Follow Her Friday: Olivia McMillan

We’re inspired each day by the stories you share that show how you’re #AerieREAL. This week we’re sharing the story of 17-year-old Olivia McMillan, an extremely talented and determined young woman who stands for body image, beauty, and more as she breaks the pageantry mold as Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (the little sister to Miss America).

A high school student currently residing in Warner Robins, Georgia. Olivia spends each day balancing her studies, practicing her singing (she’s an unbelievable opera singer), representing young women, volunteering, and applying to colleges. Despite her successes, Olivia faced many challenges growing up and it’s the way she faced them that inspires us today.  Read on below to learn more about Olivia and to follow her journey!

Follow Her Friday: Olivia McMillan

Olivia sporting her #AerieREAL tee at school.

Aerie: Hi, Olivia! We’re so excited to talk with you. Can you tell us a little bit more about your background? 

Olivia: Like many of you, I’ve faced various challenges in my life. As a biracial baby, I was adopted by white parents in Georgia, and so was my brother. At one point I turned to emotional eating to help me cope with the special needs of my brother and the challenges it posed to my family. Singing became my refuge. I joined a local university’s children’s choir, sang with the youth from my church, and began taking classical voice lessons with a private instructor. I also discovered pageants as a wonderful opportunity to showcase my talent and develop poise and stage presence…and I was fortunate to be awarded $25,500 in scholarship money for my college education by Miss America’s Outstanding Teen!

Follow Her Friday: Olivia McMillan

Olivia, Miss America’s Oustanding Teen and and Kira Kazantsev, Miss America. – Photo by Allen Dye

Aerie: What does #AerieReal mean to you?
Olivia: I believe #AerieReal is necessary and relevant for teens all over the world, and it’s something I’ve been waiting for, for a long time. As a 5’10” biracial girl who has struggled with weight her entire life, it was hard for me to look at magazines with seemingly perfect models on the covers. I told myself that that is the way I was supposed to look, as if that form of perfection was the goal. But for me and so many others, that “goal” is unattainable. The #AerieReal campaign features beautiful and confident women who are comfortable in their own skin and refuse to be retouched to live up to society’s ideal of perfection. It is inspiring to finally be able to look at models and feel like I can relate to them. Teens everywhere can now say, “Oh, that model kind of looks like me.” They are perfect in their imperfections, giving girls everywhere the confidence to be themselves and to embrace their bodies. That is beautiful.

Follow Her Friday: Olivia McMillan

Aerie: What makes you #AerieReal?
Olivia: There are many stereotypes attached to the “pageant girl” image and because of them, I thought I could never be successful in pageants. After winning my local pageant as a size 16, many thought that I was too large to compete on the state level. I was even told I was “fat.” At 16 years old, this was really hard to hear. It made me take a good look at myself, and I realized that I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t healthy either. I made the decision to work hard to get fit and become healthy for myself. I lost 50 pounds over the last year, and competed in my state pageant as a size 8-10. I was honored to win Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen, and then I went on to win the national pageant competing against 52 other young women. I refused to let anyone tell me who I should be or how I should look. I took control of my health and my body, and was able to break the pageant stereotype. I was myself through and through, and to me that is what #AerieReal is all about!

Follow Her Friday: Olivia McMillan

Olivia and her girlfriends, Laura, Kayla and Hannah hanging out on spring break.

Aerie: Where do you see yourself in three years?
Olivia: In three years, I see myself in college being a normal student. I have had a pageant title all four years of high school. It has been a blessing, but also a lot of hard work and a great deal of responsibility. It will be nice to relax and focus on school and friends. I plan to be a vocal performance major in college so it will also be pretty amazing getting to do what I love every day!

Aerie: What is your life motto?
Olivia: My life motto is “Beeee yourself.” This is a quote from the genie in Disney’s “Aladdin,” and my Dad has been saying this to me since I was a little kid. It’s definitely helped me in my experience with pageants. I used to try to be what I thought everyone else wanted. That didn’t work for me. I am a biracial girl who is adopted, has a brother with special needs, and has lost 50 pounds. I used to try to cover up my story because it made me different, but I soon realized it made me special. I learned that if I was going to be successful in pageants or life in general, I needed to be myself because everyone else is already taken!

Follow Her Friday: Olivia McMillan

Olivia and her BFF McKenzie at the Grand Canyon.

Aerie: What is your biggest accomplishment thus far?
Olivia: My biggest accomplishment is definitely winning Miss America’s Outstanding Teen. The organization is committed to helping communities, and each titleholder has a personal platform. Mine is the Sibling Support Project, which helps the brothers and sisters of children with special needs. I’m also a National Teen Goodwill Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. I’ve had the chance to meet many incredible people, perform, speak on behalf of the MAOTeen organization and support so many important causes.
It was a long journey, but I’m so happy that I could pave the way for other girls who felt like they couldn’t succeed in pageants. I got an e-mail from a girl shortly after I won and she told me that she had never competed in pageants because she struggled with her weight. She told me that she saw me win and it inspired her to compete in her very first local pageant. I am so humbled and honored to be able to inspire others to follow their dreams. I am proud that I broke the mold of what people have always said a pageant winner should be. I am even more proud that this has given other girls the confidence to go out there and do the same!

Aerie: Do you have a role model? If so who is he/she and why does he/she inspire you?
Olivia: My role model is Kate Winslet. Not only is she an incredible actress, but she has remained so humble and grounded even in the face of huge success and stardom. She encourages women everywhere to love themselves and to love their bodies. She struggled with weight in her youth and is now a healthy weight for her. She says that she will never change who she is to fit other people’s expectations. That is so inspiring to me. I applaud her realness and her promotion of self-love. In a society where size 2 is expected, it is so beautiful to see a woman in Hollywood preaching about the importance of being healthy for your own body. She is amazing.

Follow Her Friday: Olivia McMillan

Aerie: Do you have a favorite Aerie item?
Olivia: I LOVE Aerie Sweatpants! I am a very laid back kind of girl, and when I am not making pageant appearances my style is usually pretty relaxed. Comfort is key for me, and Aerie sweatpants are so soft. They are definitely a “must have” for me!

Follow Her Friday: Olivia McMillan

Olivia with two of her best friends since childhood after winning Miss Georgia’s Outstanding Teen.

Aerie: What are your three things you always have with you?
Olivia: Lip balm, my best friends, and hand sanitizer (I’m kind of a germaphobe!)

Aerie: What’s your favorite song to sing?
Olivia: I am classically trained, so I love to sing classical songs when I perform, like “Nessun Dorma” or “O Mio Babbino Caro.” But when I’m just jamming in my car with friends, I love to sing/scream out “All About that Bass” whenever it comes on the radio.

Aerie:  If you could pick any song to be your own theme song, what would it be?
Olivia: My theme song would be “Just Fine” by Mary J. Blige. When my brother was diagnosed with Autism and bipolar disorder, my parents brought in a family therapist who introduced us to this song. It is all about loving yourself and loving your life no matter the cards you are dealt. “See I wouldn’t change my life, my life’s just fine.”

Aerie: Do you have a secret talent, skill or quirk? Do tell!
Olivia: I love to do impersonations or accents. My favorite one to do is an Australian accent. I even convinced a classmate that I was a foreign exchange student from Australia!

Thank you, Olivia! Inspired by Olivia’s story too? Follow her on Instagram and Twitter to keep up to date on her adventures!

xoxo,

Aerie

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How to make Tartan Patchwork Jeans with I SPY DIY

Hi everyone! It’s Jenni from I Spy DIY, back with a new series of DIY projects geared for the holiday season. My first project? I’m showing you how to take your favorite jeggings to the next level with vegan leather and tartan flannel patch details. Read on for my step-by-step guide that will make your jeggings the envy of every holiday party.

Photo Credit: Jessica Kaminski

Final1

 Take your denim to the next level with flannel and leather detailing.

Final2

What you’ll need:
Black Jeggings
Vegan Leather
Plaid Boxers
Fabric glue
Blade or scissors

Supplies0

What to do:

Step1Step 1: Cut a few slits and square holes into your jeggings.

Step2Step 2: For extra distressing,try this shredding technique.

Step3Step 3: Cut square patches from your plaid boxers and faux leather.

Step4Step 4: Put patches in place.

Step5

Step 5: Turn jean inside out and use fabric glue to attach to the inside of your jeans. Let dry. Done!

My Outfit:
Faux Shearling Moto Jacket
Graphic Love T-shirt
Black Jeggings
Plaid Blanket Scarf
Double Zip Bootie

Final3

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#AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X

With high performance stretch that never loses its shape, you can show off your best assets in Denim X. We asked two of our favorite bloggers, Megan from  Styled Avenue and Cat from Cat Wright Style, to show us how they style our best jean fit ever.

Meet Megan:
Megan is a 20-something year old from Salt Lake City, Utah. She started Styled Avenue to capture all of her favorite styles and trends and has always loved to have fun with style, mix and match and get creative in the way to express herself.

#AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X#AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X

What inspired Megan’s outfit:
I picked items I thought would really fit my personality while dressing for a fun fall day with my family or friends. I have loved my cable knit sweater (I haven’t taken it off) and love how it can be a dressy piece or a piece I can effortlessly wear around the house!

#AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X

#AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X

Get Megan’s Look:
Denim X Sky High Jegging
Chunky Cable Knit Cardigan
Lace Top Tank
Stacked Heel Bootie (Similar)

#AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X

#AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X

Meet Cat:
Los Angeles’ Cat Wright doesn’t just write about sartorial ways she creates them as well. When she’s not in-and-out of LA showrooms and boutiques or sharing her signature looks on Cat Wright Style, Cat is covering the fashion scene. A regular contributor to online outlets Racked LA, Societe Perrier and E! Online…awards season anyone? She got her journalistic start as Fashion Editor at LA’s Bunker Hill Magazine.  Raised in a small Kentucky town, Cat knew from an early age that Hollywood¹s closets were calling to her, “I was born obsessed. I was five years old and we were driving five hours so I could wear clothes the other kids weren’t. Not much has changed.”

#AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X #AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X

What inspired Cat’s outfit:
I am forever a lover of crop tops but have had so much trouble finding a pair of high-waisted jeans that fit right! Usually they’re either too small or too big in the wrong places or they flatten out the booty. All hail these perfectly stretched pair that have given my favorite style of shirt some winter love and hug the curves just right. I’m a hippie at heart so I added the blue hat to pull out the color of the bright blue denim. For those who feel like it’s too much skin for a daytime stroll, an oversized button-up is the perfect addition (I shopped for mine in the men’s department). #AEOSTYLE CHALLENGE: Denim X

Get Cat’s look:
Denim X Sky High Jegging
Marled Cropped Sweater (Similar)
BC Away We Go Peep Toe Bootie (Similar)

_MG_2575 _MG_2581

Show us how you style the Denim X with #AEOSTYLE on Twitter and Instagram for the chance to be featured on our Style Gallery!

 

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Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger

When something we love to wear is both stylish and comfy the universe aligns and all is well in the world. That’s exactly how we feel about the Cable Knit Skinny Jogger. Between its softest stretch cotton fabric and cable knit detailing, it’s really a win, win situation. See how our girls from Classic & BubblyBeautyosauruslex and Here & Now styled them below!

Meet Stesha:
Stesha is the writer of the personal style blog; Classic & Bubbly. Her style is a mixture of casual and feminine with a pop of color (usually pink!).

Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger

What inspired Stesha’s look:
I love being casual yet put together so these navy joggers are the perfect staple for my fall/winter wardrobe! Whether I am lounging around the house or out running a few Sunday errands comfort is all key for me! I added a chambray shirt to this specific outfit giving it a more dressed up look and the blanket scarf for keeping me warm. Levi (my little pup) came along, he also loves to snuggle in the blanket scarf as well!

Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger

Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger

Meet Alex:
Alex Good is a blogger and Youtuber that wants to live in a world where tutus are accepted in everyday attire, chai lattes and donuts are a daily indulgence and dogs talk back. When she is not blogging, you can find her watching romantic comedies (shamelessly) with her husband and dog, dreaming up her next blog post or hunting for the best red lipstick. Explore and be inspired at Beautyosauruslex.

Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger

What inspired Alex’s look:
Mixing pieces has always been a love of mine. A structured oxford button up with some classic heels, a party dress and sneakers, and for today’s outfit, fitted jogger pants and a statement necklace. Finding a balance is key to achieving a relaxed and yet polished look. The greatest thing about these jogger pants isn’t even their adorable cable knit detail along the side, but how absolutely soft and comfortable they are. Consider these part of your new weekend wardrobe and don’t be afraid to mix in pieces with pattern!

Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger

Meet Jessica:
20-something student learning to live in the Here & Now & discover her sense of style along the way.

Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger

Jessica in our Cable Knit Skinny Jogger in Deep Plum.

Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger Style Challenge: The Cable Knit Jogger

Need more style inspiration? Check out 3 ways to style our Blanket Scarf here!

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#AEOSTYLE Roundup

From Jeggings to Cardi’s we’ve been scoping some pretty awesome #AEOSTYLE. Check out some of our favorite looks from your submissions this week and keep tagging us on Twitter and Instagram for your chance to be featured on AE.com and the blog.

Shop the look:
Jegging
Zip Back Crew Sweater (Shop Similar)

Shop the look:
Classic Denim Jacket
Half Sleeve Button Down Shirt (Shop Similar)
Jegging
Feather Light Open Cardigan

Shop the look:
Patterned Open Cardigan
Jegging
Vintage Plush T-Shirt
DV By Dolce Vita Ferin Suede Boot (Shop Similar)

Shop the look:
Paneled Knit Vegan Leather Jegging
New Balance 711 Sneaker (Shop Similar)
Vivid Patterned Crew Sweater

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#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan

We’re taking advantage of some serious fringe benefits this season. All jokes aside, we’re totally obsessed with our Open Fringe Cardigan and you should be, too.

We asked two of our favorite bloggers, Jess from The Golden Girl and Megan from Lush to Blush, to show us their take on this free-spirited trend.

Meet Jess:
Jess is the Founder & Editor of The Golden Girl, a life and style blog based in Chicago. She loves red lipstick and French Bulldogs, and when she’s not blogging, she can be found at the closest Dim Sum establishment or exploring the city with her Canon in tow.

#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan

What inspired Jess’s look:
This sweater is is the ultimate casual fall essential! Since I work remotely, my favorite coffee shop is usually my office. It’s become my “work outfit” staple — comfy and cozy has never been so stylish! I paired mine with a pair of high-waisted jeggings and my favorite graphic tee. (I’ve got an obsession with French Bulldogs!) My favorite compliment to the sweater is these amazing boots, which add a little edge. They’re rugged and glam all at the same time. Finally, I added high knee socks for added warmth. (Combatting the Chicago weather is a full-time job!)

#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan

Get Jess’s look:
AEO Hooded Blanket Sweater
Sky High Jegging (Similar)
BC Big City Boot
Shimmery Cable Knit Boot Sock (Similar)
#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan

Meet Megan:
Megan Elliott is the creator and blogger behind Lush to Blush. She is an avid lover of the earth and everything on it, especially flowers, and has been a vegetarian for seven years. On her blog, she explores fashion, lifestyle, and all things lovely.

#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan

#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan

What inspired Megan’s look:
I’ve been searching for the perfect wine colored sweater for quite some time now and I’m so glad that I finally found it at American Eagle Outfitters. There were actually a few different sweaters I was deciding between, but ultimately chose this one because of its rich hue and perfect amount of thickness. I layered it with a relaxed, boho style cardigan to keep warm and to keep the look casual. I have to say, I’m not typically a ripped jeans kind of girl, but I figured it’s important to have at least one pair in my closet, and when I tried these high rise skinnies on, I knew I had to have them. Finally, I let my socks peek out from under my boots for a little extra cozy factor.

#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan

#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan

Get Megan’s look:
Open Fringe Cardigan
Heathered Raglan Crew Sweater
Hi-Rise Jegging 
BC Lace Back Boot
Shimmery Cable Knit Boot Sock
#AEOSTYLE Challenge: Open Fringe Cardigan

Show us how you style the Open Fringe Cardigan with #AEOSTYLE on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram for the chance to be featured on our Style Gallery!

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