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Work Capsule Wardrobe: Retro Shift Dress


So I looked through my closet for suitable “professional” day job wear while I search for the perfect day gig and wasn’t impressed. My last refashion, the black shirt dress was the first piece in and beginnings of a work capsule wardrobe in the making. For this dress, I had already made the bodice and the skirt of this dress over the summer with the intention of using them for mix and match separates. I didn’t really like the fit of the two together and decided to make a dress, which kind of makes this a refashion!  Once I had the shift together I had some adjusting to do since the tank started out pretty billowy.


Then I looked through my drawer of sewing patterns and hallelujah found this sleeve pattern. Which made me ecstatic! A little early 70s vibe was what this simple shift needed for me to make it feel more special and give it some School Marm Boho styling appropriate for work. YAS! This look also fulfills a goal of making a print/color blocking piece as noted in my 2016 Make and Refashion Planner, that I made at the beginning of the year. Sweeeeeeeeeeeet!

retroshift-4 retroshift-1
retroshift-5 I am not mad at the results! I made the sleeveless sweater coat above with leather cap sleeves a few years ago now! All of the fabrics here were bought in the last few years from my favorite spot, the Loft, at Michael Levine fabrics in Downtown Los Angeles. The loft is the outlet that sells remnants and bolts and pieces that are out of season before they are discarded which can mean shipped abroad or put in a landfill somewhere. I still love wearing this sweater coat with all sorts of outfits from a t-shirt and joggers to interview wear and will definitely be using it in my work capsule wardrobe. In this case, I am loving how the additional print and cap sleeves show off of the bell sleeves of the dress. You know I love some print on print action!

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ReFashion 2016: Resort Style, Body Acceptance & Fatkini Fall!

fatkini-refashion2016It’s been AGES since I did a ReFashion post! I have done a lot of hemming, mending and alterations that I just couldn’t manage to post yet, but hope to get around to it. Why a fatkini for fall you may ask? The practical reason, I have access to the apt building swimming pool without tons of children screaming and splashing (who are now in school!), so I tend to swim more at the end of summer. Also living in sunny Southern California is year round incentive!

The other reason is that in all of the collections fashion designers put out annually, my favorite is usually resort wear. Resort collections generally consist of great separates that can be worn year round in warm or cold weather and yep includes killer swimwear. I feel the need to be prepared, for when someone wants to take me away for a fabulous tropical holiday! (((Manifesting)))

I made this skirted swimsuit bottom last year and didn’t manage to get a DIY up for it. So when I finally decided to turn this built-in bra from an old ill-fitting camisole into the base of a swim top to match, I was excited to complete the look! This top was one of those projects that I kept putting off since I hadn’t made a bra, or bathing suit bra top before.


The project turned out to be easier than I thought and one of my favorite DIY’s EVER! It’s not perfectly sewn, but it was very well thought out. I experimented with straps successfully and have a nice heavy-duty elastic lining the top and bottom of my side straps. All of my materials were gifted, salvaged and refashioned, including an old bra closure for the top closure.


I’m fatter than last year and feeling it. As I decide how to best practice more consistent care for myself I realized I was starting to fall into old habits of shaming myself and my body, particularly my belly, which has also grown. So making a new suit top that doesn’t completely cover that belly was a true act of love, resilience, and acceptance. I really love the suit so much and feel quite adorable in it. And let me tell you, feeling attractive doesn’t hurt when it comes to body image which you probably know already. But it’s always good to be reminded.


I often reflect on how I’m coping with the world and how where I am at, largely depends on my ability to stay the course when it comes to taking care of myself. If I am not taking care of myself then I find myself reacting, to the people and world around me. When I am in my moon cycling (Happy Full Moon by the way), when I am honoring creating sacred space for myself, it turns out that I am far more resilient than I often remember. Making and creating is as empowering as meditating and spell crafting for me and is very much a part of my holding sacred space. So look forward to more ReFashions loves! Autumn is so my time of year to #MakeMagick! Ciao bellos!



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The Empowerment Project: Meditations On Fear


People everywhere are constantly telling us to Love ourselves. Especially now that body positivity is a “trending” topic. I really dislike the word and concept behind the term trend…. It often feels hard and challenging to love ourselves and I’ve written a little bit about that reality in my experience with that here. How do you start to love yourself?! A question not easily answered. So I decided to briefly share how I have come to the place where I am starting to love myself. I’ve talked a little bit about how being visible helped me to actually see myself and start to accept myself.  At the core of my self-love and acceptance journey is the understanding that the opposite of Love is not hate but Fear.

I have been pushing my boundaries with fear as of late. Once upon a time I thought my “pride” and fragile ego, was my biggest curse. But now I think it was my fear or even terror of being hurt and humiliated that drove me to inaction in any and every part of my life for a very long time. It was really the fear of being seen, the fear of being judged, the fear of being maligned and most of all the fear of feeling that I deserved those things that stopped me dead in my tracks. My fears of being hurt were realized early on and often. Those hurts stripped me down over the years.

I remember the highlight reel of pain well. When I was 6 and in first grade, my classmate called me the n-word on the first day of school and  I hurt purely. When I hit puberty and my father shamed me for ‘showing’ my body with what I was wearing my hurt, stung. When I was a teenager my predominantly white affluent high school classmates started arguing that the holocaust was “worse” than slavery my hurt erupted into anger. When I was harassed at work for two years and I went to my union, my office manager, my co-workers who had witnessed it all,  and no one stood up for me – my hurt bore rage. I became afraid to authentically engage altogether.What was the point? I wouldn’t be seen anyway. I was afraid to try altogether and putting myself in pain’s way was counterintuitive.


After years of existing, I eventually started to remember the things, I loved to do just for myself. I started making. I started sewing. I started making precious headpieces and sharing them with the people around me and then opened up an Etsy shop. And then I started selling my wares in person and meeting other creatives. I took a patternmaking course and met more creative women and started to seek out other communities where I could celebrate the things that gave me pleasure with people who accepted me and authentically saw me.

Eventually, I stopped focusing on others who did not see me, recognize, support or value me. And as I let go of those hurts and actively sought out my joy, I started to recognize my own value. That took years….

And one day I decided that I was of value and stopped looking for others to recognize it. In a fairly short time that recognition of my own worth led me to share more of my authentic self, and slowly but surely move past my fears and try new things. I started yoga and sharing images of myself doing so. Facing my fears and then embracing my fear has become lifesaving. Exposing myself to scrutiny, opening myself up to judgment, and most importantly revealing myself and being vulnerable has attracted kind, genuine like-minded folk into my life. This is key, being vulnerable to attract the presence of supportive people reinforcing that positive self-image and radical self-love is key. I am growing my community and getting the support to shine. Soulshine.

I recently heard an amazing analogy: Confidence is a like a muscle that if it’s being exercised will continue to grow. So these days I practice building my confidence by overcoming my fear.  Whether it’s a fear of not getting the job, having an unfinished project or a fear of someone seeing my body as it is.

To be brave is to be afraid and proceed anyway. I got brave and posted my nude yoga pictures in a recent Yoga Instagram challenge. Letting go of what might happen if I posted them was the thing. Letting go is the thing. I believe that my hurts have gifted me compassion and empathy. My not having felt seen in the world gives me an ability to genuinely see other people around me for who they are. I have realized that for all of the growing pains I experience, once I let go of the pain, growth is, was and always will be left behind. 

Pushing past my fear of being vulnerable is the thing that propels me forward. I understand this now and am on a mission to continue to let go and get free, overcoming one fear at a time. Oh, and #EffYourBodyStandards


ReFashion 2015: Summer Wardrobe Capsule!

ReFashion 2015 continues! So My loves a project within a project. We are almost halfway into the year and this project! People, the time goes quickly! Two things!

11164613_943794012322038_6733002597590496421_oFirst I am part of a fabulous project called Making Good initiated by the amazing Agatha Lee of Green Issues By Agy Blog. I love her Fix it Friday’s which are dedicated to repairing clothing and non-clothing items instead of throwing them away. She has expanded it with the blog train #MakingGood for the month of May. I will be posting my contribution this week! But you can go to the blog and catch up on some amazing repairs from my fellow Blog Train mates now!


Second! Today I am sharing my plans for my Summer Capsule Wardrobe Inspiration! Putting some thought into what I’ll be rocking this summer is an act of self-care and about simplifying for me! From how I look in certain items to how comfortable I am, Summer style has never been my forte. I just have never had enough easy hot weather pieces that I wanted to wear all of the time. A typical uniform for me consists of things that I just don’t have enough of in my closet! Since I do wear the same things week after week I decided to make and remake some summer staples that reflect what I AM wearing and my style. Here is a look into what is informing my Summer inspiration!

MixMatch Separates

First off, it is time to catch up on separates! I hardly have any! Mix and match separates are the groundwork for a great closet.

  • For one, I have a serious shortage of tops. So my plan is to transform some dresses I am not wearing into separates for that adorable matched set look as well as some into tops and/or skirts!
  • The big risk is shorts! I don’t dislike my legs – cellulite and all, but I do dislike chub-rub, fabric hiking up between my thighs and having to pull them down constantly. So I intend to find my perfect shorts pattern or style. I am determined to make some shorts this before the summer is done! Wish me luck!

Pinafore Inspo

I am in love with the Pinafore. I have always been a sucker for an apron, so an apron inspired dress makes sense for me. A pinafore style can immediately ring cute or hippie for some, but it can also get pretty edgy. I don’t mind any of the three actually.

  • I think it might be my ultimate solution to feeling comfortable rocking a crop top or even a tube top to wear it under a pinafore. We’ll see!
  • Pinafores are a great solution for refashioning skirts I am not wearing.
  • Pinafores also can range from overall styles to suspender skirt styles and is an instant fabulous detail for an outfit. #UGH LURVE!

Sack Dress Inspo

I have a dress I made not dissimilar to the blue dress on the bottom left. Every time I wear it I am complimented. EVERY Time. Chic and relaxed wins every time, adding funky jewelry, scarves, a jacket/blazer and your choice of ballet flats, sandals, high tops, lace up boots or booties personalizes this amazing staple.

  • A Sack or Shift dress works in any fabric and is pretty much season less
  • The solution for my love of tunics. Leggings transform the dress as do layers. LURVE!
  • It is a simple way to rock major color and pattern
  • I feel comfortable and stylin’ in a sack dress EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

So my lovelies! There you have my plan for a FAB summer wardrobe capsule. Time to Make! Have you given any thought to your typical summer uniform? ❤


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ReFashion 2015 Upsizing The Maxi Skirt

Sheer Mini Maxi ReFashion

Hi Lovelies! If you are just wandering onto my blog you’ll find me mid Wardrobe ReFashion! I had to share one more ReFashion2015 post before as March comes to an end! This one is another Upsize! I found this skirt at the thrift store. It was probably a size 14. I wear dress and bottoms from size 22-26! But it was an extremely full gathered circle skirt and if you remember from my last resize, that means it can be let out and the fabric more than accommodated my wider waist! Since the fabric of the skirt is sheer I thought it would be a nice way to show some of my best assets, my smokin’ hot legs! It Leggings, or tights makes it seasonless.untitled

ReFashion Sheer Mini Maxi Sew guide

  1. First I cut the waist band off of the skirt to let out the true width of fabric.
  2. Next I set aside some elastic and a new waist band to attach later.
  3. I used a T-shirt to replace the long polyester blend slip that was now too small. I cut the collar and sleeves off of an oversize t-shirt for my new slip. But you can also cut two rectangles of fabric of your choice if you sew and have fabric you’d like to use. You can also change it up and play with different colors if you like.
  4. Lastly I attached the slip the skirt, before sewing them to the new waistband. Then I insert the elastic as outlined in the Jogger Pant tutorial and there you have my newly ReFashioned Sheer Mini Maxi.

Suburban Sprawl 1

The Sheer Mini Maxi w/ boots and a Leather Jacket for very sunny California Autumn.

Sheer Maxi 1

Here is my simple style take on the Mini Maxi for Spring/Summer w/ my fave wedges, Dr. Scholls.

Sheer Maxi 3


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The Empowerment Project: Decolonize Body Love


This week, February 22-28 is National Eating Disorder Awareness week friends. I saw this t-shirt on Etsy some time ago but just finally bought one. Doing so was an act of self love, self care and self affirmation. This amazing (refashioned) shirt is from Nalgona Positive Shop on Etsy. Gloria Lucas is the brain child behind the shirt and Nalgona Positive Pride which is a community dedicated to decolonial healing and eating disorder awareness for a diverse fat positive community. NPP was “started in response to the pervasiveness of hetero-normative white supremacist ideals in love your body campaigns.” So Much YES.


Since I returned to Instagram and began my self love journey, I have been participating in monthly yoga challenges. I have even won prizes in challenges despite my own fears/bias of not being the right type to be seen, much less recognized for my expression of being in my body. But even with all of the amazing support, validation, Likes and beautiful comments I receive, I find myself comparing my body to those lithe white women that are in the ads for lululemon and who exist in the world, in your yoga class and on Instagram. This is not healthy, this comparison. I am reminded of that quote,  “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”- Theordore Roosevelt. And add that it is also the killer of solidarity. And we need to be in solidarity with each other.

10991139_10152581245092003_7613314951057218711_nIt is not healthy for me to measure my body and self image to another’s, period. It devalues me to measure myself by this image that has been forced upon me as a norm in the context of Yoga. It also reminded me that to associate yoga with a white fitness oriented thin women instead of Indian men from whom this spiritual restorative practice began is very much about colonization.   It is in those moments that I recognize and really feel the battle cry that we Decolonize Body Love. (*Even moreso if you subscribe to the theory that yoga originated in Egypt/Northern Africa before migrating to India. Fascinating!)


Radical self love and self acceptance is my battle-cry for the year. My year of love begins with self. All of myself, just as I am with dark skin, big belly, large thighs, massive calved, fat, gap toothed nappy haired black woman. What’s not to love. Truly. LOVE all of myself. I have to radically love and accept the body I am in and that involves removing a lot of propaganda I’ve been force fed my entire life. This propaganda of an ideal body hurts us all. This propaganda can lead to low self esteem, self image and eating disorders. Replacing that propaganda with positive messages and actions is a daily struggle. One that brings me tears and joy.  Today it makes me proud. #Proud2BMe.


Share your #loveyourrealselfie on social media and check out the NEDA National Eating Disorder Awareness  organization for information and resources on eating disorders. Visit their website or helpline: http://www.NationalEatingDisorders.org, NEDA Helpline: 800-931-2237.


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Inspired: Yoga for EVERYBODY!

So in the last couple of months I have been engaging in some serious Instagram time and serious Instagram community building. You see, I’ve Instagram yoga challenges and it’s pretty exciting. I have been dabbling in yoga for brief periods of time over the years when I would come across a new favorite YouTube video, but these yoga challenges have really inspired me. The images of everyday women and men in yoga poses or asanas of various shapes and sizes many of whom are large, fat, curvy and round bodied have inspired me to begin my own yoga journey.



It started with @Jessamyn who is a Black Fat Femme lesbian, beautiful and tall and clearly strong in her clean and simple images. She and her her friend Davina @yoga_davina initiated a yoga challenge hashtagged #sizedoesntmatter encouraging all body types to try join. Seeking out other fat and curvy yogis, I came across many participating in a #balancebasics challenge and joined that too.

I accepted these open invitations nervously. There may have been nothing harder than posting that first picture. My big round protruding belly, short chubby arms and legs and never noticed before pudgy faced profile center stage for all to see in the most odd positions were a bit of a shock. But I was hooked. Hooked on the yoga, on concentrating on the practice in my attempts to get that image worth posting and feeling and seeing my own progress while doing so. But even more amazing to me was the idea of transforming how I felt about seeing myself and putting myself on “display”. Transforming my awkward self conscious horror of what the world tells me my body should be to finding piece in mindful movement and strength and sharing that with the world. Ultimately celebrating my body in its ability and purpose and innately beginning to truly love it as it is. By participating in this challenge I have actually tested the limits of my mind more so than my body.  I have been catapulted into a journey of Body LOVE!

I wanted to share with you some instagram goodness from the women who ultimately inspired me to begin this journey. Jessamyn Stanley of @mynameisjessamyn, Valarie of @biggalyoga on instagram and tumblr and Brittany Daniel of @crazycurvy_yoga. Below are beautiful images of some wonderfully strong and empowering yogis. I love their power and that they are so diverse.

917201_834442689921068_874552466_n Brittaney Brittany Brittany0 Brittany3 brittany4 925259_1383749248580337_277474707_n 925936_1448166325446685_332546111_n  10369426_1482097878689734_1152883023_n10518185_1529519387269655_1779455557_n10576150_494267257373953_1777882656_n  10472042_565900456864803_2015113259_n Jessamyn1Jessamyn0Jessamynjessamyn3jessamyn2Jessamyna

Oh and let’s not forget my newest favorite fat fabulous yogi, me!


My Instagram account is @sweetvanessaleigh and you can find my yoga posts under the following hashtags, not to mention so many more amazing yogis! #curvyyogasistas #yogaforeverybody #yogaforall #yogisofcolor #blackyogis #bodylove4all #bodypositive #curvyyoga #yogabodyproject #fatyoga #bodylove


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