Tag "Natural Hair"

Slay Sista Slay!

You know it’s funny, sometimes the oddest things can make you adopt a different posture, mindset and even attitude! I was recently sent the most amazing statement t-shirt from one of my favourite brands Lane Bryant. I opened up a pretty little black box sealed with a bright red ribbon and the words “SLAY SISTA SLAY” were speaking loud and clearly to me! I know it sounds weird but when I saw the slogan gleaming up at me from the box I thought to myself ‘OK then, I will!’ I use the term slay a lot, I find that when I see someone totally rocking their style and pushing forward in their lives doing big things the term is often applied. I guess you could call it a seal of approval that is used all the time in street lingo and internet speak. It got me thinking though, why don’t I just throw on something fabulous hit the streets of London and do my thing!

You guys know how much I love monochrome outfits! I have a series of different black and white styles that I enjoy wearing but when it comes to t-shirts I tend to keep it more comfortable than anything else. I knew that my Manon Baptiste sequin bomber from Navabi was going to compliment the outfit I had in mind perfectly. I do enjoy wearing sequins and I love the fact that they are making their way into more casual clothing items. All Michael Jackson fans have sequins somewhere in their wardrobe and I’m most definitely a sequin wearing fan lol. I got this one in a size 24.

Hanna and I were out for lunch and she borrowed me her pleated leather skirt from Lane Bryant to go with my look. I love this skirt and i’m sad that it’s no longer available because I would have to get my hands on one for myself. I really like the length and the style. This is definitely an item that could work for edgy, sexy and sophisticated looks. A tutu might make for a more playful version of this outfit also. I slipped on a pair of black tights, my Vanity Boots from Hotter and I was almost slaying! I pulled out my twists, let my hair hang free applied a coat of Divine Wine (shade 975) lipstick from Maybelline New York and I was ready to hit the road…

It’s funny how fashion can dictate how you feel sometimes. Some styles can make you feel like a dainty princess, others a sexy vixen and many items have been known to make a woman feel like a boss bitch! You can’t help but walk with confidence when an outfit requires that you SLAY SISTA SLAY! I’m going to be on the look out for more fun slogan tees and I look forward to playing around with different looks.

Lane Bryant continue to be a brand that is pioneering body confidence in women of all ages, colours, shapes and sizes. Their latest campaign #This Body is all about how we as women can do anything we want! Dream big, sing big, dance big and pretty much do whatever makes you feel good whilst loving the skin you’re in and smiling hard! The commercial is amazing and I definitely see myself in this campaign. So ladies I say slay hard, do what makes you dream and reach high!

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!

A Different Kind Of Vintage – A Dolly And Dotty Review

I love getting a pretty new dress. There’s just something about a cute dress that can make you feel girly and beautiful; I always find myself thinking of exactly where I might want to wear it and how I would style my look. I tend to gravitate towards vintage dresses that have a deep cleavage and a wide circle skirt but, when vintage inspired company Dolly And Dotty contacted me recently to see if I would like to try out one of their styles I was really excited. I love vintage clothing and I find that more often than not most vintage style brands on the market don’t cater to my dress size or proportions. I’m always on the hunt for vintage brands which include plus sizes and it’s often difficult finding that perfect little dress with something a bit different. Things have most definitely improved in that area and most of my readers would have seen some of my favourite looks that I like to wear. Give me a swing dress and a petticoat and I know exactly how I’ll wear it!

I wanted to try something a little different this time and so I selected the Anna dress to try out, a special little number that reminds me of something that the legendary actress Audrey Hepburn may have worn. I love the navy and white mix with block colour bodice and horizontal striped skirt, for me this gave a slightly new twist on a sailor dress. The weather in London has been pretty dire the past few months and so I didn’t want to wait until the summer time to try out this gorgeous dress. I decided to bring it along as one of my looks during my recent shoot with Studio 52. In most cases I would wear this dress with a white jacket, white heels or trainers, blue bandana and hair my hair in a series of twisted curls. This time I’m wearing the dress without a petticoat and no other accessories.

Looking back on these photos and seeing myself in a vintage dress sporting a full afro got me thinking. I wonder how times were for women who look like me back in the 40s and 50s? A lot has happened over the past few decades and a lot of things we begin to talk about today with regards to politics leans towards more of a negative feeling about where we are as people. As a woman of colour though I am aware of the changes that have happened throughout history and I am happy to say that for the most part we have all come along way with how we look to other people and how we treat them. I know that very few women who look like me would have been able to wear a beautiful dress, in a beautiful setting with a gorgeous velvet chaise lounge, feeling glamorous having lovely photos taken of them… I’m pleased that times have and do change and i’m happy that this is an experience to which myself and others like me can thoroughly enjoy.

I look forward to wearing this dress in the warmer seasons of the year and having fun playing around with different accessories and vintage style items. I do love that even though this is a vintage inspired item that it can easily be worn with some more modern items with a little creativity and flare.

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!

Embracing My Blackness

*Photography By Studio52 Clothing From Evans Clothing, Live Unlimited And Hotter Shoes

It seems that the entire planet is talking about America at the moment. They have just elected the new president, enjoyed the Superbowl Halftime show and black history month is in full swing. I’ve been watching a lot of American TV shows and news postings lately and even though the celebration of black history month doesn’t come to the UK until October, it got me thinking about the icons who have inspired me, important people in my family and of course my own blackness…

I come from a multi racial family as many of my readers know. My mother is half Irish and Trinidadian and my father is Jamaican. In both sides of my family the Caribbean influences have hints of Indian and Chinese. Having said all of that people are often interested to know where my family are from and having been exposed to all sides of my culture I have always identified as a mixed race person. I personally find that embracing a part of myself doesn’t have to mean ignoring the other and I try to merge the different areas of my background into the various areas as life such as my diet, the music I create and listen to and of course when it comes to my looks to name a few.

For the past few months I have been wearing my hair natural and it has been an interesting journey. I had no idea how much work and upkeep is required in taking care of my hair or how I would be perceived with the different styles I might wear. I’m still trying to get used to it to be honest with you and at times I find myself frustrated. I am finding that the most supportive people around me on my hair journey actually happen to be my white friends. I had expected in all truth that I would be bombarded with people asking questions about my hair and wanting to touch it out of a somewhat negative interest but, I was pleasantly surprised in that area and was received with positivity and enthusiasm. My friends seem to really love the “REAL” part of me and think that I should take my look to the next level with more experimental hair styles. In contrast to this I have found that some of my own family members have had some minor issues with my hair and how I have chosen to style it on occasion. I have been teased quite a lot recently and given the nickname Harriet Tubman. What’s awkward for me is that this has been given to me in a negative sense. I guess wearing my twists with scarfs or bandanas reminds some people of the kind of images we see from times past or what we see from documents surrounding slavery or something. In truth I am slightly saddened by this for several reasons. For one thing I have a lot to learn when it comes to taking care of my 4c hair but I find that using a woman like Ms Tubman as an insult is insane! For one thing she was a humanitarian, abolitionist, american spy and armed scout during the civil war, what an incredible women with an amazing legacy.

I will always enjoy a variety of different hair styles, wigs, natural and styles in between. One thing that is apparent though is that a black or brown woman wearing her hair natural to some people looks like a rebellious action or a political statement. I never would have thought that sporting the very hair that grows from my scalp would be viewed in such a way. The thing is, I will continue to use these situations as a talking point to raise awareness to things. Many of my friends and even some family members had no idea how time consuming, expensive and difficult wearing natural hair could be until they were witness to what I go through. Washing your hair can take between 3-5 hours sometimes, luckily stylists advise that women with hair like mine only wash their hair every 1-2 weeks!

I am enjoying embracing myself and learning more about influential and special people who play a huge role in black history. As a Londoner I can honestly say that what is taught in schools about black history is so minimal and it’s a shame because there are so many amazing things that can be shared. I don’t think of myself as a particularly political person but I do have a big opinion and the readiness to share it if asked or if the moment requires it.

*Photography By Studio52 Clothing From Evans Clothing And Live Unlimited

I simply think that with what’s going on in America at the moment and to a degree here in the UK; that it’s important for everyone in the world regardless of their ethnicity or their experience to speak out and share their stories. I really believe that the only way barriers are broken down, people come together and change is a possibility is through talking and sharing. People don’t understand or they can be fearful or what’s new or different and I find that even something as simple as one’s hair can be an interesting place to start and get the dialogue going. These are the things that brought for the civil rights movement, feminist movement and spawned the welcoming change to the LGBTQ community all of the world. We all have rights, we all want acceptance and love and I just think that people really need to listen to that old saying our parents told all of us “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. The thing is we have become able to experience different genres of music, various styles of cuisine and even adopt customs from our brothers and sisters. I really think a lot has been achieved but  we need to take the time to look at the topic of skin colour and the areas around it, otherwise we stand still or even worse move backwards in our way of thinking.

I may see myself as a woman of mixed race but I have always embraced areas of my blackness and I’m proud that I can do more of this through something as small as wearing my hair the way God intended for me to have it!

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!

Hair Raising

When it comes to selecting the perfect hair and beauty products the infinite amount of options can make the task at hand rather daunting! The vast majority of us are left with the few options that we see in the stores and our choices are usually made for us by the constant stream of magazine and television adverts out there. When it comes to hair care people with Afro hair are a lot more limited here in the UK; not only to the available products but also to the stores where we can buy them from. In truth I can’t complain being in London but even I have to pretty much take out half of my day if I am running low on supplies! Travelling across the city to the specialist stores that carry products for my hair type is one thing, getting advise and guidance is quite another…

A few months ago I started collaborating with the amazing app the Entertainer, available here in the UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa. The app is geared at bringing incredible deals and offers to people all over the place with a vast interest in entertainment, fine dining, travel and leisure. I was recently given the opportunity to have a personalised hair consultation and treatment in one of the incredible salons teaming up with the app and of course I jumped at the chance!

The team at CV Hair & Beauty were incredible and gave me a fresh and new salon experience. I was literally made to feel like a VIP from the minute I arrived, everyone was extremely friendly, fun and helpful. I have to say this is the first Salon I had ever been to who specialised in all styles of hair from European to Asian and of course Afro styles. I’m used to being in a jam packed Afro hair salon for appointments that stem for HOURS full of endless chit chat. I was really pleased to find that I was not only quickly taken care of and given a series of treatments, I was also getting a whole new education about Afro hair care! The amazing stylist Ian and his team treated me to my first ever Indian head massage (something you must try if you haven’t already) and they helped me put together a series of products perfect for solving some of my many hair problems…

As some of you may already know my hair type is described in the Afro hair community as 4C, this basically means that I don’t have a defined curl pattern and my hair pretty much grows in every possible direction and can also be very dry and coarse. During a deep shampoo and conditioning treatment Ian and his assistant were asking me some really interesting questions about my hair and about some of the issues I face with styling and general maintenance. It was mentioned that my scalp is warmer than most people’s which can result in build up from product, flaking and dandruff. There was me thinking I just had problems in that area for no identifiable reason! Seeing my hair in it’s natural state the team were then able to put together an amazing hair care package for me using a series of products from the System Professional Collection by Wella. These products are only available in selected salons and I have to say they are incredible! I was surprised that these sort of products would even be suitable for my hair type but they are created to work for people of all hair types, each item geared to target specific problems. What I loved is that the products recommended to me were created to repair damaged, broken or split strands, deeply condition and treat the hair and they all smelled absolutely incredible! If you head on over to the System Professional website and fill out the quick questionnaire a selection of products specifically created to help your problems will be recommended to you, generating what’s known as your personalised care system and energy code. I would definitely give this a go regardless of what you hair type may be!

The products recommended to me from my personalised energy code.

To finish things off my hair was then topped off with the most gorgeous chocolatey scented leave in product, Dark Oil from Sebastian. Created with sandalwood, cedarwood and argan oil this amazing product will deep condition, smooth and protect your hair from UV damage and will help with styling.

The team at CV Hair & Beauty gave me a series of samples to use on my hair and I have to say I loved how soft and healthy my hair felt after my treatments and following the various washes that took place afterwards. I left the salon with a perfectly trimmed and pulled out Afro! The first time I had ever worn one, just before my shoot with Studio52. I felt like the ultimate Afro diva and thoroughly enjoyed the experience! I will most definitely be taking another trip down there in the future only this time i’ll be sure to get some beauty treatments in too! A huge thanks to the team for their time, care and expertise, I loved letting you loose on my fro!

For more details about the Entertainer and the amazing deals they have check them out here or head on over to the app store on your phone. Here’s a little something I filmed with them when I was at the London Bridge Experience And Tombs.

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!

Another Part Of Me

A lot has been happening recently. I’ve been on a train that just doesn’t seem to want to stop with loads of things happening with the blog, a busy work schedule and making an effort to pack in more time with family friends. Whilst things have been hectic and a lot has been shifting and changing; I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and evaluate on some things, of course the first thing that needed some personal attention…me.

I’ve experienced a year that has been full of drama and so I had to take some time to take care of a few personal health issues. With all the time I’ve had to address with regards to my body I have also been looking at how I think about myself and, how I treat myself. I’ve come to realise that being in my twenties has been a really awkward period. Of course you hear people speak about how much they loved this time in their life and how they wish they could re-live it all. In my case i’m really looking forward to getting into my thirties. I have heard many women say that this is the decade when you really start to embrace yourself, find your feet and really take life by the reigns. I’m in the final year of my twenties and with that I have lost some very special people in my life, made some incredible friends, seen some amazing countries and ended some personal and professional relationships. The one thing I have spent a lot of time on the past few years is building my self confidence.

I spent many years working as a professional singer and musician alongside doing boring and mundane day jobs. Music is and will always be my biggest passion and I will always spend my days and nights with something amazing playing along and surely enough, becoming the soundtrack to some of my memories. I miss the stage, I do. It’s not something I’ve hidden but the truth is, in time I came to realise that the music industry is full of many corrupt people and circumstances and I never wanted anything to dull my love of the craft or the art form. With this and my increasing age I decided to keep music as a huge love and passion that I will always create and perform but without putting so much pressure on myself.

Confidence is something that for me comes with experience. People who have known me forever will say that I have an abundant amount of it but in truth that would only be in some areas of my life. I can take a stage and sing at full force in front of as many as fifteen thousand people and do it with conviction and confidence. Why is this? Music is what I do and it’s one of the things I know how to do best and something I have always excelled in. Having said all of that everyone knows that a huge part of a good performance is the look of the performer, whether that be in their clothing, make up or body type. The music industry is one that appreciates and puts a strong emphasis on image, beauty and sex appeal. Many years ago talent was at the forefront but as we came into this new century in some parts of the world this took a back seat to image.

I was always aware of my weight and my dress size and until I reached 25 years old, this affected every area of my day to day life especially my life on stage. I have always loved fashion and it wasn’t until I started to really see myself as a beautiful, sexy woman that I embraced fashion for myself and didn’t just appreciate it on others. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and into new circumstances is how I build my confidence. I started with bright and bold colours, edgy and fresh clothing options and wearing clothes that previously I would have been to scared to even try on! I felt empowered, liberated and fun and, with this my blog was born 3 years ago. I try to get women to see what they can do with their look despite whatever demons they may have to face from their past or present life using myself as an example.

A few months ago I was challenged once again when financial circumstances and the voices of many friends encouraged me to wear my hair natural. I spoke about his in detail in my ‘Back To My Roots‘ post. Being of mixed race I have always made the joke that my hair is the blackest part of me lol. My hair totally natural, right out of the shower without blow dryers, wide tooth combs and various products shrinks down into a tight Jackson 5 style afro! I have what’s described as 4C hair; meaning that I have an undefined curl type and my hair is extremely tight, coarse and can be rather dry. I decided to do a photoshoot to mark the final year of my twenties and so, I returned to the studio that shot me on my milestone 21st year; Studio 52. In many ways I feel I have come full circle and have learned to really love every part of myself including my insane fro and, even though I will always enjoy wearing a good wig or weave, I wanted to shoot myself without any barriers and so I donned a full afro!

A couple of shots from my shoot marking my 21st year with Studio 52

For clothing I decided to wear some hot an sexy items from one of my favourite brands Lane Bryant. Wearing their Lightweight Strapless Bra with detachable straps (the first ever strapless bra I have found with perfect fit and support). With this I pulled on their Point D’Espirit Tie-Neck Top. I don’t wear this one as well as Ashley Graham but I still had to have it myself lol. I thought a pair of wet look leggings that I’ve had for ages would go great for the look I was after. Finishing off with these amazing Over The Knee Faux Suede Boots, some large gold hoops and I was set. I wanted to bring out the R&B diva in me, only this time with a new swag and new found confidence.

By and large i’m still the same woman i’ve always been, only a little older and now with a new perspective of life, myself and others. You know what I always say…

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!

Back To My Roots

You know it’s funny sometimes things happen to you for reasons you don’t expect and when you don’t see them coming. In my case I’m talking about my latest achievement on my journey to confidence. What I’m about to discuss for some people would seem like a small thing but if you stick with me for a few minutes I’ll do my best to explain. A few weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and go natural. What do I mean by go natural? I’m speaking specifically about my hair. Most women know what it is to wear their natural hair and even what it is to treat and style it. I really had never had the chance to do so until just over a month ago. Let me take you back a bit…

Me as a tot with my dreads

When I was a child my hair was in dreadlocks until I was about 14-15 years old. Both my mother and father have dreadlocks and my mum later told me it was never her intention to lock my hair but as a child I simply would not let her style it without bringing my house into a state of chaos as I screamed in protest while she worked to style my hair. Of course my hair was a lot softer as a child but I have always had extremely thick and tight hair. Growing up I never really thought much about my hair I would wash it weekly and then sit down to let my mother twist my stray hairs into my locks. It was when I got into secondary school I realised that I wanted to change my hair and try new styles but that would mean doing the dreaded chop and cutting it all off. As an over weight teenager who already had a lot of attention from bullies and other people in the class the last thing I wanted to was draw more attention to myself by having a bald head, so I spoke to my mum about the situation and it was decided that I would let my hair grow out somewhat and then cut it and work with braids until I could get it to a decent length.

In My late teens with braided extensions

I started speaking to some of my cousins to see what things they did to maintain and style their hair and I soon realised that I would have some different challenges to them when it came to maintaining my own hair. My hair is thicker than that of most people’s and some would describe the texture as nappy. To mixed raced and black people it’s been deemed over the years a really negative thing to have nappy hair. What the term means is that you have really dry, coarse and tight afro like hair. For people of other ethnicities this doesn’t seem to even be something they think about and in truth most of my friends who are of other backgrounds have been pushing for me to wear my natural hair out for years! The problem with doing this was, well me…

Me with my hair relaxed, wearing some weave tracks in my hair

The truth is that for decades the world has been shown one very small standard of beauty which leans towards the looks and features that Caucasian, European women have. Thinner bodies with slightly smaller curves and beautiful long, shiny and straight hair. Already women of colour were set a precedent that we simply could not live by and as a result we have seen women bleaching their skin for years, dressing and wearing clothes that may not have been their preferred style and of course the changing and experimentation with our hair. For years women like myself played around with relaxing our hair which basically means to paint a chemical paste into our hair that burns it straight. I did this for years and to be honest I always have and will always hate the process. It’s extremely painful and could often times leave you with scabs or scars on your scalp. The hair can become brittle and damaged and as a result can take forever and a day to grow! The thing is I come from a mixed race family and have a host of friends from all over the world so I personally don’t feel I have carried all of the baggage that some other coloured women carry when it comes to having confidence in their looks. In my case the problem was initially my weight and then of course my hair.

Wearing a relaxer with a clip in extension 

I finally reached a point where I would find ways to achieve the hair looks I liked without having to put my hair and scalp through so much physical trauma. I started to experiment with weaves, clips ins and eventually wigs. The truth is though while I like how I looked with these styles they are extremely expensive to do. It’s no wonder the hair industry is such a wealthy business and from what I have seen over the years it’s women of colour who have been the largest consumers of synthetic and human hair supplies and extensions. Recently we have seen a rise with women of all races buying into these products which I can only assume is a result of celebrity pressure that we all face, through social media and reality TV shows. The past 10-20 years has seen women doing anything and everything to enhance the beauty we already carry with wearing new styles of makeup such as nail extensions, false eye lashes, fillers and injectables and of course additional hair pieces. I recently hit a financial snag and was simply unable to find the few hundred pounds required to do something about my hair! I thought about relaxing my hair again which I hadn’t done for nearly 2 years and thought back to the horrible experiences of my past. The average woman can use about half  tub of relaxer to work on the 2-3 inches of regrowth she would need to burn her hair straight. In my case I would need up to 2 tubs for the same amount of hair growth due to how thick and coarse my hair is! I could only imagine how much of the stuff I would need to do what’s known as a virgin relaxer and the thought of sitting for an hour with my scalp on fire was not an option!

Wearing a wig

A mix between natural and enhanced. I wear my hair in corn row braids and a clip in extension

My friend Venice had taken the time out to pretty much give me the push I needed to just work with what god gave me and wear my own hair out. It had been years since I had worn just my natural hair out, the last time was when I had had dreadlocks! Now in my late twenties the prospect was rather daunting for me and I suddenly felt my self confidence being questioned. Venice washed and conditioned my hair (with some products I’ll later be reviewing on the blog), showed me some techniques to condition my hair to help with growth and style. She had been doing the same thing to her daughter’s who’s hair is like mine. I have to say after taking out my large twists and seeing my huge bouncy curls I was taken aback for about 5 minutes and then I suddenly thought wow it’s me, all me! Even my hair has a large personality of it’s own and I should embrace this! I took some pictures with Hanna, put them on Facebook and the amount of compliments I received from my friends and loved ones shocked me! I was given a new source of confidence and I am slowly falling in love with my own hair for the first time in my life!

Like I said before I know this seems like a small fate to some but I had no idea why so many women were throwing away the wigs and weaves and going bare with their own hair. This was a movement I hadn’t taken the time to look into or be a part of. I simply ended up taking note when I saw other friends doing the same and it was only because of my financial situation and some kind words from some friends that I thought oh what the hell let’s give it a go! I say it all the time about fashion and wearing what makes you feel confident, we need to play around with our look more to see what works for us. I now say the same about your hair and I encourage all women out there with quote on quote “nappy” or course hair to give this a go! I’m so happy I did!

Remember whatever you wear, feel fabulous in it and wear it with a smile!