Ashley Ford is a writer, editor and speaker — and she also has killer style. “I look pretty bold naturally, and for a long time I was trying to hide that,” she says. “Now I’m not. These days, I feel like I look the most like myself that I ever have in my entire life.” Ashley lives with her boyfriend Kelly, in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Here, she tells us about five outfits she wore in a week, and the bikini she’ll debut on her upcoming vacation…
“Universal Standard has the kind of minimalist clothes I like — but they actually come in my size, which is beautiful for me. I don’t want to wear something that makes me look smaller or bigger; I just want to wear something that looks good. My favorite part is how the hem comes up on one side, and I love this color yellow. That’s the best thing about being black: there’s no bad color! Nothing washes me out.”
“When I first moved from Indiana to New York, I was nervous to go shopping. I had always thought of New York as this extremely fashionable city. I didn’t have the budget, and thrifting is hard when you have a bigger body. But I walked into a Banana Republic, and this dress was in the clearance section. I couldn’t believe it was in my size and on sale for $14. It made me feel professional but also pretty and flirty. If you want a deal, don’t be scared to dig. Try multiple sizes because sale pieces are often sized weirdly. Don’t give up, because your next favorite piece is probably still out there for $3.”
“These flower earrings were my grandma’s; she passed away a few years ago. She was my best friend. Nowadays, whenever I do something that’s a goal for me, I wear these earrings and bring her with me. As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten to know my style better. I carried a picnic basket as my purse in middle school. It sounds cute; it wasn’t. It was an actual picnic basket, like a Dorothy-on-her-way-to-Oz situation. When I was in high school, Sex and the City was also super popular, so I tried to do the big flower pin like Carrie did. I was like, I want to be a writer, this is the way to do that, right?”
“This was the exact dress I wanted for summer. I felt like I went into the store, and they were like, Oh, we’ve been waiting for you. It would be perfect for a vacation. Traveling as a young person never actually happened for me. There weren’t enough resources, or enough time, or enough opportunities. At some point, I realized I had to figure out how to do it for myself. Kelly and I decided travel was going to become a priority in our finances and relationship. And this May, we’re going to Italy for two weeks — it’s our first trip together. Neither of us has been there. It was very important to me, especially on this first trip, that he wasn’t showing me the world, that we were experiencing it together.”
“I’ve spent a lot of time having this mental list of things that I was too fat for, too black for, too poor for. But it got boring. You can’t live your life like that. If you try hard to avoid disappointment, you also avoid excitement. In Italy, we’ll be staying in Cinque Terre. I have a one-piece swimsuit, but I’m in this phase of my life where I’m trying to embody myself and look the way I feel. I had been looking at bikinis for a while but felt really, really scared to pull the trigger. Then I saw blogger Gabi Fresh launched her line Swimsuits For All. There was one bikini with a ruffle top and faux-denim bottom. I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s me!’ Now that I’ve stopped trying to control everything, I’ve ended up living a life where I get to feel excited, almost all of the time. ”
Thank you so much, Ashley! You are awesome.