Aidy Bryant is launching a new plus size clothing line, pauline, and it’s named after her great aunt from Idaho. The Shrill star — who made headlines for her character Annie's fashion-forward wardrobe — tells Refinery29 that her Aunt Pauline was “a sturdy lady who did her own thing” and “collected lots of little stuff.” Pauline was someone who Bryant saw herself in, and the name just fit. In many ways, though, the name reflects the brand's mission. Bryant simply wanted to find clothes that just fit — both her body and her personality.
“I always loved clothes...but I always felt like there wasn’t quite exactly what I wanted out there,” Bryant says. “Things felt too trendy to me or too shapeless or too cutesy.”
It wasn’t until 2012, when she landed her gig on Saturday Night Live and entered the world of professional stylists and custom-made clothing, that she realized what it felt like to have real style options.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, this must be what other people feel like when they have clothes they liked that fit them.’ That was a totally novel thing to me at 25 or 28,” Bryant says.
The actress started working with stylists (one of whom was Remy Pearce, Bryant’s creative partner for pauline) on custom pieces for red carpet events and more and more people started to ask about the looks.
“We were getting such a big response from people online being like, ‘Oh my God, where can I get your dress?’ And same thing with Shrill,” Bryant says, noting there’s a “real conflict” for her when a lot of her peers can’t go out and buy the custom designs she wears because they simply don’t exist on the market. “There’s just the part of that that I think sucks so bad.”
This long-standing discrepancy for plus size shoppers is what spurred Bryant to enter the fashion design space.
“I think the customer is there and it just seems so wild to me that still, I could probably count on two hands the number of plus size retailers that are really making stuff that I’m willing to wear, and that to me is what it’s all about,” Bryant says. “It’s lack of choice. How do you really ever know your style if you don’t have the breadth of choice?”
While the goal of pauline isn’t necessarily to fill a specific hole in the market, it is to give the plus size shopper that breadth of choice. The size inclusive clothing line, available in sizes 12- 28, has a sense of ease to it, for the customer who prefers minimalist pieces. Bryant was sick of overly designed or overly trendy plus size clothes, so she wanted to create something simple — something that you can “just put it on, let your hair be messy, throw on some shoes, and you’re ready to go.”
“[It’s] a dress simple cool enough or simple enough that just the shape of it can kind of create your vibe and you don’t have to accessorize it to death,” she says of pauline’s first launch, the Lovington Dress.
The Lovington, a button-down dress that comes in three different colorways (blue, gingham, and stripe) is a limited run and will be available exclusively at paulineny.com.
As for future launches, Bryant doesn’t mention any specific pieces (though she does tell me she’s always in search of the perfect, everyday T-Shirt). Whatever comes next, though, is sure to be thoughtful and unique, as it's inspired by her personal experience as a stylish plus size woman looking for clothing options.
“I know what it is to be a fat lady wearing clothes and it’s a journey, man. It’s kind of exhausting."
As a plus size shopper myself, I can confirm that shopping is indeed a journey — and that every new, size inclusive brand on the market makes that journey a little bit easier. And if that brand is started by a plus size person with a unique perspective, distinct sense of style, and a cool great aunt from Idaho? Well, that’s even better.
Scroll through for a first look at Aidy Bryant's pauline.