Leah Carruthers finds the plus side to fashion
Hearing that you don’t have to be a size two to be beautiful is one thing. But seeing that concept rocking the runway in confident fashion is truly a sight to behold. Leah Carruthers is the pure embodiment of tropical style, serving one fabulous look after the other. She is a corporate chic, a make-up artist and fashionista, sporting the latest trends to suit her curves. She is also more than happy to start the conversation surrounding full-figured fashion.
“Fashion has really been a creative outlet for me to dress my body well. Some say I have an apple shape, which means my upper body is bigger and there aren’t any hips to lie about. In the pursuit to dress my body type, I have had to elevate my approach to fashion and break it down in pieces. I could never see myself rocking a simple T-shirt or a pair of jeans. My fashion has to be flowy, bold or with patterns and it has to have character, in order to complement my physique,” she told Living.
Having a vibrant personality meant taking that ‘full of life’ concept to her wardrobe. From dressing dolls to being in her mother’s make-up and walking in her shoes, it was clear that Carruthers was interested in the silhouetted artform from a young age. And that passion only grew as she received greater exposure to the industry.
“Back in the day, when the fade from flare to skinny jeans was trending, I just remember trying to get a pair for myself. I had to sacrifice eating lunch and save that money to fund my own interest, given that my mother never understood what making that switch meant in the fashion world and for me,” she said. Taking that initiative only motivated her to become a go-getter in style and in life.
It is important for Carruthers to keep up with trends. And she has many ways to do so. “Staying up to date with fashion looks, like going online, seeing what the fashion houses are producing, looking at what is being worn on the red carpet and following some of my favourite local and international designers on the social media platforms,” she shared.
Although she defines her fashion sense as creative, characteristic, flirty, modest but still very sexy, she will be the first to admit that clothing for plus-sized women who don’t possess a naturally curvy body is very difficult to source and has been a major obstacle for her. “It’s not as easy for me to go online and shop. When the items arrive, I’m left thinking, ‘What is this?’ So I’ve seen where relying on my local designers has really worked for me. A lot of my pieces are locally designed. And I am proud of it because I’m a firm believer of supporting brand Jamaica.”
One of the local luxury brands that reflects her easy, breezy and luxurious point of view in style is By The Cabana by Tyana Harriott, “She has strategically and successfully captured the plus size market, in my opinion. Every piece she produces complements the bigger body shapes. She is my favourite designer.” The fashionista also made special mention of Rhea Imani and Yours Truly Rochelle, “Their products are creative and of the highest quality.”
Her five fashion essentials include a nice fitted black pants, one that you can dress up or down, depending on the occasion; a black blazer, a nude blazer, a pair of flare pants and a matching set, a cohort. “I tend to go loose fitted on top and tight on the bottom or switch it around, going fitted on the top with loose clothing to the bottom. I do believe you can be sexy and modest at the same time and so I strive to achieve that with my looks.”
Here’s a fun fact: she loves Indian fashion, (the flow and jewels) and says it complements her body shape. So India would be her style destination. As it pertains to cyclical trends, she loves that we are getting back into the straight and flare pants jeans because it complements her body well.
As a make-up artist for almost 10 years, Carruthers believes while fashion is the cake, make-up is the cherry on top in style expression. A little lipstick or powder to refine the skin and elevate the look won’t hurt anybody, she says.
Her advice to persons seeking to find their style but don’t know where to start is to be aware of your body type. “Explore what your best assets are and work around what will complement and enhance your best assets. Once you understand that, everything will flow and fall into place. You will know what colours work with your skin tone and which pieces will complement your shape,” she added.