In business since 2005, New York City-based mother-daughter team Elaine and Monif Clarke founded their plus size clothing company, Monif C., with a desire to give more options to women with full curves. Monif is still successfully running the label with a relentless passion for beautifying full-figured women. “When I design, I look at what I want to wear and I say ‘if I like it, our customers will like it,’” she told theGrio. “It’s connected to what I think the key things every plus size girl should have in her wardrobe.” And her methodology has been working. Not only has she dressed celebrities like Amber Riley and Kim Coles, she has also garnered a deal for her line to be sold on Nordstrom.com.
The fabulous plus size designer spoke to us about her current releases and how curvy girls can looks sexy in every season.
What are the most popular items from you summer collection?
In swimsuits, the best seller this season is the Sao Paulo two-piece high-waist bikini, which shocked me because we had been talking for a good three years about making two-piece swimwear for plus size women. We literally had to reproduce those swimsuits three times, I was in shock. But it made me feel really good about the direction of where the plus size customer is going. I feel like the customer understands us. They also trust us — because they know if we put out a two-piece that we’ve also put the features in the suit to really make it work.
In dresses, we always run out of the “Ruched Convertible Dress” for the summer, particularly white. A lot of people are looking for white dresses in the summer. We give options with how to wear this over and over again.
You incorporate so many vibrant colors into this collection, but bright colors are often daunting for women to wear. Do you have any hard and fast rules on pairing brights?
My philosophy in dressing is that I believe wholeheartedly in dresses. Our collection is a majority dresses. I’m not the kind of person to layer — you know, with these slacks and this blazer. And so I believe in the idea of having a really vibrant-colored dress, a pair of heels, a nice clutch and just going out the door.
I kind of feel like for women of color, especially saturated color — a green, a yellow, a coral — it just really makes the entire outfit pop. It’s about a simple silhouette, not anything that’s overly fussy, and a great color.
In terms of accessories, would you keep it monotone or go all out?
Well, I’m the go all out queen! [Chuckles.] But obviously there are different flavors for different functions. Especially now in summertime and transitioning into fall, I’m seeing a lot of gold tone jewelry. And I love gold tone jewelry. There are a lot of statement necklaces and matte finish gold jewelry that I think work really well with colors. Matte isn’t flashy. I also believe in bold accessories, but not a lot of accessories.