Can you remember the first time someone totally unrelated to you, told you that you looked pretty in something? A complete stranger paying you a compliment for no reason other than to express joy? I remember. And yes, this seems like a weird way to start a blog post, but since this is my blog I reserve the right to get a little weird.
I can’t remember a time, as a younger woman, that I genuinely felt pretty. As someone who has been varying degrees of plus size my entire life, my earliest “fashion memories” were pretty awkward moments like:
Wearing a white babydoll dress with matching white bike shorts and a floppy hat (what, like you never saw Blossom on tv?) and thinking I felt really cool because I was wearing what everyone else was… only to be called the “marshmallow girl” by some jerks on my school bus.
Going through sorority rush, my freshman year of college, wearing a mans jeans, tee shirt, and sweater vest because I didn’t have anything else that fit.
When I moved to Las Vegas in 2003, I started working in the entertainment and hospitality industry. As a 24-year-old woman, I opened bars and nightclubs as a junior publicist, and I remember being aware that my clothes and dresses and outfits were always more conservative than everyone else’s. Not because I was ashamed of my body, but because I simply couldn’t find anything young and contemporary looking in my size.
One day, I worked a red-carpet event. I held Ryan Seacrest’s cell phone as he walked the carpet, and on my way back to the media room, I was stopped by a voice.
“Hey there, you look really beautiful in that dress. Have a great one!” The voice said. Or something like that. Because, honestly, I was SO EXCITED BECAUSE IT WAS THE GUY FROM SAVE THE LAST DANCE AND HOLY SHITBALLS HE WAS TELLING ME I LOOKED GREAT!! Clearly, it was a moment for me… and I was wearing a plus size cocktail dress from Kiyonna. You don’t forget a moment like that. At least, I never have.
Over 15 years later, and Kiyonna is still helping me feel beautiful in my body. I don’t have to sell them because, honestly, I’ve literally been buying their stuff since I was 22 years old. In the name of throwing myself on the fashion-pyre, I offer these two vintage shots of Sarah. Yes. Enjoy.
Las Vegas, circa 2007. I clearly had not gotten the memo about wearing a necklace and hoop earrings at the same time. Well done.
This was from the Kentucky Derby in 2008. When I dug this photo out, I noted the file name I had given this picture nearly 9 years ago. Are you ready for this? I called this picture trying to be pretty. Not a joke. Trying to be pretty… clearly, I was at a very different spot in my body journey. Also, it should be noted that I handpicked this dress from Kiyonna and they only had it in a 5X. I needed a size 4X… and they literally altered the size for me. They sized it down, for me, so that I could wear it this day.
This is a pic you may have seen before. I’m sharing it again because, in full disclosure, it was the first time I looked at myself as an adult and I said, you know what Sarah, you’re pretty.
Some of this may sound superficial to you. That’s ok. But the truth is, that while feeling beautiful and confident in our body is something that has to exist from the inside out, regardless of what we wear, and it is a state of mind we have to live in. That being said, it is also true, at least for me, that certain clothes help us bring this feeling to life in new and vibrant ways. Have you ever worn something that makes you glow? Something that feels like YOU? Something that makes you feel damn unstoppable?
Presenting… this dress. The Valentina Illusion Dress is a plus size special occasion dress with a shirred body and I am in love with it. Truly. Would I wear this to grocery shop if I could get away with it? Perhaps.
I have seen this dress on the site for years and never took it for a spin. It packs a punch, and when I wore it I felt a bit retro, a bit edgy, very strong, and very sexy. I’m wearing a size 3X here — so remember to ORDER UP.
When Kiyonna sent me a link to this tie-dye maxi dress, I wasn’t sure it would work for me. Yes, I love a boho tie-dye, but I was a little afraid that the dress itself would overwhelm me. I should have known better… Yes, it’s too long for my 5’4″ frame, but I can shorten that. What’s more important, is the silhouette and shape, which fit me perfectly. This is the Bella Braided Maxi Dress.
You may not notice it, but there’s a braided trim down the side, which is a small but really lovely detail. And, while I’m not normally a fan of shoulder slits in tops, I felt like the draping at the arm helped to “break up” the solid and potentially heavy feel of the dress. (Also, not sure why I seem to be standing in a LOT of doorways…)
I am wearing this in a size 2X, which is my standard Kiyonna size these days. I would suggest this plus size dress for a wedding or beautiful dinner out. Maybe a beach vacation? Hair up. Even barefoot. Simple accessories. Let this dress speak for itself!
This is the portion of the post where I begin my “Ode to a Wrap Dress!” If you follow me, you’ve probably oberseved my fashion obsession with wrap dresses. In all my years, I’ve worn many wrap dresses, but the only ones that have stood the test of time come from Kiyonna.
Like this one….
If you don’t already own a wrap dress from @kiyonnacurves then go to their site and get one. This dress is a few years and a 4x — I currently wear a size 22. And yet, because of the wrap style and jersey, I was able to make this work by wrapping it tighter. It took me less than five minutes to get dressed today; nude pumps and simple jewelry and it was an instant chic look. Seriously, a style like this is timeless and looks good on everyone. I truly believe that everyone can benefit from having a go-to dress like this. And, remember, this dress is technically the wrong size and it still works. And this isn’t a promo LOL. I’ve had this dress for like three years, maybe more! #plussizefashion #kiyonnacurves
Or this one…
A classic wrap-style dress in animal print will forever be chic!! I bought this from @kiyonnacurves a few years ago and it still looks fantastic!! Seriously. How much more effortlessly stylish could this be? I always keep my looks simple. Popped this on for a meeting down in Santa Monica today. #plussizefashion #plussizeblogger #psbloggers #psootd #psfashion
Of even this one…
This weekend I have been in Florida with my dad and stepmom for her 70th birthday celebration. I knew I needed a dress that was classic, family appropriate and would still make me feel dynamite. As I often do, I turned to a classic wrap dress from @kiyonnacurves for the occasion. You’ve seen me wear this before, and I’ll wear it many more times. This dress truly is beautiful. Simple can still make a statement. Blue can be just as chic as black. A shoe in a pop of color can bring your look to life. This is a 3X. And no, this post isn’t sponsored. Just sharing a little slice of my family with you. Scroll through to see a few more shots. Dress @kiyonnacurves Shoes @tieks Statement necklace by @fortunebydesign #family #plussizefashion #kiyonnacurves #tieks #psblogger
If you grab one dress from Kiyonna, I truly hope you will look at the Essential Wrap Dress. It is virtually seasonless and can work for almost any occasion. I have worn mine dressed up for dates, buttoned up for work, or with flats for something more casual. Also, if you are on a body journey, one dress can take you through a whole bunch of body-size fluctuating without stress and with ease.
I have owned this dress in black, blue, and animal print. This is the floral version. This wouldn’t be my ONE wrap dress purchase – if I were only buying one dress I’d stick with a solid – but for a second dress? This one has a great print that can take you from day to night.
As an influencer, doing randomly sponsored outfit posts with clothing companies don’t really speak to me anymore. In all truth, I feel a bit funny standing and smiling and taking pics. Which is why I always frame these posts with my real-life stories. And, frankly, why I only work with brands I personally love.
When I created my first live event, the Body Love Workshop, Kiyonna was right there beside me as a sponsor. Not only did they come on board to support the event, but they came on board with their energy and presence. They spent the day mingling with attendees on-site, standing right there with me when we gave away gift cards, and hugging women of every shape and size and color. I am truly grateful for their commitment to my mission!
Thank you, Kiyonna. For filling my closet and helping to dress my life for so many years!
Interested in grabbing any of these plus size dresses for yourself?
Here’s a quick list of what you’ve seen featured in this post.
The Valentina Illusion Dress in Black/ Burgundy. I’m wearing a size 3X.
The Bella Braided Maxi Dress in Moonlight Sea. Wearing a size 2X.
The Essential Wrap Dress in Pink Lilly Print. Wearing a size 2X.
What do you think of the styles featured? Do you own a wrap dress? What color would you snag? Chime in below and let me know!