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How Howard U Helped Me Personalize Familiar Fashions From Mass Retailers

It was one of those days.

I was mentally drained as we put the finishing touches on a complicated, months-long project and I wanted a decent lunch. I wanted to take an actual full lunch hour away from my desk, where I could eat and digest my food uninterrupted, walk the streets of DC on a non-stifling hot day, and even, gasp, browse a large H&M nearby.

Well, I made the executive decision to take that hour of self-care, and managed to slide into H&M while a great sale was taking place. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to any of the other floors. (I eventually had to go back to work. Tick, tick. Sniff, sniff.)

There was plenty of wonderful merchandise that caught my eye including shorts with beautiful African-inspired prints, (I’m a sucker for that, and I’m heading to the African-American Festival in Baltimore this weekend, so I simultaneously honor the ancestors and slay.) breezy, flowy dresses, cute tops and lightweight summer jackets I rationalized that I’ll need in freezing offices and on airplanes.

Like myself, I saw other women, with a leisurely, yet purposeful stroll through the racks, eyeing and pawing at the clothing. We’d each hold up items we were interested in, giving it a quick assessment and making yes, no decisions in a matter of seconds, well, cuz, we had to go back to work. Even while making these decisions, there was a general sense of calm.

We were all in our happy place. Shopping. Surrounded by sales.

But while we were all different shapes, sizes, ethnicities, ages, etc., I noticed something while standing in the swiftly moving line (Shout out to the store at 17th and K).

We were all buying the same things.

The same, exact items.

This is the nature of shopping at fast fashion spots like H&M or Zara, or even Target (especially when they do those collaborations with major fashion designers). Someone you know, or don’t know, like the cute girl standing at the end of the train platform who seems familiar, is. Not because you may know her, or she’s a friend of a friend you met once, it’s simply because you both bought the same clothes.

As a Howard grad, I can recall this happening on a regular basis as the Howard girls flocked to all of the same stores in Georgetown and Pentagon City (my crew purposely made treks out to other shopping malls in Virginia or Maryland to avoid this problem), or even around the corner on Georgia Ave with the quick, cheap club gear at Susan Fashion. If you had a bit more disposable income, you could hit Up Against the Wall, for the hottest, more expensive brand names in early 2000s Hip-Hop fashion.

Because of this inevitability, most Howard girls didn’t sweat it. It was no secret we all liked shopping at the same places. However, rather than having a meltdown and trying to exit unnoticed, or trying to accidentally ruin someone’s outfit, we chose a more civilized and creative solution. A solution that would actually serve us well throughout life and emphasize individuality and confidence.

We tailored the outfit to our personality and developing style. We all didn’t have the money to keep buying more clothes, or more exclusive clothes, so we were forced to work with what we had and gained some insight into our own style to stand out in a sea of other beautiful women.

Thinking back, it was a who wore it best before that became an actual thing. But, to me, the wide variety of interpretations was more inspiring than competitive.

It wasn’t unusual to see a tomboy from a big city rock the same top as a southern, small-town debutante. Maybe the tomboy would cut it up a little and wear it with sports bra, sweatpants and Jordans, while the debutante rocked it with a skirt, blazer and pearls.The bohemian soul sista would rock hip-hugging jeans, and a headscarf, with beautiful wooden earrings hanging from her ears. Maybe she’d tie her shirt to show off her bellyring. SAME SHIRT THO!

So as I scanned the other fashionable DC worker bees checking out, or standing in line with some of the same items I held in my hands, I issued myself a challenge. I reminded myself of my good ol college days where it was expected that you’d spot several girls on your dorm floor, at the game, in your classes and on the yard rocking the same fits from Express, Forever 21, Gap, Aeropostale. And you simply had to do you and be confident in doing so.

I also hope that the women who bought the same items that I did today and the gazillions of other H & M stores worldwide and online, rock them with confidence and that it reflects their personal style. I know I will. I’m excited.

Instead of running for the hills, when I see another woman wearing the same outfit, if she’s within arm’s reach, I like to compliment her and admire her twist on it. Usually, it turns out well, and we compliment each other.

And in this spirit, I share with you the tricks I honed from my Howard sisters that have helped me stand out today.

ACCESSORIES: For me, I strategize around accessories. Accessories always elevate my outfit, and tend to earn me compliments. Simply putting on a belt to cinch that waist, will change the game. Throw on a scarf, and folks will swear you are Clair Huxtable and Kate Middleton rolled up into one. And it’s pretty easy to throw on a great necklace or a couple of bracelets, and look pulled together. From the fashionistas rocking the Chanel jewelry and the Louis Vuitton handbags, to the around the way girls who copped their accessories bargaining at a flea market, to the chicks who make their own, accessories do make an outfit sing even if they are all wearing an H&M jumpsuit.

BOLD LIP: Folks tend to notice me more when I rock a red, or a pink lip. I usually like browns, beiges and deep plum colors.

SHOE GAME PROPER: Got a great summer dress from H&M? Are you rocking cowboy boots or some old school chucks? Attention will be paid for you thinking beyond heels or sandals. Do you have shoes that have a cool print, or a bold, solid color?

MIX N’ MATCH: Michelle Obama has taught us long ago the art of mixing high-end clothing with more affordable brands to present an effortless and always-on-point ensemble. I’ve been thinking about how great my solid color tees, or bodysuits would look with my print heavy shorts, or how the lightweight African print jacket I bought would work nicely with one of my long, solid sundresses, sunglasses and a great statement necklace. The options are really endless!

Church Families Mourn With Mother Emmanuel AME

I’m hurt and tired today.
With every new story or update in regard to the church shooting in Charleston, SC I just grow more weary and hurt.
I grew up in church. Church was a second home. You’re there so much, it’s bound to happen. You build an extended family there, you go there to be vulnerable. After all, you’re confessing your sins, trying to get free. You cry there, you may dance there or show emotion in a lot of ways that even surprise yourself. There’s a heart connection that happens if and when you let it.
The folks you serve with, they’ll watch your kids, and you trust them to discipline your kids if and when they act up. You may travel with them on mission trips, or even personal vacations because you’ve grown that tight. There’s lunches and dinners and brunches. They shower you with love when you experience positive moments, as well as when you are at your lowest points. When you lose a loved one, they step up to serve the repast meals and make sure you’re eating when it seems like you can’t think to.
You go to church to lay a burden down, and also be a support system to other people who have similar goals of being better people, despite our imperfections, and trying to please God.
It turns my stomach to even think that any person could walk into a church and just start killing people. Millions of people go to church on Wednesday night for prayer meetings and bible studies, kind of like a midweek boost to get over Monday and Tuesday if Sunday’s spiritual high already wore off, and to take them through until Sunday again.
I am praying for the families and the survivors. As quite a few people in my Facebook timeline said, this act of terrorism and violence hit very close to home, regardless of region or church denomination. I don’t know anyone from that church personally, but I think most people who have been blessed to have a church family, the kind of pain that community is going through has to be unfathomable. I pray that the survivors remain strong in their faith and stay close and even get closer to God. Because this kind of situation could easily make a person wonder why? Especially if you’re trying to do the right thing and follow God. Why, didn’t you protect them, God in your own house? Why did you allow this awful person to walk through the doors? It has to hurt so badly.

A New List of Things You Need To Know As A Woman In Your 30s

I feel like I make this list like once a year. Normally, I’m inspired by a conversation I’ve had or an experience.

I’m just avoiding studying. But please add these things you need to know as a woman in your 30s. I may repeat some I’ve said before.

1. If you like it buy it in every color.

I was in NY and Company the other day and I found pants and tops that fit well, and I straight up bought multiples. You’ll see how important this is. You need ONLY things in your closet that make you feel good about yourself and like you are the finest person walking the earth. Facts.

2. Own at least one freakum dress. It doesn’t have to be scandalous if scandalous is not your thing, but going back to number one, it needs to fit and flatter your body and your favorite assets and make you feel sexy when you wear it.

3. Embrace your shape, understand it and find things that work with it.

Sometimes this means you can’t go with the crowd. Or the latest trends. If there’s something that looks awesome on you, stick to it and don’t let go, you will be timeless and polished.

4. Accessorize. I’ve always noticed that older women had tons of jewelry, real, costume, hats, scarves, brooches. They adorn themselves. Lately, I’ve noticed the power of adding a statement necklace to a simple outfit and it takes my ensemble to another more mature and unique level. It helps bring out my personality so I can stand out from the crowd. And shopping for accessories is just fun.

5. Never underestimate the power of the T. Whether you get cheap tees or more expensive ones, plain black or white tees make you look like you woke up like dis. Keep it simple, rock it with a blazer for work, and amp it up with a great necklace and boom. You look all effortless.

6. Keep mints, lip gloss, tampons and at least $20 in your purse at all times. The last part is most difficult for me as I’m always reaching for plastic. But the times that I actually do carry cash, it just feels like a safety net juuuuust in case!

7. Read stuff.

Read anything, read the newspaper, read the magazines, read books, join a book club. Grown women are informed and keep growing and have interesting things to talk about and an opinion. Books are easy ways to develop opinions and provide good party chatter.

8. Vitamins.

I had to learn about this one the hard way, but for real for real, B complex has changed my life this week. I can press on just a little bit further thanks to these energy boosting vitamins recommended by my doctor.

9. High/Low As a grown woman, you have every right to indulge in an expensive handbag, pair of shoes, suit or fantastic coat or pair of jeans. So for big items that you’ll use forever, I say go for it if you can afford to or save for it and then buy your cheaper items to go with them. When you’re grown, you want to stay polished. That’s the goal.

10. Have a signature drink you like to order, signature fragrance, and signature dish you can cook and cook well EVERY time. It just makes you feel good about yourself.

11. Take dance breaks. Throw on your favorite jam and just dance.

12. If you are wrong, beat folks to the punch and own up to it.

13. If you know you are wrong before you do something and you’ve made the decision to do it anyway, then George Bush that shit. Don’t hide. Bask in your wrongness and if anyone has something to say about it, say you did it for America and keep it pushing.

14. Truth over everything. When you know better you do better.

15. Try something new. Do not be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, fail, or look silly. Just try. Trying shouldn’t be for kids or folks screwing up in their 20s. As long as you are breathing you better find the sweetness of life and the feeling of accomplishment when you do something you’ve never done.

16. Travel. That’s it.

17. Be cool with going out alone. Start with the movies or a play. Something that doesn’t require anything but your attention and everyone shutting up. Then elevate and take yourself to dinner, but don’t get a table for one… have dinner at the bar. You’ll meet interesting people and bartenders like to give you free drinks or discounts for bringing more boys to the yard who’ll pay full price.

18. Be kind, be giving, be gracious.

20. Smile at yourself, laugh at yourself out loud when you do ridiculous things or look silly or fall down. Like, there are times I got so into it, I couldn’t stop laughing and that felt good. I’m serious though take a moment to smile at yourself in the mirror at work in the bathroom. Don’t give yourself a fake smile either, smile at yourself like yo, I like you. You’re cool people. And after you say that, if you’re me, you’ll start laughing at yourself for even saying something like that. But to see yourself naturally smile at yourself or laugh at yourself, it’s kind of nice.

21. When you have a tingle to check on someone or just ask them, how are you today? Or are you alright? DO IT! IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE. Even if you text some one and say “I’m thinking of you.” Or tell them something you like about them, it makes all the difference in the world.

22. Say you’re not ok, when you’re not ok. Some folks ain’t gonna know how to react to this. Expect their inability to react because they are used to folks lying, so this is going to throw them off. Tell them it’s ok that you know they have absolutely nothing perfect to say to fix it, but you are just satisfied with them caring.

23. Ask for help. If you don’t know, ask for help and be bold about it. I don’t know, I don’t understand, but I’m smart at other things, so my ego isn’t bruised. Help me so I can be good at this too. Most people will appreciate that you kept it so real and be very eager to help you understand. This is truth.

24. Be proactive. If you see things about to take a twist or a turn and you know you can prevent it or lessen the blow, then do so.

25. This is linked with 24. DON’T WAIT ON NOBODY ELSE TO FILL IN THE BLANK. If there’s something you want to do and folks keep making excuses or blowing it off go back to number 17. If you need courage go back to number 20 and remember number 15.

26. You are in charge of your narrative. Don’t let anyone else write it or define it. You do that. You represent you. If folks have it wrong, you have every right to correct their uninformed asses.

27. Stop cussin. LOL. Only do so for emphasis and impact to let fools know you ain’t playing and that this is not a drill.

28. If you did it right, the walk of shame is a strut of satisfaction.

29. If you really regretted it and didn’t have a child from the situation, you can subtract that bad situation from your “number” I’ll allow it.. like twice. But don’t get carried away.

30. If you are a woman in your 30s, you already know that you’ve never felt this alright with yourself and secretly looking forward to how bad ass you’ll be at 40.

Yes, Brown, Thick People Like Themselves

I recently read an article by Refinery 29, where the author oohed and ahhed about one of my favorite comedians, Mindy Kaling and how she rocked a stunning green crop top ensemble. Is this really news? Yes, it is. Because Mindy Kaling is brown girl who is thick. She is not a size zero or two. She went on about how inspiring Mindy was for “effortlessly translating the trend.”

If you want to talk about effortlessly translating trends, I’d like you to meet the Rosetta Stone of plus-size fashion. I had to let out a laugh, because I instantly thought of the super fabulous blogger gabifresh who boldly rocked a crop top in some of her amazing photos and how she “been done that” numerous times.

Mindy Kaling wows em. Everett Collection Rex USA/Via Refinery29.com

Mindy Kaling wows em. Everett Collection Rex USA/Via Refinery29.com

Folks treat thick women like folks with disabilities sometimes and give the same condescending bs for doing everyday things like living. God forbid “others” love themselves. It’s one thing to be among similar people and praise one another for their differences, but to be out in the open and say you love yourself or you love your body and you don’t look like Beyonce or J. Low or J. Law, folks who fit into society’s blueprint of beauty and the arbiters of fashion are going to give you that slow clap that eventually speeds up because of your “courage.”

Get all the *ucks outta here with that.

I will give Gina Marinelli of Refinery 29 some credit. She tried her darndest to make her article not sound like a prom queen write in project because everyone assumes for someone like who looks different or is considered an outcast, this will be the best moment in their lives. So she used very careful language while giving Mindy praise.

Let’s put this out there right away: We’d never assume that the star of The Mindy Project can’t, in any way, wear whatever she pleases. And, she’s not the kind of lady who succumbs to those kind of notions either. No, Kaling is not a size 2 or 0 or whatever the “typical” size that may be associated with many young, female members of Hollywood.”

She did her research and already knew from an article from Parade, Mindy is not here for rosy platitudes.

From the Parade Magazine article: “I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”

So here we go. Mindy is brown and thick, and has already been retweeted and quoted and misquoted about fifty-eleben million times about being tired of condescending questions about her confidence despite being brown and thick. Folks have made memes with this quote and the beat goes on.

I liked this gem too from the Parade article: “There are little Indian girls out there who look up to me, and I never want to belittle the honor of being an inspiration to them. But while I’m talking about why I’m so different, white male show runners get to talk about their art.”

So I dig Mindy for a million reasons. This chick really started from the bottom, and while yall were sleeping, she was writing and directing episodes of “The Office” while yall thought she was simply the dilly Kelly Kapour. Mindy is acutely aware of her place and space in the world, she is unapologetic and she knows what her presence on television and in the writers room means for those who follow behind her. But like most successful women of color, we simply want to get to work and be recognized for being really great at what we do. We don’t want people telling us, “No, I don’t see color.” Because then you don’t see part of who we are, but we also don’t want people treating us or telling us we are beautiful or intelligent DESPITE our color or our weight, or because we come from a certain side of town.

But what bothered me most about the article wasn’t the article itself, but the comments. Folks were bashing Mindy like you wouldn’t believe. Some folks who from their avis looked overweight themselves. Harsh, harsh comments.

The same goes for Gabourey Sidibe.

Gabourey Sidibe via Wikipedia

Gabourey Sidibe via Wikipedia

Seems like folks get extra offended that this young woman has self-esteem. GASP. For shame. She is having the time of her life and a successful career well after the movie “Precious.” There were people who said that was the only role she could play because of her size, and her deep, dark color. It’s amazing really.

People can embrace Beyoncé for loving who she is as a mother and businesswoman and wife and she can dance around butt naked if she wants to. And even Beyoncé sang that “Pretty Hurts.” And that at the end of the day, you have to ask “are you happy with yourself?” Clearly, Gabby and Mindy are and they are making money even while they are sleeping at night while the rest of us walk around self-conscious and trying to make folks that don’t matter feel more comfortable around us. Pulese.

So because Gabourey Sidibe doesn’t lock herself in the house wearing a moo-moo, eating cartons of Haagen Daz everyday, wishing to be something other than herself, folks are actually offended and mad that she openly loves herself, isn’t looking for Weight Watchers endorsements or signing up to be on the next cycle of the Biggest Loser.

Folks take offense that Mindy is speaking the truth and rocking awesome clothes and having regular women take the time to make friends with tailors and seamstresses again.

In a society full of vain people, it’s awfully short-sighted to be discriminatory in terms of who can be allowed to openly love themselves, or their bodies or their scars or the color of their skin if they DON’T fit into the mainstream image of beauty.

Folks talk about self-confidence and self-love but as a society we sure don’t make it easy on folks who don’t appear to be the obvious poster children for it. Instead, we pile on the “others” hoping to stamp it out of them to make them shrink back into the margins.

But guess what? That’s not even about to happen. Because for folks who have to make the extra effort to smile, and to be proud of who they are inside and out, it’s not even about beauty anymore, it’s about personal integrity and it’s about survival. And that’s the safest place to be. Shallow folks will never have enough strength to reach that deep to destroy it.

People Don’t Dress Up Anymore, All They Do Is This…

I just read an awesome article from the Huffington Post titled, “7 Ways Your Grandmother Dressed Better Than You.” It was so freaking on point and so true.

The list basically talks about how our foremothers were serious about the proper undergarments and proper fit of their clothing. It also discussed how because clothes were so expensive for everyone, knowing how to sew was a must among most American women of that generation. (Do they even have home economics anymore?)

That is totally a thing of the past unless a child has the fashion bug, and wants to be a designer and seeks out their very first sewing machine on their own. As an 80s baby, I had an Easy Bake Oven and I had a for real operational kid’s sewing machine. I feel like my generation was the last to be made to go to home economics, but honestly, when I can hem my pants or sew buttons for a boyfriend, it makes me feel like a hot commodity.

I actually want to take sewing lessons and learn how to make some things myself. It wasn’t uncommon back in the day for the older women of the neighborhood or some older person in your family to make a new baby a blanket, a christening outfit, prom dress or wedding dress.

The way things are now, I bet for most young women the first time they’ve ever worn tailored clothing is if they are a bride’s maid in someone’s wedding. There was a friend of mine a short thang who said she always had to get her pants and jeans tailored.

Tailoring! I had forgotten all about it. So when my jeans that fit right everyplace else but were too long and dragging on the ground, I realized, stupid, you can get these tailored!!!

It doesn’t even cross one’s mind and that’s sad. But as the article points out, what is the point of a good tailoring job if the fabrics are cheap and practically disposable anyway?

I didn’t realize how much we as a society, in America don’t dress up until a few years ago, my dad, who is quite stylish, visited me and we went out to dinner. He had on a button up shirt, slacks and blazer. I wore a dress. But all around us, people were wearing jeans.

My dad shook his head. To him dining out was an experience, therefore you dress up. I agree with him, although I eat out with my friends ALOT and I tend to be a jeans wearer, a lot of times, I do like to turn it up a notch and look like it’s a special occasion.

Then the last few times I’ve gone to the Kennedy Center for performances, I noticed that there were old school folks who dressed to the nines, like myself and others in….jeans.

In my opinion, the Kennedy Center is too beautiful to not show up looking your best. It’s one of my favorite places to go, because it feels so grand. But I guess the general consensus is you are sitting in the dark and no one will see you any way or you aren’t the one on stage.

We’ve gotten way too casual and it’s sad. I do think people feel better about themselves and hold themselves to a higher standard when they dress up for certain events and are expected to. There’s an increased level of civility. I know I walk with my head higher, I have better posture. What’s even worse is when you do go out for an event and everyone says, “Wow, you’re really dressed up.”

Actually, you’re way too casual. I love looking at blogs with street style in Europe and seeing how people in Milan and Paris turn everyday places into runways with a certain style and sophistication.

But here in the land of the free, home of the hamburger, we’ve gotten sloppy and slutty.

I’ll admit, I have moments I pull out a freakum dress or short shorts, but every occasion doesn’t call for that. I’ve been to weddings where people wore flip-flops (they are acceptable and smart during the reception only) and funerals where people wore jeans and tee shirts. (At hood funerals if said tee-shirt has a photo of the deceased, I’ll allow it).

Why can’t we even honor those moments with being well-dressed. We’ve gotten lazy as a society. “Clothes don’t represent who I am.” “I shouldn’t be judged by what I wear.” “People should accept me for who I am.”

I’m old school. I think people should dress nicely for church and I rarely wear pants to church, and if I do they are dress slacks, because that’s how I was raised. It’s not about showing off, or acting like wearing the best clothes is a status symbol or I want to be seen, but I want to respect myself and the occasion. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that or it makes me a dinosaur.

So hell yes, our grandparents dressed better. People may have been poorer or had less education, but they had way more class and self-respect. They had expectations and because they knew how to stretch pennies and make things happen, they knew how to cook and sew and fix things, we benefitted greatly, but it made us lazy.

Eartha Kitt photographed by Gordon Parks as she was being fitted for a dress by a woman who I am 99.9% sure is none other than the pioneering fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes in 1952.

Photo from blackvintageglamour.tumblr.com The amazing Eartha Kitt and her almighty seamstress.

Percy Verwayne (1895-1968) was the original Sportin’ Life in the 1927 Broadway DuBose and Dorothy Heyward play, “Porgy,” the precursor to the iconic 1935 George Gershwin opera “Porgy and Bess.” Mr. Verwayne was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) and appeared on Broadway, on radio and in several films for at least thirty years, but he was best known in his day for originating the role of Sportin’ Life. He was also a former athlete and that came in handy in 1941 when he was robbed of 75 cents by a very unwise 18-year-old within two blocks of his Harlem home at 400 West 128th street. The incident was gleefully reported in the New York Amsterdam News on August 9, 1941 under the headline, “Mugger Gets Wrong Victim.” According to the paper, when the mugger tried to run away, “Verwayne chased him for a block, grabbed him by the seat of his trousers and socked him into submission. When the cops arrived, Verwayne was in complete control of the situation.” I’ll bet he was… haha! Photo: New York Public Library, Billy Rose Theater Collection.

Now that’s bespoke. Photo from blackvintageglamour.tumblr.com

And now this is what we have today…

Rihanna Getty Images via Huffington Post.

So, I think deep down we want to dress awesomely. Aside from the storylines, people LIVE for the fashion of shows like “Mad Men,” “Sex and the City,” and most recently, “Scandal” because of the clothes, and the fit of the clothes. I am among a whole lot of people who created pinterest boards based on the fabulous Olivia Pope.

Folks aren’t just salivating over her steamy love scenes, but whilst live tweeting, you see folks going crazy over her coats, and amazingly chic clothing she wears sitting on the couch with her red wine.

http://scandalmoments.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/oliviapopefashionallsaintsepisode5scandalseason2.png?w=620

Photo from scandalmoments.com Please see the wonder that is Olivia Pope in all of her fashionable glory. God, this show.

One of my personal faves. Grandmother would be proud, Liv.

214-14

Photo: Scandalmoments.com

Size Ain’t Nothing But A Number, and Other Random Weight-Related Rants

I was feeling all kinds of warm and fuzzy.

I’d been inspiring folks to replace negative behavior with positive ones.

I was trying to stick to my own, when this morning, I just stayed in bed.

No A.M. workout.

No breakfast.

I’d been embracing my natural curly hair, and last night I decided to straighten it to get an idea of how much its grown and to clip some ends.

Guess what?

Hated it. Didn’t feel like myself. After watching a few videos on youtube, seems like a lot of women who go natural go through this.

They aren’t as excited about their straight hair as they thought, and if it weren’t for all the work they put in, they’d wet it and just go back. Some actually did right after they straightened it.

Didn’t want to waste the two hours I put in, so I just slicked it all back and stuck a straight pony tail hair piece on and wrapped it in a bun. I’m still not enthused.

So anyway, I try to put on pants and all of them are hell to put on. I know that I ate over my birthday weekend, but really? So none of my workouts during the week helped the cause??? Nothing?

Ok, fine. So here I am in the office, feeling all kinds of ways about myself. Even unattractive. After feeling pretty great about myself on Monday. How can it flip soooo fast???

Because I feel like I’m a thick girl, I decided to take a look at plus-sized models on Pinterest.

I’m not quite plus-sized, but I hover around a 10-12 in most of my clothes. (This is supposed to actually be the average weight of an American woman)

One thing I always admire about plus-sized models is, they weigh more than me, and they are gorgeous. Like put them side-by-side with me, and they wipe the floor with me. Why? Because they are still professional models! Models of any size are still more fly and amazing because they are friggin models. So people who think they can roll out of bed and assume they are hotter than a plus-sized model because they are a size four? You just played yourself. That size 16 Lane Bryant model is going to look better than you in her underwear. She’s still a model. Just saying.

They have confidence out the butt-crack, and they always wear clothes that fit.

I think the key to life and confidence, is wearing damn clothes that fit. Period. Take your award and exit stage left.

Even if it’s a short skirt, or tight pants, or even in some cases midriff tops, Plus-sized models’ clothes frigging fit. Some don’t have flat stomachs, but their clothes fit properly and give that illusion.

What are the rest of us doing wrong? If it’s just that simple? Someone tell me please.

They understand the importance of great undergarments and their hair and make up and shoes and accessories are always on point.

So ok, it may take me awhile to lose the 20-30 pounds I want to lose. But even on the days I can’t seem to fit my pants, I need to rock the ones that fit properly with attitude.

I’ve discussed this in a previous blog, that people will wear unflattering clothes, especially pants and skirts because if they move up a size they are surrendering to the larger weight.

If you think wearing ill-fitting pants like an albatross or a scarlet F for fat is supposed to shame you into going to the gym and losing the weight, it’s not. You are going to look like a muffin-top, sausage casing of hot mess. That’s what’s going to happen.

Now you feel even more self-conscious.

Oh hell no.

Do I want to wear more size 12 pants? No! But I’ve also noticed that it’s not so much size, it’s cut. Sometimes we can’t read so much into the NUMBER.

So yes, some days I can wear size 8 clothes. Or mediums.. Some days 10s, 12’s and there might even be a size 13 jean. But hey, I’ve got bootie and thighs and thicker legs anyway.

Today, my muses are plus-sized models. I should love myself at every step of the way and actually look like it via my clothing choices and focus on my health and getting in shape. The weight will come off.

Here are some links and stories about the it girls of plus-sized fashion blogging:

http://jezebel.com/5958726/plus+size-lady-bloggers-look-fly-make-us-want-to-go-shopping

The chick who is murdering the game is Nadia Aboulhosn. Most articles that mention plus-sized bloggers always mention her! http://nadiaaboulhosn.com/

Another young lady I absolutely adore is is gabifresh. This chick is also everything. I love her looks, I love her confidence. She is rocking a middriff on her blog and it freaking works. Inspiration. Sigh. Gangsta. Sigh.

No matter what your size, if you’ve never checked out a plus-sized fashion blog, they still have great tips for everyone. You may be inspired, like me!

I’m about to go buy some sturdier bras…

Today’s lesson. Whatever size you are. Wear what fits. You’ll feel better. Wearing something a size too small or wearing clothes that are too big serves no one.

Lucky Girls

Great wall of Lucky covers! Ultimate Lucky Girls.

Great wall of Lucky covers! Ultimate Lucky Girls. (Screencapture Google Image Search)

When I was a bright-eyed college student, one of my roommates always bought Lucky magazine.

I’d read hers, and eventually I was hooked myself.

In the beginning, during the college years, I would marvel at all of the great clothes, shoes and handbags I couldn’t afford.

But what seemed to get me the most were the women they featured. Not the celebrities, but the “regular” women they called “Lucky girls.”  They really inspired me. Especially the ones who were editors and writers and gadget queens.

*Sidebar, I don’t know what the hell happened over at Lucky, but they have really stepped it up in terms of diversity. There are way more women of color in there now and I’m loving that they are doing features with plus sized and regular sized women with curves. They have made me fall in love with them all over in a very real way.

They weren’t much older than me, but they wore the awesome clothes, shoes and handbags and they had great jobs…IN NEW YORK and other ridiculously expensive places.

I wanted nothing more than to one day be able to attain enough professional success, and effortless, classic style so I could land in Lucky’s pages.

I’m 30, and I look at those pages in a different way. I’ve managed to work my way up from grinding as an editorial intern, a metro desk reporter, to a web editor, and I guess you could say, hey throw on an outfit and Lucky, where’s my close up?

But, I look in the pages and now I see these uber fabulous women who are younger than me. I’m jealous again. But knowing fabulous women personally, and being one myself, it’s hard. It’s lonely. It’s frustrating and difficult. The expectations fabulous women place on themselves are enough to cause permanent scoliosis. There is pressure, there is wanting to stay ahead of the curve and the fear of falling behind and never being able to catch up. There is keeping up the appearances. Making others happy, staying sane, proving you deserve everything you’ve got and everything else you’re trying to get. They are duty bound to their loved ones, they are leaders in what they do.

I take nothing from the gals who grace those pages. I’m certain they had to work very hard, but as I reflect on my career, and my closet (which doesn’t have that many luxury brands, but is still friggin fab) , I’m wondering, am I a Lucky girl?

Did I do enough? There are some over 30’s in the magazine, don’t get me wrong. But seeing 27-year-old powerhouses who still have early 20’s bodies and dream jobs, luxury apartments, etc. it makes me feel some kind of way.

When you feel like you’ve hit a rut, even the most supportive people in the world like me tend to lose it when they see people who are too fabulous to be true. A friend emailed me an amazing article in Apartment Therapy about this stunning woman who had an insanely awesome apartment in a chic area of Northern Virginia. Something about it kind of sent me in a funk.

Then, one of my best friends, who was in a funk, just whisked herself away to a resort out of the country for the last 7 days.

I am jealous of these people. I just am. Keep in mind, in comparison to other people I know, I’m blessed beyond ridiculous belief. I can afford to live on my own, and even though I had to suffer a pay cut last year, I’m still able to pay my bills comfortably– something I could not do two years ago, for sure. I’ve rebuilt my credit. I actually have a credit card again and I know how to use it properly now.

I don’t have to take care of any children or anything like that.

I know with more money or with more anything, one has even more stresses and responsibilities, but there are days where being the Lucky girl seems so far away.

On the flip side, the current economic climate isn’t a joke. I’m well aware, which makes my bellyaching sound so self-indulgent and insensitive to the millions of people who are unemployed and working very hard to really get their lives going. There are so many young people coming out of colleges and universities to a very bleak situation. I have friends with multiple degrees, struggling.

Ask any of them, and I’m sure they’d slap me for this woe-filled post of rambling.

Bi*&^, you are a Lucky Girl. Shut up.

I am a Lucky girl. I don’t need a fancy title or to be a 20-something with a multimillion dollar startup and $500 pumps.

I am where I am right now. And that needs to be ok. It’s fine to keep dreaming and to keep striving, but to keep beating myself up, because I drive a 13-year-old car, I rent an apartment in an area that is increasingly annoying me (the smell of weed wafted into my place last night), or going nuts over and over about my current job. It’s exhausting.

And the college girl who looked at those magazines and dreamed would probably be in awe of the 30-year-old writing this post right now. She’d probably be thrilled that we actually made it this far and not figuring out which relative to ask for money this month because she asked so-and-so last month.

I’ve come a long way, and for that and nothing else,

I am a Lucky girl.

Bonus Post: Soul Sista Number X

Tina Phillips/freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve come to an interesting conclusion about myself.

For years, and years, I have been drawn to eclectic things, different kinds of music, poetry and art.

And if I went to things that were particularly Afro-centric, especially in the D.C. and Baltimore area, I would be among a handful of black women there with relaxed hair.

Sometimes, I felt like people would look at me like, “why is she here? She’s too mainstream, she’s too assimilated.”

And while all of these “cultural, artsy” things should not be exclusively owned by folks with natural hair, or locs, let’s face it. When I go to this stuff, that’s who’s up in there. Period. I took an old boyfriend to an N’Dambi concert and once again, we got the stares. I was a bit over dressed, with straight hair. He said, “Even though all of us are black up in here, um, I don’t think we are black enough.”

I told him to shrug it off because the artist was going to be awesome and it would have been well worth looking a little out of place.

Sure enough, the concert was great. But it did seem as if we were outsiders.

If this was Spike Lee’s classic, “School Daze” it would be like one of the Gamma Rays (Wannabes) deciding to become natural. Then the Jiggaboos, throwing lots of  cynical side eyes about the change of heart.

I wonder if I can be a Gammaboo or a JiggaRay?

I’m glad that the world, especially among black folks, and the media, are opening up to the idea of natural hair.

Up until this year, I was dead against it.

I said, hell naw, will I let my hair revert back to its defiant, thick coils that caused weekend-long washing and straightening sessions with my mom. I wasn’t going to feel the pain of watching my freshly straightened hair shrivel within moments of stepping outside on a humid school picture day in adult hood.

But there’s something wonderful happening, I think our mothers and aunts did what they could and went with the program. There are more and more resources out there about how to better care for our hair than ever before, whether we wear it straight or relaxed.

But back to the original thought.

I went to National Geographic Live the other night at the National Geographic Headquarters in D.C. to see a hip hop afro-beat artist Blitz the Ambassador. (NPR did a great story on him. And there’s links to the music. If NPR was checking for him, he’s culturally relevant among our nation’s elite brains.)

This guy was amazing. His band was amazing and composed of musicians from a variety of cultural backgrounds.

He really made it an experience, and found a way to weave the music of his native Ghana, with the influences of his immigration to Brooklyn with hip hop classics.

The band was on point. The horn section was out of this world, the bassist, lead guitar and drummer were phenomenal. I thought of The Roots, Mos Def, Common, Fela, all in a gumbo of awesome.

Blitz spit lyrics in English and his native tongue going back and forth so naturally, the music baselines would drive from funk to hip hop and the horns and guitars would make you feel like you were partying in Africa.

I was highly impressed.

The folks gathered were just as diverse. A lot of the folks raised their hands, saying they’ve visited or lived in Africa. (Nat Geo visitors, I’m not surprised. It’s going to be an open-minded, worldy group.) A number of folks either knew him personally or were already familiar with his music.

I saw people of all ages and backgrounds grooving to the music. It was pretty fantastic. Even though, I went solo, I managed to let go a little bit and dance to the music with everyone else.

I looked around saw a number of black women rocking natural hair.

Just out of reflex, I was expecting the naturalistas to stare me down, and have a puzzled look on their face suggesting, I was in the wrong place.

Instead, I was simply met with a smile.

Huh? Really?

Then I remembered, Ah, my hair.

They see me as one of them now.

I mentioned in another blog post, how I don’t want to be team natural or team relaxed. I want to be me trying something different and allowed to wear it which ever way pleases me at the time.

And this phase in my life, I’m enjoying the experimentation that I’m having with my hair. I’m enjoying being bold enough not to think it’s some big deal, and just rocking it with confidence.

I also think turning 30 and just going through things have really taught me to love myself, trust myself and believe in myself.

I would have never even tried in the last five years. It was not even an option. And I wasn’t secure enough in myself to try it. I would have been miserable and I wouldn’t have been able to find the beauty in it even if it did look good. I would have convinced myself that it didn’t look good and anytime a guy went over to talk to a girl with straight hair instead of me, I’d probably assume it was my hair. So no, it was not the time for me to try it in my 20s. My ego would have been too fragile, and the men in my dating pool would still hold on to the video vixen standard of beauty too tightly.

Even when I was starting to get slightly curious about it, I was in a relationship with a man who thought natural hair was ugly. So, I made sure my hair was always bone straight. Because it seemed like even when I wore it curly around him, he was waiting for me to straighten  it again. I’m not going to bash my ex, but when a person desires you, you want to be what that person wants. You just do. I didn’t wear red lipstick because he hated that too.

I’m starting to understand the powerful feeling a lot of women have when they’ve gone natural. As for the men, and natural hair, I’m finding men are doing a bit better with accepting it and some even see it as a sign of confidence and the ability to be comfortable with standing out.

All that said,

I’m a little nervous about going home to see my parents. They have yet to see me and my new hair. They’ve seen it curly, but they haven’t seen it since I chopped a lot off.

They are old school, so I have a feeling they won’t be as accepting.

But even still, I’m grown and I like it. And that’s what matters.

I actually can’t believe that I like it as much as I do. I figured by now I’d be regretting it, and feeling really self-conscious and running to get a weave (something else I said I’d never do). Which, according to some hardcore naturalistas must be really sad. But it’s the truth.

To top off my total transformation into Soul Sista X, I put together the cutest outfit the other night.

It was my black nerds unite t-shirt with a tribal print skirt, a big black belt.

I had on my new glasses and my curly fro. I pranced around, and said wow, I will totally fit in at some of these neo-soul shows now.

The funny part about it was, it didn’t seem like I was looking at someone else. I didn’t see someone new or radically different or even radical.

It was just me.

Why I Don’t Like White Parties/Liberation Tour Recap

Welp, Labor Day is around the corner.

It signals the close of summer.

Old school fashion nazis say that one should not wear white after Labor Day, so I guess that’s why people love to have white parties that weekend.

I’m going to one where they say wearing all white is optional, so I may make some kind of spin on it.

I think white looks great before you leave the house and maybe as soon as you get someplace, but once you get to the summer party and start dancing, everyone looks even more disheveled as the night goes on.

The white linens stick to folks, you’re wrinkled, it’s easy to spill something on it, you’re always checking to see if you’ve spilled something on it. At the end of the night, everyone looks greasy.

Don’t even get me started on a white party I went to years ago, where I looked awesome. Even had a funky white hat that I wore.

Well, I ended up having a really great night, and NOTHING is grosser than doing the walk of shame in an all white outfit you partied and sweated out the previous night. I took two showers, back-to-back.

I already know I don’t want to wear a white dress. I hate white shoes, so that’s not going down.

I’ve already taken to pinterest for outfit ideas. I am in love with this. http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0ZxSHkXY59Q/UABdpaMhbLI/AAAAAAAAvFQ/FqZ1u3-1W8A/s1600/4.+unknown+tumblr.jpg

I feel like ever since Diddy’s summer Hamptons party became on the radar of regular folks, party promoters and white linen enthusiasts have tried to recreate the original.

Also, I hate wearing all white to summer events, because it makes me think of all of those older couples who like to dress alike, often in white and usually the woman overdoes it and ends up looking crazy and uncomfortable with the heels and the accessories. I saw this over and over at the Mary J. Blige concert in Philly this weekend. BTW, it was awesomeness. She had folks going nuts. Awesome energy, I loved every minute.

I know why people love Mary so much. She gives everything. She is a massive superstar, but she gives everything when she performs and she just speaks to women. She speaks to us when we are down, she speaks to us when we are doing, “Just Fine.” There is something so honest about her, and when you see where she came from, her ups and downs and her battles, and you see how glamorous she is and what a major philanthropist and business woman she has become, NOW THAT’S EMPOWERMENT. She does not deviate from the formula. She sings to the heart, soul and pain of women, and she just does it right.

Nobody is doing it like her. D’Angelo never lost a beat, he is not is old cut up self from the untitled video, but he has such a sexy smile and his voice is gold. No one makes music like his. It was sexy, it was spiritual, the chanting, his pitch perfect screams (very Prince), it was part musical orgy/revival.

I also loved Melanie Fiona. Like my companion turned to me and said, wow, I didn’t realize how many hits she has. And he was right. Melanie has been slowly building. She’s a great performer and her voice was awesome too. Can’t wait to see her grow.

If anyone has any white party ideas, or do’s and don’ts, I really need some inspiration that will make me look fresh the whole night through.

This is really old, and not from the concert this weekend. But sample the greatness. Mary singing “No More Drama” is a revelation. I almost fought back tears. It’s ironic she’s wearing white! LOL. I was looking for the best quality in sound and such. Lucky day!

Adults Should Go ‘School Shopping’ Too

Even if it’s a few funky notepads from cool sites like knockknockstuff.com (photographed here), adults, go “school shopping” for yourself.

After buying two tops in Marshalls, I just put myself on a clothing purchasing fast for the next two months.

I’ve been emotional lately. My exercise regimen has been shot to hell because of visiting my friend in the hospital after work, and on my off days from that, I’ve just been really tired or traveling.

See the aforementioned reasons and that’s also why I’ve broken my stellar record in terms of eating better. I’ve had soda at least three times this week and usually I do fine without it. I’ve been eating fast food a few times this week too. Not pleased.

So shopping also makes me feel good. Nothing like a trip to Marshall’s to get a dress for $20 or tops for $12. But all of that adds up.

I do say all that to say this.

My shopping habits can be based on my emotions or me just wanting something shiny and new because I was inspired by a fashion blog or Pinterest board. But I have noticed that although I shop for clothes and shoes all year long, I have a tendency to be more inclined to shop around late summer/early fall. I call it “Back to School Syndrome.”

Most of us who were fortunate went through the annual ritual of going School Shopping. If you were really lucky, your parents gave you a lot of room to make your own fashion choices pending their approval.

Me and my friends would spend hours talking about what our look was going to be as we entered a new grade. And the obsession with what we would choose for our staple looks (to last until we rack up again around Christmas time) went into over drive once we reached high school, where we were really shallow, self-absorbed and brand-crazy. Our popularity and status depended on it. Serious business.

It’s no wonder my closet starts getting a little more full in August and September, because in my mind, I’m supposed to be refreshing my look, because that’s what I did for most of my life.

I think it’s even MORE important for adults, especially those who have responsibilities to go out two seasons of the year and go “School Shopping.”

You need a new smart phone? Laptop? Tablet? You should get it.

Need new clothes and shoes? Get it. Those sales are applying to grown up clothes and gadgets too. Why not take advantage?

So what if you’ve been at your job for two years and maybe you didn’t get promoted, or you see the same people. Don’t wait for a new position or another job, go “School Shopping.” You deserve it. You pay the bills. Just because you don’t have to make an impression in home room doesn’t mean you can’t cop a few new fresh items to put in your wardrobe.

Refreshing your closet and your tools in such a way may actually refresh you so you can accomplish your professional goals. Get some new pens and new pads. Get some cool sticky notes and freshen up your office or your desk. I love this store Knockknockstuff.com for exactly that kind of stuff.

Adults, GO SCHOOL SHOPPING!

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