Pepper Martin says there’s more to love when she’s around.
Martin is a plus-size beauty blogger with over 16,500 followers on Instagram who graduated in ’99 from Auburn University in Montgomery. PrettyPlusPep, both as a dot com and Instagram, is where she lays out her style, telling people how and why she chose particular pieces and where to find them, or similar looks, online.
Martin spent her first two years of undergrad at the main Auburn campus and transferred to AUM where she now works. She remembers jeans and hoodies as the go-to style for college students in the ‘90s, and she sees a similar vibe from current students at her work.
When she transitioned into being a professional at her first job at the Montgomery Advertiser, Martin realized the importance of good style and what it can do for a woman.
“There was not many options in the early 2000’s,” she said. “You had stores like Lane Bryant and Catherine’s. It was more so just trying to figure out what fit you the best.”
When she was 12 years old, Martin remembers shopping at Sears in the “husky” section for children.
“I had to really make it work,” she said.
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Today, though, companies are extending their size options, and Martin said that it’s changing the game for so many plus-size women. Finally, there are stylish options that women are no longer settling for — they actually want to wear and style them.
Martin became well-versed on the percentages of materials in her clothes growing up, but now she can focus on the way the clothes make her feel on the inside rather than merely searching for comfort.
“We are at a place now where we aren’t limited on our style,” she said.
And that is because of brands like Loft, JCrew, Old Navy, ASOS and more for offering sizes up to 24 or 5X, making fashion accessible for women of a range of sizes.
She doesn’t care what companies call her size: plus, big, extended. Martin, though, does prefer calling herself “blessed” size because there’s just more to love. She has shared that with her friends who are also plus-sized.
“If it makes you happy, wear it,” Martin said. “If it’s a color that makes you happy, wear it. Yellow is a color that makes me happy all the time. Shades of yellow is really my favorite color. Then, it was what pieces made me happy.”
Martin looked at jeans and sweaters when she began to develop her style brand — two things she liked — but determined she was more of a dress kind of woman.
“In the beginning it was heels,” she said. “At this point in time, I am all about dresses and sneakers. I am keeping it chic in sneaks.”
Martin believes finding out how you want to look ultimately translates into your lifestyle.
What a person dresses in is an extension of who they are and how they feel.
“For me, I have been in sales and advertising for so long – it’s a creative space,” she said. “Prints have become my thing. If you look in my closet, you’ll be like, ‘Do you have a solid color?’ That is a way for me to show my personality.”
Outside of working for AUM and running her popular blog, Martin takes on clients for “closet therapy” services. She meets with them in person or virtually through phone or video call and together they go through her clients’ closets, one 5-year-old-but-never-worn clothing piece at a time.
“I ask questions like, ‘So what were we thinking when we purchased that?’” Martin said. “We go through, and I follow up.”
They look at every piece, and Martin has to ask the tough fashion questions with her clients to determine what will stay and go. Through this work, Martin has gained many friends. Her blog and Instagram have also contributed to finding new like-minded friends as well.
“It’s one of those things where it’s great to have that niche that I’ve created being a closet therapist to help women,” she said. “Some of them have also become bloggers, too, because of that. I’ve helped them do that.”
She’s inspired women to get out of their comfort zones, including a friend who called her to tell her she wore red confidently for the first time.
In the end, it’s not about the size of a woman. It’s what she is wearing and how she is wearing it. Martin said she and her thousands of friends and followers have created a place where women of all sizes can come to find fashion inspiration and leave with a better sense of themselves.
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