In our Fashion Nation series, we talk to people about personal style.
Name: Kelly Augustine
Location: New York City, New York
Walk me through this outfit.
My dress is Edwin Reyes. My photographer and I were joking that it was giving “Statue of Liberty realness.” It’s [about] emancipation. You’re going to see me, hear me, and feel me, whether you want to or not. My sneakers are Adidas x IvyPark. My earrings are from a beauty supply store in Harlem. And my ring is from LeyeLesi. In everything I do, I try to include Black and independent designers. And, being a plus-size woman, I dig into designers who really “get it” for us.
How would you describe your style?
Every day my style is different. But being plus size, I don’t fully get to express my style because of accessibility and options. If I could dress the way I really wanted to, it would be over for everybody. I make it work and I really focus on accessorizing. But it’s not necessarily fully realized.
How do you navigate the “fashion don’ts” that typically police fat Black women?
I actively try to dress the way I’m told I’m not supposed to. I try not to belt things, because for a long time we were told we needed to cinch our waists. Almost every day, I make something shoulderless that wasn’t supposed to be. Even having [my] thighs out, I’m very mindful of that when dressing. Just giving little glimpses of [your body] makes a statement. Especially in 2021, fashion “dos and don’ts” are not a thing.
Can fashion be a form of activism?
Absolutely. People treat fashion like it’s very frivolous, and it’s not. How I’m treated as a Black person very much depends on how I’m dressed. Even as a fat woman, if you don’t wear shapewear, people are going to assume that you’re sloppy and it’s like, “Maybe I just want to breathe tonight.” There’s liberation [in fashion], and I love what’s happening with Black designers [who’re saying], “I want to wear gold fronts and rollers in my hair.” I’m going to be who I am, and you’re going to take me as I am. – Jamilah Lewis-Horton
Photos by: Trévon James
This article originally appeared in BUST’s Fall 2021 print edition. Subscribe today!