6 Tips for Thrifting Like You Got Some Damn Sense

Do you pledge allegiance to the #ThriftDrip?

Follow these 6 rules and let me know what you're working with in the comments! 

 

1) Don't read the label.

I eyeball everything when I cook, and the same rule applies to my thrifting experience. I'm not going to count a blouse out because the tag might say something two sizes larger than what I'm used to. Remember, people were wayyyy smaller years ago, and I fully believe that you can make the best looks out of incorporating items that might be a little roomier. 

2) Grab with the flow. 

Patterns or textures jumping out at you? You better snatch that up quick! You can always put it back later if you decide a piece isn't for you, but you can't leave it sitting there from jump and expect for it to be there waiting for you once you may your way back around. This ain't ya mama's favorite fast fashion purveyor of duplicate styles in an endless rainbow of colors. 

Yep! I wore something I thrifted to Charleston Fashion Week. That's actually a sheer black floral dress that I wore as a top. 

Yep! I wore something I thrifted to Charleston Fashion Week. That's actually a sheer black floral dress that I wore as a top. 

3) Embrace the ugly.

Listen...we've all taken part in some pretty embarrassing trends back in the day. It happens. Thrifting ins't the time to fixate on "cute" or "timeless," because everything comes back around eventually (just like that memory of the bangs you cut on yourself in sixth grade like your mother wouldn't notice). That ugly skirt might be your next statement piece, and who doesn't love being bold every once in a while? 

4) Look for long-lost cousins, not twins. 

After you've picked up a few pieces that you know are coming home with you, try to find a commonality between them. Maybe you chose items that fall into a warm color palette? Or may you were drawn to shirts made out of thin materials? Notice what you notice, and then try to find other items to round out the overall aesthetic. For the latter example, I'd probably look for bulkier items like sweaters or cardigans that can help transition a thinner shirt into the cooler months. 

5) Don't be greedy. 

If you KNOW you don't really see it for an item, just put it back. Ain't no looking back in thrifting, and when you do go home with those new pieces, think about the items already in your closet that you're willing to let go. You know...the ones you swore you would wear eventually that probably still have all the tags on them. 

Enjoy this shot of my FAVORITE pants, thrifted from  Grease Kelly Vintage .

Enjoy this shot of my FAVORITE pants, thrifted from Grease Kelly Vintage.

6) Draw your line in the discount sand. 

Sales have the unique ability to make you throw wads of cash at fully clothed people, so if you're anything like me you might need to give yourself a pep talk and set boundaries in advance. For example, I typically try to hold myself to a 5 item limit depending onwhat sorts of deals are accompanying my purchases. 

Now get out there and make it WORK and WERK. I can't wait to see all the #thriftdrip on my Instagram feed!

"When Y’all Gonna Have a Baby?"

I’ll never be able to get pregnant and be surprised by it. 

My final ER trip in 2015. They couldn’t draw blood from my hands or arms, so they had to get it from my neck instead. Desperate times indeed called for desperate measures, and I’m grateful to that last doctor.

My final ER trip in 2015. They couldn’t draw blood from my hands or arms, so they had to get it from my neck instead. Desperate times indeed called for desperate measures, and I’m grateful to that last doctor.

So the never-ending flood of questions like

“when are y’all gonna have a baby?”

and

“when you gonna give that man a child?”

make me sick.

That’s just not something I have the luxury of doing without a team of doctors, endless appointments, and daily injections at home because pregnant women can’t take blood thinners.  

Back in 2015, I switched back to birth control pills from Depo because I felt stable enough in life to remember to take them every day. Before I could start the second pack I started having sharp pains in my chest and back that made it hard to breathe. After seeing 3 different doctors, the final one realized it was a blood clot in my right lung that would have killed me in 2 days max. I’d seen doctors on and off for roughly 6 weeks, and each time I was prescribed bed rest and given ungodly amounts of pain pills that left me so high that I couldn’t get out of bed if I tried.

I don’t know why the clot didn’t move, but the last doctor said the pains I felt were from the clot trying to dislodge itself. During that last trip to the ER, I was actually dying. My mind raced, and I was doing everything I could to fight through the pain and stay awake. The cause of it all? My sensitivity to additional hormones found in birth control pills. Put simply: I’m allergic to anything that’s not an IUD or other contraceptive implant.

Imagine going to see a hematologist and being the youngest person in the lobby. All of the other patients smiling at you and thinking, “Isn’t she sweet to come out here and bring her grandparent to their appointment!” When they call your name, their faces change from adoration to pity. Because you’re way too young to be in their shoes.  

3 years ago, Devon almost lost me. I was told at that point that I’d be considered a high risk expectant mother when the time came, and we both understood the time commitment that would take. I have Nexplanon now, and we’d talked about me leaving it out and trying for a child this year. But the truth is...I’m scared. I got a new Nexplanon placed instead, and you know what? That’s ok. We’ll start a family on our own time, and it’s just gonna have to be ok with y’all. My health is more important.

 

Until then, we’ll keep being the best "tete" and uncle your kids have ever had the pleasure of knowing. :)

My Skincare Routine!

If you follow my Instagram account, you know that I'm a huge lover of all things makeup! When you have a passion for highlight and contour like I do, you need to make sure you're keeping your skin as healthy as possible. Below, you'll find the skin care routine that I perform each morning and night. 

Important: What works for me may not work for your skin type. Make sure you're paying attention to your skin's needs and adapting this routine accordingly!

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  1. Oil-based cleanser: My favorite is Neutrogena's Ultra Light Cleansing Oil. The packaging boasts that it "effortlessly and completely removes waterproof makeup, dirt & oil," and I'd say it does a pretty good job without me having to tug and pull at my face with a washcloth to get rid of stubborn mascara. I use 1-2 pumps and massage into my dry face and neck gently. Follow up with warm water to activate the oil mixture and remove dirt and makeup, then rinse with warm water. 
  2. Foaming Skin for Sensitive Skin: Next, I use 1-2 pumps of Simple Foaming Cleanser. I like this cleanser because it picks up anything the oil cleanser might have left behind without stripping my face of its moisture. Rinse with cool water this time! 
  3. After patting my face dry (NOT RUBBING!), I use Witch Hazel as my toner to do a final cleanse on my pores and knock out/prevent any irritations that might want to creep up. I use a small cotton pad to swipe the product over my face and neck. 
  4. Once the toner dries, I apply a light serum under my eyes and lightly to the rest of my face. Match your serum to your specific skin concerns to keep everything balanced. 
  5. I finish with a small amount of coconut oil. My skin can be very finicky, but since using the coconut oil I find that I have fewer breakouts and irritations. Find what works for you!

What did I learn from picking up this routine? 

  • You don't need all of that strong, abrasive, "wakes you up in the morning" stuff on your face. Save those things for every once in a while or as body scrubs in the shower. I have a St. Ive's scrub that I love using every other week, but I make sure that I stick with their "moderate" exfoliation products. That apricot scrub would scratch my face to DEATH! You don't need all that, sis. 
  • Moisturized skin= happy skin. I noticed that my skin only gets rowdy when I'm not drinking enough water and not moisturizing it the way I should. That combo always sends me into a red itchy mess, so at the first sign of itchiness I'll go and do steps 1-5 to start knocking out whatever it is that's irking my pores. 
  • Consistency for me has led to fewer breakouts. I'm able to spot treat and knock an irritation out with toothpaste in an hour or two because I keep up with the above routine. YES, toothpaste. I'm not buying a special spot treatment cream for something that happens every blue moon. Dab that minty freshness on and go about your business. Thank me later. 

 

What's your skincare routine? How do you take off the day? Let me know in the comments! 

3 Winter Tips for Your Type 4 Hair

A wash-and-go in January? Chile, please. Form Beauty made it possible though, and I was feeling the definition! 

A wash-and-go in January? Chile, please. Form Beauty made it possible though, and I was feeling the definition! 

 

(Note: This post is not sponsored by Form Beauty or Curlformers. I took that 20 minute quiz and purchased my regimen and drove to Sally's for these rollers just like some of you might do after reading this! lol)

 

I'm back with another post on winter haircare!

It's a follow-up to the wig post that's inspired by a mix of old information we've heard for years and... finally accepting that you're stubborn and should have just listened sooner. 

 

  1. KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT YA HEAD!-- My mother always told me this back in middle school when I was grown and wanted a different hair style every single day. More manipulation= more breakage. You know that hair sheds naturally from day to day already, so why run the risk of shedding wayyyy more than normal? 
  2. Protect your protective styles- I'm sure it sounds silly, but don't be out here slapping a dry-behind snap back on top of your head without at LEAST securing your natural hair with a du-rag or scarf first. (YES, I still wear durags....fight me.) All the YouTubers have been telling you over and over to pamper the 'fro with silk pillowcases or bonnets at night, so why wouldn't you do the same if you're out and about wearing a hat during the daytime? Even when I wear my beanies and head wraps you can bet money that I'll have a durag underneath. #FlapsOutForeva
  3. Go easy on the product-- I'm a product junkie in remission, and my recovery journey has done wonders for my hair. I had to learn the hard way that everything wasn't meant to go in my head all at one time. Now I limit myself to two products after cleansing my hair, and I've seen it grown like crazy when combined with low manipulation and protective styling.
 

Putting it all into action means what, exactly? 

The Beginnings of a REAL Wash-and-Go Routine?

I tried out the Form Beauty regimen while taking a break from my wigs this winter. I’m super impressed with how my hair turned out! The custom regimen has been perfect for me with wintertime wash-and-gos, which I NEVER do because my hair just becomes a dry, tangled mess by the end of the week. That wash-and-go pic was from around day 4 when I really start looking like an understudy for the Felicia character in Friday. 

Around day 4 or 5 of stretched hair using only JBCO, hair butter, and Curlformers. It's getting to that frizzy point, but it was still so SOFT and SHINY! 

Around day 4 or 5 of stretched hair using only JBCO, hair butter, and Curlformers. It's getting to that frizzy point, but it was still so SOFT and SHINY! 

What About Stretching? 

I stick to Jamaican Black Castor Oil and the thickest, NOT WATERY hair butter I can get my hands on when I stretch my hair. I started paying more attention to my strands and noticed that runny product does nothing but dry my hair out faster. Using the JBCO and hair butter combo on dripping-wet hair and air-drying with Curlformers seems to be they key to ensuring that my 'fro isn't dusty-looking and sad by day 3. 

Share your favorite tips for maintaining your hair type in the comments!

How I Learned about Real Black Love

To that special guy:

Almost seven years after becoming your partner in crime, I feel like I get what black love is really supposed to be. I'm so thankful for you, and here's seven reasons why: 

A throwback pic of us at Centennial Park for the culture. Ya'll see the matchy-matchy fly! LOL! He was 21 here, and I was 20. 

A throwback pic of us at Centennial Park for the culture. Ya'll see the matchy-matchy fly! LOL! He was 21 here, and I was 20. 

  1. YOU'VE GROWN WITH ME: We were babies when we met each other the first time. I was eighteen, and you were nineteen. As a country girl, the whole "ATL dude" thing took some getting used to. We've been through some crazy moments together, from surviving on ham sandwiches for our rescue kitten's surgery to me throwing your phone into the woods at our first apartment because your 22-year-old self was a complete idiot. I love that we're SO grown now and can laugh at our younger selves. 
  2. YOU'RE A NATURAL PROVIDER: The first time I went to your grandmother's house and saw you working on her car, I knew I wanted you to stick around. I'd never seen a guy close to my age who actually enjoyed getting their hands dirty. Where I come from, everyone only wants to be seen. I knew that someone who was willing to not be 'perfect' all the time might be the change I needed. 
  3. YOU'VE BEEN MY NURSE: Two years ago, I almost died from a clot in my lung. The ER doctor told us both that if it hadn't been caught that night that I would have been gone within 2 days, and it was the only time you've ever cursed me out. I was in shock and couldn't speak, but you were afraid. Your eyes always say so much without you opening your mouth, but you had TIME that day to let me know that you weren't with my hush-mouth behavior, and you sat in the hospital bed with me and hugged me tight. You told me to never suffer in silence if I felt like something was wrong. Now I tell you every time I crack my knuckles too hard LOL! 
  4. YOU LISTEN: I'm hard on myself, and never think I'm good enough. You never put me down for my feelings, but you're quick to remind me of all the things I'm capable of doing. You always encourage me to go after the ideas I have, and you're always there to support me when it gets hard to handle. 
  5. YOU SEE 'ME': So often I lack self-confidence. I'm not the same 90-pound girl with killer 8-pack abs from years ago, and I scowl at myself most days when I walk past the mirror naked. I always catch you staring at me with a grin on your face when I'm standing in the mirror picking myself apart, and I'll ask "WHAT?," ready to defend myself against the opinions of myself that I project onto you. You always say, "Nothing. Just felt like staring at you." You don't think my legs are too big, or my thighs too wide. For almost seven years you've said I'm "just right."
  6. YOU TEACH ME: You've taught me to stay patient with myself, to treat myself, trust myself, challenge myself and cherish myself. When I learned how into cars you were, I was excited but worried. I wanted to learn way more about them, but was always told that it wasn't for girls. We talked about it on one of our late night phone calls as I sat on that hideous hot pink comforter in my freshman dorm room. A few days later you called me and said to come over, "but don't wear anything nice." YOU TAUGHT ME HOW TO INSTALL A CAR RADIO THAT DAY, and I remember being so proud of myself. Now I know how to rewire steering columns, too! What are we learning next? 
  7. YOU'RE MY BEST FRIEND: Now, I now it might sound corny to say..but it's TRUE! I come to you for advice on everything. When we started hanging out at the end of August 2010 (yep, I remember), I knew you'd always be my friend. We hung out almost everyday, even if it was just you helping me study for a test, playing pool in the student center or walking around the mall to talk about life (because #teenagers, right?). Six months later when you asked me to be your girlfriend I was shocked. You'd already told me you loved me three months in, but it was never weird. I remember you saying, "IDGAF if you ever say it back to me. I'll still tell you every day!" You never pushed yourself onto me, and I was never worried about you trying to harm me in any way. 

 

We turned into some good-looking grown-ups, huh? We're both 26 now, but his 27th is coming soon and it's going to be AMAZING!  Image by  Aneris Photography  

We turned into some good-looking grown-ups, huh? We're both 26 now, but his 27th is coming soon and it's going to be AMAZING! 
Image by Aneris Photography 

Best Friend,

I'm thankful, grateful, and lucky to call you my person. Here's to 70 more.

Love,

Karmen

PS- Bet I'll smoke you on my Hoveround years from now! 

We Are NOT Your Costume.

Y'all. Halloween is still one of my favorite times of year, even though I'm a smooth 26 years old now. And even though I enjoy myself, I always have to stay on guard and prep myself mentally for the inappropriate and downright ignorant ways that some of your friends out there try to outdo themselves from the previous year. This post isn't about your obvious blackface that happens every year like clockwork, because #idiotsgonnaidiot. I'm not wasting my time on y'all this year. 

Who I DO want to address, though, are the ones who run from criticism and choose to belittle the feelings of others by hiding behind the shield of "I'm a person of color, too!" I want to address those of you out there who try to drown voices like mine out by saying things like "I'm black, and I don't find this offensive." And let's not forget those of you who run to support your tone-deaf friends in their public "apologies" in droves by further drowning my voice and others like it out by saying: 

"You don't need to apologize for anything! ESPECIALLY when it wasn't your intention to hurt anyone." 

"People these days are always trying to find something to be offended about." 

"Haters gonna hate. I think your hair looks amazing in this picture!" 

Let's be VERY clear: NONE OF YOU SPEAK FOR ME. None of you speak for anyone except yourself. It's pitiful to see how black voices respectfully (because y'all always stress that we have to be, right?) share their real, valid feelings repeatedly just to have them square-danced around in order to enthusiastically acknowledge those voices that support a dry afro wig for the sake of getting in touch with an inner "soul sister (look that one up if you don't know the origin of the term)," and even going as far as using the AFROPUNK hashtag to widen the reach of said tomfoolery. Use that same energy to respond to feedback like mine, because it's all about learning from each other, right? Or is that just something y'all like to say that sounds good? 

When you know better, you do better. Or...you delete posts and go into hiding until you've come up with a good enough angle to make yourself out to be the victim "attacked" by fed-up individuals who simply want you to pay more attention to what the hell you're doing.

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In the spirit of not speaking for anyone else, I'll just say that I, myself, am tired. Do with it what you will, but please make an effort to make it positive instead of pretending to build bridges by starting one-sided "conversations."

After all, "We are community that needs to come together to move forward," right? 
 

Doing You is OKAY, sis.

Being in such fast-moving environments, I've started making more of an effort to be conscious of what I'm feeling mentally and physically. It's much different from what I'm used to doing (which is pushing through to the point of total burnout and spiraling into a deep bout of depression), and it's working for me. When I'm tired, I take a nap. When I feel sick, I take care of myself. I burn candles to help me wind down after a long day. When I'm feeling sluggish and bloated, I pay attention to what I'm eating. 

Over the past few months, simply making time for myself and protecting my own energy has given me some awesome results. I smile more, my skin has never been better, and I'm more productive when it comes to things like getting my grad school homework done wayyyy ahead of deadlines.

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With all of the positive changes I'm making to treat myself with more love and care, it still hurts a bit when I'm made fun of for choosing my own wellness above everything else. I have a hard time digesting pasta now, which I used to be able to eat every day without fail. So I switched to quinoa to try something different. I still do pasta every once in a while, but I have to add in a ton more veggies when I do so that I'm not in nearly as much pain. At first, EVERYBODY made fun of me and my quinoa. Family members would comment about me eating "bird food." Some people would go as far as to say that I was trying to "copy white folks". I've even had folks ask me where my real food is, and call my plate gross! Honestly, it used to make me feel so small and like I just needed to suck it up and suffer through eating all the stuff that would have me in pain for days on end. Self-confidence is something I have to work at all the time, so feeling attacked for being willing to eat better for myself used to really get me wayyyyy down. And every time I'd fall back into eating the stuff that I knew would make me sick because it was easier than having to explain myself. But then one day I was like, 

GIRL. If it's helping you, it has nothing to do with anybody else. Let them pick!

I'd only ever share if people asked, but I don't outwardly talk about my food decisions now. Because, why? I probably eat meat a couple of days out of the week. Not because I'm trying to make a statement, but I'm noticing more and more how different foods affect my mood and ability to get shit done. And I mean, that's the key, right? How you gonna be a girl boss out here and constantly feeling sick and shut in? Besides, I season the crap out of my food so don't worry about me. I'll make it just fine. 

The Queen's Roundtable w/ Queen Quet: Africa Fashion Week Lowcountry 2017

A mean round of typical Charleston traffic couldn't keep us away yesterday as we made our way back to the Hampton House in Beaufort, SC to attend the Queen's Roundtable event with Queen Quet. Unique and I left right after work to hit the road, but if you live here in Charleston you know that we kind of set ourselves up for a rough ride when we decided to hop on Hwy 17 at 4:30 PM DURING some intense post-eclipse traffic.

Long story short, be better than us when it comes to finessing these Charleston roadways, y'all.  

From left to right: Queen Quet, Najmah Thomas and Donellia Chives. 

From left to right: Queen Quet, Najmah Thomas and Donellia Chives. 

The first time I saw Queen Quet was a little over a week ago at Cane Rhum Bar here in downtown Charleston. I went in for a dope brunch event hosted by Charleston's own Chef BJ Dennis and The Cocktail Bandits, and I could NOT stop staring at this one woman in the dining room.  

I was there with my boyfriend Devon and my girls Andrea and Chevy when my eyes kept drifting to this one woman over and over. I'd never seen her in my life, and couldn't figure out why I kept wanting to LOOK at her. When Andrea leaned over and told me that she was Queen Quet, my eyes felt like they grew three sizes.  

I wasn't going to miss my opportunity to hear her speak, even if traffic did stop my shine for a lil' bit. And LISTEN... she dropped soooooo many gems. The biggest one that stood out to me surrounded the concept of adornment. Being black people in America, so much of our existence outside the home is consumed by making ourselves more palatable to the majority. I've been thinking hard about this specific phrase from Queen Quet since last night:

"Anything you adorn yourself with, you should know what's in it."

This hit me on a personal level, because I've lived most of my life up until recently trying to do what I think others wanted me to do. My own sanity suffered because of it, because (let's be real) everybody who says they're for you ain't really for you. Ever since a health scare back in 2015, I've made it a point to cast out any interactions and relationships that don't contribute to my mental and spiritual well-being. It does still take work, but exercising that right to choose your own path goes a long way toward protecting your spirit. Don't thank me, thank Queen Quet for that one.

As an artist, activist, fashion designer, environmentalist, historian (for more in the list of greatness visit her website, because mama is EVERYTHING, in the best sense possible), the Queen Mother of the Gullah Geechee Nation spoke about the negativity she faced along her journey in the fashion world as she encouraged other black people to outwardly celebrate their culture and take pride in the heritage that we carry. All of her anecdotes still ring true today in regards to the ways some people dampen their blackness to appease others, and when she said that we were people of the sun and that people should look at us with that same excitement that they watched the recent eclipse with it took everything I had to stay in my seat and not yell out "YES!!!" 

After filling up our spirits with Queen Quet and feeling reaffirmed in the power and joys of being black, Unique and I needed to fill up our empty stomachs. We left straight from work, and dinner was calling. We were in luck through, because Donellia reached out to Mr. Jason and Jason's Seafood and Wings asking him to stick around and feed us before we went back to Charleston. 

AND FEED US, HE DID. 

I have been trying to track down BOMB lemon pepper wings like back in ATL since I've been in Charleston. Mr. Jason is all the way in Beaufort, but I'll gladly make that 1hr. 20min. drive to sit at his table and eat wings. I tasted that food and felt like I was right back at home!

I have been trying to track down BOMB lemon pepper wings like back in ATL since I've been in Charleston. Mr. Jason is all the way in Beaufort, but I'll gladly make that 1hr. 20min. drive to sit at his table and eat wings. I tasted that food and felt like I was right back at home!

Let me tell y'all. I adorned myself with those wings, and I could tell that love was all up and through them. I left that place so happy, because not only was my stomach fed but my spirit was topped off by Mr. Jason right along with that glass of sweet tea that tasted just like my mama made it. 

From left to right: Me, Mr. Jason of  Jason's Seafood and Wings , and Unique Law of  Uniquely His Productions

From left to right: Me, Mr. Jason of Jason's Seafood and Wings, and Unique Law of Uniquely His Productions

Anything you adorn yourself with, you should know what’s in it.
— Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation

 

 

We're mere HOURS away from the headlining event of African Fashion Week Lowcountry!

What are you doing to ensure that you're adorning yourself in healthy ways this week?