Posted by Jane Janeczko on November 14, 2013
Sarah Jerilinn, 35, is the full-time finance manager for a large California winery in Sonoma’s wine country, as well as a full-time fashionista. She recently decided to pursue a lifelong dream and go to design school so she can translate her love of the “Fatshion” movement into beautiful clothes for other plus-size women.
“The ‘Fatshion’ community on Tumblr is amazing, authentic, and continues to be my greatest source of inspiration,” says Sarah. “It has inspired me to take a big step and fulfill a lifelong dream of mine to attend design school. I want to make beautiful clothes for these women.”
Sarah is taking a big step and heading to fashion design school in San Francisco in January, where she will continue working full-time while going to school part-time for her design degree. She’s planning on launching a new website on January 1st, on which she’ll continue doing her fabulous “Outfit of the Day” posts, which are currently showcased on her Tumblr, but she is also going to start exploring additional content like DIY’s, plus-size fashion tutorials, videos, and news. Sarah is also planning on blogging about her experiences in design school.
Personally, I can’t wait to her about it. It takes a lot of courage to go back to school and pursue a lifelong dream and I can’t wait to see the beautiful designs that Sarah is going to be turning out, especially since Sarah is eventually planning on creating a collection to sell online. Sarah took some time out of her busy life to talk with IGIGI (over email) and discuss her design aesthetic, her plus-size inspirations, and her life in the blog-o-sphere.
Jane: What was the moment when you realized that you were interested in pursuing fashion?
Sarah: My grandmother was a seamstress. She taught me to sew when I was around 6 years old. I can remember her strapping a wooden block to the top of the sewing machine pedal because my legs weren’t long enough to reach it. It wasn’t long before I was designing and making my dolls clothes. I have loved fashion and sewing ever since.
Jane: Where do you think that you get your fashion and design inspiration from?
Sarah: I find fashion inspiration all around me. I work in a tourist-saturated town and I like to go out on the square and people watch. I spend way too many hours on the Internet during fashion week, watching the shows in New York and Paris. I also follow a ton of plus-size and straight-size style bloggers and designers on Bloglovin, Instagram, and Pinterest. But, my absolute favorite source of fashion inspiration comes from Tumblr. I am constantly inspired by the women I see posting pics, taking risks and having so much fun with fashion.
Jane: Yes! So many women that I talk to absolutely love the online plus-size fashion community and the support there, myself included. Just out of curiosity, is there anything that you don’t love about that community?
Sarah: Yes, I’ve noticed a trend recently; a lot of my favorite plus-size bloggers are doing more and more sponsored posts. Now, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing sponsored posts as long as there’s real authenticity behind what you are saying. However, in some instances, I’ve felt like some of my favorite bloggers are being paid to do PR damage control rather than speak from the heart, and it has seriously diminished my interest in their style and opinions.
Jane: What steps do you take when you’re looking for some outfit inspiration, and what advice would you give to women who are finding themselves in a fashion rut?
Sarah: The first thing I do when I’m in a rut is shop my own closet. I keep all of my clothing organized by color to make it easy to find what that I’m looking for. I will pull out an item and try to come up with three new ways to style it. I also keep a list of items that I’d like to add to my wardrobe. Once you evaluate what you have, you may realize that just a couple of new items would inspire you to try some new ways of wearing what you’ve already got. I keep a folder of bookmarks with every online plus-size retailer I’ve ever found. Sometimes, I will get my inspiration from doing some online window shopping. It could be the colors or the way a retailer has styled an outfit that inspires me, but I often get good inspiration this way. I have a fashion inspiration board on Pinterest where I keep my inspirations for the next season pinned. I’m keeping my eye out right now for what I want to be wearing next spring and it helps keeps me inspired throughout the year.
Jane: Do you do most of your shopping online? I know that I, personally, really struggle with shopping in brick-and-mortar stores just because there are so few options available in my size. Have you ever dealt with any size-discrimination?
Sarah: Every time I go into a department store and the plus-size clothing selection is on a different floor or tucked into the back corner, I feel a little sick to my stomach. Every time I go into a store and there are 500 racks of straight sized women’s clothing and two small racks of plus-size clothing, I feel less important than the other women shopping there. Every time I go into a store to be told that my size is only available online, I feel a little embarrassed. I realize that these retailers are under no obligations to cater to plus sized women. Likewise, I’ve realized that I do not have to spend a cent in their stores. I have a list of places where I do not shop ever, not for my household, not for gifts, not for my husband. I am not ashamed of myself, but if you are too ashamed to carry a decent selection of my sizes in your store than you do not get any of my money.
If you want to dress like Sarah, she recommends trying out the IGIGI Hanna Coat in Navy. She thinks it’s gorgeous, simple, and looks to be the perfect length to wear over dresses this winter. She would accessorize it with a colorful scarf or a bold necklace, or even a great faux fur collar.