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Makeover Candidate through Catherine Schuller’s Y.E.S.S. #2 — Denise Mercedes (Instagram leader)

Posted by on July 8, 2015


by Catherine Schuller, AICI, CIP

Makeover Candidate:  Denise Mercedes, Instagram Celebrity

Like any modern friendship these days, I met Denise on social media last year and was impressed with how well she “got it right” when it came to her ensembles. One of my pet peeves as an image consultant is how wrong some of the
influential bloggers are with their ensembles. You know my mantra is “Just ’cause you can button it doesn’t mean you should buy it.” It has become more and more apparent that proportion, balance and fit are not the major criteria used
when assembling outfits and placed up on social media these days. Forget about looking in the mirror and snapping selfies willy-nilly. If someone has a natural aesthetic and a personality that leaps off the screen, I’m engaged. Obviously I am not alone as Denise has amassed over 26,000 (yes thousand) followers in the past few years. It has been a meteroric rise by anyone’s standards, and I am amazed at her natural sense of style and ability to edit looks that really work for her. I chose her as my next makeover participant because she gets it right most of the time in her posts, even in light of her challenges: She is 5’5”, a petite curvy woman, size 16W – with a full bust measurement of 42”,  waist 33”,
hips 48” (a true hourglass) and shoulder width of 19” (not overly broad)….Denise probably represents the majority of plus women out there in the world since most of the U.S. is 5’4” and size 14. However, that’s far from the going size and height of most models in the plus divisions of agencies today. Denise expressed her disappointment at being rejected by most agencies because of her height but instead of slinking away into the shadows, she took the cyber-bull by the horns and marketed her uniqueness. She now realizes (in the truest sense of the world) that she is a role model for her fans who find her shape and height similar to theirs and therefore much more relatable. It’s a testament to social media that everyone, no matter how far outside the accepted norm, can find a growing number of followers who admire them for their differences.

Denose is twenty-three years old, born and raised in Jersey from a Dominican family. She’s currently studying psychology and hoping to obtain her bachelor’s degree in a few years. She is great at reading people and has great
listening skills. She is an avid lover of animals and actually says she has telepathic conversations with dogs! She would have become a veterinarian in another life. Eventually, she turned from reading animals to reading people. I asked her about her beginning days on Instagram, the platform where she truly shines. We live in a world now where a picture tells a story and is worth a thousand words.  She began on a weekly basis, taking photos of herself in a favorite outfit in the park with her friend and posting them regularly on Instagram. As soon as she began posting on IG she started to get followers, first a few at a time, then more and more over a relatively short period of time. Her followers started to grow so much so that she was encouraged to do it more often – sometimes three times a week. Consistency online is key these days–meeting expectations and delivering on a regular basis.  She was thrilled when her followers provided positive feedback. Her fans would tell her how much they loved her images that showed a curvy petite woman who wasn’t stopping herself because of her height and size “limitations.” The irony of her story is that she started taking photos of herself out of her feeling rejected from the plus-size model agency world. It’s a lesson about changing the pot, not the chicken! She was shy and insecure but believed in herself and wanted an expressive outlet. Unlike her counterparts who don’t really know their appropriate style, she knew what looked good on her and was willing to share it out there in the world in hopes that she would simply see herself as a model on some level, even if what she was modeling was clothing from her own wardrobe and her campaign platform message was “self love.” Other women even told her that she had saved their lives! That’s when she understood that her positivity was truly beneficial.

One tip I learned from our time together is that she never uses a camera phone to post.  She uses a Nikon camera with a zoom lens and her pictures are clear and well lit and have a depth that a selfie cam shot simply cannot deliver. She said
that her fans deserve the best visuals of her and respond in kind. A beautiful shot is a thing to behold, worth the investment. With 26,000 followers, she is quite inspirational and her fans are very vocal about it. Yes, she was shy and insecure, but she luckily didn’t have low self esteem…that was the difference. Since she can remember, her mother was a constant disapproving nudge about her weight. She was very thin and couldn’t understand why her daughter, Denise, wasn’t the same way. It seemed as though her mother badgered her because she was trying to shame her into skinniness, but we all know that always backfires. Her mother chose the worst possible shaming device ever – comparison. She had size 0, 2, 4 cousins and was constantly reminded by her mother that she needed to look like them.  Thank goodness that her cousins didn’t jump on the bullying bandwagon!  She was amazed that her cousins actually said she was beautiful, that her curves were gorgeous and that they weren’t perfect either – certainly not worthy of Denise feeling inferior around them. What cool cousins!! They encouraged and protected her, not beating her up any more than her mother already did! That fact was her saving grace…imagine if her cousins had been “mean girls” and fed the fire of her mother’s fat fanatic frenzy. I told her that she is truly a role model, turning obstacles into assets
and overcoming the feelings that she wasn’t good enough because of her mother and the rejecting New York modeling agencies.  I can only say, “You go, girl!” It was my pleasure to IGIGI-ify you. It was a delight to get to know you, to
assess and dress you and hopefully your fans will love the results from our encounter.

Her Y.E.S.S. assessment resulted in her style being Dramatic and Alluring. She loves magnetic dressing, showing off her curves and cleavage. She knows that it’s about appropriateness and IGIGI has just the right body conscious clothing that work for her petite plus silhouette. Add sexy heels and a necklace and she’s ready for the world! With her extreme curves, she needs a dress that flows and emphasizes her hourglass figure.

Note:  She took the quiz online and actually met me for the photoshoot a day after she had a terrible incident with her boyfriend’s ex girlfriends and friend who wound up confronting her and taunting her by saying, “So you think you’re a
model??” In an ice cream shop, they kept teasing and taunting until her friend said, “What is your problem?” They literally came at both of them and wound up yanking Denises’s hair and pulling a clump of it out and even snapping and hurting her neck in the process! I was appalled at her recounting of this episode that had just happened the night before. I also had a newfound respect for her. Even Shelia Gay Robbins of She She’s Closet who came along to add her gorgeous jewelry to the shoot was shocked when she heard the story. We wanted to pamper Denise as much as possible and make her feel amazing. Even with a boyfriend of three years, the ex-girlfriend isn’t leaving it alone. Denise still fights battles and with exposure comes disapproval and jealousy. A role model, indeed! IGIGI styles reflected her Dramatic and Alluring nature and She She’s Closet jewelry pieces, the perfect accent. I am so happy that we helped her feel like a pampered queen for a day at least! Her style was always there, maybe a bit on the exaggerated or even too casual style. Our focus on Dramatic and Alluring gave her a sophisticated and glamorous look which she embraced.  She was a great model with wonderful instincts allowing her to access that deep emotional space that expresses
how she feels– “fierce and fabulous.” It shows in her face and eyes!  I was impressed with her instincts and model potential. I would love if she could help me at F.I.T. when I teach. She could certainly be a shining example of the
women’s petite market….a much needed inspiration for my class as well!!






mercedes 10

Blake Dress in Bombay Teal

denise mercedes 2

denise mercedes 3

mercedes 13Charmaine Jumpsuit in Black (no longer in stock)

mercedes 5

Think you’ve got what it takes to take my Y.E.S.S. Style Assessment Quiz [take yours here] and let me “IGIGI-ify” your look?  Contact me at catschuller1@gmail.com. Send me a few jpegs of your face and body in your favorite outfits and you may be next!

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Foods Good for Anxiety

Posted by on June 24, 2015

One of my friends in the UK (that’s notorious for its “horrible food”) once told me that the concept of “good food” was a scam. I told him that was absolute bullocks; foods good for anxiety abound, such as asparagus. So much of how we feel is tied to what we eat, and for good measure. A famous quote by Andre Bretin is, “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are.” Well, don’t look at my insides because you might think I’m a mixture of junk and quality (but aren’t we all? The “slow food” movement is fairly new) when I assure you that I try to be a better, healthier person every day. Check out some ingredients below that soothe your jitters.

1. Chamomile Tea


This tea just makes me mellow, mild, and serene all around.

2. Kefir


My foodie friend once shared some of her kefir drink with me that had the perfect amount of fizz and lemon-y taste. I wanted to drink more of it but she told me I could make some of it myself. Apparently, it’s really easy and it tastes yummy.

3. Avocado


Who doesn’t like avocados? They’re so rich and full of the monounsaturated fats that stimulate the brain’s neurotransmitters. Mashed or even in a smoothie, they’re perfect.

4. Dark chocolate


I had to throw in dark chocolate because I could never give up chocolate. I felt vindicated when science proved that dark chocolate delivers calm to those who consume. Chocolate lovers, unite!

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Say Yes! Plus Size Dresses To Wear to a Wedding

Posted by on June 17, 2015

So, you’ve said the BIG yes, but do you know what you’re going to wear down the altar? A wedding is made up of a dozen micro-tasks. There are florals to arrange, caterers to book, and questions of which space to rent out. Even if what you wear seems like the most trivial, it’s also symbolically and emotionally important. It’s the photo with your spouse that will be passed down the family tree to future generations. The details matter.

I still remember that “Friends” episode where Monica (always on a budget), has Rachel accompany her as a tag-team partner in the serious hunt for a discount wedding dress, akin to an orchid thief prowling through the perils of the jungle to find his keep. In fact, she really did need Rachel by her side because she ends up getting into a tug-of-war with another shopper whose eyes were set on the same dress. Talk about competition! The immediacy of the Internet sometimes draws our chase to a close very quickly (not to mention it’s much more isolated–it’s just you and how quickly you click your mouse), but isn’t it nice to find a haven for plus size dresses to wear to a wedding? Our wedding dresses at IGIGI are a huge hit so we wanted to share some of our favorites below.



Our Paulette Wedding Dress is our newest addition to our Bridal Collection and ever so sweet with the delicate embroidery on the skirt.








The Eugenia Wedding Gown is regal with vintage flair. As you walk down the aisle, you’ll shimmer with every step!



Our White Diamonds Wedding Gown is just exquisite with the sparkling rhinestones and crystals adding to your queenly effect.

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“Made in USA” is Here to Stay

Posted by on June 11, 2015

Made in USA

Who wants to feed into a better cycle? The movement always starts with you. We all know industry change can only be made from the ground up. Just as there’s been a movement with the slow food movement where kitchens in restaurants become open and transparent, there is also a lot of political effort in the US to manufacture stateside.
Let’s get onto the same side of the conversation and learn why you should support locally manufactured clothing companies such as IGIGI, made in the USA and in San Francisco, specifically. As we wear clothing every day, we should take a step further and put more thought into the source of our clothing.

1. Fair trade delivers money back to the people who produce your clothing. IGIGI is proud to be a part of domestic manufacturing.
2. Fair trade environmental standards also protect the environment since there is a regulation of meeting specific requirements.
3. Sustainability and ethics are a priority for companies that manufacture locally. If you support locally based companies, you can contribute to the notion that you can still make business from pulling resources within your own country!

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Makeover Candidate through Catherine Schuller’s Y.E.S.S.

Posted by on June 2, 2015

Makeover Candidate: Nicole Flores

Profession: Blogger, Writer, Spokesperson, Social Media and PR

Interests: Art, Hip Hop, Music and Entertainment

Photographer: Jose Pagan

Makeup Artist: Nicole Flores

Styling and Accessories: Shelia Gay Robbins of She She’s Closet

Nicole Flores lives in New York City and the backdrop of the arts scene is exactly what feeds her creative soul. She is passionate about everything to do with artists who perform, write, paint, draw, sing, dance, or express themselves through their art. She is a dedicated supporter and liaison of the art, music, fashion, business and beauty scenes in New York. Being a curvy woman, she has the same challenges in finding great outfits to wear to various art events in an about town. She is aware of her persona and how she presents herself in public. She is often dashing around the city, from morning to night, flitting among the art openings, gallery exhibitions, music and dance performances, and fashion shows. It’s this adrenaline rush that fuels her desires and motivates her on a daily basis. This is a high energy city and she is as dynamic a creature as you’ll find, curvy or straight.

Nicole is a beautiful Latina woman with a curly mane of hair and a smile as wide as her arms. She is one heck of a cook and a fabulous single mother. She works tirelessly and is all about empowerment, so she seemed like a great first candidate for my Y.E.S.S. blog post. We met when Nicole just started her Xponential Curve blog, which has grown in popularity over the past three years. She now has many followers and has become a writer, speaker and a heavy influence in social media. I have grown quite fond of this downtown diva with her Bronx roots and heart of gold. We became quite close over the past two years of my doing Runway the Real Way at the Yotel Hotel. With our having done over sixty shows at that venue, she has become a contributing member of the family, helping in a myriad of ways that make her indispensable to me each weekend. She assists with makeup application backstage and keeping the social media buzz going, not to mention rockin’ the runway with many of the plus-size designers who present in our show.

She has become my curvy confidante and I seek her advice, counsel and wisdom every week. You know you have a lot to say when a phone call goes on for an hour and you’ve barely scratched the surface. She is a wonderful mother, too, and in that regard I was honored to help her bump up her image and “IGIGI-ify” her current style. I chose Nicole for my first Y.E.S.S. candidate and am proud to make her my lovely lady of this first launch. I believe she personifies the very reason why I created this blog with IGIGI. I’m going to choose curvy women who have their own established style (although they may not know exactly what that is but as long as they know “what they like” and why). With Y.E.S.S., I’m going to help her pinpoint their style type, define what comprises that look and then have her choose an Igigi dress that best reflects who she is and more importantly, where she’s going.

After tallying the results from the Style Assessment Quiz [take yours here], we determined that Nicole has a Natural/Sporty core style but also has secondary characteristics (because no one is one dimensional, after all) in Dramatic/Alluring and Romantic/Feminine. For the most part, her style is casual, comfortable but creative. She wears a lot of pants and jeans because she “doesn’t like her legs” and has a hard time finding flattering dresses. IGIGI is known for its stunning array of dresses, so when I mentioned she’d be wearing a dress, she was a little hesitant at first, but I wanted her to try something that would reflect her appearing mores sophisticated and mature but not sacrificing her need for comfort; I certainly did not want her to feel self-conscious about her legs. “Style is being yourself on purpose,” I always say. We definitely discovered and tweaked her style; we used a few more flavors to complement and reflect her former style restraints, freeing her up to move into her more romantic and flirty side.

BEFORE: Here she is in some looks which she wore over the last few years…

nicole flores 3 beforenicole flores 4 beforenicole flores in ADIR BELT WAVENicole Flores 2 beforeNICOLE FLORES 1 BEFORE PIC

Her past looks were only a mere fraction of her style capability in my estimation. I chose the Kelly Dress in Noir Rose dress and the Francesca Dress in Tuberose because they are easy, breezy comfortable, but the message being communicated is Dramatic/Alluring with a touch of Romantic/Feminine. Something that was lacking in her wardrobe of yore. We have to examine how our style choices can show the world what we are moving away from and moving towards. She loves her new IGIGI-fied persona. We did her makeup and hair and added some fabulous jewelry which IGIGI dresses are MADE for fabulous accessories from She She’s Closet to coordinate with the colors in each dress and voila – instant glam!!

Then, with the spring weather in all its glory, we had the very talented Jose Pagan capture the new Nicole. How ironic that it was in the courtyard of The X Collective art studio where she was holding a gallery viewing during a Sunday afternoon. When I got her look all together and we were walking outside to start shooting the final result she put on the dress, spun around and said gleefully, “I feel so PRETTY!” Now isn’t that saying YESS to the DRESS???

AFTER: Natural/Sport, Dramatic/Alluring, Romantic/Feminine

Igigi Edited Igigi Edit2

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