Style: Falling Out of Summer and Into Fall with Neutrals

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Summer isn’t officially over just yet. Yes, Labor Day has come and gone. But, it’s still warm enough in SoCal to don tanks and sandals. Which is exactly what I wore in the photo above. As much as I love color, I’ve found that building the foundation of my wardrobe with neutrals is the key to always having something to wear.

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My leopard print pants from Forever 21 (3 seasons ago) are one of my wardrobe staples. They are stretchy, have pockets, and can be worn high-waisted or with a low crotch. They are the definition of versatile since I can wear them all year long!

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Here I’ve paired my favorite pants with a grayish mauve camisole from Nordstrom Rack, and a kick ass army green vest from Daniel Rainn (purchased at TJ Maxxsimilar here). The vest has pockets and a hood! It’s lightweight, so it’s very easy to layer with lighter pieces like the cami, or with a long sleeve tee as the days get cooler.

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The sandals I also got from TJ Maxx and they’re Marc Fisher in a lovely metallic leather finish. I’m in love with these sandals. I swear they go with everything!

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Other details:

 

Never be afraid to mix colors and patterns together. And if you stick with neutrals, it will be a no brainer!

xo

Fat, Black, Muslim, and Stylish as Hell: An Interview with Fashion Blogger Leah Vernon

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Photo by Reel Clever Films

I discovered Leah Vernon’s Instagram a few weeks ago and was wowed by her style. Her vibrant and bold approach to fashion struck a chord with me immediately. She is a fat, Black, Muslim woman with a strong voice in a society obsessed with thinness, whiteness, and anti-Muslim rhetoric. Talk about facing multiple forms of oppression! Vernon is always covered from head to toe, as required by her religion. She wears a hijab daily, which she sometimes substitutes for a fabulous head wrap or turban. But that doesn’t stop her from experimenting with fashion. I adore her creativity and personal style. The truth is, this fashion femme fatale just can’t be ignored!

Leah is the creator behind the blogs Beauty and the Muse and LeahVDaily. She is a 20-something style/fashion blogger, plus model, freelance writer, novelist, and body-positive activist from Detroit. She was inspired to start blogging in 2013 because there wasn’t enough diverse representation of real beauty in the media. Her goals are to continue to spread style and self-love to underrepresented groups, and to spark a fashion revolution!

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Photo by Remy Roman

MFC: When and why did you start blogging? What inspired the name Beauty and the Muse?

LV: I started blogging in the early 2000’s, three separate times actually, and didn’t know what I was doing and failed miserably. Haha. On the fourth try, I started blogging in 2013. My friends had forced me to create an Instagram account and after telling them ‘hell nah’, I finally caved in. I was feeling depressed because I had injured myself pretty badly at work. The sun was shining through my window when I woke up one day. I began scrolling through my IG timeline and saw Essie Golden looking bad as fuck in an army fatigue inspired getup. At that moment, I was like I can do that, too. I wanna slay!

In the next moment, the name Beauty and the Muse came out of nowhere. “That’s my blog name,” I said to myself. In my world, I have a split personality. There’s the beauty part, where it’s slayage and Gaga glam all the time. Then there’s the muse part, where I’m quiet, thoughtful, educated, and always seeking some answer to the world’s secrets.

Basically, I started blogging because I needed a creative outlet to express myself. As a fat, Black, Muslim woman, we are often times hidden from mainstream media and even within our very communities. I was tired of being overlooked and stuffed into a square. So, I made a conscious decision to bust out.

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Photo by Reel Clever Films

MFC: Do you consider yourself a feminist? How does that tie into your religious beliefs, if at all?

LV: Interesting question. I’m not going to lie. Over the past few years my views of feminism have changed greatly. At first, I didn’t get it. I thought that all feminism equated to was women having the right to show off their boobs in public and be sexually free. But as I started to actually learn and meet other feminists in real life, my views started to sway.

At this moment, I think that feminism is whatever a woman wants it to be, but it’s mainly compromised of wanting and deserving equality and inclusion. And sometimes feminism is in the eye of the beholder when we start getting down to the smaller details. It’d be a little different fundamentally from an atheist feminist point of view versus a Muslim or a Hindu feminist point of view. I don’t claim to be a ‘feminist’. But if wanting inclusion across the board equates to being one, then yes, I am. Lol.

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MFC: Do you think feminism and fashion can exist simultaneously?

LV: I’m a fat, Black , Muslim from Detroit who models… Anything is possible. Haha. I feel like in this time and age fashion is used to express so many different movements. So feminism and fashion can exist. Religion and fashion can exist. Culture and fashion can exist.

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Photo by Brooklyn Cashmere

MFC: You have great style, and you take big risks. Do you ever feel limited knowing that you need to cover your body? And is that challenging during the hot summer months?

LV: When I was younger and didn’t know myself or my fashion capabilities, I used to think that covering my body was an issue. That I could never mix the two: fashionable and covered! They didn’t show that in the media. If I wasn’t out there wearing booty shorts, then I could never be confident and cute.

When you truly start to be comfortable with who you are and what you’re doing in life, and not caring what others think, things become a lot easier. When I started being creative with my head scarves/turbans and my makeup and my ridiculous outfits, I had people from all walks of life coming up to me, a fat Muslim, asking me how they can do it, too. So, now, I’m never limited. When you have true style and imagination, nothing can limit you. Nothing.

And as for dressing in the summer for a Muslim girl, you get used to the heat. But you dress accordingly. Lighter fabrics and less layering.

MFC: What does body positivity mean to you as a Black, Muslim woman of size?

LV: I rep the body positivity movement because to me, it means inclusion of all sized bodies regardless of whether they are naked, covered, lumpy, thin, pale, or Black. It means freedom to do what you want, when you want to do it, unapologetically.

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MFC: What do you want the people who are reading this right now to know about you?

LV: I want the readers to stop being afraid of failure, of looking stupid in front of people who really don’t matter, of speaking out on human injustices. I want them to wear what they feel like with confidence and poise. I want them to embrace their perfections as well as their imperfections  — inside and out. I want them to stop believing what the media says or shows all the time, because most of the time its skewed.

MFC: Where can we find you on social media/web?

http://www.beautyandthemuse.net
FB: http://www.facebook.com/Beautyandthemuse
Youtube: Leahvdaily
IG: @Lvernon2000 (www.instagram.com/Lvernon2000)
Email: Lvernon20@yahoo.com

 

Thank you, Leah. You are a body-positive Queen, who slays and slays and slays!

xo

How I Wore my Furry Game of Thrones Vest and Slayed

This amazing  vest, which I purchased from Sears about a month ago, is so darn cozy I find myself wanting to wear it with everything. The only thing that could improve it, are pockets. And I just might have a tailor put them in for me.

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I usually wear a lot of color, but I was feeling super inspired by the challenge of how I could make a black and white outfit more interesting using pattern and texture. I think I achieved that with the “Game of Thrones” vest,  jacquard ponte pants, silk  scarf, and leopard print flats (details on where I bought the items below).

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Don’t be afraid of pattern! When you mix patterns together, the key to success is a scale jump — making sure the scale of each pattern is noticeably different. For example, my silk scarf has a rather large geometric print, which I balanced out with the jacquard pants in a smaller more organic pattern, and finally, a twist with the leopard flats. Remember that leopard is a neutral, and therefore goes with everything. Leopard is  your friend!

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BTW, these ponte knit pants are so comfy I could wear them to sleep!

 

It’s all in the details! A bright lip is always a good idea. I’m wearing Violetta by MAC (a personal fave).  Sunglasses are Zara. Jewelry is Stella & Dot. Hair is all mine!

DETAILS ON THE OUTFIT:

Black jersey top is Grace Elements purchased at TJ Maxx (size 3X)
Furry vest is Bongo from Sears (Size 2X)
Pants are Indigo Poppy purchased from Ross (Size 20)
Geometric scarf is Vince Camuto purchased at Ross
Shoes are Calvin Klein from Nordstrom Rack (Size 10)

*All photos taken by Tim Shugrue

Most of these items are from past seasons, so you may not find the exact pieces I’m wearing. But that’s a good thing! This is just meant to inspire you. So go find your own special pieces.

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I hope you’ll remember to shop in places you might not have thought of previously. Even if a store doesn’t carry plus sizes (like Zara), you can still find great accessories and shoes. And be willing to dig a little — Ross is one of my favorite stores because I love hunting for a real bargain. That Vince Camuto scarf was $4.99!!! Allow yourself to explore the possibilities. Until next time, remember to love yourself without measure!

xo

3 Reasons to Stop Body Shaming Celebrities

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Jessica Simpson being body- policed by the media.  Photo courtesy of Hollyzood.com

I occasionally find myself silently, and sometimes not to silently,  judging and policing the bodies of celebrities. Perhaps the barrage of perfectly polished images of celebs in the media has brainwashed me successfully. But I bear some of the responsibility too.  I can consciously choose not read rag mags and look for cellulite on Jessica Simpson’s upper thighs.  I can walk away when my co-worker wants to gossip about Beyonce’s boobs. And sometimes I do. But sometimes, I just can’t help myself. I want to judge the way I’ve been judged. I want to inflict pain where I’ve been injured.  I just for once, want a pretty, thin woman to feel the shame  and insecurity I’ve felt. And so, on occasion, I indulge in the kind of exchanges that afterwards make me feel dirty.

I admit it. This body-positive activist and speaker fucks up now and again.

 

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It’s important for me have this awareness and to expose it. When we hide behind our dirty secrets, we live in fear and resentment. And then it becomes easier and easier to be complacent. We get comfortable in our negativity and reproach for others. And we think to ourselves, everyone else is doing it, so it’s no big deal. As much as I hate to be the bearer of bad news: IT’S A BIG FUCKING DEAL. And here’s why:

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Celebrities are people too. We think that money and fame dilute a person’s humanness, making them immune to hurt feeling and humiliation. But it doesn’t. It does the opposite. It tests humanness and then sells it for public consumption. And boy do we eat it up. As someone who has the tiniest bit of visibility in the body-positive movement, I’ve experienced my fair share of push back from internet trolls. As much as we know that a 16-year old bored teenager is behind most of the fanfare, it still stings. Because it triggers something painful that happened to us in the past. It may have been your brother calling you ‘thunder thighs,’ or your dad offering helpful diet tips when you were 12. It doesn’t matter. The point is, if we want things to be really different, if we want to raise our daughters to not worry about their pot bellies, then the buck stops with us. Gossip magazines exist because you buy them. Stop buying them. Please. It takes action to create change. Be a warrior.

 

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Pot bellies are beautiful!

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We need more diversity in the media. This is not new information, and yet it needs to be said. People of size are rarely depicted in positive ways in film and television. They are often the butt of stupid jokes, the fat best friend, or perhaps even the pretty chubby girl who loses weight and gets the guy. BORING! We must take some radical action to make sure that fat folks, and even non-thin folks, have the opportunity to take roles that don’t revolve around their body size. Because guess what? We have talent too. And the world is missing out on some seriously gifted people because of our obsession with thinness as perfection. Let us be bold and try something new. Let’s put big bodies on screen and watch the world change.

 

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Celebrities have power. They do. They have influence, which is the stuff of revolution. Imagine if a fat actress had the support of millions of viewers. They wrote letters letting the network know just how much they love her. They create fan pages and create buzz. Imagine her dimpled arms highlighted on the cover of Vogue. All of a sudden she’s breaking down barriers and is the star of her own show, where she wears crop tops and body hugging dresses in bright shades. She begins to normalize large bodies on TV. We see her over and over, and after a while, we forget she is fat. We see a talented actress, who moves us. We see her inner beauty AND her outer beauty. We see ourselves in her. And then…who knows?

 

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Photo courtesy of Daily Venus Diva.

 

In solidarity,

xo

Fat Discrimination in the Plus Size Community: Fact or Fiction?

At the urging of some of my followers, I’m going to attempt to explain why there is fat discrimination within the plus size community. This is a recurring theme in many of the articles and blogs I read, and it’s an important issue to explore. At a size 18, and with an hourglass figure, my body type is represented far more in plus fashion than those of my larger counterparts. And, well, that’s not ok. If we are going to change the fashion landscape to be inclusive of different body types, then we can’t leave out our bigger sisters.

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My theory on this is that hourglass shapes (big boobs, big butt, smaller waist) are the kinds of body types that our society can handle because they are reminiscent of sex and beauty icons from the 50’s, like Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. They are often over-sexualized so that the idea of being “curvy” can be sold as something visually appealing for men, and aspirational for women. Most aspiring plus size models must fit into this curvy equation to be even be considered for placement in an agency. And while I’m glad larger bodies are making their way into mainstream media, it still leaves out a good part of the population.

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About two years ago I attended and event with a panel of experts talking about the plus fashion industry. I recall that the panelist all agreed that they thought the plus industry should be just as “good” as the straight size industry. I wanted to know why we weren’t celebrating our real bodies (cellulite, curves, bumps, and rolls), and instead wearing girdles and spanx to tame our figures. The response I got was that it didn’t look professional. Yup, I was stunned too. And very disappointed. Here were my people saying that larger bodies are ok, but only if they fit a very specific description.

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That was when I understood that their was an inherent flaw in the plus fashion movement. There was yet another level of exclusion here. There was now an ideal body type to aspire to for big girls — as if we hadn’t been left out enough. And there was now another barrier to creating accessible, trendy fashion for fat women. And forget about having their bodies represented in advertising.

If you are a fat woman, I’m sure you’ve also noticed it’s difficult to find anything larger than a size 24 in an actual store. You usually have to shop online, which is not only an inconvenience, but also plain disrespectful . My followers have shared their feelings of frustration and isolation with me about not being able to go to a mall and find things to wear off the rack. Because I’m an 18, I can almost always find something in the store, even at stores like the GAP and Old Navy. I had completely forgotten about my sisters wearing sizes 24+ who are still in the struggle. And with Target’s recent announcement that they will only sell their Lilly Pulitzer plus size clothing online, it’s a disheartening situation. “It’s saying, ‘I want your money, but I don’t necessarily want your image,’” said Debbie Dean of Co-Op City. “That’s what it’s saying.” 

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What I remain confused about is that the plus size market has a lot of spending power. We love to shop! So why are retailers and fashion designers limiting their options to the smaller end of the spectrum? I have no fucking clue. Perhaps they think oppression is the new black.

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My hope is that we do our part to let retailers know with our pocketbooks that we’re not happy. I appreciate that there are some retailers that do carry larger sizes, but they are almost exclusively online:

I think it’s great that these options exist, but some of them are clearly geared toward an older audience, and don’t carry a lot of trendy looks. So, now I’m just waiting for an amazing new designer to help us solve this problem. And we will support the hell out of you!

xo

My Fall Fashion Wishlist: Neutrals With a Twist

Fall is my absolute favorite season for fashion. But the heat in Los Angeles doesn’t seem to want to quit. I’m so ready for cool sunny days, funky boots, a chic trench coat, oversized sweaters, boyfriend jeans, and tons of fabulous jewelry! What I love most is all the layering you can do in the fall. Mixing textures and neutral tones with subtle pops color is my goal for autumn style. Below is my wish list with links to where you can find these dynamic, yet versatile pieces!

 

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I am obsessed with white shirts right now. They are such an easy go to when you don’t know what to wear. This one from Asos Curve is adorable. I love the small button up collar which would look amazing with a statement necklace or one of my famous headwraps.

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The Sutton White Stone necklace from Stella & Dot is giving me life! It’s a gorgeous and versatile statement necklace that you can dress up or down. I’d wear with a t-shirt and some boyfriend jeans for an instant style upgrade. The versatility of this necklace more than makes up for it’s price tag.

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Also from Asos Curve are these black peg pants, which have my much required pockets. These days, if it doesn’t have pockets, I’m not that interested. Pockets just feel good, right?  Anyway, I love how this looks with heels, but I don’t do heels anymore, as you know. I would pair them flats, chuck taylors, or booties.

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I am a boot freak. Plain and simple. But my feet have deteriorated as a result of arthritis and fibromyalgia, and so my choices for stylish, comfortable boots has diminished by leaps and bounds. So when I found these beauties by Naot, I was wowed! Yes, they have a slight wedge, but it’s low and the toe box curves up for all day comfort. They are a bit spendy, but I think I’m worth it!

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A shirt like this would normally be too trendy for me. I actually wore acid wash jeans in the late 80’s and early 90’s when I was in high school. Frankly, I hoped I’d never live to see the trend again. But it seems that designers are paying homage to styles gone by with modern interpretations of decades old designs. I really love this shirt from Wet Seal Plus. It has the kind of texture that gives an outfit that edge and interest. You can pair this acid wash button up with with loads of things, even with more denim. Yes, please!

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I adore scarves. I wear them in so many ways. They are by far my favorite must have accessory of all time. If you only owned 10 pieces of clothing period, I would advise having a leopard print scarf.  Animal print is practically a neutral, according to stylist, Melinda Mann. But it does so with ridiculous style and grace.  I wear them as regal head wraps over my curly locks; around my neck and shoulders in 12 different ways; as thick belts;  gauzy skirts and; flowy dresses in the summer.  You can score this one for under ten bucks at Forever 21.  Go. Buy. It. Now.

forever 21 boyfriend jeans

If you don’t own a pair of boyfriend jeans you’re missing out. For a long time I avoided this trend because I didn’t think they’d look good on my fat frame. I was so used to buying fitted jeans that “flattered curvy figures” until my stylist/ bestie helped me see things in a whole new light.  She let me borrow her favorite pair (I’m so lucky we wear the same size) and showed me how to make them work. My world was turned upside down! Think outside the box and try these super affordable ones from Forever 21.

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What would autumn be without a fabulous coat? It doesn’t get super cold in Southern California, so I probably won’t need a parka. This fucking hot trench by DKNY at Macy’smodeled by the oh so sexy Denise Bidot, is probably at the top of my fall wish list. It’s a bit hard to tell, but the color is midnight blue.  I love black and blue together — it’s so sophisticated and unusual.  The price tag of $189 is a bit off-putting, but I think I can convince myself it’s a “good investment.”

Suffice to say that I’m socking away some cash so I can afford to indulge myself a bit this fall season. I figure 3-4 of these pieces will be enough to inspire me. I can’t wait to see where this goes…Follow me on instagram @mixedfatchick to see how I creative I can get with these knockout neutrals!

Love, light, & happy shopping,

Pia

Wet Seal Plus Opens its Doors to the Fashion Forward Curvy Woman

If you haven’t already heard that Wet Seal Plus is opening several stores across the country, then you are likely living under an unfashionable rock.  I had the pleasure of interviewing the company’s VP of Marketing and Ecommerce, Christine MacGregor.  This curvy powerhouse was formerly the Director of Marketing for Torrid when it opened its doors in 2001.  And if you’re a curvy girl like me, then you know what it was like when that store opened. Tears and gasps of joy could be heard throughout dressing rooms across the country. 

The plus size clothing industry has made leaps and bounds in recent years, with many more options available to us online. But we don’t often get the experience of shopping in a store at the mall that is marketed directly toward us.  Yes, Lane Bryant and Avenue are old timers, but they their looks are more conservative and perhaps geared toward an older crowd.  Wet Seal Plus offers on trend pieces at affordable prices in sizes 14-24.  The fashion choices are vast and anyone can find something that will make them wanna yell, “Damn, I’m hot!” 



Wet Seal and Wet Seal Plus stores will replace Arden B, which went out of business, at your local shopping mall. Many locations will carry sizes 00 to a 24 in one store. This unique approach to marketing the brand has proved to be very successful with customers.  “She wants the same assortment. She doesn’t want to look different…She wants to look fashionable,” says MacGregor of the plus size consumer.




Now let’s talk fashion!  If you’re a jeans girl, you will love their assortment of colors, styles and fits. I see a pair of destroyed skinny jeans my near future. Dresses and jumpsuits in funky patterns abound!  And I do love a jumpsuit, honey!  And if you can’t live without a cami, then Wet Seal Plus won’t disappoint you. They carry lots of lovely colors, and even an animal print!  Ding, ding, ding – jackpot!



I have a few favorites, which I’ve managed to integrate seamlessly into my wardrobe.  I love bold patterns and flowy fabrics, which appeal to my ethnic-boho style.   

Christine MacGregor is passionate about plus fashion.  Her dedication to providing the curvy customer with a great fit, at a great price and a positive in-store experience, is what will likely contribute to the success of the new brand.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and my credit card on deck. Wet Seal Plus will be a regular stop on my visits to the mall!

Events will be happening across the country for the grand opening this Saturday, August 16th. The brand will also be doing a model search. Get more information here.