Meet: Alicia Jay of TallSwag
The six-foot six-inch style blogger shares her secret for finding confidence, her new year’s resolution, and how to rock those tall, tall heels.
Photo by Kate Bowyer at YBowyer Photography
Over the next few weeks, Diablo will bring you interviews with the East Bay style bloggers you need to be following. First up? TallSwag's Alicia Jay. Keep checking back on the Style Blog for more talks with local stylish ladies.
Alicia Jay is no stranger to double takes. The six-foot six-inch Oakland resident stands a good head taller than most of her friends, and has been known to cause pile ups when visiting team players stop and stare during her day job as Game Operations Manager for the Golden State Warriors. But Jay embraces her height, and encourages other tall ladies to do the same. She founded TallSwag, a personal style blog that has quickly become a resource for vertically blessed women looking for clothing and a supportive community. Here, Jay shares the secret behind her confidence, and rocking six-inch heels when you’re more than six feet tall.
How did TallSwag come about?
When I was young, I was teased a lot about my height. To this day, I’ll be walking, and people will call me a giant. Now that I have a tougher skin and confidence, it doesn’t really bother me, but back when I was younger and a little not into my body, it really was hard. I noticed that was a common theme among tall women. But really, it’s just about your confidence and having that tall swag.
Do you have mostly tall women following the blog, or is it a mix?
I definitely have followers of the blog who aren’t tall. They say that they either love the style and the way I put stuff together, or just the confidence. I think everyone can have tall swag. You might not be tall, but your swag can be tall.
How has the response been?
For the most part it’s been, “thank you so much for this; I’ve wanted this my entire life; I didn’t think anyone felt the same way that I did.” I even have people that hit me on Twitter all the time that say, “How do you have so much confidence? How do you deal with people staring at you?” And that is what makes it all worth it to me, because I was there; I was that person that needed somebody to talk to them, that voice. So me being that person, I’m blessed. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Any response that particularly moved you?
I was back home in Oregon at Nordstrom, and there was this girl who was six-foot two and trying on some heels. I went over to her and said “those heels are so cute, here’s my card. It’s a website called TallSwag; check it out when you have a chance.” She was kind of standoffish, like she didn’t want the card at first. I just hung back and watched her a little bit and she actually came over to me. She said “I’m sorry, but I haven’t accepted my height all the way, so it’s weird for you to give me a card about being tall. I’m actually here buying my first pair of heels today.” So I helped her pick out her first pair of heels, and we email each other all the time. She said, “you totally helped me find my confidence. Thank you so much. I didn’t even want to accept that I was tall before I met you.” It’s been an evolving relationship that’s been amazing because it has changed me in many ways too.
What are the pieces that are hardest for tall women to find?
Jeans. Even for women that just have longer legs, it’s really hard to find that long inseam. When I find a pair of jeans—I don’t care how much they are—I just buy them because I know I’m not going to find them everywhere. But probably the top thing people talk about is shoes. I wear size 12, which is kind of small for my height, but a lot of women have size 13 to 15. I like to call them “appropriate-sized shoes.”
Where can women find shoes in these sizes? Any physical stores, or do you have to turn to online shopping?
Mostly online, but Nordstrom Rack has shoes up to size 14 in stores, and the prices are ridiculously good. Barefoot Tess online is one of my favorite places to go. It has a lot of the trends, but not at a big price. Usually the shoes in those sizes are astronomically priced. By and large, the shoe memberships don’t go up to size 12. I’ll write letters to them saying “hey, I think you need bigger sizes.” I’ll try. I can’t say they hear me, but I try. I’ll keep trying until someone hears me.
How do you find the confidence to rock heels?
To be honest, I didn’t for a long time either, but there just came a point where I was like, why am I wearing shoes I don’t even like? It doesn’t make any sense. Personally, I think we rock tall heels the best. There just came a point where I said “those six inch heels are really cute; I’m going to buy them,” and I’ve never looked back.
Any stores or brands that work well for tall women?
There are definitely more options than there were in the past. Growing up, my mom put me in boy clothes because there weren’t any clothes that were long enough. Then you have this whole boxy thing, and it’s not form fitting at all. How is your confidence supposed to exude in something that doesn’t even fit you right?
I’m very thankful for these new and exciting retailers that are putting out tall lines. Topshop has a tall line, and its stuff is awesome—fashion forward, and actually long enough. Dorothy Perkins has a tall line online, with very small quantities, but it’s very fashion forward as well. Long Tall Sally is probably the biggest tall retailer out there. It’s based in the UK, and I can’t even tell you all the endless options.
My favorite local boutique, Collage Clothing Lounge, actually has some stuff that fits. The owner, Amanda, just has a lot of different cuts, and it’s easier to find something that works for me. I found some palazzo pants there and I was shocked.
And it looks like you’ve also worked with some of the brands.
Most recently, I modeled for Height Goddess, which is one of the emerging tall lines. It’s my favorite, and not just because I model for them. The clothes are cut for tall women and different shapes of tall women. It’s both something that I love and something that I model for.
What is one fashion resolution every woman should make?
Just being you, 100 percent, is what I would make my fashion resolution. Everyone should just do what they want to do and we’d be in a much better place. Put on the ring you want to wear, put on the pants you want to wear, put that shirt on, and be you 100 percent.
What’s next for TallSwag?
TallSwag is something that’s evolving even into places I didn’t think it would go. I just want to do anything and everything I can—whether it be through personal posts, reviews, or real stories from people who follow the blog—to help other tall women out there. If I do that, I’ve accomplished my goal. And that’s an ongoing goal, because you’re always going to be able to help someone new. I see tallswag being something I can do for the rest of my life.