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My Top 5 Favorite Holiday Dresses from Gwynnie Bee

"We are like a snowflake, all different in our own beautiful way." ~ Unknown

The holiday season is always tough for me because I miss my dad and brother. However, fashion is one of those things that cheers me up, puts a pep in my step and lets me have fun. I love being extra and making a statement -- have been since I was a kid. So the holidays give me a chance to wear outrageous things and basically act like a fool, as my mama would say. I mean, who else would wear sequins to the supermarket? LOL

Gwynnie Bee has been a blessing to me in so many ways. As a woman who wears a size 26/28, fit for me is always a challenge and I end up wearing stuff from a range of sizes. Sometimes it's a 20 or sometimes it's a 30. With GB, I can try things on and return if it doesn't fit or I can keep it if I love it. 

Bell sleeves and of course, the Nicole Miller (far right in black)
I also love that I don't have to buy things and add more stuff to my already overflowing closet. So in reality, I look like I have an endless amount of clothing when I really don't. That means being able to change it up often, try styles I never wore before and look fabulous.

This is why I always tell people that joining the Gwynnie Bee service is an investment, especially if you don't have the time to shop or just don't have the money like that. First off, you get 30 days free to try the service. If you like it, you pay one monthly fee, get to read fit reviews (like from yours truly) and try different brands, including high end designers like Nicole Miller, which goes up to a 5X. 

Let's not even discuss that right now because that is for a future post where I will be channeling my inner Elaine from Seinfeld -- "The Nicole Millers have arrived!" Let's just say, those dresses have made my life right now.

Lately at First Fit shoots, I have been seeing lots of velvet and bell sleeves, which I am so here for. Yesssss!

More bell sleeves AND this dress is not only floral but velvet too!
So I wanted to share with all of you my top 5 holiday dresses from Gwynnie Bee that I will be wearing this season, just because -- it's not like I have a ton of holiday parties to attend but I am Latina and we are known for going extra, even if it's just sitting on my Titi's sofa, chillin'.

My top 5 Favorite Holiday Dresses from Gwynnie Bee

Brand: Kaktus
Sizes Available: L to 5X
Heart rating: 5 (read my review here)
Size worn: 4X

I love the drama of bell sleeves and I am obsessed with this shade of burgundy. I would pair this dress with some navy pumps and a pink floral velvet jacket that has navy in the print. 

Brand: Park & Pearce
Sizes Available: L to 5X
Heart rating: 5 (read my review here)
Size worn: 4X

You can never go wrong with a classic red dress. This is the best foundation for a statement-looking holiday look. Pair it with fur, a velvet blazer, even sequins. You could wear boots with this, pumps, even flats. The possibilities are endless. The great thing about this dress is that you can wear it all year round, dress it up or down.

Brand: Amanda Uprichard
Sizes Available: L to 5X
Heart rating: 5 (read my review here)
Size worn: 4X

This dress is so comfy, soft and stretchy. I love the color so much! I would wear a pink fur jacket with this dress and perhaps a print shoe. I love the floral velvet booties I have been seeing lately. And I would make sure to have a clutch that makes a statement, like my #fabulous clutch. I also think a wine color would look fabulous against this shade of grey, maybe a fur stole. 

Brand: Loveappella
Sizes Available: L to 5X
Heart rating: 4 (read my review here)
Size worn: 5X

I think this floral velvet vibe is so pretty and luxe looking. I would wear a black crushed velvet moto jacket with this, add some pearls and go.

Brand: Alexia Admor
Sizes Available: L to 5X
Heart rating: 5 (read my review here)
Size worn: 4X

You can't go wrong with a neutral tone during the holidays AND this feels like a suede fabric so it looks expensive. I would pair this with a fur stole or leather moto with a fur collar, some dangling earrings that are blinged out and some leopard print pumps. Love!

I would love to know what you're wearing this holiday season and what you think of these 5 dresses. And if you join Gwynnie Bee, I would love to know how your first free 30 days went and if you decided to keep the service. Just click here to sign up.  

**This post also contains some affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them.  This is one of the ways I can continue to bring you inspiring content. Thank you!

Sisterhood of the Size 26/28 Traveling Pants

"Wear them, they will make you brave."~ Ann Brashares, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

I have always been vocal on the topic of finding jeans that fit my size 26/28 body AND seeing more bodies that look like mine in campaigns and in the media. 

Jeans have been the devil for most of my life. I love them so much but finding a pair that fits has been like looking for a Holy Grail.

So when an opportunity to collaborate with 4 other size 26/28 style influencers/bloggers and show how the same pair of jeans looks on all of our bodies, I had to be a part of it.

Welcome to the Sisterhood of the Size 26/28 Traveling Pants!

We're all from from different areas (including Canada!), different backgrounds and different ethnicities. The main thing that binds us together in this sisterhood is that we are all a size 26/28. 

We are (from left to right):

  • Saucye West: Plus size model, #fatandfree creator, body positive advocate
  • Jessica Kane: Owner of Society+, Editor-in-Chief of Skorch Magazine, style influencer behind the blog Life and Style of Jessica Kane
  • Corissa Enneking: Blogger/influencer behind the blog Fat Girl Flow, Body Positive Advocate, Public Speaker and Entrepreneur
  • Lisa Schoenberger: Blogger/influencer behind the blog MustangSallyTwo, accountant by day, sometimes model by night (and weekends!)
  • And myself!

We decided to review a pair of the same jeans from Avenue and see how they fit all of us. We were each given a size 26 and a size 28 in the 1432 Skinny Jean in Medium Wash

For the record, my measurements are 57-51-68 and I'm 5'7". I typically wear a size 28 regular in jeans. My calves measure 23" around the largest part so skinny jeans are always an issue for me.

Avenue is a brand that has been around since the 80's and they have always offered up to a size 32.  I personally have been rocking with them since then and even worked for the company in the late 80's as a store employee. 

For me, I have a belly and a small waist. I have rolls in my thighs so I tend to shy away from light colored jeans because they show EVERYTHING. So this was a major challenge for me. I'm still on this journey of loving all of me, including what I THINK are my flaws. 

But then I thought about the four other women in this collab and how they were going to wear the jeans too. And it did make me feel brave, just like the character Bridget in the movie Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants said they would.

I also paired them with my new Audrey Hepburn tee from Torrid and my sequin sleeve bomber jacket from Ashley Nell Tipton's line at JC Penney last year. Something about sequins, Audrey and also wearing my favorite leopard print Puma sneakers made me feel brave enough to wear these jeans out in the world with my not-so-smooth thighs.

I have to say, I loved the fit on these jeans. I fit into the 26 average and everything fit well except for the waist. Since I have a smaller waist in comparison to my hips, I almost always have a gap in the back of my pants and have to wear a belt. These were no different. 

Small tip for my smaller waist girls: I have found that if jeans have back elastic, they don't gap. 

I wore them all day to really see how the recovery is because no one likes jeans that stretch out as you move and then don't bounce back. These have great recovery and provided me with support, which I loved.

I decided to wear these jeans on a day at the park. They recently built a new park across the street from my house and it has a track, hopscotch grid, tennis court and other cool things. I have been wanting to start walking the track for a while now but kept putting it off out of fear of people staring at me. 

Sometimes I just love to walk so I usually don't intentionally wear workout clothing. I am usually in a tee and jeans like I was this day. So I thought to myself, why not do a lap while wearing these jeans? And I did and I made it!

That day I overcame some more of my fears like wearing light colored jeans and finally getting to the park to walk a lap. And guess what? No one stared at me. Sometimes I think we all get into our heads too much instead of just living. 

So when I made it to the FINISH line, I was so happy and overjoyed. I felt proud of myself. And that's what being fearless is all about. 

As we left the park, I saw a No Standing sign and thought to myself all of those times where people told me I was not worthy of being here or taking space and how I never gave up and stayed put. I can stand where I want, being me. 

Just as I am allowed to have fashion accessible to me in my size RIGHT NOW and not 4 sizes from now. Thank you Avenue for always offering great fashion in my size and not giving up on that customer. It means so much to me and I am sure to so many more women out there like me.

Shop my look below:

1432 Skinny Jean in Medium Wash from Avenue

Audrey Hepburn Diamonds Crew Tee from Torrid

Puma Clyde Suits Sneakers at 6pm.com

Click below to see how my Sisterhood felt in their jeans:

Saucye West
Jessica Kane - Life and Style of Jessica Kane
Corissa Enneking - Fat Girl Flow
Lisa Schoenberger - MustangSallyTwo

*This post is in collaboration with Avenue but all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains some affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them.  This is one of the ways I can continue to bring you inspiring content. Thank you!

Learning to Celebrate both NEW and Old Thanksgiving Traditions

"Isn't it peculiar, Charlie Brown, how some traditions just slowly fade away?" - Lucy Van Pelt

When life throws you curveballs, you have to learn to roll with the punches, which is not always easy. I know this firsthand.

After losing half of my immediate family in a span of three years, the holidays became a time of sadness for me. I could not even think of getting out of bed, let alone celebrating family holiday traditions.

But in time, as I allowed myself to start healing and not be defined by my grief, I learned that it's okay to celebrate new traditions while still honoring the old ones. 

My mom doesn't cook anymore at home since it is just she and I. We go to my aunt Maria's house where there's salsa music blasting, lots of chatter and cooking in the kitchen and lots of laughter. My nieces celebrate the holiday with their mom, where they now have their own traditions.

One of my favorite traditions around the holidays is drinking coquito, which is the Puerto Rican version of spiked egg nog. 

And I have to admit, I also have my laptop in front of me, as I drink, trying to get in on some pre-Black Friday Thanksgiving online sales. Last year, I bought a new winter coat for $25 and scored some major deals for Christmas. Sometimes I don't sleep for 24 hours on Cyber Monday. Shopping on a budget is that serious to me, especially with three girls to buy gifts for.

While I am shopping online, my mom will sneak me some pasteles to eat while I wait for dinner to be done. Bless her heart. Man, I live for some pasteles, which we usually don't indulge in until the holidays. They're like tamales but the masa is made of plantains and yautía with chunks of pork in them. Yum.

My uncle is usually sitting in his recliner in the living room, some egg nog in his cup, watching soccer aka football -- he's from St Kitts and very serious about his soccer. I laugh when I think of him and his thick West Indian accent, yelling at the TV. LOL! When the turkey and pernil are done, he then has the honor of slicing the meat up for us to eat.

Some of my aunt's friends will come by for dinner and we say grace before we eat -- I have to admit, I always add (to myself) "Miss you Dad and Danny! You are never forgotten". While the old family traditions we shared don't happen anymore, I honor them to the fullest in my own way because the memories forever remain. However, part of moving on with life is going with the flow of change and in this case, that means embracing new traditions and things. This is what my dad and brother would want me to do.

We usually end dinner with dessert (and some more coquito, LOL) and sometimes we'll play Uno. My aunt usually makes sure to have pumpkin pie, apple pie and sweet potato pie. We leave the flan for Christmas and I'm drooling as I type this because flan is my world.

Enough about food... I still have a week to go before all that deliciousness so let me not digress.

Part of my new Thanksgiving tradition is also choosing a fabulous outfit to wear and making sure I am wearing something I love that's also comprised of the three C's: Chic, Casual and Comfy. 

Fashion has become a saving grace for me because it helps boost my spirit and make me feel good. I walk with an extra pep in my step when I am wearing something I love.

I can't believe I am saying this but I am in love with plaid and velvet this year. I used to hate them so much but the styles that I have been seeing this season has made me fall in love. 

When I saw this Love & Legend by Addition Elle Babydoll Mini Dress in Plaid at Gwynnie Bee, I knew this would be perfect as a Thanksgiving look. The fabric has stretch and almost feels like a light fleece, which is great for those brisk fall to winter days. The keyhole shows some cleavage and I love the knee length. It has 3/4 sleeves with elastic cuffs. I love the little ruffle detail at the waist too.

And this Military Velvet Jacket from Drew via Gwynnie Bee is a winner! Once I put it on, I felt like this jacket gave me LIFE. It elevated the dress to chic status and made me feel so fancy. I'm actually buying this jacket so it will not be going back. It's mine!

For me, this is such an easy look that makes me feel great. And that is perfect for Thanksgiving and beyond. 

This outfit is SO chic, casual and comfy that I am tempted to venture out on Black Friday this year. My cousin and her boyfriend usually go after dinner and I am feeling daring this year. I guess fashion has that way of pushing you out of your comfort zone in other ways outside of dressing your body. It changes your attitude and fuels your confidence.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? And I would love to know what you're wearing this Thanksgiving. Comment below and let me know. Hope it's fabulous!

Fit/Size Deets...

-- I'm wearing a size 26 in the plaid dress and a size 4X in the jacket. 

-- My boots are from Lane Bryant but unfortunately, they are two years old and I have yet to see any new boots from them this year that fit a wide calf over 18". Mine measure 23" around and this was the first time I found tall boots that fit my calves comfortably.

If you aren't a member of Gwynnie Bee and want to try the service out, you can try it for 30 days FREE of charge. Just click here to sign up.  You can get this dress and jacket for yourself for FREE. Go for it, Girl! Take a chance on fashion.

**This post also contains some affiliate links and I'll earn a small commission if you shop through them.  This is one of the ways I can continue to bring you inspiring content. Thank you!

Why I Refuse to Give Up on Melissa McCarthy's Seven7 Clothing Line

"Being happy is the goal... but greatness is my mission." ~ Childish Gambino, 'I'm Alright'

How Visiting The New Adidas Store in Chicago Was a Form of Self Care For Me

"Find what makes your heart sing and create your own music." ~ Mac Anderson

Jacket: Melissa McCarthy Seven7 via Gwynnie Bee / Tee: Torrid / Pants: 2 B Continued Jeans

How An All-Girls Staycation Weekend Reminded Me of My Fearlessness

"When you feel like you don't fit in anywhere, find the people who fit you because there is no one else like you." ~ Issa Rae

The G6 minus Nanthale who was taking this pic (Left to right: Me, Jonquel, Fabiola, Brooke and Marlena)

How An All-Girls Staycation Weekend Reminded Me To Enjoy Every Single Moment

"Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here, we should dance." —Anonymous

Fabiola, Marlena, Nanthale, Myself, Jonquel and Brooke at Sunday brunch at Alice's Tea Cup. All looks provided by Eloquii.

How An All-Girls Staycation Weekend Reminded Me To Be Present in the Moment

Every day is a reminder to accept myself as I am. ~ Molly Tarlov

This year, my 47th birthday fell on a Saturday. That had to be a sign, right? The last few birthdays I spent feeling sad that my dad and brother were not here in the physical sense to celebrate with me. And I also made plans that I never followed through with.

I always want to be THAT person who hangs out with friends on my birthday or walks in on a surprise birthday party that friends organized for me. But it never happened. I learned over the years that I had to be accountable for that because I wasn't always present or put myself out there to build those relationships with others.

This year, when I mentioned that to my blogger sister Nanthale of N.E.C. Style, she came up with this wonderful idea to have a girls only staycation and do it during my birthday weekend. 

I was down but nervous. It would be a group of six of us and while I had hung out with four of the other five girls in the group, I have never been one to hang out with a large group of women before and this was for two days!

But we did it and I have to say, I am very surprised at myself. This weekend was life-changing for me.

Nanthale, Brooke, Me, Marlena, Jonquel & Fabiola

Marlena from Big City, Curvy Girl, Thin Wallet gifted me with the most amazing crown to wear during my birthday weekend.
Day #1 kicked off at the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we did the #MuseumHack Badass Bitches Tour. Museum Hack offers what they call "renegade museum adventures in NYC, DC, SF, LA, and Chicago". 

The tour was super dope and our guide Sara was the best. We learned that only 6% of the art in the museum was created by women (I know, damn!) and we also learned more about fun things like vaginas and how bootys were considered magical.

Seriously, I loved this tour because it was a feminist's dream. It was inspiring, empowering and very eye-opening. There are so many women like Audrey Munson (America's first Supermodel), who changed history and are still not given major recognition.

It was a great way to see the Met from a different point of view. We also had a blast from mirrored ceilings in the elevators to taking fun pictures and laughing a lot.

Us posting with Sara, our awesome tour guide (lower left)

We also met Lilith, Adam's first wife before Eve, who became a demon who steals babies in the darkness. Yeah, it was creepy. Sara said that the statue is moved periodically along the wall so it never stays in one place.

I highly recommend doing this tour if you're interested in learning more about the history of women in art and female artists. 

Best part of the tour was when Sara asked Brooke what her name was for the name tag and she said "Cardi" as in Cardi B. LOL! 

Plus, Sara also works at The Meatball Shop location on 76th St and 2nd Avenue and she told us to stop by with our name tags and we'd get a free ice sandwich, which we did. Fresh baked cookies and in-house made ice cream... yes, please!

We ended the day with dinner and a movie at iPic Theaters in downtown Manhattan at Fulton Market. We thought it was fitting to see Girls Trip. I had never been to a theater that had pod seating and was a bit scared I wouldn't fit but I did and it was super comfortable!

I decided to go full-on cute and comfy for my birthday, wearing this amazing Chelsea Studio Smocked Knit Dress from Woman Within via fullbeauty.com. I ended up wearing my Adidas sneakers after the museum tour because my feet were killing me but it was so worth it.

Special thanks to fullbeauty for the pretty birthday dress and to the Met for the tour as well as the ice cream sandwich at The Meatball Shop. I had such an amazing time and it showed me that I can be present in a group of women and be myself. That's the most magical gift I received on my birthday.

Stay tuned for Day #2 of this All-Girls Staycation Weekend to come on the blog on Saturday!

Want to hear more about this magical day? Click on the links below to read about it on Nanthale's, Marlena's and Brooke's blogs:

You can shop my dress here at fullbeauty.com.

Year 47 is looking to be amazing so far!