INWOOD — Curvily, a plus-size fashion blog for women, is helping put Uptown Manhattan on the style map.
Inwood resident Sarah Chiwaya launched the blog, which has almost 17,000 followers, in January 2013. The site features Chiwaya showing off her street style with some of the neighborhood’s most recognizable locales featuring as the backdrops.
► CLICK HERE FOR CHIWAYA’S TIPS ON SUMMER TRENDS
“One of my go-tos is the Isham alley,” Chiwaya said. “You get a little bit of nature in the city, which is something that is really cool about this neighborhood.”
Other recent photo shoot sites have included the Little Red Lighthouse with its scenic views of the Hudson River and the industrial, steel trestles of the Broadway Bridge.
Inwood Resident Encourages Positive Self-Image Through Her Fashion Blog View Full Caption
In some ways, Chiwaya’s style journey has mirrored that of Uptown Manhattan.
Both have recently moved from fashion outsiders to insiders: Chiwaya through her blog and Northern Manhattan through its growing style scene highlighted by events such as Uptown Fashion Week.
Chiwaya, a lawyer for Gwynnie Bee, a plus size clothing subscription service, said that her love of fashion started at age five. However, she never felt she could be part of the style world.
“For the longest time it was something I loved, but only from afar,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t fit in that world literally or figuratively.”
That started to change for her in the fall of 2012 when she was introduced to plus size fashion blogs.
She related to their overt messages of body positivity, but even more, she found inspiration in their style.
“In the plus size world, you always hear tips and tricks, ‘How to look skinnier’ or ‘Don’t wear this because it’s not flattering,’” she said. “But here, looking as skinny as possible was not the goal. It was about self-expression.”
After a few months of following different bloggers, Chiwaya noticed a shift in her self-image. That was when she decided to start her own blog in hopes of extending that feeling to others.
A little more than two years later, she has amassed followers from all over the world and was featured in the New York Times for starting #plussizeplease, a hashtag that aims to show retailers they are missing out on sales when they ignore the plus size demographic.
Chiwaya said she hears from readers of all sizes who appreciate her message of self-acceptance.
“I feel like no matter what size you are there is always this pressure to do better as a woman. Your skin could be smoother or you could be tanner,” she said. “But there are so many other things to aspire to, better things.”
Spring and Summer Style Trends:
Chiwaya said that this sunny color is one of the biggest trends this season. She admits that she used to shy away from the color, but has been featuring it recently on her blog. She urged others to get over their fears. Chiwaya said the important thing is to find the right yellow for you. Try different shades, from pale lemon to deep gold, to see what works.
“If you’re thinking, ‘Oh, yellow. I can’t do that,’ You have to tell yourself, ‘No, that’s wrong.”
Chiwaya said this trend is easy to pull off, for even the trend-phobic. If you want just a touch of the military look, Chiwaya recommends looking for silhouettes you like in deep olive hues. Another easy option is a utility jacket, which makes a perfect layer for the unpredictable spring weather, she said. If you’re feeling more fashion forward, look for a military-inspired jumpsuit, which is a big trend in its own right this season.
Tropical prints are everywhere this season. The key to this trend is balance, Chiwaya said. If you choose a brightly printed top, wear it with a dark bottom. If you wear a voluminous skirt, keep your top more fitted. For a sophisticated look, Chiwaya recommends finding a palm print in a muted color palette. If you’re not used to wearing prints, look for accessories that feature the pattern.
“You can ease yourself in with a small piece and if you love it, then you can really go for it,” she said.
Where to Find On-Trend Plus-Sized Items
Because plus-size styles can be difficult to find, Chiwaya does most of her shopping online. She favors Asos and Carmakoma, two trend-driven brands that do not water down looks for larger sizes, she says.
For in person trend-hunting, she recommends the Union Square location of Forever 21 and the 34th Street location of H&M, both of which have substantial plus size sections. She has also scored some pieces from Lane Bryant’s spring collection by designer Lela Rose.
Her Best Advice:
“One of the fun things about being in New York is that you’re probably not going to be the weirdest dressed person around. You can go for it, even if you’re not totally sure of something. You can find out what’s really you, sartorially.”