May 19, 2016

Spring Essentials + Betabrand



So spring has technically already arrived but in my mind it is just now feeling like spring. The weather has been absolutely hideous and I have been in a funk because of it. But now warm weather is approaching and I am so ready to wear all of my spring and summer clothes. More specifically, my spring and summer essentials--the pieces in my wardrobe I get the most use out of and wear often. 

It isn't always easy for me to transition my wardrobe to spring and summer. Often times I am lost on what pieces I want to purchase and what type of style I want to stick to for the season. However, throughout the years I have found myself reaching for specific pieces in my wardrobe that I can easily style. I'm sure you all have maybe 3 or 4 pieces that you stick to each season as well. It could be a jacket, a shirt or even a pair of sunglasses. For me, in spring and summer I have about 9-10 pieces that I have no problem grabbing in the mornings. These pieces are easy to style, easy to wear and they never disappoint me. 

I have teamed up with Betabrand, a company whose focus is on versatile and comfortable clothing, to share what spring and summer essentials I can't live without. We want to spark a conversation this spring and get to know what you all have in your wardrobes that you can't live without. What pieces do you enjoy wearing most? What pieces do you consider timeless? Please share your thoughts by commenting below after you take a look at what I consider my spring and summer essentials.

1. Jean Jacket
We all know what a classic and timeless staple item the jean jacket is. We have seen it for many years in different styles, with added accessories and with intricate details. The jean jacket is and will always be a great spring essential. Honestly it is a great all year round essential. But some may ask, how do you find the right jean jacket? Well the "right" jean jacket will vary for all of us. There are so many different cuts and fits out there. You have to be careful in choosing the perfect one. For me, I needed a jacket that was long because I have a long torso. Most jean jackets cut me off at the waist and some look too cropped. Now don't get me wrong, I enjoy wearing the short/normal length jean jackets with my high-waist trousers and such but it is better for me to have one that hits me below the waist. This style is more useful in my wardrobe. I found this amazing jean jacket at Forever 21 for less than $40. The structure is very flattering with my broad shoulders and the light wash denim goes well with bright and vibrant colors. 

2. Pant and Shirt Set
Have you all heard, pant sets are totally on trend right now and I can't get enough of them. This ribbed pant set is from the Zara TRF collection. It comes in black, navy and grey and I purchased all of the colors. The light weight fabric and flowy structure makes this pant set crazy comfortable and versatile. What I love most about the set is that you can wear each piece separately--use the top as a basic tee with jeans and use the bottom as palazzo pants with a cropped tee. So I have two essential pieces that also make one essential outfit for spring and summer. The styling options for this set is endless. You can wear it with white sneakers for a casual day of errands or stylish heeled sandals for a dinner date. The key in any essential piece of clothing is practicality and this set is definitely practical--financial and fashion wise. 

3. Metallic Sandals

We all need a statement piece for spring, mines happens to be metallic. Most people like to stay away from the shinny pieces but I am constantly drawn to them. What most people don't know is that metallics are the perfect neutral piece to add to any wardrobe to make it instantly better. Now if you are going to go metallic, you mustn't get something that looks and feels cheap. These metallic sandals by AGL where definitely expensive but worth every penny. The heel height is perfect for everyday use and it literally goes with everything and anything I own. This has been my go to sandal when my outfit is missing some spark.

4. Culottes 
Culottes made their grand entrance into the fashion industry last fall and they are sticking around for a while so I suggest you invest in some. I personally can't get enough of my culottes. I already have many different colors and styles and I still want more. I am not a big skirt and short wearer in the warmer months so culottes are my go to's. For the spring and summer you want to find some that are light weight to combat the heat. My favorite culottes are by Zara. The splits in the legs add a nice feminine touch and the crisp fabric makes them perfect for workwear.  I consider them a spring essential because of how much use I get out of them. They look great with a cropped shirt and a jacket, a flowy blouse, a button up shirt and so much more. Betabrand offers great comfortable and chic pants that are also multipurpose. If you aren't sure what spring and summer pant essential you should have start there!

5. White Tee
Now of course the white tee is an essential piece for spring and summer. However, what I look for most in my white tees are their "tuckability". Most of my tees in the warmer seasons are being tucked in with high-waist trousers and knotted for a cropped look. It is hard to find one that can do all of these things and still look flattering. I find that tees with a bit of nylon in them is perfect for such a job. They are easy to wash and you rarely have to iron them because obviously we don't have time for that. We have things to do and adventurous to go on in this spring and summer heat. 

6. Brown Heeled Sandals

Although I love my metallic shinny sandals it is always good to have a more subtle option. These 70's inspired sandals are to die for. From the chunky 2 inch heel to the cognac brown suede these sandals are literally perfection. A bonus is that they are surprisingly comfortable. This is my go to sandal when my metallic sandal is just too loud. It is still interesting enough to make my outfit pop but it is more ideal and practical for work or more casual days around town.

7. Head-wraps 
Hair wraps have been considered "fashionable" for quite some time now but they are also functional in many ways. Apart from their cultural importance they are used as protective styles for natural hair. I will be wearing many hair wraps this spring and summer as I am growing my hair out. What I love most about head-wraps is that they add so much effortless style to my outfits. You can wrap them in many different ways and they come in different patterns, fabrics and colors to match every outfit you have in mind.

8. Tunic
Last but not least, a chiffon tunic is the perfect spring and summer essential to add to your wardrobe. It's light-weight material and draped appearance makes it flattering on all body types. Adding this essential piece to your wardrobe will allow you to have one go to dress for many different purposes. This tunic is a little sheer so it is perfect as a beach cover up. You can pair it with jeans and heels for a sophisticated date night look. Throw it on with a slip and sandals to strut around town. No matter the purpose for the day you will look absolutely stunning. This is my favorite spring and summer essential by far!



So now that you all got a peek  into my spring wardrobe, I am dying to hear what you all have to say. Share your spring and summer essential pieces by commenting below! Also, if you are at the starting point with finding your spring essentials, go to betabrand.com for great pieces and inspiration.

Photography by Joshua Shelton
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May 10, 2016

This Mother's Day Was Different


First I will start by saying Happy Mother's Day to all the supermoms out there that have been holding their families down since day one. You all are worthy of so much more than one day of celebration. You all deserve your biggest dreams and your hopes. You all deserve no back talk and no sass. You all deserve yes ma'ams and will dos. My mom, a single mother of 3, deserves the moon and the stars because they are the only thing in this universe that is worthy. 

This mother's day was different for me. It was more meaningful to me than those before. I always knew that mother's day for my family was extremely important. My mom raised my sisters and I by herself. She had little to no help from others. Our fathers were nearly never there when she needed them to be. Our relatives had families of their own to care for so we were just a burden. My mother had my oldest sister in her mid 20s, had me just 2 years later and my little sister in her 30s--by that time she sort of had motherhood figured out. But before the birth of my youngest sister, I saw my mom's struggle first hand. We moved from home to home. We barely got to see her because she had to work and grind hard to put food on the table. We often stayed with family friends who were no good. Because we relocated so often, by the age of 10 I had been to 5 different elementary schools (a different one for each year). One could imagine how hard it was for me to make friends. I always have been a little standoffish and I'm starting to believe that is the reason why. But anyway, to say the least my mother made sure her 3 girls were good. She made sure we had food, clothes and a place to lay our heads at night. 

I can remember one day being picked up from summer school and being told that our car was stolen. I saw that my mom was completely exhausted and overwhelmed so instead of making a fuss I just gave her a hug. Amazingly enough she was able to pick us up and locate the car and get it back all in the same day. I swear she has super powers. She never complained (unless we didn't clean the dishes) and she rarely did anything for herself. We were and are still her lifeline. 

Now I know many of us have similar stories to tell about our mothers so bare with me if I am boring you. These reasons are enough to make any mother's day special but there was one thing my mother did for many years that changed this mother's day for me. 

I mentioned earlier that my father and my sister's fathers were never there. Throughout the years I learned to just accept that and move on. I didn't understand why they acted this way but I was comfortable enough with myself and my life to let them (more particularly him) go. I grew up with a father whom I thought was my biological father. I've known him my entire life so to think anything different was ridiculous. Well, after a few years of questioning my existence and hearing whispered conversations about my father I mustered up the courage to ask my mother a question. "Who is my real father?".I'm sure the question hit her like a ton of bricks. I never questioned her about it before but I felt that I was mature enough and old enough to know the truth now. She took a long sigh and began to tell her story. I sobbed for days and I held it against her for months. I couldn't understand why she kept such a secret from me. 

Through the pain I learned something. I realized that she kept that secret from me for me. My father past away months before I was born. He didn't know I existed and his family didn't care to build a relationship with me. My mother knew that I would be crushed by this news so she held this secret from me for 20 years until she knew I was ready. Mother knows best is what people always say and now I believe this to be true. If she had shared this with me any sooner I would still be crushed and miserable while steadily questioning my existence and purpose. But with her guidance and my own strength, I have learned to recover from the pain and understand my story. Most importantly, I have learned to accept my story.

It takes a strong woman to keep such a secret for many years. It takes an even stronger woman to keep such a secret in order to save their child the embarrassment and pain. So this mother's day was different for me. I had a different outlook on life and reasoning. I now know that everything, and I do mean everything my mother does for us is for our own good.

Thank you mom.
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May 3, 2016

How I Lost My Way: The Unfiltered Truth

 

I have been away for a very long time. I needed to take a step back, acknowledge the pain and figure out a solution. The solution I am still figuring out but the acknowledgement and acceptance I want to share. 

It was late Sunday afternoon (5.1.16) after a heated argument with my sister and mother when I realized just how lost I was. As we all went back and forth trying to make valid points in our arguments, something in me shut down. I was familiar with the feeling as it has been happening to me a lot lately.  I shut them out completely. I shut myself out. I couldn't understand or control my thoughts nor could I rationalize them. I disassociated my body from my mind.

It was then when I realized, I was not familiar with the person staring back at me in the mirror. I did not know what she looked like. I did not understand her emotions. I was lost. Who had I become and when did this all happen? 

To figure it all out, I traced my steps--everything I did, everyone I came into contact with, everything I embraced and everything I let go of. I traced it all and took note of it. Finally, I noticed a pattern. I could identify my breaking point. The point in which I lost myself, my purpose and my culture. 

My breaking point:

In September of last year my life changed. My everyday interactions were now with people that could not relate to me.  As the only black girl in the building (most of the time) I felt like an unrepresented outcast. I began to get caught up in the life and culture of my new surroundings. Being around people who don't look like me and who can't relate to me is unfortunate and quite frankly unhealthy. So in order to fit in, as most of us do, I camouflage. I camouflage my self, my culture, my persona, my style, my integrity, my ethnicity and my hood (childhood). At first it was all unbeknownst to me but I learned how to camouflage so well, that I began to question my own true existence. I mean let's be real, some just don't understand nor respect the story of a black girl growing up in the hood without a "traditional" family. I didn't want to be "that black girl". 

Now in the midst of all of this, I lost some friendships and relationships. I moved back home with my mother. My life was in shambles and it all took a toll on me. I stopped blogging, I stopped reading and I stopped getting dressed up. I stopped going out (not that I went out a lot to begin with). To say the least, I stopped being me. I got lazy and forgetful. I did not know my purpose in life. Instead of facing the truth, I pretended I was okay. But really I felt like I had nothing of my own. I decided to move back home after moving out for one year, so I did not have my own space anymore. I dismissed my culture to feel apart of another, so I had nothing or no one to identify with. I let my purpose which I once saw so clearly go a blur, so I was living for nothing. In my eyes, I was a lump of matter going unnoticed.
 
Lost in a black hole.
 
 
But wait.
 
Now you are wondering how I realized this all. How I was able to reel it all in and acknowledge what was happening to me. As cliché as it sounds, I read a quote and it all made sense to me. The quote is by Jess Adams, whom I found on Instagram randomly. The quote reads:
 
 
"There's a power
in accepting
who you are
 
and there's a power
in becoming
who you want to be.
 
do both
and you'll be
unstoppable."
 
 
These words resonated with me. I let my surroundings and my current predicament redefine who I was/am. I was not accepting the true me. I was not accepting my true identity, my true background, nor my true culture. Thus I was unable to live up to my full potential and the goals I once saw to be reachable seemed too far away. But I had the power to turn this completely around.
 
Sometimes it takes something as simple as a quote, a passage or a scripture to heal the deepest of wounds. And as I mentioned before, I am still a working progress but I feel light now that I have accepted the truth.
 
I hope this resonates with someone else. The feeling is a real one. 
 
 
 
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