, and moved into a new, larger apartment (with three double closets – hallelujah!). This summer I reconnected with old friends, began the healing process after a relationship ended, and I grew a lot more confident in my own skin.

This is evidenced by the photoshoot I did in SoHo with Gregory of @M76Photo. A year ago I wouldn’t be able to imagine I’d wear a dress that showed off my knees, let alone a mini dress! But here I am, in all my thick and curvy glory, sporting this killer sheath dress from Forever21+.

The polaroid photographs conjured up post-summer feels for me. You know, that nostalgic feeling you’d get when you’d look through your photos from your summertime shenanigans with friends: trips you took, parties you went to, the beach, the park, laughing, dancing, staying out late…all of the things summer is fondly known for.

Today is the last day of summer and tomorrow we’ll wake up to fall. Before you know it, summertime will be in the distant past and we’ll be bundle up, missing those three gloriously hot months. But, at least we’ll have our memories and photographs to keep us warm.

xo

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, in SoHo, NYC, wearing the Plus Size Maripol Cami Dress by Forever 21+

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, in SoHo, NYC, wearing the Plus Size Maripol Cami Dress by Forever 21+

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, in SoHo, NYC, wearing the Plus Size Maripol Cami Dress by Forever 21+

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, in SoHo, NYC, wearing the Plus Size Maripol Cami Dress by Forever 21+

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, in SoHo, NYC, wearing the Plus Size Maripol Cami Dress by Forever 21+

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, in SoHo, NYC, wearing the Plus Size Maripol Cami Dress by Forever 21+

Amy Stretten, the Chief of Style, in SoHo, NYC, wearing the Plus Size Maripol Cami Dress by Forever 21+

Outfit details: Dress: Forever21+ | Jacket: Forever21 Men | Shoes (courtesy of): Solemate Shoetique | Belt: Eloquii

Photographer: @M76Photo

It’s All in the Details

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“Luxury is in each detail.” – Hubert de Givenchy

In case you weren’t aware, I skipped blogging for a week. Recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia were so triggering and awful, I didn’t feel I could post anything on the Internet if it wasn’t somehow in response to the videos and articles I watched/read about the alt-right and counter protests. Fashion had to take a backseat because more important things were (and still are) happening in our country.

As you may know, I am a journalist. I used to work for several mainstream news outlets, so had I still been with, say, the New York Post last week, I undoubtedly would have covered Charlottesville in some way.

But sometimes fashion and the news collide. It did for me as I was sitting back, thinking on how I’d like to write about this particular photo shoot.

I wasn’t aware while taking these photos that the background would come together so well with my outfit and that I’d look like I came from the pages of an ad for a 1950s TV show. When I first looked at the photos, I thought, “Maybe I could relate this to the ‘Good old days’ in some way.” But then Charlottesville happened and I was once again reminded that the “Good old days” that we (and Fox News, etc.) talk about so fondly weren’t so good for people of color, queer folks and women. Back in the “good old days,” things were really good if you were a straight white Christian cis man, but not so good if you weren’t (i.e.: that’s what the Civil Rights movement was about). So, no, I couldn’t call this the “Good old days,” because had I been alive at the time, as a queer Native American/black woman, a lot of things probably wouldn’t have been so great.

That said, let’s just get into the fashion since I’m sure that’s why you came here in the first place. 🙂

There’s nothing that I love more than embellishments. Whether a vintage blazer dripping in sequins and beads or a pair of shorts with tiny pom poms on the hem…I love clothing and accessories because in my opinion, they not only take a look and kick it up several notches, but they tell a story. And, I think the small embellishments in my outfit did just that.

When I saw this soft pink A-line skirt on the clearance rack at Forever 21, I just knew I had to have it. I wasn’t sure how I’d style it, but I was excited for the challenge. I paired it with a crisp, white, sleeveless collard shirt from Eloquii that has little rhinestone on the collar. I wore my (second) favorite pair of pink satin Badly Mischka peep toe heels and as a main focal point, held an adorable clutch purse with ombré tassels that I found at Ross. (And, my dog Valentino even makes a cameo appearance.)

I suppose this is my “Remembering the good old days if the good old days had been good for a queer, Indigenous/Black, femme” look. A girl can dream, right?

Enjoy! <3

Outfit details: Top: Eloquii | Skirt: Forever 21+ | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Clutch: Ross | Watch: Michael Kors

Photographer: CJ Edwards-Acton

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)