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Interviews with My Favorite Fashionistas

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Through the decades I have become clearer about my strengths – those areas where I excel and am sometimes a role model for others. Unfortunately, fashion is not one of them :-). While I think I put pieces together to look nice enough, I struggle with things like accessorizing, matching unconventional prints, or choosing daring pieces to add to my wardrobe. I have resolved to do my best, but continue to want to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to fashion so I consulted with my three favorite fashionistas. In the post you’ll be introduced to each of them, learn why I selected them for this post and hear their perspectives on the following statements/questions: describe your fashion style; who are your fashion inspirations; how do you shop and coordinate pieces; and what tips would you offer women wanting to be more daring when it comes to fashion and coordinating? I learned a lot and hope you do too!

I met Denny while attending college. She has always been one of my fashion icons. One thing that sets Denny apart is her ensemble is always coordinated from head to toe – literally. She changes her hair style a few times a year, experiments with colors, is not afraid to shake up the color of her make-up, and adds unique accessories to finish it all off. One of the unique things I appreciate about Denny is that like me, she is a curvy woman and constantly reminds me that fashions knows NO limits. Here are her responses:

My fashion sense is a mix of vintage and eclectic.  I’m obsessed with previous fashion eras and one-of-a-kind pieces. My fashion inspirations are Tracey Ellis Ross, Solange Knowles, Lauryn Hill, Grace Jones, Bianca Jagger, Alexis Colby, and Crystal Carrington – my favorite characters on DYNASTY – LOL! [I shop] anywhere that I go; I sift through racks and grab the pieces that jump out at me.  I seldom go for wardrobe staples.  Once I get my go to, I coordinate around it based on color and texture, usually going for the color that is least obvious.

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Her words of advice for people like me: I meet a lot of people that say “That looks great on you.  I couldn’t do it though”.  You won’t know if it’s for you until you try it.  I say go for what you like.  You’d be surprised how amazing it would make you look AND feel.  You can always add a piece that makes you feel comfy to that outfit.  It’s like bringing a friend to a party that’s not really your scene, but you promised you would attend and ending up having a ball.

Mik was a part of a crew that I called my brown version of SATC! We met during a time when I’d relocated across the country away from all of my family and friends. Mik was rocking a pixie cut before I knew what the hairstyle was and before it caught on in mainstream circles. Two things stood out to me about Mik: her ability to put any room to shame with even a $5 ensemble and her taste in shoes. A former co-owner of a shoe boutique and true entrepreneur at heart, Mik inspires me to step away from thoughts that I have to invest oodles of money in clothes to feel good about what I’m wearing. She replied in the following words:

I am a combination of bohemian chic and classic wear with a touch of vintage. I like structured pieces paired with clothing that is flowy and comfortable. I tend to mix bold/trendy with classic staple pieces. I don’t necessarily have certain individuals as fashion inspirations, [but] I do enjoy seeing what Solange is wearingJ! I [also] have favorite brands that I like to recreate depending on which look I am going for. For Boho/whimsical: Free People; Classic: Chanel, Tahari; Funky: Betsey Johnson; and Edgy: Diesel. When I’m shopping I start with a statement piece (asymmetrical top, bright color, dope shoes, bag) and I will build from there. I don’t like busy prints or “matchy-matchy”. Only one item will tend to “stand out” at a time. The rest will act as a backdrop. I am an avid thrift store shopper who refuses to pay top dollar or ANY article of clothing.

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And her advice for those like me :-): Make sure whatever fashion risk you’re considering represents you. Nothing is worse than seeing a woman uncomfortable in her clothes, i.e. tugging at garments, not being able to walk correctly in a shoe, appearing tense or self-conscious. I say get a few fashion magazines and see what catches your eye. Start small. Try a pop of color, mixing a print or two, or simply adding accessories can change an outfit dramatically [like] a ring, necklace, bag, or sunglasses.

And last, but certainly not least is Yeezy! I met Yeezy in graduate school and realized immediately that it is impossible to miss this fashionista. An avid runner and vegan, Yeezy’s style is complimented perfectly by her calm and caring spirit, infectious smile, and some sort of accessory that gives each outfit a pop. Yeezy wears chunky accessories, has a daring clutch to match, and often finishes out her ensembles with some mixed pattern. The irony is that most of my experiences with Yeezy were in the classroom – so she brings her A-game no matter where she goes. I love it! Here is what she had to say:

I would describe my style as feminine (I love playing with tulle, ruffles, lace, and bows), creative, and versatile. I’ve been told that my style is also a little retro. I have a few style crushes and Yara Shahidi and Michelle Obama top the list. For someone who is into fashion, I also feel like getting dressed is its own creative process. I am inspired by different things, whether it’s scrolling through Instagram and discovering a new designer or blogger, or traveling and exploring other cultures. I draw inspiration from different places and ideas and make it my own. In the past, I have been a creature of habit. If I found a store that I really liked, I would continue to shop there over and over again…for everything – LOL. More recently, I have enjoyed discovering new designers and brands. With the internet and social media, it is easier than ever to find unique pieces from all over the world so I have also been shopping online more for the past few years. I prefer to not wear what everyone else is wearing so thrifting is also a cool way to find one of kind pieces. When it comes to deciding what to buy, I try to be intentional. I purchase things that I love, that I am drawn to, and that I will want to wear over and over again. I can also imagine different ways I can style it, which doesn’t mean it must be something completely plain, but that you can style it in different ways – maybe it’s layering it over another shirt, wearing it casually and then dressing it up, etc. Coordination is key. For me, coordinating pieces starts with the overall look I am trying to create and then I go from there.

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Her fashionista words of wisdom: Have fun and try something new! Naturally, my style has evolved over time and there are plenty of times when I have looked at pictures from the past and have thought “What am I wearing?” LOL. At the time, I owned it though. So, do not be afraid to move out of your comfort zone when it comes to trying out new looks and whatever you wear, wear it with confidence.

You can follow Denny on her Facebook page and Yeezy on her blog: Style in Full Bloom.

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Birthday Countdown: Day 1 – Where is My Fashion Sense???

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It’s my birthday week so I’ve decided to post a few random reflections on the last year, as well as thoughts about the year ahead.

Every few years I think about my fashion sense … not in terms of keeping up with the latest trends, but how much time and effort I put into coordinating my wardrobe. I am surrounded by those who I consider to be some of the savviest fashionistas known – my friends know how to put together flawless assembles ranging in cost from $10 to hundreds of dollars and make it all seem effortless – so I am often left thinking that I need to “step my game up.” Sometimes I do well, other times not so much ;-).

What I know for sure: I love classic, clean looks with a little bit of quirk or hidden detail – think Banana Republic meets Ann Taylor with a splash of Anthropologie. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for bohemian dresses or skateboard sneakers, but I have learned to honor my personal style and maximize it. More often than not, I am conditioned myself dress along the conservative side. I took leadership positions very early in my professional career, often being the youngest in the room or the only one of something – woman, African-American etc. Much of this lead me altar much of my external presentation to adapt to my environment and in hopes of increasing the likelihood of being “taken seriously.” I am a minimalist. I believe in buying what I am going to wear and getting rid of what I won’t or haven’t. I rarely buy more than one of essentials, like eye glasses, basic belts, etc. My budget matters … always. My financial fitness comes first so when I am preparing for an event, my very last instinct is to purchase something new – I am more likely to piece together things from my wardrobe and buy something new last. I value my time and that of others. If I am running late, my priority is to get out of the door. Period. Point blank.

My shortcomings: I will always choose comfort over style. When going out the first questions I ask are where am I going; will I have to walk or stand for a long time; and what will I be doing once I arrive. I think about how much I am going to sweat, how many people will be around and even what sort of seating arrangements I will have. All of these factors come before I ask how cute my outfit is L. I can be a little lazy about putting things together. For some, coordinating comes easy – for me it takes great time and effort. Which earrings? What scarf? Which shoes? Sometimes it’s easier to throw on the first thing I see and go. My weight fluctuates … a lot. Not being my ideal weight is NO excuse for lacking style, but it is a barrier for me. Weight gain means buying new clothes or more often, a false hope that I will soon fit into my old clothes so I delay buying new clothes. For me, it also makes shopping harder and I am less inclined to buy things I love versus opting for more lose fitting clothes that conceal more than accentuate.

What I like: dresses, skirts, blazers, fitted jackets, scarves, boots, strappy sandals, heels, wedges, jewelry that does NOT jingle 😉 and prints. I do not fancy: sneakers (or any kind, other than for exercise), suits, baggy clothes, skirts/dresses with too much fabric, or oversized anything.

One of my goals for the year ahead is to do better ;-). Plan ahead to incorporate a few new pieces into my budget and wardrobe. Wear the things I have; choose a new accessory to try each day. While I admire the fashion sense and style of many around me, I’ve realized that my style is a little different … that’s okay so my job is to honor my own style and work it. Wish me luck .. and please feel free to offer suggestions!!!

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