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

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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

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.

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

Mamie and Dorothy taught me.

 

The details: Blouse, slacks and earrings: J. Crew; Shoes: Steve Madden

Life is a circus. Are you the ringmaster or the clown?

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmothers and missing them terribly. They had very different personalities, but a similar strength that got them through life’s struggles, loss and disappointments.

I find myself asking what they would do if they were faced with some of the challenges I’ve been dealing with lately. And I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been wishing I could ask them.

What I do know is, in spite of how they felt or however people treated them or whatever they had to endure, they still got up, made up their faces, put on their best clothes and held their heads high.

They kept going.

They still looked for the best in people.

They still gave the world their best.

I will, too.

XO//Alexis

Well Red

Dress, coat and shoes: J. Crew

Last fall my dad had an unplanned, unexpected triple bypass. If he hadn’t gone to the hospital when he did a few days earlier, he might’ve suffered a widow maker heart attack, just like Jack Pearson on This is Us.

The morning of his surgery, my tire blew out shortly after I got on the interstate and by the time I got back on the road to the hospital in Florida, the surgery was over.

In the interim, every time my cell phone chimed I wanted to throw up, afraid it was bad news. I don’t remember driving the stretch of asphalt I burned up between Montgomery and Pensacola. Only that a very real Good Samaritan made sure I got there on four good tires. I ran into the cardiac wing so fast that I broke my sandal. When they told me he made it my own heart nearly gave out.

That was the longest ride of my life. The longest day of my life. Fortunately, he lived. But I think that’s why I blacked out on #ThisisUs.

While the circumstances were different, the feelings of helplessness, shock, dread, disbelief and fear were so familiar. And the guilt. I felt so guilty because I wasn’t there. I’m the oldest. I should’ve been there in time.

I should’ve been there.

I’m still struggling with that.

Daddy made a full recovery. Thank God.

But that experience has permanently altered me. Altered how I approach life, how I love, how I spend my time and what is important to me. It’s brought into sharp focus what I can endure and what I will fight for, what I will ride for until the wheels fall off or the tires spin to shreds.

It’s made me believe there is someone who will literally be down for me like four flat tires. Or just one in an emergency at dawn.

Ride or die.

I wear red to remind me to protect my fire, to protect my figurative heart and to preserve my physical, mental and spiritual health to the extent possible. I hope you’ll take care of yours, too.

XO//Alexis

See another favorite red outfit here.

The Dream

Turtleneck, skirt and shoes: J. Crew // Scarf: Madewell // Lipstick: MAC “Ruby Woo”

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you sabotage yourself each time you attempt to begin?

Well — that has been my struggle with telling a story that is close to my heart, about a place that spoke to me but was always at a remove. And now that place could be lost forever.

Sometimes our dreams seem like just piles of bricks, things that have lost their usefulness and potential because of inactivity or impracticality. I’ve always been someone who had her head in the clouds and her feet on the ground, and struggled between reconciling the two. I struggle with knowing when to give up and find a new dream.

That’s because I believe what we dream is real. What we imagine is real. If two people or ten or a thousand believe in the same dream, then a pile of bricks can become a fortress. Or a castle. Or a paradise.

That’s not to say making it a reality won’t be hard. It’s going to be a challenge. But shouldn’t we build anyway? Shouldn’t we restore what can be saved, and hold on to it? Cherish it?

We can’t be discouraged by people who let their own dreams die. Or by those who gave up because the risks seemed insurmountable.

We can’t let our hopes fall to ruin. We can’t let our dreams become rubble. This shoot reminded me to get out of my own way, to improvise and have fun, to rennet why I started and to press forward in spite of my fear. In spite of the little voice that always second guesses me.

If you bring your hammer and memories and I bring my pen and paintbrush, with sweat equity and imagination we can make some magic come to life…

Come build with me.

XO// Alexis

[What’s black and white and re(a)d all over? This outfit. And also an edited story or article.]

This is Us.

Wild Bill loved her freckles; Red loved his sense of humor.

He proposed over a requested glass of water, with her family eavesdropping in the hallway.

When I was a child, I used to sit with my parents’ white leather wedding album and pore over the details: a huge double ceremony, both mothers in furs, the groom in platforms and to this day, my mother is upset about the florist.

What I love most about their love story is realizing these two kids have no idea what life has in store for them. The plot twists and tragedies, the good times, the adventures. The pain. The laughter. The dancing (must be seen to be believed).

They will make a home and a life.

They’ll grow up together without outgrowing each other.

For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health.

They’ll stick together through it all.

I wasn’t at their wedding but I’ve been around for most of their anniversaries and in spite of all we’ve been through as a family I can tell you: I’m grateful God chose them to be my parents.

Forty-two years later, Wild Bill is still pretty hilarious and Red is still undeniably fabulous — especially with her freckles. I hope that when they look at each other they always see who they were at the very beginning.

The peau de soie heels she wore that January evening have been dyed deep blue and wait for me to wear or display at my own wedding one day. I’m hanging on to a remnant of rich brown velvet from the handmade bridesmaids’ dresses. I’ll make sure she has an exquisite bouquet, and that he gets to do his signature dance.

To connect the future with the past. To honor all they mean to me that can’t be put into words.

Happy anniversary, Mama and Daddy.

We’ve already started planning for 2026.

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