I stand with April Ryan & Maxine Waters.

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On being one of many #BlackWomenatWork:
I remember when someone at a previous job gifted me with $5 in play money to “thank me” for a job well done. I remember being told to “smile more” as if I had been hired to provide some sort of reassurance, comfort or entertainment. I remember being constantly made to move, “musical chairs-style” in an office with plenty to spare. I remember being yelled at, cursed at and talked to worse than one would a dog. I remember watching others get away with coming in late and leaving early, when I could take 2 vacation days in a quarter and then be asked to account for “excessive use of time off.”
I remember being point blank asked how I could possibly afford my  designer handbags, shoes or my car. I remember being saddled with other people’s work while they were free to vacation, or simply take up space. I remember other people doing much less and being celebrated, while I could work from here to Kingdom Come and it still wasn’t good enough for a raise, recognition or some other reward. I remember mine being the only black face some people saw except for the cleaning, catering or maintenance people. I remember being asked about crime levels in certain areas of town as if I were the expert on such matters (um, I’m from a RURAL area).
I remember a million micro aggressions including being laughed at repeatedly in a classroom setting as I presented serious research. (That was a straw.) So was having to explain to someone older than I am–yet subordinate to me–why using profanity to talk to me was unacceptable.  Let’s not even go into the rude comments on my hair or the many attempts people have made to put their hands in it.
“Twice as good” is a concept that was drummed into me from the womb.
I needed those jobs, so like most black women I kept my head up, I swallowed a lot of tears and righteous anger,  I ignored a lot of disrespect and I kept pushing. I KEEP PUSHING. Black women typically don’t have much of a choice to do otherwise. I left each of those experiences on my own terms (“always stay gracious; best revenge is your paper”–be it degrees or cash). I wasn’t ever a perfect employee (who is?), but I worked hard. I work hard, still.
Even if it goes without external recognition.  Especially when it does.
I validate and reward myself. #MartyTaughtMe
To be clear: there are countless women who came before me and had it much, much harder. I thank them for enduring and making my way a bit smoother, for the blueprint they left. This isn’t a rant, screed or complaint. It’s merely a series of observations collected over time and added to a narrative. Only by being open about our experiences can we change the pervasive part of our culture that supports Zora Neale Hurston’s words published in 1937:  “The [black] woman is the mule of the world.”
After all, as she also pointed out, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
The rules, expectations and assumptions levied at people who look like me are vastly different and applied on a constantly shifting plane. They are set up so you always fail someone, somewhere or fall short in some way for which you can never quiiiiiiite never atone. They are designed to make you feel less-than and to justify paying you less or failing to promote you. They are bent on teaching — and/or keeping — you in your “place.”
But I’m grateful for what those experiences reinforced in me:
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Deal with it.
*Follow Same Chic Different Day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
(Note: I don’t own the graphic posted above. I just received it in a text and thought it was cool! The featured image of me was shot by Derrick L. Curry of Camera Play Photography.)
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Live, Love, Learn and Lean On…

“There is no door you don’t deserve to walk through, no room you don’t deserve to be in, and no table you don’t deserve an invitation to…”-MCB #OwnIt

I leaned on my mother’s advice once again and it took me all the way back to my alma mater (again). This past Saturday I had the privilege of presenting a seminar on dressing for success at The University of Alabama to women of all ages at Lean On: Alabama‘s inaugural conference. I invited the guests into my “closet,” so to speak. No slides, no rehearsed speech, just speaking “from the hip” and from the heart. (Enjoy the “behind the scenes” photos!)

You never know when your invitation to a seat at the table will arrive, but if you “stay ready” you don’t have to “get ready.”

Does your organization need a professional presenter who can speak relevantly to the art of style and dressing for true success? I’ve provided dynamic, memorable presentations for nonprofits, community organizations, top tier universities and major corporations, and can connect with groups of five to five hundred (and beyond). Book me!

Leaning on…

I’m excited and honored to speak at Lean On: Alabama’s inaugural conference this Saturday! When I interviewed the founders a few months ago, I was impressed with their vision and their determination. What we need now more than ever are efforts that connect people, and this one works diligently and creatively to empower, challenge and share the collective knowledge Alabama’s women have earned no matter our age, economic status, education or profession. Passing this on makes us stronger individually and as a whole.

I expect to be moved and motivated this weekend, and if your schedule permits, I hope you will join us!

Register by clicking HERE, and learn more about Lean On: Alabama by clicking HERE.

 

 

 

 

Alexis is in the February Birmingham Magazine!

Black women model natural hair styles Well, this was a fun surprise. I was asked to offer tips on natural hair care for an article in this month’s Birmingham Magazine. It was nice being being on the other side of the interview for a change! Pick up a copy and check it out. 

Shout out to Javacia Harris Bowser for the interview and Halcyon Studios for the photographs.

The look for less: Beyonce in Gucci

Bey rocked a $22,000 Gucci S/S 2017 print kimono with fur trim to the NBA All-Star game this past Sunday, and it’s such a chill yet “unapologetically glamourous” (per Vogue) look for the upcoming season–whether you’re expecting twins or not.

I’ve been slow to embrace the pajamas-as-daywear look, but I have been saving an H&M kimono that might work this way. Here’s my take on the luxe and laidback look, featuring an ivory silk cami from J. Crew and destroyed denim from American Eagle Outfitters. (I may try this with white denim and denim shorts too.)

And now that I’m really looking at it, a little fox fur D-I-Y may be in order.

Images via Hello Beautiful, J. Crew and H&M

Don’t judge me.

Image via Instagram (@patricejwill) 


Via Instagram (@doyouspeakjcrew)

Still rolling

Roll Tide, darlings!  The Tide faces off with Clemson tonight, so I’m showing some school spirit in my vintage Starter jacket, with black on black separates from J. Crew underneath. The fringed sandals just make it even more feminine, which I think is key to styling an athletic jacket. Why should guys have all the fun in rocking them, and why should they be limited to weekends?  (Even better: the jacket is machine washable!) The jacket’s major pop of color is coordinated with my signature Ruby Woo lip.

A very special thank you to Derrick A. Curry of Camera Play Photography for handling the photo shoot! Check out his work and like his business’ page on Facebook by clicking HERE.

 

Be the Hostess with the Most-est!

Baby it’s (finally) cold outside! And that means entertaining has moved indoors. What’s better than enjoying food, friends and family, set in your comfortable home?  My grandmothers Mamie and Dorothy were fabulous entertainers, and they had a knack for sharing southern hospitality that just made family, friends and even strangers flock to their homes.

I’m missing both of them, and so I’m sharing what they taught me to keep their memories alive. You know if I’m doing something, I like to do it grandly, and that comes directly from them.

Incorporating any–or all–of these tips will help you entertain with flair, year-round:

  1. SET THE MOOD.  Add a soft around your home with lit candles. Choose scented pillars, votives or tapers in light spice or floral fragrance, and mix them with unscented varieties. I love to place these in my kitchen, guest bathroom, on my dining room table and around my living room–and even in groups inside my fireplace! Find inexpensive options at your local big box discount store, or in TJ Maxx or HomeGoods.
  2. SET THE TABLE. When entertaining, my grandmothers felt guests’ manners rose to the occasion, so having a formally set table encouraged better table manners.  Rather than pulling out folding trays, use your dining room table to its advantage. Pull out your best china, flatware and linen–or even nicer clear plastic plates–and add an inexpensive runner if you’re not using a table cloth, and use a simple but impactful floral arrangement. Serving buffet style? Upgrade your servingware with nicer platters and utensils. (Again, you don’t have to spend a lot.)
  3. ADD SUGAR AND SPICE. Have something sweet, savory and spicy to balance your guests’ palates with a varied menu. Whether it’s classic Chex Mix, a beautiful spread of cheese and fruit, or even old school gummy bears, have something for them to snack on, and serve it in an unusual fashion, like martini glasses! Affordable gourmet snacks can be found at your local grocer or discount home store.
  4. SIP SOMETHING SPARKLY. Serve some great bubbly, whether it’s an adult beverage, fizzy fruit juice or even carbonated water (just garnish it with lime!). Have a mix of options for guests who don’t imbibe, or who limit sugar from their diet. Serve in nicer glassware! Fun cocktail napkins are a fab touch, and a chic alternative to plain paper towels.
  5. DRESS YOUR BEST, BUT FOCUS ON GUESTS. Surely you knew an outfit would be in the mix! My grandmothers loved hostess gowns, glam caftans and luxe lounge wear. Even if you’re entertaining at home, rise to the occasion and get out of your yoga pants. Try a luxe pair of silk day-to-night cocktail pajamas or even a simple lace dress. I also love to throw one of my vintage aprons on for good measure (even if the pie I’m serving is Mrs. Smith’s!). Be comfortable and cute; don’t wear anything that you’ll tug or fuss with all evening.

True hospitality is not about how much you spend on linens or glassware. True hospitality is about the effort you put into making your guests feel especially welcome year-round.

Whether you’re serving ham sandwiches and store-brand soda or a spectacular gourmet seated dinner, you can do so with grace, intention and style–and that, darlings, is the most important thing.

Check out these retailers  when shopping to entertain: Swoozie’s, TJ Maxx, HomeGoods, Target, World Market, Fresh Market and Publix. They all have gourmet sections with food, beverage and/or decor that make an impact without putting a huge dent in your wallet. (And Etsy and eBay have awesome vintage aprons.)

Platter, vase and glassware via TJ Maxx; dress via J. Crew; apron via eBay; Champagne via Moet; Sugarfina gummy candy via Swoozie’s; Table runner  via HomeGoods; Hydrangeas via Publix

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