What IS American style? To me, it’s the quintessence of cool. It’s comfortable and chic. It isn’t necessarily super edgy but every now and then you’ll be surprised. It’s about expressing your personality in a way that looks effortless. It doesn’t literally have to be denim, red, white and blue, but on a day like today, that’s more than OK!
When I was asked by Macy’s to participate in their American Icons II campaign and essentially define Americana style for myself, I was both excited and nervous. I mean, I do my own little thing but I’m not by any means a fashion blogger. I don’t necessarily follow trends, I go for what I like and what fits me. I wear what I feel comfortable in, because whatever I feel comfortable in, I’m more likely to feel beautiful in. I don’t do too tight or too short, because it doesn’t feel comfortable. I don’t wear certain kinds of fabrics because I love a more breathable flow. I like to choose clothing items that I can pretty much throw on, accessorize, go out into the world and have FUN in. Those are the kinds of clothes I chose for this Macy’s campaign. Me and amazing photographer Chuck Olu-Alabi went to seven Chicago locations and shot eight different looks. I’ll break down my version of American style for each look right here, so you can get the look yourself!
Look #1 – stars (no stripes) Summer in Chicago is a funny, fickle thing. Sometimes it’s so hot you could melt, other times there’s a chilly breeze in the air and the sky is grey all day. This was one of the latter kind of days, so this starry sweater by was perfect for the occasion. I paired it with jeans by NYDJ – they fit me SO WELL. I’m seriously about to invest in several more pairs because I’ve been playing myself with lesser jeans for too long. I rocked that look with these sick high top sneakers by Michael Kors. I love Michael Kors for so many reasons, but I’d been sleeping on his shoes. Not anymore! Look #2 – casual, comfortable, Ralph Lauren I cannot even tell you HOW many compliments I’ve gotten on these PANTS! People are always surprised they’re by Ralph Lauren – but my fellow bellas in plus let me tell you, RL does a body good and the clothes are of quality. These pants are great to travel with – they’re great for hot days and actually would make a cute beach apres-swim cover up option too! Again, Michael Kors shoes! I LOVE these moccasins! So comfortable and such a fun pop of color. We shot this look outside of the historic Chicago theater – the iconic sign is a landmark where many visitors love to take a photo as proof of visiting the Windy City. Here I’m standing by the tribute to legendary Chicagoan, film critic Roger Ebert. Look #3 – Seersucker and stripes at The Walnut Room. Ever since I moved to Chicago, I’ve had a fascination with the Walnut Room – it’s been open here since 1907 and is a beloved, historic landmark. At Christmas this is where everyone flocks to see the giant tree, and to enjoy the traditional pot pies that have been served here from the very beginning. I knew I wanted me look to be very all-American and classic – and what’s more classic and all-American than seersucker? This Jones NY blazer is SO crisp and professional. I gave it my “business bella” twist with NYDJ jeans and patriotic Keds. My jewelry here is all Marc Jacobs – I LOVE this whole set. The ring is everything and matched my nails and top so perfectly!
Look #4 – Calvin Klein at Cloud Gate (AKA The Bean)
I absolutely LIVE for a maxi dress in the summertime – they make me feel so beautiful and feminine and elegant! And I’m a big big huge fan of Calvin Klein plus – the cut and flow of CK plus maxi dresses fit my body to perfection. I’m normally not a pink kind of lady but this dress changed my mind.
It’s so flowy and fun! I paired it with my usual denim jacket because it was a touch chilly.
The purse is the Maya crossbody by Vince Camuto. Another American designer I ADORE who does great plus size fashion and accessories!
Look # 5 – Calvin Klein at the Field Museum.
Sometimes you have to search within yourself and bring out the FIERCE.
Standing here in this red Calvin Klein dress, in front of the Field Museum, I felt it. I felt fierce and proud and ready to stride into my purpose. And Chuck captured that all so well.
Look #6 – Michael Kors by Lake Michigan
I love this city. I love that we’re in the Midwest but a body of water anchors Chicago. Lake Michigan is so beautiful, and it’s so peaceful to stroll through Museum Campus and along the lakefront in the summer. Here I am, in a studded Michael Kors maxi and a Ralph Lauren necklace. Behind me you can see the Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, and I believe a bit of the Hancock Building, too.
Look # 7 – Cafe Trinidad, Ellen Tracy.
Throughout this American Icons campaign, I kept thinking about what it was and what it meant. For me to be chosen to represent Chicago, as a born and raised Trinidadian who moved to this country in 1998, it meant a LOT to me. I really love that Macy’s embraced diversity in this campaign – to be an island girl who now lives in the Midwest, who has managed to create her own version of the American dream, I am so blessed and honored to be chosen for a project like this. I wanted to showcase that spirit – that even though we may not be born here, we too are part of the fabric of America. The diversity of cultures makes this country stronger and more beautiful. There is so much to be learned and to enjoy about being part of a melting pot.
Here I’m standing in front of Cafe Trinidad, the only Trini restaurant in Chicago. This is where I come to taste the food I grew up loving and to hear people speak in my accent. It is an oasis, a reminder of home in a far away place.
I discovered a few amazing designers during this Macy’s experience, and I realized I have been SLEEPING on Ellen Tracy. The cutest dresses aren’t online (I don’t get why) – they’re in store! I found this black floral number on the 5th floor at Macy’s on State.
The necklace is Betsey Johnson. Some of her pieces are super duper over the top, but I LOVE this one.
BONUS look – check out this ADORABLE Ellen Tracy dress I also found at Macy’s on State. POCKETS!
Look #8 – Jessica Simpson. Macy’s on State
From Memorial Day to the Fourth, Macy’s on State is super patriotic and this giant American flag is unfurled from the 7th floor all the way to the ground level. It is a sight to behold, and I found myself getting surprisingly emotional during this final shoot.
Like I said in my first Macy’s American Icons post - this store is iconic. It’s like shopping in a beautiful museum. It’s been here since 1892. It is the second largest department store in the world, a National Historic Landmark that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To be welcomed in, to shop and show off your style, in a location this historically significant, by a store with the brand history and significance of Macy’s – is nothing short of incredible. I stood here just kind of basking in the meaning of it all.
My top is by Jessica Simpson, who has truly become an idol of sorts for me. She started out as a singer, then became known for her personality, and then shocked the world with her style and her business acumen. I LOVE her clothes, and I’ve got a few key Jessica Simpson pieces I wear OFTEN. I paired it with NYDJ jeans and Michael Kors wedge high tops.
I already know that I’m going to look back on this experience as a career highlight and a game changer. I feel super proud of the looks I chose, and the amazing moments Chuck Olu-Alabi captured with her magic camera. The girl who dreamed of modeling but was told she couldn’t because of her weight, is right here posing for you on her own terms, happy in her own skin. If that isn’t living your own American dream, I don’t know what is.
Thank you Macy’s for this amazing opportunity! Bellas, you can shop online at Macys.com to get these looks, and items that are similar — cool clothing can move fast, so you gotta click and buy when you can! Hope you find looks you like and create your own version of American style.
What was your favorite look? Let me know in the comments below!
Happy Fourth of July!!