10   +   5   =  

Personally, I don’t have the time (aka patience)  to sit in front of a sewing machine and create one of a kind looks for myself. I wish I had it in me, but I don’t. This conundrum leaves my closet in an unfortunate state  where mass produced items from retail stores are literally falling to pieces off the hanger, shredded after the first wash. I’m way overdue for a Spring cleaning, and now that I’m transitioning out of my Saturn return and approaching 30, Forever 21 and H&M just won’t cut it for me anymore. How about investing in some pieces that will last, always giving off a timeless, polished and yet modern feel each time you wear it out? Here’s my list of top local designers (and a few shops) you need  add to your wardrobe collection this spring season. 

[RELATED POST: Body Positive Tips Never Going out of Style!]

NOTE: Some items shown are from previous fashion season collections and may not currently be in stock; contact designer for availability.


||Dress It Up||


Photo Credit: Photographer: Photos by Darrin MUA: Antonette Wilkes Front Model: Analabelle Matiyoba

Price Range: $$$
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These two dresses make me wish I’d run into an ex out on the street…C’mon, I’m not the only one who prays to the gods and demigods for a chance encounter when I’m feeling my best. These dresses from the Taylor Jay Collection are the best combination of sexy and sweet for a Spring stroll around the lake. I’m also loving Taylor Jay’s drapey cardigan wrap in navy for $98.00. It’s versatility allows you to maximize on the styles you can create, and perfect for covering up in one of Taylor Jay’s delicately crafted dresses when the breeze starts to blow in.



Photo sourced from Harumi K Facebook page. Click on photo to view original source

Price Range: $$-$$$
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Created by fashion designer Sherry Koyama (also co-founder of Oakland Fashion Network), Harumi K is a line of versatile, contemporary womenswear that you can wear for any occasion. I have a personal affinity with the clothing line-our ever so stylish Wear Your Voice founder and Editor-in-Chief Ravneet Vohra has some Harumi K items in her closet, like their asymmetric gray and black blouse, priced at $69.00.



PicMonkey CollagePhoto Credit: Photographer:  Becca Henry MUA: Vanessa Castro Model: Anastasia Bachykala

Price Range: $$$-$$$$
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Vermeulen and Co’s motto is “slow fashion for women on the move,” and perfect for someone who wants a tailored fit.  I’m digging this Horizon Dress in Black Tencel with Red Silk side accent from Vermeulen’s new Message in a Bottle Collection. If you’re gasping at the $290.00 price tag, consider this: The dress is locally hand crafted using quality material that will last longer than any of the items you purchased on your recent shopping excursion at Target. Also, creators Kyra and Bree consider the environmental and social impact of every garment they produce, so you can dance the night away guilt free (at least when it comes to the dress, that is).



Photo Credit: Photographer: Kola Shobo MUA: ShaiLa Yvonne Model: SanDreka Williams

Price Range: $$-$$$
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Designer Erica Varize brings together urban chic with retro bohemian styles for her fashion line EVarize. Using high-quality domestic jersey knits,  traditional “Ankara” African wax cotton (which Variaze hand picks and purchases from women in Uganda), and cuts that hug in all the right spots, even your worst enemy will be complimenting your outfit. I would pair the above skirt with EVarize’s Karina Sweatshirt in teal for 68.00-I love how the sweatshirt rests off the shoulders, and the raglan sleeve with cuff give it just the bit of flare to really make it pop.



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Photo Credit: Photographer: Lia Walker Model: Shawna Rae 

Price Range: $$-$$$
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The dress is from an old collection, and there are only two in stock–more like one after I make a purchase, but fear not! Field Day Wearables, an Oakland based independent shop founded in 2005 by Trinity Cross has a new stock of items for their Spring 2015 collection. My spring must have: this lovely Mazy dress in Purple Poppy for $115.00. As we’ve previously noted, pocket dresses are the best thing ever. Cross also uses reclaimed fabrics  for some of her items and organic cotton material grown and milled in California. If you happen to be in the neighborhood, check out Field Day and Friends storefront location at 329 19th st in Downtown Oakland–it was built using recycled and rescued materials.


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Photo Credit: Photographer: Maria Judice Model: Dori Camino

Price Range: $$-$$$
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Fashion Designer and founder of clothing line  Nneka, Penelope Adibe says that her style is “streetware with a classic influence.” The dress the model is wearing defines the essence of Nneka: be bold without overdoing it, be street chic and workplace professional without looking dull, and most of all-accentuate the hell out of your luscious curves! I’d wear the pixel rap dress with side slit for 120.00 on a Friday workday so I can leave the office and head straight over to happy hour without having to change a thing.

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Photo Credit: Photographer: Franklin Avery Model:  Lea Luellen

Price Range: $$$-$$$$
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I’m usually not a fan of maxi dresses because the way the dress is made is pretty basic-I end up feeling like I’m wearing a very long oversized tee shirt. However, the swirll dress  won’t leave me feeling boxy with its flowy bottom and close to the body fit.  Paula Pfotenhauer of JEAJA Design Studio, (also co-founder of Oakland Fashion Network) says “my mother used to make me and my sisters dresses. My first dresses were the classic full skirt gathered at the waist with bodice and puff sleeves….I felt this was all I ever would want to wear in my life.”


||Casually Chic||


Image sourced from Oaklandish.com. Click on image to view original source

Price Range: $-$$$
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Founded by Angela Tsai, Oaklandish is one of the most iconic names when it comes to Oakland Fashion. The company also serves as B-Corporation (a for profit company that is intended to serve the community and environment through its brand), and is very active on the street scene, which makes sense, when you know that Oaklandish’s roots started off selling shirts out of a mobile bus. Oaklandish works with local artists and designers to create their shirts. Recently, they’ve been experimenting with different cuts for women. Last year, I was thrilled when the Women’s Botanical sweatshirt for $40.00 was released-I appreciate how the sweatshirt allows you to be sexy and comfortable all at once. I also love the California poppy inspired design created by artist Mariah Hoffman.  This year, I’m excited for the Women’s String of Lights Hoodie for $52.oo.



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Photo Credit: Photographer: (L) KSJ Photography; (R) Abby Wilcox

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Artist Aziza Cree in SuRu clothing; photo courtesy of I Love Being Black

SuRu brand clothing, founded by Baba Afolabi, SuRu was conceptualized after Afolabi took a trip to Japan and noticed the synchronicities between the country and African culture. The brand name plays with that idea-The word Suru, means “Patience” in the West African language Yoruba. While in Japanese, Suru means “To do.” This describes the look and feel of SuRu clothing-each garment is patiently crafted, from creating the artistry, choosing the fabrics, and putting everything together to create a one of a kind look that is authentically Oakland with a global feel. In fact, if you check out the company’s Facebook page, you can see photos of people checking in from around the world in SuRu gear in their Spot SuRu photo album.  

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[RELATED POST: Black HERstory: 22 of the Best Female Musicians in the East Bay]

||Shoes For All Occasions||


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Photos sourced from solespace.com. Click on image to view original source. 

Price Range: $$-$$$
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One of the main reasons I love solespace is the fact that it acknowledges the artistic expression of fashion. Listed one of 11 women who rocked Oakland in 2014, it’s no surprise that artist and cultural organizer Faviana Rodriguez  is partially responsible for one of my favorite shoe stores. Created along with Jeff Perlstein, Solespace doubles as a creative lab, so be prepared to feel ultra artsy and inspired while browsing for shoes. Sometimes I come here just to be in their downtown Oakland location to be surrounded by walking art (literally).

[RELATED POST: 11 Women Who Rocked Oakland In 2014]


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Photo Images: Liz Vogt for Wear Your Voice Magazine

Price Range: $$-$$$$
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Shoe Groupie suits all of my feetie needs. They have a wide range of styles from funky boots, artsy heels, casual chic and everything in between. My must have are these Jeffrey Campbell suede heels with ankle straps to pair with some skinny jeans or a pencil skirt.


Tres Mercedes


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When I first found out about designer Tres Mercedes must have been sometime last year when her hats started popping on the heads of my friends around town. Mercedes takes afro urban accessories, African texiles, Hip Hop inspirations and upcycled materials ( have you ever heard of keyboard jewelry?) to create one of a kind pieces.  I’m loving these ultra comfort wedged shoes.

|| Adorn Your Body|| 



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Photo Credit: Photorapher: Jay Vision MUA/Model: Keli Jenee

Price Range: $-$$$
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With the summer fast approaching, deep v neck and low cut tops will be making their debut this Spring season. I like to accessorize my favorite basic tee with some bold neck wear. Designer of Candid Art Accessories Candice Cox infuses historically cultural designs, and updates them with a modern and sexy twist. The longer pathway necklace for $32.00 (as shown in the bottom left photo) will bring your outfit together and really give it some life. What I’d pair it with? A basic deep neck white tunic and light blue denim skinny jeans. You’ll have a chance to drool on all of Candice’s goodies at CanDid Art’s launch party March 26th from 5pm – 9pm hosted by Shoe Groupie located at 1621 Broadway in Downtown Oakland


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Photo Courtesy of Kadesh Carter

Price Range: $-$$
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I am loving these crystal quartz earrings with golden tips. With a price of $20.00, they are affordable, chic and suitable for all your Spring occasions-whether it’s a hike in the Redwoods, yoga class downtown or date night with the boo, these earrings won’t do you wrong. Oakland based designer Kadesh Carter doubles as a visual artist and curator; knowing this, you can see how her other work translates into her jewelry–they’re artistic, unique, original and truly one of a kind. Stop into SoleSpace located at 1714 Telegraph Ave in downtown Oakland on April 15’s fundraiser event  “A Night of Creative Expression”  to check out Sankofa Vine’s vending booth!



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Photo Courtesy: Eva Majesty. Posing model: Tattiana Aqeel

Price Range: $-$$
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I am OBSESSING over these copper pyramid turquoise & gold ankh earrings! I am picturing basking in the sun on a beautiful picnic day by the lake, as several passerby adorn me with compliments on my queenly earrings. It may be very possible that those earrings alone can undue years of self loathing damage (I mean, how can you not love yourself in bling like that?!) Designer and founder of Earth Majesty, Eva Miranda uses tiny accent details and quality material and natural elements to bring alive her artistry. It’s subtle and yet bold-perfect for any personality type. The earrings are not currently in stock, but if you contact Eva, she may be able to custom make per request (which is exactly what I did!)


 ||Local Fashion Bloggers to Bring it All Together||


Blog: The Curvy Fashionista
Editor in Chic: Marie Denee
K.I.T: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Why I love The Curvy Fashionista: Denne and her team at TCF make me feel comfortable to be in the body I’m in-something that doesn’t normally happen in today’s beauty industry (although body positive is definitely making a scene nowadays!)

Recommended read: Plus Size Fashion Tips: Dressing for Your Shape as a Plus Size Woman




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Blog: Pancake Stacker
Fashionista Responsible: Chandamheer Stacker
K.I.T: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Why I love Pancake Stacker: If you’ve ever wondered how to pull off some funky styles without looking like a clown, The Pancake Stacker will make you look flawless, not foolish.

Recommended read: Beauty Bites: bareMinerals’ Complexion Rescue







217526_10150735851450512_7352403_n Blog: Cali Vintage
Fashionista Responsible: Erin Perez Hagstrom
K.I.T: Facebook Twitter Instagram

Why I love Cali Vintage: Before she recently relocated to her hometown in Southern California, Hagstrom spent over 8 years living in Oakland. Her vintage style and love for thrift shops is unapologetically Oakland; Hagstorm wears the authentic voice of the Bay wherever life takes her.

Recommended read: Four Days, Four Outfits