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Interview with Kailee O’Sullivan: A Natural Beauty

Posted by on April 15, 2015

KAILEE O’SULLIVAN

[MODEL]

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“I ALSO LIKE TO SEE THE MORE UNDERSTATED… JUST SO THAT THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF THE WOMAN SHINES ON ITS OWN.” 

With the face of an ingenue and a figure that’s reminiscent of a starlet from Hollywood’s Golden Age (luxurious curves), Kailee O’Sullivan sits patiently as the make-up artist preens her face. We’re afforded expansive views of the Pacific from the terrace room at San Francisco’s famed Cliff House but despite all the warnings of a storm and the crashing waves, the sky is already visible and the natural lighting perfectly adjusted for a photoshoot.

In her mid-20s where her modeling has already gathered steam over ten years, Kailee’s particular aesthetic is composed, serene, and attuned to nature. Her public Instagram feed @kaileeo (the digital snippets to one’s life behind-the-scenes nowadays) implies a non-grandiose understanding of her relation to the world, focusing on capturing the light emitting through trees or the soft trails of winter snow. She seems, in fact, for someone who’s photogenic and beautiful in real life with plentiful fashion spreads, to be disinterested in the casual vanity of posting numerous selfies that’s all too common as a modern aspiration or habit: the ratio of a non-human photo to a person/people photo (including hers) is 10 to 1. If the plus-size industry has always prized a colorful, loud glamour–then Kailee is what happens when glamour is tempered by subtlety.  She wears a relaxed navy cable knit sweater and black, wavy pants that encourage carefree movement. The ankle boots are just shy of meeting the sway of her gypsy bottoms.

The moments with Kailee are calm as if we’re both observing a painting together in a gallery. She speaks gracefully with a watchful gaze; she reveals herself at her own clear-eyed pace and sketches her background with the ease of someone who doesn’t shy away from introspection. Kailee cites anthropology and culture alongside her thespian interests. When the topic lands on the scrutiny Lena Dunham faces for her non-apologetic nudity in the HBO Show ‘Girls,’ Kailee lights up and defends her as a courageous and necessary feminist who strikes a chord with the angst-y Millenials. Or anyone who remembers what it’s like to be young and uncertain about what the future holds, especially in New York. –Jane Yu, staff at IGIGI

Jane Yu: What was it about you that made your mother push you to become a model as opposed to something else when you were young?

Kailee O’Sullivan: Well, I wouldn’t say she necessarily pushed me to become a model but she kind of was the one to push me to be more out in the limelight. I always wanted to do acting and I like being in front of the camera but I was always very shy. My mother was the one who kind of pushed me in that direction when I wasn’t really able to push myself. I would have never gone to an open call or a casting for modeling if my mother wasn’t the one saying, you gotta do it, you gotta do it. So, I’m grateful for her doing that in that sense.

JY: Is modeling your happy medium? How come you decided to pursue modeling instead of theater?

KO: Well, I did do some theater on the side in high school and I did study acting in school after in a few different colleges but modeling just sort of picked up by itself without me even trying too hard in the beginning. It really seemed like it was kind of meant to be because it just took off in its own direction. And then after that I kind of took the bull by the horn, as they say. I went with it and then made it my own instead of just riding the wave. I showed up being more myself, but not just like a young, little girl or young teenager in the industry who doesn’t really know what’s going on but more somebody who knows what she wants. “This is who I am. Here I am”– let’s work, that kind of thing. And it became a lot more fun and a lot more creative and a lot more adult. I felt like more of an adult.

JY: How old are you now?

KO: 25.

JY: And you said you studied theater after college?

KO: Yeah, I studied theater a little bit in high school.

JY: What was your major?

KO: In college? I never finished my degree. I’m kind of in and out still to this day but I’ve been studying acting and photography and writing.

JY: Creative writing?

KO: Yeah, creative writing.

JY: Cool. Creative non-fiction?

KO: Yeah, non-fiction. I don’t really… I’m not a fiction writer.

JY: What would be your alternate profession?

KO: I definitely want to do more acting. I want to be an actress just as much as I would like to continue modeling. But I definitely want to be in the acting field a lot more. And then on top of that I do have a huge interest in like, anthropology, cultures, communities, tribes around the world. I love traveling so in some ways. Somehow, eventually, I’d like to incorporate that into projects and to my career. Maybe do photographs and stuff like that.

JY: Is this your outfit today?

KO: Yeah.

JY: Boho chic–I like it. You look like a traveler… How much of your clothes has been influenced by the clothes you model from brands?

KO: I definitely think it’s influenced me to enhance and show off my curves more but in a very subtle way. It’s not always where I’ll model something and think, “Oh, I wanna wear that.” It’s more, like, over the course of doing this for over ten years, seeing different women and different body shapes expressing themselves through their clothing.

JY: So you’re into the silhouettes and…

KO: Right, so seeing how different women dress over a ten-year-period has influenced me more in a subtle or gradual way. Sometimes I’ll see something someone’s wearing and I’m like, oh, I want that but it’s rare… it doesn’t happen that much. It’s opened me to a world of how women can dress from a young age. I do have a totally separate style and taste, too.

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JY: How would you describe it?

KO: I’m drawn to textures and colors. And also something that flatters my body in my shape, personally. So even if I like something that is very trendy at the moment, I can say easily, well, you know, it’s beautiful but it’s just not for me. Like, I’m not gonna wear that. I’ll also wear something that’s not trendy, maybe, but something out of style I know that I look good in and I feel good in it. So, yeah, it’s just kind of eclectic. I definitely like colors, textures, fabrics–anything very natural. I like everything to be very natural looking and feeling.

JY: I don’t know too much about the modeling industry, but it seems like some models are more typecasted into one type of look.

KO: Let me think about that.

JY: In your pictures, there seems to be a variation to the outfits you wear and the looks you pull off.

KO: Right, yeah, that’s true. I think there’s a lot of glamour in the industry which I think is a wonderful thing. You know, I think everybody looks gorgeous and I love feeling glamorous at times but what there isn’t so much in the plus-size world is a more pared down, very natural, even naked look. Naked, quote-on-quote.

JY: Do you mean, like, rustic?

KO: Yeah, could be rustic. Rustic is a good word. T-shirts, jeans, just something that kind of shows a woman in her most natural state and how beautiful she can be and I think there’s more and more of that now. It’s coming up but I’ve always loved somebody who looks very understated. I love a glamour look but I also like to see the more understated, just so that the natural beauty of the woman shines on its own. So, that’s more of my style and I think I see it from time to time but not as much as I’d like.

JY: Is there something you wish that people knew about you since you say you’re people-shy?

KO: Yeah, I’m shy but I’m also a Leo who definitely likes to be in front of the camera. There’s a dichotomy within me or a duality where I am very private but I feel like there’s something in me that I want to show, that wants to be seen. I can’t wait to get it out and show it. It feels amazing and it feels creative and it feels like it’s an expression of the self.

JY: And how do you feel about New York or specifically, Brooklyn?

KO: I love Brooklyn. New York’s always changing which is really hard because you get attached to a certain place or certain neighborhoods, certain group of people, but the nature of New York is transient and it’s sad because it’s become more and more modernized. On a daily basis it’s becoming more modernized and a little bit more homogenous which is sad. I wish it would stay a little bit more mom-and-pop.

JY: When you say New York, though, do you mean Manhattan or Brooklyn or both?

KO: Manhattan mostly but Brooklyn for sure is on that incline, that path and all five boroughs are eventually… like, people just keep getting pushed out of their neighborhoods ‘cause the rent is so expensive.

JY: Did you originally live in Manhattan?

KO: No, I’m originally from about a half an hour east of Manhattan, on Long Island.

JY: And you were born there?

KO: I was born and raised in Long Island which is beautiful in its own way but definitely a lot quieter. New York will always be my home. I love it there but I also love to travel so I like to go away and come back.

JY: Do you watch the [HBO] show ‘Girls’?

KO: I love ‘Girls.’

JY: What are your thoughts on how Lena Dunham kind of pushes the boundaries and standards of beauty?

KO: Yeah, I’m all for it. I absolutely love everything she has done and I do hear a lot of her backlash and a lot of things that people don’t like. And I hear it. I understand. But,personally for me, we need somebody like her, and not just curvy women. Somebody who’s willing to just show all of her flaws in such a confident way. To me, it doesn’t feel forced or even too in-your-face. There’s nobody else out there who’s willing to make such a fool of themselves at this age and say, “Hey, this is okay. This is so okay. I’m struggling, I’m in my mid-20s. I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do with my life.” I think we’ve all been there. We’ve all been lost, we’ve all been struggling. We’ve all struggled. I mean, I think we need somebody who’s like a champion for that, to show that it’s okay. Every episode of that show I’m, like, “Oh my god, there is somebody like me and my friends!” We all find common ground with her.

JY: Do people in Brooklyn find that show to be an accurate parallel?

KO: Yeah, I think it is. There’s a lot of backlash about how there’s all this nepotism and also that the characters are spoiled. But I think if you watch the full show, if you watch all the seasons, you see that, yes, they are spoiled but this is their big wake-up call. Like, they might not have had it so hard growing up but eventually the red carpet gets pulled out, yanked out, from underneath you. Your parents shelter you growing up if you’re lucky enough but then eventually, especially if you’re living in New York, you have to learn how to live on your own. You have to learn how to hustle and struggle and nobody’s there to really catch you when you fall unless you build a group of friends which is the best part of the show. You see their own little community, their own little tribe. I think if you move anywhere long enough you’re going to develop all of that and that’s so important when you start to create your own life outside of your parents’ house growing up there. I love everything she’s done. I think she’s amazing–so smart and intelligent, brilliant.

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Blogger Spotlight and Interview: Boardroom Blonde shows how to look feminine and fashionable in florals

Posted by on April 10, 2015

*Jolene is a multi-talented body positive advocate blogger whose passion for fashion comes alive in her colorful and stylish outfits. Meet Jolene of Boardroom Blonde and check her out in some of our favorite IGIGI designs!

IGIGI Interview with Boardroom Blonde

How did the Boardroom Blonde come about?

Boardroom Blonde began with a YouTube channel. I started my channel not long after I started law school because I wanted to connect with other plus-size women who enjoy dressing beautifully. Plus-size fashion for professional women is underrepresented on YouTube, and I want to help change that. While I believe that style has nothing to do with a woman’s size, its important for women of all sizes to find ways to incorporate fashion trends into their professional and casual wardrobes. After the channel started doing well, I realized that I could combine my love of photography with my love of fashion by creating a blog and boardroomblonde.com was born.

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How do you see the plus-size fashion landscape?

Plus-size women are not only underrepresented on YouTube but on all media outlets. I’m excited to see new brands popping up and it reassures me that one day I’ll be able to step into any mall and buy a beautiful dress that fits like a glove.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m a full time law student, and a part-time blogger and photographer. I wake up each morning to a full inbox. I attend classes during the week, work with my photography clients on photo shoots, and work on my blog and YouTube content. If there’s time left over, I try to have a social life, but during finals, I’m poring over everything I learned during the semester and making sure I’m prepared to take exams. During finals season, I’m lucky if I have time for date night with my boyfriend.

“One of my favorite things about IGIGI is that many of their dresses are so beautiful; you don’t need to wear a bunch of accessories to be put together.”

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What are some typical questions you get from your readership?

Most of the comments I receive from my readers/viewers are regarding my confidence in myself. We need to know that we are people with accomplishments just like thin women. We are not plus-size women, we are women who just happen to wear plus-size clothing.

What are three fashion must haves?

A crop top, a midi skirt, and a good wrap dress. Any woman can wear a crop top with the right skirt.

What are three fashion fashion faux pas?

The only thing I wouldn’t wear is something that is ill fitting. Wear what you love in the appropriate size and you will look and feel wonderful.

What are three items you love from IGIGI collections?

I love the IGIGI wedding dresses – they are just gorgeous! The Dakota Dress in Rose Garden is beyond fabulous, and I really wish I had the Adele Dress in Noir.

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When I showed my blogger boo this dress, she said, “you look two sizes smaller!” Now looking smaller isn’t my goal and she didn’t mean that as a compliment, but rather – a statement of fact. I quickly agreed and we ooed-and-awed about every darling detail of this dress (Dakota Dress in Rose Garden).

If you could spend an entire day with a designer, whom would you choose?

I’d love to spend a day with any plus-size designer – I have so much to say.

What style advice do you have for plus-size ladies?

Don’t listen to the inner voice that says, “You can’t wear that!” Just don’t listen–and also, try it on!

What are you looking forward to in the spring?

I love pastels. I want to see more watercolor dresses!

*Boardroom Blonde, Jolene is a plus size blogger who also makes YouTube videos.

She is a body positive advocate and a law student.

–Ozlem Arpaci, PR at IGIGI

 

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What to Wear for THAT Special Cccasion: IGIGI Looks from the Red Carpet

Posted by on April 2, 2015

Spring is finally officially here! If you have some special events lined up, this post is perfect for all those RSVPs you’ve confirmed.

We love it when we see a full-figured beauty grace the red carpet in one of our designs. Two of our favorite bloggers have recently attended two different celebrations in the US and Europe.

What better inspiration than these to get some red-carpet-worthy outfit ideas for the parties ahead?

Check them out!

Beauty With Plus, Hungary

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Glamour Magazine Gala, Lakshmi Gown in Merlot

“I was pleased to receive an invitation to the Glamour magazine’s annual ‘Women Of The Year’ Award Gala where, based on the votes from magazine readers, prominent female figures (and one man) from Hungary get awarded every year. Beside the usual categories, this year was special as the magazine also chose one role model to receive the ‘Heroine of the Year’ award. Kriszta Bódis received this honor–she is a Hungarian writer, psychologist and documentary film maker, taking care of talented children in the poorest area in Hungary. Big respect for that!”

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The event was held at the Operetta House of Budapest so my beautiful IGIGI gown suited so well the elegance of the venue. Thanks to the American brand I really felt special in this dress and apple-shaped women like myself know fully well the advantages of an empire waist line under the breasts! The top tulle layer of the dress is full of sequin embroidery which really makes this gown a real gem.”

The Art of Random Willynillyness, US

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Cinderella Premier, Adelle Dress in Garnet Lace

“Where do I start? Me, on the red carpet at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. Really? But it happened and it was wonderful. Once we finished our walk, we ended up at the front of the El Capitan Theater and walked into the official pre-premiere party that was amazing. Besides food and drinks, there were all types of activities for the kids (big kids, too).

There were crafts, photo stations and so much more–performers and music. It was so much fun. I saw a few celebrities like Octavia Spencer, Toni Collette, Jeremy Sisto, Molly Ringwald, Josh Gad and others. After an hour or so, we were asked to enter the movie theater because the movie was beginning. We grabbed our soda and popcorn and entered. At one point, Cate Blanchett walked right past me and I almost died. Once inside, we were treated to the premiere of Cinderella and all I can say is that it was magical!

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Here is my red carpet look. Thank you IGIGI!”

–Ozlem Arpaci, PR at IGIGI

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Blogger Love: A Floral Feast

Posted by on March 25, 2015

Florals are the quintessential spring print. Yes, they steal the runways and our hearts year after year, and there is a reason for that. Because nothing says “spring” better than an outfit in a uniquely designed print of bold and bright florals. Some of our favorite bloggers have recently shown off their style in our designs de jour. Check them out!

–Ozlem Arpaci, PR at IGIGI

Francesca Dress in Tuberose

FarrahEstrella

“I love the print and the fit of this dress and don’t forget about the quality either. The quality of IGIGI’s dresses is exquisite. They are also true to size when you shop and that helps.”

-Estrella Fashion Report

Taryn Dress in Scarlett Dahlia (sold out)

TheCurvyFashionista

“Last week I had the pleasure of traveling to Toronto to sit on an amazing panel of body image champions in the space of diversity in fashion and I left so inspired. Well, to get ready, I wanted to be cute, professional, with my playful approach… So, I rocked this dress from IGIGI!”

The Curvy Fashionista

Mally Plus Size Maxi Dress in Rose Garden

TheMusingsofaCurvyLady

“I fell in love with this particular floral number from IGIGI. This maxi gives me comfort with its polyester/ spandex blend and the ruched detail at the waist and the pretty floral print make it eye catching and flattering on my body.”

The Musings of a Curvy Lady

Louise Jacket and Mariah Skirt in Tahitian Heights

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“This IGIGI look screams “I’m Here!” The Louise Jacket is fully lined and is heavy enough to be worn as a stand alone jacket. I can see this working for work wear and also for weekend wear with skinny jeans. The Mariah Skirt is pencil cut and in my opinion perfectly light weight for the upcoming spring weather.”

Suits, Heels, and Curves

Meredith Plus Size Dress in Rouge Amour (sold out)

GirlontheGowithaFro

“I opted for a this bold floral dress featuring a variety of warm tones. The dresses in the Meredith style suit a wide range of figures as you can tell from the photos. IGIGI is a curvy girls best friend when it comes to stylish modern apparel.”

Girl on the Go with a Fro

Francesca Dress in Tuberose

CurvyElle

“For someone like myself, who feels comfort and style can (and SHOULD) come hand in hand, this dress makes me happy in that respect. I look forward to taking this lovely red thing out for a second test drive…maybe to a nice dinner? Besides this dress in general, another thing that impresses me about IGIGI is that their products are locally designed and produced in San Francisco.”

The Curvy Elle

 

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Wardrobe Refresh for Spring!

Posted by on March 18, 2015

Steffany Allen, Fashion Stylist

Wardrobe Refresh for Spring!

Wearing floral prints in the spring is nothing new, but it’s a fantastic way to add a few bright colors to your wardrobe for an updated look. Okay, so I admit that I wear black pretty much all the time, so I am taking my own advice and adding a little splash of color for spring with the beautiful Louise Jacket in Tahitian Nights.

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In the past, the thought of wearing floral prints was like wearing your grandmother’s tablecloth or curtains. In some cases that may still be true, but today’s great designers use modern floral prints – plus good styling really helps. I always like to add some edge to my looks, so I paired this amazing jacket with a black tank shirt, distressed denim, gold jewelry and a pair of flats.

Another way to update your look for spring is to add bold prints! I love the Loretta Skirt in Black and White Polka Dot! I had to get back to my black, so I paired the skirt with a simple black tee, my cropped leather jacket, and a pop of color with my cobalt blue ballet flats. I kept my accessories simple so the focus would be on the skirt. This skirt is so flirty and fun and the below- the- knee length is perfectly on trend. And I love that it has pockets!! (BONUS!!)

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A note when choosing a print:

Take notice of your facial features and the size of the print. If you have smaller features, lean towards smaller prints. And if you have larger features, try larger prints. Don’t be afraid to try something new! Ultimately, it’s all about personal taste and what feels and looks good to you.

Happy Spring!

Steffany

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