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IGIGI: Books We Love

Posted by on July 27, 2015

I’m a bookworm at heart and forever will be one. A large part of my childhood was spent sitting against the dizzying stack of shelves at my local library and traveling to worlds, lives and centuries beyond me and my little body at the time. Reading defined so much of who I was that I actually needed to take a break from it (I was reading about one or two novels once a week, according to my updates on Goodreads! My friends almost didn’t believe me but that’s how engrossed I was) in my early adulthood. There is a thing called balance, right?

I’ve taken up other hobbies since moving to San Francisco and emerging from my bat cave. Seeing other people read, happily, and not checking their phones makes me a bit wistful for those simpler bygone days. I did have a (regular) cell phone back then but the incessant interruptions were only nascent.

I actually finished a novel this past weekend that I took a nibble through, slowly, for the past few months. I loved it so much that I want to now share it with everyone, but I also thought I would round up some selected favorites from others at the IGIGI office. Summer (or any season) is a perfect excuse to read and improve our perception, well-being, and empathy. Here goes:

1. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

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Elena Ferrante continues to be a mystery (her name is a pseudonym) yet she’s managed to become Italy’s most highly discussed and prized novelist. She’s written several books, all to much acclaim. I was tipped to My Brilliant Friend since the literary scene has become obsessed with the intrigue shrouding Ferrante. There’s even a hashtag called #FerranteFever. Her writing is blunt, passionate, and very personal. The setting of this novel is set in 1950s Naples as two females oscillate between growing together and apart in a war-torn city. I’m so glad I read this book and can’t wait to continue the rest of the series.

2. In Praise of Messy Lives by Katie Roiphe

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What do spectators have in common? The awe of watching others, larger than life, spill over into messy self-destruction or quirks. Katie Roiphe has written an amazing collection of essays that cover topics ranging from the “enormous popularity” of the MadMen TV show to personal revelations on being divorced and a single mother. Her cultural critiques are pretty perfect.

3. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey


Lena Dunham also happened to recommend this book somewhere (I forget), but I did really enjoy reading this book about all the creative minds out there, past and present, who have/had their quirky rituals and daily tasks that they needed to do to ground themselves.

4. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan


This book was excellent. There’s a motley of characters who tell their perspectives or interweave throughout the non-linear story from different tenses. Egan is a skillful writer who understands the psychoses of her characters as they deal with the trappings of success, the inevitability of time passing, and the desire for renewal. I also really liked being able to peek into the music industry, which is very parallel to that of fashion.


–Jane Yu, staff at IGIGI

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How to Unplug and Give Yourself the Present of the Present

Posted by on July 20, 2015

In our button-pushing culture, people are addicted to their phones, but that’s sadly become old news (or at least nothing new). With wifi hotspots abounding and more apps to make our lives seamless, we are encouraged to use our cell phones whenever possible. I carry my charger around with me because my iPhone is always on the cusp of running out of juice. It almost seems like a civic responsibility to make sure your phone is never out of batteries (which indicates availability to “connect” on-the-go).
I once read Stephen Elliott’s experiment of not using the internet for a month (but this was back in 2007… our [d]evolution has continued since). After going on this curious experiment, he was finally able to take a break from continual bursts of information and started reading a lot of more challenging books. Before I relented and purchased my first smart phone last year (that’s how much I wanted to stay out of the Matrix although my using the computer at work and at home didn’t really exempt me from this rule), I swore to myself that I would always be in control (control my phone), not the other way around.
Some suggestions below might be obvious for hobbyists or those who go on retreats willfully. I’ve rounded up activities to divide your day like day and night, online and offline. The golden rule to maintaining a healthy life is balance yet it becomes easy to slide into the extreme end of the spectrum where texting every ten minutes is usual. What happened to the mantra of “Use, don’t abuse”? We’ve rounded up activities for you to help you be mindful and present. Maybe we need a reminder on how to unplug every now and then.
1. Cook yourself a healthy meal.
This is much better than eating out or take out. Not only do you get to control your portion and ingredients, you take an active role in what goes into your body. It’s also more cost-saving.
2. Go through old photos/memorabilia
There’s nothing like holding a hard copy of a photo to have a walk down memory lane. Also, there are some studies that show that the act of taking photos may actually diminish what we remember.
3. Wander around without consulting Google Maps.
If you think less in a linear way, getting lost can be fun and you can find something new!
4. Wake up ten minutes earlier to do yoga and make your bed.
One of my friends said she makes her bed every morning to clear her mind (and that she’d read somewhere that it’s psychologically beneficial). She also happened to be a straight A student so maybe there’s a slight correlation.
5. Read a book.
Private time is the best. Period.
6. Write a card.
Emails are quick and efficient but there’s something impactful and special about a handwritten note. The time spent on writing a handwritten note signifies value because it took actual time and effort to send one.
7. Take a bath.
Maybe if you’re in California (where we’re experiencing a severe drought) then a bath just seems wasteful, but soaking yourself up in suds with a good book is a wonderful way to relax.
8. Declutter.
I recommend The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Many of her recommendations and strategies worked in helping me organize my room.
9. Write in a journal.
Writing your thoughts in a stream of consciousness form will aid in unlocking your subconsciousness.


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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

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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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4 reasons to love igigi
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