MY THOUGHTS ON H&M AND REVOLVE

First off, for context, I'll quote directly from a piece written by my business partner Brittanny Taylor for The Branding Edit blog, entitled "When Brands Have The Responsibility to Do Better"

"There has been a lot of press this week surrounding clothing brands and their lack of diversity to flat out racist imagery. One of the stories is of online store Revolve. They often send a group of influencers on trips so they can blog and share content from their adventures. They are currently in Thailand with a group of influencers, the majority are white, some are Asian, and they are all straight-sized. As of me writing this post, in the last 120 images, Revolve has posted on their Instagram account, only two of the photos feature a black woman. TWO. Black and brown faces are increasingly forgotten in marketing for clothing companies. But, H&M has a little black boy on their European website! Oh wait, he’s wearing a sweatshirt that says “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle”… I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain the long, horrible history of comparing black people to animals and especially monkeys." 

We have the tendency to hold world leaders, celebrities and media outlets accountable for what they say and do, but brands, designers and retailers - we get kind of hesitant. Maybe even complacent. Sometimes reactionary because there was a racial/sexist controversy around their products at some point, and we made the decision not to invest in them anymore, then a year later, we give them the benefit of the doubt (they must have learned from their last offense) and send them our hard-earned, budgeted dollars on their merry way (once again) because we gotta have that dress. 

My family has purchased and worn items from H&M - we have given them our hard-earned, budgeted dollars for clothing we liked. As a personal shopper, I have purchased items from H&M for clients who are professionals/business owners with very limited funds to spare on their wardrobe. My style is also different than most of my clients. I love to wear vintage and to look for luxury, second-hand items; and occasionally will purchase pieces made by emerging/up-and-coming designers and retail brands. However, not everyone likes vintage or second-hand clothing. Not everyone likes fast fashion either but H&M and other retail companies alike present a relief in terms of shopping trends on a budget. 

I am sure most women I work with would love to be able to invest in high quality, stylish and consciously made clothing but not every designer/brand caters to the variety of body types and the variety of style preferences. And most certainly, not everyone caters to the woman who may be living paycheck to paycheck or working on squirreling away to pay off student loans or start a business or whatever it is that will bring her one step closer to living a more fulfilled life. Not everyone can afford to invest in consciously made products. And please know that I am only speaking from both personal and working experiences. 

So as a West-African immigrant mother of a beautiful brown boy AND a personal stylist, when links to the H&M ad popped up in a group text and on my social media feed, I felt once again frustrated by the ways of our current world. Then one day later, the Revolve controversy followed. 

The lack of diversity, representation and inclusivity of voices & bodies has been an ongoing conversation in my DMs, in group text, at coffee meetings. This is nothing new from our side. Our side meaning - the creators of color, bloggers of color, stylists of color, writers of color, models of color, entrepreneurs of color...women of color. period.

And because of that, from time to time now, I do an Instagram following filter. I go through the feeds of brands and designers I follow, and if all I see is them feature and promote mostly one particular body type (size 2) and one particular skin color (white) - I happily hit the Unfollow button and unsubscribe from their newsletters. I cannot relate to that ONE-way of looking at the world, at WOMEN in particular. Exactly why I stopped following Revolve about two years ago. If there is one thing I can control from my phone is what I want to consume from my social media feeds. 

As a stylist, my work is to primarily encourage women to love themselves more, love their bodies more, dress for who they are and where they are going, to feel ready to take risks and see their personal style as strength and their way to self-expression. I, myself, love to follow brands that empower women and girls to do the same; brands that celebrate and promote ALL WOMEN. ALL BODIES.  FROM ALL CULTURES. ALL RELIGIONS. ALL SEXUAL ORIENTATIONS. WITH ALL VARIOUS STORIES and BACKGROUNDS. 

This is 2018! If not now, when? And maybe you're reading this and you're thinking, "that's always been the fashion industry, Olivia. It's not going to change overnight." And believe me, I am aware of it. Affecting social change takes a while. But I no longer want to sit by the sidelines wishing how things could be different for us women of color.

To the H&M and Revolve executives of the world, please do me an outrageous (insert eye roll here) favor, aim to be leaders in CHANGE and challenge the status quo within instead. And perhaps try hiring people that don't look like you, speak like you, walk like you once in a while. 

From the time being, thanks for helping me reclaim my time, along with my hard-earned budgeted dollars AND the hard-earned budgeted dollars of my clients. 

Eleven Pieces That Will Add Sparkle to Your Closet

I am going to get straight to the point of this post - I am someone who does not like to hold off until Christmas and New Year's Eve to wear my fun, sparkly clothes. Actually let me dig deeper; I don't let holidays dictate what I wear and when I can wear it. Never. Ever.  

We are currently in the season of everything bright, sequin, metallic and gold, and I love it so much! It is my favorite time of the year. But I also find it equally fun and inspiring to incorporate any sort of sparkle into my looks at any given time. And with winter slowly creeping in, the wardrobe rotation can turn monotonous pretty fast. 

The pieces selected below know how to make a statement very well, all on their own.  You could dress them up or dress them down; and because these items have a particular timeless appeal, you most likely won't be bored with any one of them. 

Cheers to great style all year long!

~ Olivia

New York & Company

Eloquii

What do you think? Leave me a comment if you would like to see more similar posts about pieces that will spice up your winter wardrobe - or if you have styling/shopping questions!

My 2017 Fall Trend Favorites

Can you feel Fall in the air? 

Are you as excited as we are about Fall style? 

Eh, maybe you are, maybe you aren't. I don't blame you. It's not an easy task letting go of warm weather and longer days. I am a real nostalgic when it comes to summer - always have been. 

But what if, rather than focusing on what we are losing, we focused on all the new memories we are about to create, moments we are about to experience, and things we are about to gain with the new season?

To me, a new season brings its own set of trends and tendencies, so I like to open myself wide for new inspiration and new work to come and sweep me off my feet. I also know that it's time to make the last months of the year count. 

Giving new life to last year's coats/jackets/boots and adding new seasonal items to my wardrobe is my way of embracing the new season with purpose, intention and fierceness. It's also my way of inviting all the awesome things the Universe has in store for me. When I feel great, I act on my goals more easily and more decisively. 

I invite you to find inspiration in places you've never looked before. Be creative. Be thoughtful. Let your intuition + feelings be your driver. Seek those feel-good moments + experiences that entice your inner being to be greater than what you tell yourself. Give your authentic-self the opportunity to inspire + be inspired.

With that said, here are the trends of Fall 2017 I am looking forward to the most!

1. 70s Plaid { J. Crew }  2. Wide Belts { Topshop } 3. Fiery Red { Farrow } 4. Statement Earrings { SHASHI } 5. Fishnet { Topshop } 6. Mid-length Skirts { Farrow } 7. Everything Velvet { Alice + Olivia } 8. Chocolate Brown { MAC in Film Noir } 9. Victorian Collar Shirts { Citizens of Humanity } 10. Vintage Florals { Farrow } 11. Sleek Backpacks { Skagen } 12. Sock Boots { Topshop } 13. Vintage Fur { Miss Selfridge} 

1. 70s Plaid { J. Crew } 
2. Wide Belts { Topshop }
3. Fiery Red { Farrow }
4. Statement Earrings { SHASHI }
5. Fishnet { Topshop }
6. Mid-length Skirts { Farrow }
7. Everything Velvet { Alice + Olivia }
8. Chocolate Brown { MAC in Film Noir }
9. Victorian Collar Shirts { Citizens of Humanity }
10. Vintage Florals { Farrow }
11. Sleek Backpacks { Skagen }
12. Sock Boots { Topshop }
13. Vintage Fur { Miss Selfridge

Summer Sales to Shop Now

Right now is a magical time. And by magical time – I mean this is the perfect time to shop your favorite styles and start squirreling away for the fall season. 

With that said, I mean it when I say – do not fall into the temptation of the beautiful Fall collections you’re about to see drop. Have you seen Zara’s yet?! If you haven’t, stay awaaaayyy. Gah. My team and I took a peek…uh…for inspiration of course (gulp) and I can tell you that the vibrant autumn colors, the shapes, the dresses, the boots are bound to make you melt – not of heat – but of envy. Which can quickly turn into “Hell! I’m just gonna buy it!”.... and then you see the waiting lists, oy.

I tell you – it’s madness out there and you don’t have to participate in it…yet. Hear me out.
 
Summer sales are happening pretty much everywhere (I’m sure your inbox is being bombarded right now as we speak which can be quite overwhelming), so my shopping advice is simple:
 
Look for items that you can wear for the rest of the summer and that will easily transition into the fall season. For instance, if you see a dress or a jumpsuit that fancies your little heart, can you envision it with boots and a cool leather jacket/blazer, or could you wear it over a button-down blouse or a light turtleneck sweater. And if your wallet allows it, stock up on closet essentials like plain tees, shirts and jeans.  
 
Also a lot of these online shops still have a sales section for last year’s inventory – as a matter of fact, that category may just be final sales because they are looking to rid off these items. 

Never let the Outerwear/Knitwear/Boots sale sections go unbrowsed…it’s a gold mine! Just make sure you feel good about the sizing and that you do love what you’re buying and actually plan to wear it, because final sale is…well…final. 
 
So I thought we’d give you a head start - Check out the links to these amazing sales below and start building that Fall wardrobe with intention, darling!

1. Striped Apron Dress: Thomas Mason for J. Crew 2. Pom Pom Hem Straight Leg Jeans: Topshop 3. Satin Mules: Sam Edelman 4. Zipped Biker Jacket: Mango 5. Infinity Crystal Earrings: Anthropologie 6. Knot Tie Slinky Midi Dress: Topshop 7. Ruffle Jumpsuit: Need Supply Also check out these other amazing sales going on now:  Need Supply - up to 70% off Loft - Extra 50% off sale items Zara - Starting at 50% off Anthropologie - Extra 40% off sale items J. Crew - Extra 40% off sale items ; 50% off final sale items Ann Taylor - Semi Annual Sale;  up to 70% off Mango - from 50 - 70% off everything Topshop - 50% off Aldo Shoes - 50% off shoes and hand bags GAP - up to 50% off everything

1. Striped Apron Dress: Thomas Mason for J. Crew
2. Pom Pom Hem Straight Leg Jeans: Topshop
3. Satin Mules: Sam Edelman
4. Zipped Biker Jacket: Mango
5. Infinity Crystal Earrings: Anthropologie
6. Knot Tie Slinky Midi Dress: Topshop
7. Ruffle Jumpsuit: Need Supply

Also check out these other amazing sales going on now: 

Need Supply - up to 70% off
Loft - Extra 50% off sale items
Zara - Starting at 50% off
Anthropologie - Extra 40% off sale items
J. Crew - Extra 40% off sale items ; 50% off final sale items
Ann Taylor - Semi Annual Sale;  up to 70% off
Mango - from 50 - 70% off everything
Topshop - 50% off
Aldo Shoes - 50% off shoes and hand bags
GAP - up to 50% off everything

Fashion Shoot in Middletown, RI

LOCATION: Newport Aviation 

TEAM: Photography: Peoneemoull Pech | Model: Hailey Carlson | Hair Stylist: Tara Siani | MUA: Joanna Vongphoumy | Wardrobe Stylist: Olivia Rodrigues, Assistant: Ashley Holmes

Brands details are below! 

Look # 1: Button-down Shirt by CK Bradley, available at Dorothy Williams RI | Pants by La Marque, available at Dorothy Williams RI | Handbag by Daniella Lehavi, available at Dorothy Williams RI, Earrings + sunglasses from Queen of Hearts & Modern Love

Look #2: Silk Dress by Elizabeth and James, available at Dorothy Williams | Faux Fur Jacket, available at Maison DNA | Earrings by Loren Hope, available at Loren Hope.

Look #3: Sweater Dress by Frame, available at Dorothy Williams RI | Vintage Belt from Neiman Marcus | Earrings + sunglasses from Queen of Hearts & Modern Love

Look #4: Dress available at Maison DNA | Earrings available at Queen of Hearts & Modern Love

The Lady Project 2017 Summer Gift Guide

The Lady Project 2017 Summer Gift Guide is out and I am happy to be able to finally share photos from the editorial photoshoot. 

The Lady Project is an economic development non profit and membership organization that connects, inspires and showcases awesome women doing amazing things through membership, events and community engagement. The organization publishes an online gift guide twice a year, that features a wide variety of products and articles submitted by its very own members. 

This is my fourth year contributing to the guide as the editorial stylist; working alongside photographer and LP staff member Brittanny Taylor

Credits for this photoshoot go to Brittanny Taylor (Photography), Simony Resende (Hair and Makeup), Anthropologie Rhode Island (retail partner), and our models, Mia Rose Andreoli, Stephanie Gonzalez, Catherine Kwolek and Colleen Rossignol.

My Summer Essentials Pt. 1

It's hard to believe it's finally warm and sunny. I was almost afraid that spring showers were going to turn into summer showers and then fall weather in August...oh God no! 

I am one to unapologetically self-describe as "tropical at heart". I love sunny/ breezy/ warm/ hot days - even if it means that I have to carry 11 deodorants, 5 facial mists, 1000 blotting papers in my handbag. 

The occasional makeup melting doesn't bother me so much - it's the wet armpits that can be quite the style conundrum. Other than that, I am the happiest of souls in the summer.

To celebrate summertime, I poured my heart into bringing you our most stylish, most lively Summer Essentials Pt.1. 

Let it be your inspiration for all your enjoyable outdoorsy plans, whether it's lounging by the pool, or having lunch al fresco, or traveling to Greece...or all of the above! 

Cheers, 

~ Olivia

Coconuts Swimsuit: Express Rectangle Necklace: Jessica Ricci Slides: Charlotte Stone Drop Earrings: Anthropologie  Flamingo Clutch: Kent Stetson Sandals: Bernardo Cat Eye Sunglasses: Derek Lam Straw Visor: Athleta Hoop Earrings: Ann Taylor Halter Swimsuit: Mikoh

Coconuts Swimsuit: Express
Rectangle Necklace: Jessica Ricci
Slides: Charlotte Stone
Drop Earrings: Anthropologie 
Flamingo Clutch: Kent Stetson
Sandals: Bernardo
Cat Eye Sunglasses: Derek Lam
Straw Visor: Athleta
Hoop Earrings: Ann Taylor
Halter Swimsuit: Mikoh

Experiencing PVD Fest 2017 in Style

Last Saturday, I had the amazing opportunity to share my experience of the PVD Festival on The Dean Hotel's Instagram, along with talented creatives. 

The photos (below) were taken by my best friend and photographer Brittanny Taylor, in The Dean Hotel's lot, where locals and visitors got to enjoy sounds of music, art installations by Kelly C. Knapp, pop-up shops by local sellers and designers such as Wanderluxe, and most importantly food + drinks stations! 

To celebrate the festivities, I wore this gorgeous kimono from The Vault Collective RI, over a pair of white jeans from Calico and a black bodysuit, with earrings from Queen of Hearts & Modern Love

I wanted my look to feel vibrant and cool without losing the comfort factor and this look did that and so much more. It added sweet movement to my very tight/skinny jeans, and not only did I end up walking a lot that day, I also danced all night long. 

Our City of Providence is such a gem! It was a true privilege to take part in the experience through the Dean Hotel's platform. Without wanting to rush time or anything, I am really looking forward to PVD Fest 2018 and to meeting old and new friends, neighbors and strangers who all make this gigantic event extra special. 

You may check out the PVD Fest FB page here to view more photos by Brittanny Taylor. 

Five Ways to Style A Bomber Jacket

My newest Youtube video featured the floral bomber jacket from the Who What Wear Collection, and jewelry from Above/Below

Video production by Brittanny Taylor

Style Stop with Maison DNA - Interview Recap

Jesse Stuckey and Beth Loomis are the brains behind Maison DNA, a vintage boutique located in Newport. Last month they welcomed me into their treasure-filled world and answered a few questions for our Style Stop FB live Interview. 

Watch the video here or read our recap below!

What surprises people the most when they visit the shop for the first time? 

What surprises people most upon visiting the shop for the first time is our unique atmosphere. Our historic building, eclectic decor and curated clothing collection all work seamlessly together to make for a magical shopping experience. First time visitors and regulars alike love that everything in our store has its own personality, energy and story. From the clothes, to the decor, right down to our price tags, everything we do and carry has a sense of intention, purpose, uniqueness and fun attached to it.

How do you decide that an item is worthy to grace the racks of Maison DNA? 

The process for deciding whether or not to carry a specific item on our racks starts with the surprisingly simple question of "Do we love it?" It may seem unorthodox but instead of carrying inventory that we think people will like, or based on trend, we purposefully do the opposite. Instead, our philosophy is to carry product that inspires and excites us first and foremost. Then, if almost by magic, this energy is subconsciously picked up by our customers and in turn they become inspired and excited by what we carry.

On a side note, I feel like this process is based on intuition or instinct which also inadvertently leads us to picking specific styles or fashions a few weeks or months before they become a trend on the runway.

Once we give the initial OK to an item, but before bringing it "home", we meticulously check for quality, condition, craftsmanship and overall visual impact. 99% of the time, even the tiniest flaw on a piece is a deal breaker and although we loved the piece initially, it does not make the cut and we leave it behind. Such strict guidelines not only allow us to deliver a product of value and quality to our customers but allows us to take pride in what we do.

Where do you source pieces from?

After being in the vintage fashion industry for almost 20 years, we are fortunate to have made invaluable contacts in the business. For the first time, without giving all the magic away, we can say that our inventory comes from professional buyers who have inside access to collections from certain New England "homes" that otherwise the public does not have access to.

The most flattering comment you have ever received...

That'd be from a well dressed gentlemen from Milan visiting Newport for the Summer who told us that Maison DNA would be a big hit where he lives.

To stay connected with Maison DNA, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.  And on your next visit to Newport, be sure to stop by their boutique located at 64 Spring Street!