As a lady who has always proudly worn her heart on her proverbial sleeve, I am even more thrilled to now wear my voice boldly upon my entire ensemble! Being surrounded by the vibrant scene of Oakland, I am inspired constantly to assert and express myself through the fashion choices that I make, which have evolved over the years. What started with dressing for others and wearing what I thought I should, is both ending and continuing on with wearing whatever the fuck I want/like/feel good dressed in (which to me is the ultimate body positive statement).

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Daily, I see womyn (*I intentionally use this feminist spelling of the word, which strives to consciously question words including “men” in the root) from all walks of life, strutting these streets like an urban runway of self-declaration: “I dare you, world, to witness this powerful statement of self-expression that is my body positive fashion!” This excites and fuels me to no end, as does seeking out the local boutiques, vintage, and thrift stores that support this body positive movement by actually selling clothing for ALL sizes (most notably the inclusion of plus sizes, which are often cast aside in mainstream fashion)!

 

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I’m still a sucker for 90s fashion statements, and now I’m actually old and brazen enough to pull off a crop top, which inspired this look. *The naked mannequin was left in these shots intentionally as a nod to their often unrealistic yet idealized form.

 

The accessories provide an eclectic twist that modernize the outfit.

The accessories provide an eclectic twist that modernize the outfit.

 

Recently, I stumbled across what I can now safely say is my favorite up-cycled experience in all of Oakland: Urban Boutique, in the Grand Lake neighborhood. Not only did I find amazing clothes at incredible prices, (for example, all blouses are $5 and pants $8) I found a store with a heart and soul; a dream realized by Founder Tracey Weaver. Urban Boutique‘s mission is to improve the socio-economic status of  single mothers by providing transitional employment, education, and on-the-job training, and is part of the greater Oakland nonprofit Urban University, which has helped more than 1600 individuals gain employment over the past 16 years since its creation in 1998.

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This is the view that awaits anyone savvy enough to shop at Urban Boutique (note: the mannequin is covered in a plus size sweater)!

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A jewelry table oasis, with everything priced at $1 and a super cute selection I used to style the accessories for the ensembles created.

 

After browsing, I was overwhelmed by finding my own personal holy grail of a store, that I had to plan to return the next day, more focused, and with a partner-in-creation. I asked along a new-found friend that I had met recently at a fat/body-positive clothing swap event, Lola, who is also lending her voice and her style to the body positive movement through her importantly visibilising blog fatpeopleofcolor. We met at the store the next day, and let the styling adventure begin!

 

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Lola wearing her voice on her cropped shirt’s importantly bold statement, and seen purchasing those daisy pants we styled!

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Salome, Urban Boutique sales associate, graciously posing for me amid her work duties – she was extremely kind with us changing around some of the space for our shoot!

 

As womyn who do not fit a standard size, creativity is always key – looking at clothes with an open-mind, and a willingness to purposefully rip seams if necessary (post-purchase of course) felt almost like second nature to us as we sifted through racks of options, considering what we could choose. Awesomely, we were able to find all plus size clothes to style, and I was able to run wild with the accessories!

 

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One of my absolute favorite things to do when styling an outfit is mixing prints, colors, and fabrics to create a whole new texture and feeling. I also love mixing brands/designers of differing price ranges and social statuses based simply upon me liking the way they look and fit (revolutionarily freeing I tell you). For example, this sequined tank top is from Old Navy while the jeweled flats are Kate Spade – they are both cute in their own right and compliment each other well so their labels don’t matter, not to mention the fact that in this consignment store they are on an equal playing field monetarily regardless.

Because of the great selection and pricing I was even able to pick up a few staple items for my own wardrobe that ultimately inspired my ‘Outfit of the Week’ – how could I resist this body positive fashion with a humanitarian twist?

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My bounty: an adorable long-sleeved polka-dotted shirt for $2, fierce charm bracelet for $1, and Michael Kors wallet/clutch for $4.

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Rocking my inspired Outfit of the Week in the neighborhoods between Lakeshore and Grand Ave. – two mini meccas of local fashion!

 

*Photos are taken by myself; you can check out more of my freelance photography/daily musings out on my instagram: @somewhere_under_the_rainbow. My partner, Sada Reed, took the images of me.

 

 

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