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Self-love in the time of COVID-19

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“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” —  Maya Angelou

These wise words couldn’t be more true at a time like this. I’m reading that this quarantine could last as long as 18 months. Yes, 18…months! Even though the thought of staying indoors (just my dog and me) sounds daunting, I’m so very ready to take on this challenge. I’m kind of looking forward to it, actually.

Like a lot of people, 2019 was incredibly difficult for me. Still, I’m grateful to have gone through it because it’s taught me so much about myself. I’ve come to realize I’m resilient beyond belief and stronger than I could have ever imagined. Without my struggles last year, I’d never know how brave and capable I am. 2019 showed me that while I love people, I don’t need anyone. We’re born alone and we’ll die alone, so it’s important to know we can thrive without help, too.

I will always figure out a way to make the most of my situation and right now is no exception. And I truly believe that you can too! There is absolutely nothing we can do about this quarantine except getting our hearts and minds right about what this will mean for the next unknown number of months.

My plan, for the foreseeable future, is to really dig deep and work on my stuff. Like most people, I’ve got unresolved issues with people in my life and trauma I have yet to work through. While I’m quarantined, my plan is to make my home a safe space even more than it already is. Here are some of the things I have already started moving on:

  • I’ve already invested in a foldable stationary bike because I’m ready to start moving again and I plan to dust off my resistance bands and workout DVDs because I want to get in tip top shape and physical health.
  • I’m planning to reach into my massive library and pull out some cookbooks, too.
  • Now is the finally the time to learn how to grocery shop strategically and cook delicious meals at home.
  • I want to finally clean out my closets and purge what I don’t need. (The extra money from selling unwanted clothes will be a big help, too.)
  • I’m also committing to continuing with my meditation practice and get in touch with spirit. I’ve enjoyed becoming more spiritual over the past year and really want to keep it up.
  • I also plan to get back to writing more — like here on this blog, but also getting started on writing my first book, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. 

This quarantine doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We just have to make some adjustments and roll with the punches as they inevitable come. There really are so many blessings to be grateful for, even during chaotic and frightening times like these. Please believe me when I say you are stronger than you think.

I’m really excited to use this period (however long it lasts) to continue my evolution and transformation and to continue practicing self-love and self-care. If ever there was a time to do it, it’s now. I honestly feel like this is my season to be a caterpillar in a cocoon. 🐛

Let’s all lean on our inner resources and focus on doing the work we need to do in order to become the butterflies we’re destined to become. 🦋✨

💖 We truly are in this together.

How are you staying positive during this strange moment in time? What are you going to work on? 

Love and health to you and yours.

xo,

Amy

Plus size fashion blogger and journalist, Amy Stretten, aka The Chief of Style, wearing a teddybear coat, rhinestone embellished distressed skinny jeans from Lane Bryant, and clear heels while carrying a rhinestone encrusted rainbow purse in Sherman Oaks, California

Plus size fashion blogger and journalist, Amy Stretten, aka The Chief of Style, wearing a teddybear coat, rhinestone embellished distressed skinny jeans from Lane Bryant, and clear heels while carrying a rhinestone encrusted rainbow purse in Sherman Oaks, California

Please note: These photos are from my archives. I have been safe and quarantined indoors for quite a while.

Coat: Amazon | Jeans: Lane Bryant | Bag: Ross | Shoes: Gift

Brunch in Brooklyn Feat. Macy’s Tommy Hilfiger Plus Collection

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This post is in collaboration with Dubli.

Hey babes! I’m back with another post about Macy’s exclusive #TommyHilfiger Plus collection. This time, I’m rocking an adorable blue and white collared shirt dress (originally $100, but currently on sale for $60).

I recently wore this ensemble to brunch in Dumbo, Brooklyn during my trip to New York City. It was easy, breezy, comfortable and best of all, I felt so cute!

I paired the dress with my new favorite red heels and a red faux leather jacket. But, truthfully, the possibilities are endless with such a classic piece.

How would you style this dress? Let me know in the comments!

xo

#macyslove #macysplus

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, rocking a collard shirt dress is from Tommy Hilfiger by Macy's. It's a perfect plus size brunch outfit!

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, rocking a collard shirt dress is from Tommy Hilfiger by Macy's. It's a perfect plus size brunch outfit!

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, rocking a collard shirt dress is from Tommy Hilfiger by Macy's. It's a perfect plus size brunch outfit!

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, rocking a collard shirt dress is from Tommy Hilfiger by Macy's. It's a perfect plus size brunch outfit!

Amy Stretten, The Chief of Style, rocking a collard shirt dress is from Tommy Hilfiger by Macy's. It's a perfect plus size brunch outfit!

Photography by @M76Photo

Springtime Feels in Lane Bryant’s Plus-size Military Blazer

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Spring. That magical time of year when the weather begins to warm up, flowers begin to bloom and fashion gets fun again! And, in Southern California it’s when the weather starts to get HOT! This week, temperatures were as high as 90*s, so I can’t even imagine what summer will be like. *cue sweating emoji*

But, what I love about spring is temperatures are usually still reasonable, perfect for warm-weather clothing. And, on a breezy day, you can still rock a cute blazer like this one without having to wear a coat over it (inevitably causing wrinkles) like you do during the winter.

Here’s a random fact about me: I absolutely LOVE military styles. Besides camo patterns, I love brass buttons, crisp lines and that uniform look. It’s a timeless combination. So, when I learned that Lane Bryant was selling a plus-size double-breasted military blazer ($89), you know I just had to have one. Or three. Yes, I have this blazer in potpourri pink, black and white. If only they made it in red. Le sigh…

I paired the jacket with my new pair of cropped pants from Fashion Nova Curve, a pair of heeled sandals and one of my favorite tote bags from Pour La Victoire. (I’m often impressed with the clothes Fashion Nova sends me. These pants look way more expensive than they are. I think they were about $26.)

All in all, this is a super easy, casual-yet-put-together look that’s perfect for Sunday brunch. (Sunday brunch tends to be the look I’m going for. If an outfit is Sunday brunch-approved, I want/need/gotta have it.)

As an note for those of you who may not be feeling this blazer in pink, black or white: Lane Bryant sells it in gray and navy blue.

So, where would you wear a military blazer like this one? Have you already jumped on the trend? Let me know in the comments!

xo,

Amy

 

Amy Stretten Chief of Style in Palm Springs, California wearing plus size clothing by Lane Bryant blazer and Fashion Nova Pants with a Pour La Victoire tote bag 

Outfit details: Jacket: Lane Bryant | Shirt: Forever21+ | Pants: Fashion Nova Curve | Necklace: The Limited | Shoes: Agaci+ | Bag: Pour La Victoire

OOTD: B.Yellowtail by Native American Fashion Designer Bethany Yellowtail

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I first wrote about Native American fashion for a mainstream audience back in 2013 when I profiled Sho Sho Esquiro for Fusion (now Splinter), the ABC/Univision joint-venture. The Kaska Dene/Cree fashion designer was making waves on the catwalks of New York City with her Native-infused, never-before-seen Fashion Week designs.

Four years later and there are even more Indigenous fashion designers on the scene, such as one of my absolute faves, Bethany Yellowtail, creator of B.Yellowtail. Hardly a newcomer, though, Yellowtail launched her website in 2014 and this summer she held a pop-up shop and fashion show that I attended in Hollywood.

Yellowtail, 28, is Northern Cheyenne and Crow. She left her home state of Montana in 2007 to hone her craft at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, California. Upon graduating in 2009, she worked for BCBG Max Azria, then became a pattern maker for private labels, eventually creating her own brand.

“I realized there is so much [cultural appropriation] going on that I decided I am not even going to get mad anymore, but I decided I was going to do something about it,” Yellowtail said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. “Ultimately, I want to let my work become a learning opportunity and design pieces with cultural integrity.”

What I love most about Yellowtail is her commitment to Native and other political causes. She’s created work in support of activist efforts such as the 2017 Women’s March and the protests at Standing Rock. I love when creatives contribute their talents to important causes. It goes to show the difference we can all make regardless of our career field. 

After attending Yellowtail’s Summer fashion show, she graciously sent me a few pieces from her collection. Lucky for you, they’re all on sale on her website right now! And, this weekend she launched a brand new collection.

Any of her pieces would make an amazing Christmas gift this holiday season (for you or someone you love). She also sells beautiful Native jewelry, blankets, moccasins and other accessories on her site as well, perfect for anyone on your holiday list!

Here’s how I styled the pieces she sent me…

Enjoy, babes!

xo

Amy Stretten wearing Native American fashion designer, Bethany Yellowtail's, original designs

Outfit details: BLOSSOM PANT + Top: Charlotte Russe+ | Shoes: Forever 21 | Hat: Wyeth

Amy Stretten wearing Native American fashion designer, Bethany Yellowtail's, original designs

Amy Stretten wearing Native American fashion designer, Bethany Yellowtail's, original designs

Outfit details: RISE SHEATH DRESS + Shoes: Rock & Republic | Hat: Wyeth

Amy Stretten wearing Native American fashion designer, Bethany Yellowtail's, original designs

Amy Stretten wearing Native American fashion designer, Bethany Yellowtail's, original designs

Outfit details: RIVER CAMISOLE WITH WAIST TIE (Sold Out) + Shirt: Lovesick Fashion | Jeans: Melissa McCarthy Seven7 | Shoes: Forever 21 

A note: The views expressed in this post are my true and honest opinions. I was not paid to endorse Bethany Yellowtail or her designs, but the clothing I styled and wore were gifts from the designer.

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)