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Stylist Challenges Fashion Barriers to Plus-Sized Black Women With Her Bold, Eclectic Style

by BUST Magazine

In our Fashion Nation series, we talk to people about personal style.

Name: Kelly Augustine
Job: stylist
Insta: @kellyaugustine
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! 

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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