Sibylle’s Style Diary: Emma Medeiros on the Plus Size Fashion Industry
This week’s style diary guest is Emma Medeiros, the president and founder of Medeiros Fashion PR, the first public relations firm focusing on the plus size fashion industry in the United States. She says: “I chose to specialize in the plus size fashion industry because, although plus size people make up the majority of the population, we (and our purses) have been greatly ignored until recently.”
She is committed to helping shift the situation so that plus-sized designers, models, photographers find the platform they deserve. She demonstrates that style can be found in other shapes than the skinniest ones and is sharing with us her perspective in this week’s Style Diary.
Sibylle Eschapasse: Describe your style?
Emma Medeiros: I always wear fitted styles because I have an hourglass figure and they show it off better than loose, flowy pieces. I especially love anything that has a corset design.
Ms. Eschapasse: If a close friend were to describe your personality in three words, what would they be?
Ms. Medeiros: I hope they would be something like “confident”, “honest”, and “loyal”.
Ms. Eschapasse: How has your style evolved since you were a teenager?
Ms. Medeiros: Oh, my gosh, it’s been a 180-degree turnaround! I was a complete and utter tomboy and comfort was the only thing that mattered. I’ve also always been big on top; I was a D-cup by the time I was 12 and I absolutely hated the attention I got from boys in school so I went out of my way to cover up with turtlenecks, overalls, even my older brother’s oversized shirts.
Thankfully, I started to come out of my shell in college and learned to appreciate my curves, especially my breasts, and became comfortable enough in my own skin to wear more fitted styles.
Ms. Eschapasse: What is the wildest thing you have ever worn?
Ms. Medeiros: Probably my wedding dress; I had a Renaissance-themed wedding, so I wore a stunning purple creation on my wedding day!
Ms. Eschapasse: How do you dress on workdays versus weekends?
Ms. Medeiros: I pretty much work every day, actually. When you own your own business, there are really no “off” days! I work either from home or a nearby Starbucks. If I’m at Starbucks, I always try to be professional and stylish, so I usually wear black pants with a bold print top and some statement jewelry. I also found a red lipstick that I really love, so that’s become my signature lip look. If I’m going to an event, I pair it with a shimmery eye shadow and black winged eyeliner.
On the rare days I can classify as “off”, I still make sure to put myself together. Even in jeans and a sweater you can be fashionable with the right accessories and makeup. No matter what industry they’re in, I always encourage people to be on their game since you just never know where your next big break will come from. For example, a plus model could be food shopping and be waiting in line in front of someone who owns a modeling agency. If she looks beautiful and stylish, she might land a million dollar contract; if she looks like she just rolled out of bed, she can kiss that opportunity goodbye!
Ms. Eschapasse: What are three accessories you can’t live without and what’s one item that makes you feel instantly more confident?
Ms. Medeiros: I absolutely live for statement pieces! Some of my favorites are an antique necklace I found at Brimfield flea market, earrings that look like pieces of stained glass, and especially a necklace I inherited from my great-grandmother and namesake, Emma. Ironically, it’s actually exactly the kind of piece I would buy for myself. We have the same name and same taste 70 years apart and it gives me great comfort when I wear it, knowing that she’s still with me.
Ms. Eschapasse: Who have been your greatest fashion influences?
Ms. Medeiros: Actresses on Renaissance period shows like “The Tudors” and “Reign.” I recently bought a purple and green hooded cloak that makes me feel like a court lady!
Ms. Eschapasse: Who is your style icon?
Ms. Medeiros: I don’t have one style icon. My icons are always evolving. I like those who dare to show an unexpected side of themselves.
Ms. Eschapasse: What does having style mean to you? In other words, please define style.
Ms. Medeiros: For me, having style means I wear what I want to wear because it makes me feel like the real me. Period. I don’t worry about keeping up with the latest trends. If I like it and it fits my body and personality well, that’s all that matters!
Ms. Eschapasse: What is the one purchase that you are most proud of? What would you pay a lot of money for, and what would you never pay much money for?
Ms. Medeiros: I’m probably most proud of my wedding dress, which, believe it or not, cost less than $200 because it was more of a costume than a typical wedding dress. The second I saw a picture of it, I knew it was what I wanted and I never considered buying a more expensive dress just because most wedding dresses cost thousands of dollars. As you can imagine, my parents were very relieved!
I’m actually saving for a delectable Michal Negrin flamenco dress right now. I was walking by a store and literally stopped dead in my tracks when I saw it in the window. I simply had to go in and try it on, even though I couldn’t afford it. Well, it could have been made just for me; it hugged my body in all the right places and made me feel like a queen!
Ms. Eschapasse: When you go on the red carpet, how do you want your outfit to make you feel? Which designers can help you achieve that?
Ms. Medeiros: I always wear bold statement outfits and jewelry that reflect my personal style, such as designs by Qristyl Frazier and Kiyonna.
Ms. Eschapasse: What do you think of how others dress and what’s your advice to people who would like to develop their personal style?
Ms. Medeiros: I’m always looking for fashion inspiration around me, especially from other plus-size women. One thing that drives me nuts, though, is when I see women who I can tell are not wearing a proper bra. Whether you’re wearing a T-shirt or a ball gown, ladies, you must wear the right bra!
Other than that, I encourage women to listen to their fashion gut; whether it’s “in style” or not; if it fits you well and makes you feel great, you wear it!
Favorite color: Purple, of course, the color of royalty!
Favorite perfume: Tribe, a perfume that’s not even sold anymore so I have to buy it on eBay.
Favorite restaurant in NY: That’s a hard choice but I’d have to go with the vegetarian restaurant Dirt Candy. Their food is so delicious that you won’t even realize you’re getting your 5 a day!
Favorite drink: I usually don’t drink, actually. Once in a blue moon, I’ll have a sangria if it’s not too strong. I wish I had a religious or moral objection to alcohol; I just can’t stand the taste of it!
Favorite movie: Definitely “Titanic.” No matter how many times I watch it, I still cry when Jack dies!
Favorite book: This is the hardest question of all since I’m such a bookworm! I love historical fiction, especially those set in Renaissance time, such as Bertrice Small’s “The Silk Merchant’s Daughters” trilogy.
Favorite quote: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” —Coco Chanel. I live by this quote, especially with Medeiros Fashion PR. The explosion of the plus size fashion industry means there’s a lot more competition, and you must be able to differentiate yourself to stand out above the rest!
Sibylle’s Style Diary is a column that explores style from the perspective of choices, and what that means for different people, with personal advice from some of the most stylish people in New York.
Sibylle Eschapasse is originally from Paris and now lives in New York. She contributes to various publications, in addition to working for the United Nations, and is the author of the children’s book “Argy Boy, A New York Dog Tale.” She may be reached at [email protected]