Chatting with London Beauty and Plus-size Blogger Danielle Vanier

Posted by on October 4, 2013

Thanks to the beauty of the Internet, it is easy to connect with fashionistas across the globe for inspiration and advice. Danielle Vanier, 27, is a London gal who works as a freelance textile designer and a plus-size blogger. Danielle describes herself as a rather loud individual who loves to command attention with her bold wardrobe choices.

Danielle lists her two biggest obsession as Wu Tang Clan and statement necklaces. Credit: Danielle Vanier

Danielle lists her two biggest obsession as Wu Tang Clan and statement necklaces. Credit: Danielle Vanier

Danielle doesn’t let her style get boxed into any specific categories and simply dresses for herself. “My style varies depending on how I feel,” says Danielle. “One day I will dress in a really sexy, sophisticated way, but then the next day I will want to rock my love of hip-hop and out pops my inner rude gal!”

The mixed lip prints are whimsical and Danielle looks absolutely flawless. Credit: Danielle Vanier

The mixed lip prints are whimsical and Danielle looks absolutely flawless. Credit: Danielle Vanier

Danielle caught up with IGIGI to talk about her sartorial inspirations and her fantastic eye for accessories.

Jane: When did you first discover your love of fashion?

Danielle: When I left school I moved to London, as I was accepted onto an art course at University of the Arts London. Suddenly, I was surrounded by artistic types, fashionistas, and hipsters. I threw myself into the world of fashion and became addicted to vintage dresses, bright tights, crazy shoes, and humongous accessories.

Jane: Do you have any favorites when it comes to looking for fashion inspiration?  

Danielle: I have tons; many of the bloggers I follow online inspire me on a daily basis. Kellie Brown is a friend of mine, but I admire her sense of style and adventurous outfit choices. Plus, she lovessss big, bold accessories…a girl after my own heart!

Jane: What piece in your wardrobe could you just not do without?

Danielle: I have a black lace bomber jacket that I bought whilst living and working in Stockholm. I bought it 4 or 5 years ago and I literally wear it every week. I left it at a warehouse party once and was devastated, but luckily it was found and returned to me. You should have seen the smile on my face once it was back in my hands!

Jane: Do you have any advice for women who are struggling to find clothes that make them feel good about themselves?

Danielle: Challenge yourself. The more you experiment with fashion, the more you will learn about your body; what suits you and what doesn’t.

Danielle says she started blogging so that she could help girls feel inspired and excited to dress their bodies, regardless of size. Credit: Danielle Vanier

Danielle says she started blogging so that she could help girls feel inspired and excited to dress their bodies, regardless of size. Credit: Danielle Vanier

Danielle absolutely believes in the transformative power of a great dress. The right dress can up your confidence level and show off your personality in the best way. At her degree show at Chelsea College of Art and Design, the dress Danielle wore made her feel like she was the bees’ knees, and she was head-hunted by a multinational retail clothing company and offered an exceptional job as a result.

If you want to dress like Danielle, she recommends the IGIGI Nezetta Cocktail Dress in Black/Gold. “Although I like to experiment with fashion, I am always drawn to black with metallic details,” says Danielle. “This dress encompasses everything I love: it’s figure hugging with the right amount of glamor. I would wear a huge statement necklace with it, and strappy heels.”

Unlike many women, Danielle has never doubted that she is beautiful or struggled to find clothes that make her happy. “I am lucky, I’ve hardly ever found it difficult to find beautiful, trendy clothes that fit my bigger frame,” says Danielle. “But I know how hard it is for some girls.” Danielle wants all women to have the same confidence and she hopes that she can use social media to further her love of fashion and inspire women across the globe.

Keep up with Danielle and check out some more of her awesome pictures and musings on her blog, her Twitter, and her Instagram.

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Bright Colors and Polka Dots: Chatting with Plus-size Blogger Bridie Duffey of Thrift-O-Rama

Posted by on October 2, 2013

One of the absolute best parts of the online, plus-size fashion community is the sheer number of fashion bloggers that are open to sharing their outfits of the day (OotD), their shopping tips, and their styling techniques, all while providing unwavering support. People consistently identify with others who remind them of themselves in some way, shape, or form, so it’s unsurprising that plus-size women find inspiration from other plus-size women, especially plus-size fashion bloggers. Bridie Duffey, of the blog Thriftorama, 19,  finds a lot of her fashion inspiration from fellow fashion bloggers. A few of her favorites are the well-known and thoroughly fabulous, Gabi Gregg, the thrifty and adventurous Nadia Aboulhosn, bold Tiffany Tucker, and the creative Sakari Singh. “I wouldn’t be the person I am without the “fatshion” community,” says Bridie.

"I’m kind of a dork, but I’m a dork who cares about things. I specialize in angry feminism, pretty skirts, and Netflix. I love to laugh," says Bridie. Credit: Bridie Duffey

“I’m kind of a dork, but I’m a dork who cares about things. I specialize in angry feminism, pretty skirts, and Netflix. I love to laugh,” says Bridie. Credit: Bridie Duffey

Bridie, a Gender Studies and Anthropology student at Mount Holyoke College (which coincidentally is Gabi Gregg’s alma mater) in Western Massachusetts, discovered her love of fashion at a young age. “I loved sparkly sneakers, horizontal stripes, and pretty dresses,” says Bridie. “And I would  describe things as ‘very fash.'” However, while growing up, there was a time when Bridie felt that she was being left out.

“As I got older, I drew into myself. Chubby and four-eyed, I didn’t think fashion was meant for people like me. And I was given compelling, if deeply misguided, reasons to believe that: I could never find clothes in my size, and I was constantly forbidden by my culture to feel comfortable in a body like mine. I spent far too many years in huge shirts and even huger jeans, trying to hide myself.”

"I like bright colors, polka dots, and unrelenting tackiness. I love all things vintage. Most of my clothes are second hand and thrifting is extraordinarily important to me," says Bridie. Credit: Bridie Duffey

“I like bright colors, polka dots, and unrelenting tackiness. I love all things vintage. Most of my clothes are second hand and thrifting is extraordinarily important to me,” says Bridie. Credit: Bridie Duffey

Bridie rediscovered her interest in fashion and clothes during high school when, on a search for some school shoes, she wandered into a thrift store. “I found myself rediscovering a sadly repressed obsession. Thrift stores had vintage. Thrift stores had my size! I was hooked. By the time I graduated, a love for not paying very much for clothes that spoke to me met a rejuvenated interest in feminism and body politics. I’ve never been the same in the best way. My clothes make statements,” says Bridie.

Now, with a very visible and successful internet footprint, Bridie has found a way to use her love of fashion to create a brand and to inspire other women. Bridie took a moment to talk with IGIGI about her favorite looks and her body positive journey.

"It’s empowering to push at the edges of your comfort zone." Credit: Bridie Duffey

“It’s empowering to push at the edges of your comfort zone.” Credit: Bridie Duffey

Jane: Have you ever had a specific moment when you really went out of comfort zone with an outfit and just felt great?

Bridie: Early in my first year of college, I wore a stretchy pencil skirt to class, just because I could. It showed everything. There was no denying my hips, stomach or thighs in that skirt and it was bright, bright red. Somehow, through some miracle, I felt amazingly hot in it. I paired it with red lips, a full bun (back in the days when my hair was long), and high heeled boots. I utterly took on the world that day. I’ve mostly become a person interested in A-line and circle skirts, but there was something incredibly liberating of that skin-tight vixen’s skirt.

Jane: What advice would you give to women who want to dress more adventurously, but aren’t sure where to start? 

Bridie: Find yourself. It’s great to look for inspiration among other fashionable people. It’s fun to follow trends. It’s empowering to push at the edges of your comfort zone. But find yourself. Reach for colors, silhouettes, and styles that speak to you. Disregard fashion rules. Stop trying to dress so that your body will look a certain way. Try to cut out the negative and nasty opinions of naysayers and search purely for what you like. The rest will fall into place.

Jane: If you could pick any IGIGI dress to style, which would you choose?

Bridie: The Rita Vintage Polka Dot Plus Size Dress in Coral! It’s gorgeous! I love coral, and polka dots are strewn across my soul. I’d pair it with bright lips, huge sunnies, wedges, bangles, and a neutral scarf tied around my head for a sweet, picnicky look!

Bridie cares very much about women’s empowerment and education, and she hopes to eventually pursue her interest in fashion even more. To keep up with Bridie, follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Lookbook and her official blog.

Where are your favorite places to thrift? Do you have any tips? Tell IGIGI and Bridie in the comments.

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Plus-Size Women Can Now Rent Their Cinderella Moment

Posted by on October 1, 2013

Full disclosure: I am a campus representative for Rent the Runway at Northwestern University. But that just means I love it a lot!

Rent the Runway participates in viral marketing through their campus rep program which recruits girls on college campuses for internship credit in exchange for promoting the brand.

Rent the Runway participates in viral marketing through their campus rep program which recruits girls on college campuses for internship credit in exchange for promoting the brand.

I started interning with Rent the Runway last summer and absolutely fell in love with the clothes, the accessories, the business model, and most of all, the heavily-encouraged customer photos. These photos allow customers to get an idea of what the dresses look like on other women, and not just on the models. Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Carter Fleiss, the two co-founders of Rent the Runway, met at Harvard Business School, and the concept for the business came to Hyman (naturally) while she was looking for a dress to wear for a wedding. Hyman and Fleiss wrote up their business plan, got some seed money from Bain Capital Ventures, and a short year later, Rent the Runway was born. As of April 2013, Rent the Runway has over 3 million members, and that number is growing.

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Why I Never Read the Comments – Plus-size Women in the Online Community

Posted by on September 30, 2013

Part of the danger of being so immersed in an online community (namely the plus-size, body-positive online community) is that I often forget that not everyone is as evolved as the gorgeous, supportive, eloquent women (and sometimes men) that I have chosen to surround myself with. I am consistently reminded of this fact whenever some piece of news, blog post, or even the occasional photoset of a plus-size woman goes viral, and suddenly the mainstream takes note of the empowering work that these women are doing – to very mixed reviews.

Someone recently told me that my community could be considered a crutch; that my friends are too supportive, too understanding, too unabashedly confident. They never feel the need to judge or criticize others for being themselves and they deserve to be supremely proud of that fact. Maybe it’s my fault that my friends are just too good or maybe, just maybe, everyone else needs to catch up and get on our level.

My closest friends are a diverse and supportive group of wonderful women that promote body positivity and equality in every aspect of their lives.

My closest friends are a diverse and supportive group of wonderful women that promote body positivity and equality in every aspect of their lives.

When the Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries’ disgusting, body-shaming comments started circulating last Spring, there was an outpouring of thoroughly negative responses from plus-size and standard-size consumers alike. I’m not sure if any of them were as humorous, charming or effective as the open letter that plus-size blogger Jes “The Militant Baker” wrote to Jeffries on her blog, which was then picked up by BuzzFeed. The letter included pictures from a photo shoot that Jes orchestrated and modeled in, featuring herself and a conventionally attractive male model (one of the “cool people” that Jeffries is trying to market to) in various sultry poses with the tagline “Attractive & Fat.”

In her letter, Jes wrote:

“The juxtaposition of uncommonly paired bodies is visually jarring, and, even though I wish it didn’t, it causes viewers to feel uncomfortable. This is largely attributed to companies like yours that perpetuate the thought that fat women are not beautiful. This is inaccurate, but if someone were to look through your infamous catalog, they wouldn’t believe me.”

Jes the Militant Baker

Jes “The Militant Baker” recently posts about issues concerning women like body positivity and feminism. Credit: The Militant Baker

The unfettered gloriousness of Jes’ prose and images brought a tear to my eye and I scrolled through the letter several times before I noticed the comments featured underneath the page. There were a decent amount of “You go girl!” and “She’s so pretty!” comments under Jes’ letter , but unfortunately, there were the usual nasty, fat-shaming comments like “She is not a healthy weight,” and “Fat is never attractive.”

Many commenters were quick to identify their body type in their comments, such as “I’m overweight, but trying to lose weight,” or “I’m not heavy,” in an attempt to justify their words. Now, there is nothing wrong with healthy dieting. If that’s something that you want to do – go for it. There’s also nothing wrong with not dieting. Weight does not dictate health and the biggest problem with the commenters underneath this article was that they immediately assumed Jes was unhealthy based on her size and, therefore, needed to diet.

If you are not familiar with BuzzFeed’s platform, the site uses your Facebook account when you are commenting, so your full Facebook name and profile picture are visible when you post underneath an article. There is no hiding behind anonymity.

I was scrolling through the comments, getting more and more incensed, when I saw a post by someone who I knew in real life: a girl who attends my university. Her statements were decidedly anti-Jes, and she wrote that “she had no idea” why Jes would do this photo shoot, that “the ads weren’t attractive,” and that “obese people can change if they work at it.”

Aside from the fact that these comments are rude, offensive, and bigoted, her identity was equally hurtful to me. While this was not a girl who I considered a good friend, but I had met her on several occasions and spoken with her multiple times about various school related matters.

It was an eye-opening moment for me. It is easy to brush aside rude comments on the internet when these comments are made by virtual villains. However, knowing that it was someone who existed in my personal, physical world made her offensive comments so much more shocking. Not to say that I have never had someone make a rude comment about my weight before or that I’ve never been a victim of bullying, but to see the true colors of someone with whom you have had perfectly pleasant interactions can be alarming.

You can't always pick your family, but you can pick your friends. So don't allow yourself to welcome negativity into your life.

You can’t always pick your family, but you can pick your friends. So don’t allow yourself to welcome negativity into your life.

So I stopped reading the comments. On this story, and on all plus-size positive news stories. I can’t personally educate every wrong person on the internet (sadly), but I can decide not to let their comments affect my life. Ergo, I surround myself with positive people, I shop with companies that are supportive of me, like IGIGI, I write about issues that are important to me, and I give other plus-size women a platform where they discuss their lives and their bodies safely.

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“We Live in the Golden Age for Fat Fashion” – Talking with Plus-size Fashion Blogger Beck Poppins

Posted by on September 26, 2013

Every time you step up to the checkout line at the grocery store, your eyes are assailed with dozens of images and taglines from various magazines advertising how to dress your body type in the most flattering light, how to get better abs, how to achieve those enviable Michelle Obama upper arms, or maybe there is even a way to get a total head transplant ,because why not? Who cares how you feel if you look great? Women are told early on that they should find fault with their bodies. Young girls are told that they are too fat, too skinny, too freckly, too pale, and the list goes on.

Luckily, some people find fault with that line of thinking, and instead of just trying to ignore it they confront and combat it with a torrent of body positivity. Beck Poppins, a 25-year-old baker from Cleveland, Ohio, and a for-fun pop culture and fashion blogger, describes her personal fashion as “widowed fairytale princess.”

Lace, tasteful rhinestones and unusual accessories like fans, wigs and unique vintage pieces are the standout details in her wardrobe. She only owns one pair of jeans and that is a fact of which she is extremely proud. “I’ve fully embraced semiformal dresses as a life choice. My closet is split between black and pastels, with a few pops of color here or there. I always want to display myself as completely feminine and completely whimsical,” says Beck.

When looking for icons to inspire her fashion, Beck gravitates towards fashion risk takers like Debbie Harry, Dita Von Teese, and the Japanese artist Minori. Credit: Beck Poppins

When looking for icons to inspire her fashion, Beck gravitates towards fashion risk takers like Debbie Harry, Dita Von Teese, and the Japanese artist Minori. Credit: Beck Poppins

The most impressive and inspiring aspect of Beck’s style is its variability. Beck does not allow words like “flattering” to dictate what she wants to wear and as a result, her outfits are supremely successful and incredibly creative.

Beck talked with IGIGI about her style and the effects that the media can have on women’s confidence.

Jane: What advice would you give to plus-size women who are struggling to find clothes that inspire them?

Beck: As a plus-size person, these media outlets and concepts are not aimed at making you feel your best or dress in a way that makes you feel special. Look at the art and films you already love and find your personal style. Once you know what you want to look like and how you want to dress, then you can start looking for clothing. Shop with a mission: ‘I have always wanted a teal sequin dress, I shall have a teal sequin dress.’ We live in the golden age for fat fashion, believe it or not.

Jane: Do you find that there is more support or options for plus-size women online?

Beck: Online stores have opened up so many doors, and better yet, the Internet has given us sites like Etsy where you can find great artists who can custom-make things for your size.

Jane: Are you ever discouraged when you’re trying on clothes that just don’t seem to work?

Beck: Never forget clothing can change – if you find a dress and its just a bit too long, it can be hemmed, or the sleeves can be let out, or buttons replaced. Don’t let fashion boss you around or make you feel like your body should conform to it

Jane: Have you ever felt unwelcome or unsupported while shopping at a brick-and-mortar store?

Beck: I can remember one nasty sales woman at a department store. I was trying on a stack of dresses because they were having a sale on formal wear and she followed me back to the dressing room. As I was trying things on, she was yelling through the door, ‘Don’t force any zippers if it doesn’t fit! Don’t stretch anything out! If it’s too small just leave it on the hanger!’ Just all this weird, misplaced negativity that she would have never yelled at a thin costumer. I don’t let that stuff get me down anymore. Now I shop exclusively at stores that treat me with complete dignity and I would suggest to anyone who has suffered discrimination at a store, never go back, never give them a penny, and always write to the store’s owners. Never let that nasty rude behavior slide.

Beck unapologetically loves her body at all times, even in "gross sweatpants," because as important and fun as fashion can be, self-love is important always, even when you look your worst. Credit: Beck Poppins

Beck unapologetically loves her body at all times, even in “gross sweatpants,” because as important and fun as fashion can be, self-love is important always, even when you look your worst. Credit: Beck Poppins

Stores and designers that specifically cater to plus-size women, like IGIGI, provide a more supportive and helpful customer service experience overall, with absolutely no body-shaming allowed. Beck recommends the beaded IGIGI Keira dress for those who are looking to copy her fabulous look. “It has two of my favorite things, a deep square neckline and three-quarter sleeves! The beading looks amazing,” says Beck. “It’s also so hard for tall women to find evening dresses in a length that goes past the knee. I feel like it would be a beautiful dress to go to the theater in. I personally would love to see it with a little brass tiara or gold laurel inspired headband, long black evening gloves, black tights and some gold trimmed heels, really play up the wicked queen fantasy that the beading on the skirt inspires.”

Thank you Beck for taking the time to talk with IGIGI and to keep up with Beck or talk to her yourself, make sure to follow her on Tumblr and Twitter.

Have you ever been dissatisfied with your experience in a store? Tell IGIGI and Beck in the comments.

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