What Would Beyoncé Do?

Romper: Keepsake the Label | Cardigan: No Carnations Vintage |Shoes: Steve Madden | Sunglasses: Warby Parker | Earrings: 5th Avenue Antiques | Lippie: Drea Michelle

I’ve had this outfit for almost two years. And when Becca Bell of 2 B Photography LLC and I partnered for this photo shoot, I knew its time had come. I love rompers, and as this one shows so much leg that I added a vintage beaded cardigan from No Carnations Vintage for more coverage up top to achieve a bit of balance. (I tried, Mom.) I love the monochromatic look and the pop of color Tuckernuck’s acrylic lemon clutch adds.

The inspiration for this outfit is the “vintage” tableau from Formation, where Beyoncé twirls a parasol among a clan of women clad in white lace dresses. That song and album get played at least once a week in my home, and that visual of old world refinery is one I wanted to recreate. But I also like to add a touch of the unexpected, so it’s a romper rather than a gown. Who says women over 30 can’t wear them? What would Beyonce do? She’d rock it.

Here’s a secret: I usually take my own photos. But it’s a TON of work. So it was a blast to relax and let a photographer with an “eye” for detail take the lead. I’m learning that I don’t have to do everything myself, that it is OK to release my Type A tendencies and accept someone else’s expertise…and that is a relief! Expect more collaborations from Becca and me in the future, and be sure to check her out online and on Instagram. (Or call her to schedule your own photo shoot!)

Xo,

Alexis

All photographs courtesy of 2B Photography LLC.

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Made in the Shade

T-shirt, skirt, sunglasses and bracelets: J.Crew | Clutch: Clare Vivier

Shoes: Steve Madden

Rarely do I buy an outfit exactly as it is displayed on a mannequin or in a catalog, but when I saw this look at J. Crew a while back, it was “me” from top to bottom. I love to mix casual and super dressy pieces, and I also love neutrals. Need I also mention I’ve been collecting cheeky graphic tees since middle school?

Throw a pair of hoops, a bit of fierce animal print and some “barely there” heels (which I’m obsessed with!) in the mix and this is textbook Alexis.

If I’m being honest: my outfits are my way of expressing my feelings. My clothes are my armor. And if I look good, I tend to feel better. I stand taller. It’s that little boost that gives me the motivation to attack the day with my head high. This post is for all the other up and comers fighting battles daily for equal pay, for better opportunities and for the love and light they deserve.

Xo, Alexis

Unbothered.

Dress: Premonition via T.J. Maxx

This past week I was reminded that sometimes the world wishes brown faces like mine, ambition like mine, energy like mine was less…visible.

But I don’t believe faces like mine, talent like mine, or ambition like mine is visible enough. That’s part of the problem. Shout out to Jeniese Hosey, to Erica Bunker, to Deidra K. Diaz, to Lynsey Weatherspoon, to Javacia Harris Bowser, to Selena Rogers Dickerson, to Kellie Clark, to Eunice Elliot, to Chanda Temple, to Ariel Worthy, to Dr. Kre Johnson, to Keicia Shanta, to Kim Colvin, to Drea Michelle, to Courtney Duff, to Jessica Coates, to Katrina Watson, to Chasiti Shepherd, to Kennedi Stone, to Abra Barnes, to Rashada LeRoy, to Tia Beville, to Aletta Williamson, to Sharon Ward, to Regan Liggins, to LaToya Ashford, to Tonya Lee, to Connie Collins, to TeLisa King-Mills, to Georgia Blair, to Samuetta Nesbitt, to Ebony Hall, to Tracie Banks, to Dalila Bass, to Gwendolyn Guster Welch, to Que Humphrey, to Maacah Davis, to Adrienne Mixon, to Camisha Rivers Hunter, to Tiffany Logan, to Portia Williams, to ALL the brown girls and women in Birmingham and beyond who are making it happen, with or without a follow or a mention.

I SEE YOU.  AND PLEASE BELIEVE THEY SEE US.

Keep piping up on ’em, ladies.

Because I couldn’t get to Amy Sherald’s portrait of this Black woman, I carried myself to North Birmingham to this mural behind a Maxway grocery store.

There is no monologue in Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf for a lady in white. So while the little girl me might’ve closed her eyes and made a wish, the grown up me said a prayer and made a promise to herself.

I will not make myself small.

I will not make myself small.

I will not make myself small.

I hope you won’t, either.

Xo, Alexis

P.S. This is a late post that I intended to put up on Sunday. I’m posing in white on purpose, in solidarity with Roni Leftwich and in support of Fibroid Awareness Month (July).

Pink-y Swear

Sweater, pants, pumps and sunglasses, all J. Crew

I know wearing prints with prints may be a bit much, but so what? My favorite word is “lagniappe,” which means “a little something extra.” I love flowers and I love the color pink and from here on out I really don’t care about being extra.

Life is short. People will deal. 

Color, pattern, and a certain amount of over-the-top flair are hallmarks of southern style, and I love it all. My mother’s opera-length pearls are the perfect accessory.

Xo, Alexis

Something Blue

I’ve had this lace dress in my closet for two years and am just now able to wear it. Something about a powder blue lace dress just feels so ladylike and summery to me –perfect for a garden party at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens!

I carried the theme over into my pale blue clutch with a floral motif and kept my shoes a neutral silver. It just so happened that I matched the color palette for the July issue of Birmingham Magazine!

This looks reminds me of one of my favorite songs:

Xo, Alexis

P.S. The dress was a Poshmark find — if you haven’t tried shopping there you definitely should! It has established itself as the number one app to buy and sell fashion, with over 5,000 brands at up to 70% off. Even better? Sign up for the Poshmark app with code “EDITORINCHIC” and get $5 to shop with.

Thank you, Birmingham Magazine!

 

 

I’ve answered phones, I’ve cleaned offices and I’ve been made to count pencils (yes, really). I’ve been counted out, overlooked, laughed at and rejected more times than I can count. I very nearly flunked out of college. I’ve doubted myself. I’ve felt invisible. I’ve been underestimated, undermined, underpaid, overlooked and overworked. In spite of that I’ve worked my narrow behind off, and I never let other people’s issues and “-isms” determine my self-worth. I’ve delivered under pressure that has seemed insurmountable, and performed when my heart wanted to give up. But I’m still standing. And I know I’m not alone.

I’m honest about my journey because I’m grateful for it. If I can make it, God knows you can, too.

I am still overwhelmed from yesterday’s Top Influencers Under 40 luncheon! Birmingham Magazine made it a beautiful day for us at the City Club.

And Rent The Runway really came through in a pinch. I’ve lost so much weight that most of my clothes don’t fit, and I literally had nothing to wear! Having been through several physical changes over the last couple of months, RTR, Kim Colvin and James Adams, Jr. all helped me look my best.

It meant so very much to me to not only be in the room, but to have my mother beside me and to celebrate so many other amazing people, including one of my best friends!

Congratulations to all the honorees!

A.

Birmingham’s Top Influencers Under 40 Named

Everyone on this list — change agents, professionals, and movers and shakers from a wide variety of industries — is a force to be reckoned with, and I am very honored to be included.

Click HERE to see the inaugural list of honorees. It’s first class! (See what I did there?)

//A.

Thank you, Kate Spade.

“I adore pretty things and witty words.”

-KateSpade

The last thing I treated myself to before I left for medical leave was a Kate Spade plastic serving tray and matching tumbler printed with lemons. I figured that if I had to be housebound for weeks, at least I could try to be cheerful about it. After all, when life gives you lemons…do something glamorous with them.

I’ve carried an ink-stained red and pink Kate Spade canvas agenda for YEARS—bought for far too much money at a Belk charity sale when I was desperately unhappy about my work and love lives. It reminds me daily to be optimistic, that things can always get better. And in the age of online calendars, it’s decidedly old school…but so am I.

I wore black satin Kate Spade sandals with bows to stroll down the aisle and kick up my heels at my brother’s wedding. The bridesmaid’s dress is history but I still have the shoes.

I’ve decorated my office with Kate Spade postcards, stationery, storage boxes and knickknacks for cheer and inspiration. The day I got my biggest consulting client and wrote my biggest story, I made notes in a large coral Kate Spade leatherette padfolio that has the phrase “She wrote the book on it” embossed on the cover in gold. It reminds me that my creativity and femininity are strengths and that my talent is unquestionable.

Thank you, Kate Brosnahan Spade. You were quick and curious and playful and strong. You left a little sparkle wherever you went. You encouraged me and so many others to escape the ordinary, in style.

♠️🖤♠️

A.

I’m fibroid-free. (For now.)

MARCH 2018:

I’m watching happy mommies, round with bumps.

Some are accompanied by partners. They stand close. They rub their bellies. They smile and speak softly to each other.

A pair of women sit together.

Others like me, sit alone. Arms folded, eyes closed…or methodically turning the curling pages of a magazine. Some tap tap tap on their screens. Like me, right now.

I watch the ones who are visibly pregnant. One mother-to-be pulls out snacks and water. Her outfit, a striped knit bodycon dress, a jacket festooned with brassy buttons and suede flats, is sharp.

An athleisure-wearing, topknotted mom comes in with a baby riding silently in a stroller, little enough to need a cushion around its tiny head.

Others, like me, are not pregnant at all.

The desire to at least be able to give birth almost overwhelms me. It is the one thing I can’t do. Yet. Or maybe ever.

We all wait.

The waiting room is rust with shades of apple and sage green. The wall coverings are alternating panels of wheat-colored and puce brocade-print paper.

Then I am called.

No tussling with a paper gown, this time.

Just a plop of warm goo on my bare belly. The sonographer glides the wand across my flesh, and the wall-to-wall flatscreens light up.

There I am, inside out.

And there they are, all three of them that are immediately visible. Seven, hiding. Growing, insistently. Constantly. Feeding off of me.

But they aren’t babies.

Ten noncancerous fibroid tumors take up all available space. They’ve been growing there for years, in the place where a baby should be. Maybe the seed of them is genetic. Or maybe it’s environmental. One thing is for sure:

They have to be removed, in order for any baby to grow there.

I almost don’t believe what I’m seeing. I want to look away, but I can’t. When I finally close my eyes, they fill with tears that spill over onto my cheeks and run into my ears and splash onto the paper covering the exam chair. I want to scream. Instead I just cry silently in the dark. And when my doctor tells me to prepare for serious complications that could mean the end of my life I begin to pray out loud.

I shouldn’t have come here alone. I am so shaken that I don’t know how I will find my car, or get home. And I can’t stop looking at the flatscreens.

They’re huge. So huge they’re pressing on my stomach and other organs—which explains why I’m always hungry but can barely eat. Why I’m so tired all the time but can’t really rest. Why I’m in pain but can’t get any relief. Why I feel like I can’t breathe.

“Wow,” says the sonographer as she peers at her screens. “You’re so thin that I’m sure you can feel them,” she says.

I can.

They’re hard to miss, since they announced themselves with a 25 pound weight gain and 24-hour fatigue and breathlessness and mind-numbing cramps and back aches.

I’ve had so many side eyes at my expanding midsection the last two years or so that I’ve lost count. Now I no longer notice. There are only so many times you can fake-smile and explain a belly away as a food baby. And I’ve given up hiding it with Spanx.

I’ve suffered through the persistent stomach ache, the damage it’s done to my body image, my self-esteem and my emotions and the problematic monthly cycles.

Add to that the constant stress I’ve been under, which releases a hormone that (surprise!) only makes the tumors grow faster. Because the world doesn’t care if you’re sick: it’ll demand more and dump more and wreck you, regardless. I’ve been through so much personally and professionally in the last six months that I’m literally turning it into a book.

But relief is held out to me, swinging like a pendulum for me to grab and hold on to. And I grab it.

It will mean an open procedure similar to a c-section, only I will go home with no baby.

It will mean that there is a possibility the fibroids could return, since the only way to get rid of them for good appears to be to have a hysterectomy — an option that is not an option for me right now.

It will mean all my dreams for a doula-assisted natural childbirth, with soft jazz and Beyoncé and candles and my mother and mother-in-law holding each other’s hands in prayer around us, for the boy and girl fraternal twins I keep dreaming about, won’t happen.

But at this point even that doesn’t matter anymore.

Because this weight has broken me down and I can’t carry it or drag it anymore. Not one more blessed step.

And I’m ready to be delivered.

***

MAY 2018:

Well, here’s your #nofilter outfit of the day and post, over a week after my open myomectomy has been successfully completed. I’m home resting, and will mostly be offline in the interim.

Why be this transparent? I debated about whether sharing this is TMI, but the truth is not enough women are sharing the reality of their experience with fibroids.  We’ve been taught our bodies are shameful and dirty and that what happens inside them should be kept secret. But who does that help?

I’ve been anxious, afraid and ashamed for SO long. And it’s time to let it all go.

Life got real, real fast last week and in the last few months. There’s nothing like planning your own funeral to make you reevaluate the direction your life is taking. I feel silly complaining now because I know it could be worse.

The important thing is I woke up and I’m still here, thank God. And I’m going to be fine. One day at a time.

I do not have enough words to thank my family and friends for their support, prayers and practical help. My surgeon/doctor says bikinis and babies are definitely in my future.

We’ll see.

What I know for sure is, life can only get better from here. No matter what I’ve lost through this process, I have retained my sense of humor, my grasp on reality and my ability to overcome anything. So my foot is on the gas, from here on out. And with a flatter stomach to boot. Yassssssssssss!

Now before Mama takes my phone and pc away: who can I talk to about improving this outfit they make you wear? It’s the real tragedy of this story.

XO//Alexis

P.S. There are several options available to treat  and/or remove fibroids, depending on their size, location and the patient’s preferences. The purpose of this post is not to recommend any particular course of action or treatment. I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, and I cannot treat or diagnose you. If you’re dealing with fibroids, please consult with a trained medical professional to make the best possible choice for your personal situation, preferences and goals.

For more information about fibroids:

O, the Oprah Magazine

Prevention

The Chicago Tribune

The White Dress Project

WomensHealth.Gov

UCLA Obstetrics & Gynecology

The details: Dress: aq/aq| Jacket: J.Crew| Shoes: Converse | Earrings: Forever 21

I was honored to serve on the Host Committee for this year’s Chucks and Tux, a fundraiser supporting Growing Kings — which is helping to prepare he next generation of young leaders in our community. I was really worried about finding the right Converse (since I don’t normally wear them) and the right outfit to go with them.

I ended up shopping my closet and deciding to be literal, so what you see is my version of Chucks and Tux. I’ve never worn an actual tuxedo, but I like this chic, feminine version. The dress appears to be two pieces in a feat of architectural design. The jacket adds color blocking and modesty when worn over the shoulder for a bit of casual glam. I layered my bling to take the look up a notch and pick up the rose quartz shoes.

My hair and makeup were kept to “Old Hollywood” glamour to complement the look.

More important than what I wore is the amount of fun I had. I haven’t been to a party in months, haven’t danced in months, haven’t had a reason to dress up and go out for months. So it felt good to get out, and I really appreciated having two of my best friends with me. I even took a selfie with the Mayor! (Find it here.)

Seeing myself smiling on a larger than life banner at the party reminded me: the best is yet to come, there will be some surprises along the way, and there is always a reason to dance. (Shout out to Growing King’s executive director Marcus Carson for letting me bring the banner home.)

No matter what happens in life, there is always something to celebrate. For me it was being asked to participate with Growing Kings, being named a 2018 Distinguished Survivor by the U.S. Attorneys Office and finishing Girl Trek’s “Harriet Hall of Fame Challenge,” in which I walked/ran 100 miles in two months. (I have that challenge to thank for my slimmed-down shape.)

XO//Alexis

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