Phyllis Brasch Librach – President and founder of Sydney’s Closet

By on December 31, 2009
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Phyllis interviews the President and founder of Sydney’s Closet, the specialist in plus size prom dresses and curvy formal wear. continues to meet up with the women that are helping make plus size women’s lives easier. The women behind the scenes of the plus size fashion industry. We usually only see clothing styles and designs when shopping online, different fashions, different brand names and different stores. But who is behind all this? Making all this stylish heaven happen?

Today we are introducing you to Phyllis Brasch Librach, who is the founder and President of a very special and unique plus size store, Sydney’s Closet. We think Sydney’s Closet is special because it brings smiles to young plus size ladies’ faces, as Sydney’s Closet provide fashionable prom dresses and formal wear that will make any curvy teenager shine and feel glamorous on that special prom night.

Sydney’s Closet can be considered the online specialist in plus size formal wear and prom dresses. Phyllis was kind enough to speak to about her work and what moved her to open up Sydney’s Closet. She also shares with us some indispensable shopping and fashion tips.

Read on to discover more about Phyllis and more about Sydney’s Closet.

Pasazz: Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from and what is your background in the fashion industry?

Phyllis: I grew up in New York City and Long Island. After college in Florida, I returned to Manhattan where I launched my career as an assistant fashion editor at Conde Nast magazines, publishers of famed fashion magazines including Vogue, Glamour and Mademoiselle.

My late father, Sidney M. Brasch loved to see me, my sister and our mother dress up! I named the business after him – and put a feminine twist on his name.

Pasazz: What moved you to get into the plus size clothing business and open Sydney’s Closet?

Phyllis: An award-winning journalist, I traded deadlines for hemlines after a disastrous shopping trip to the mall in St. Louis failed to turn up a plus-size Prom dress for my curvy teen-age daughter.

Pasazz: Who was Sydney’s Closet created for? And what do your customers look for mostly? What is it that is mostly sought after?

Phyllis: I created Sydney’s Closet for every plus-size woman and plus-size teen fashion-starved for a dressy plus size dress that flatters her her full figure and fits her trendy lifestyle.

Now when it came to once-in-a-lifetime special occasions like a wedding, Prom, military balls, formal dances, cruises, holiday parties and family celebrations women and teens with curves don’t have to settle for a second or third-choice style, sew a dress or in some cases skip the special occasion and stay home because they had nothing to wear. breaks new fashion ground by pioneering the concept that plus-size special occasion dresses can be sold online. That means no matter where a shopper lives or no matter what the time of day or night, she can browse or buy a plus size formal dress or cocktail dress.

Customers at Sydney’s Closet want the same shopping options as skinny women:

  • current dress designs; no fashion leftovers from last season
  • vast selection of styles, color and sizes
  • fit that flatters her full figure
  • smart pricing that delivers value

The most sought after styles are:

  • A-line formal dresses
  • Ball gowns
  • Dresses with sleeves or jackets
  • Short, sexy cocktail dresses

Pasazz: Were you yourself plus size when you were a teenager, looking for a prom dress?

Phyllis: Yes! I certainly relate when customers ask, “Where was Sydney’s Closet when I was in high school looking for a plus size Prom dress?”

Unfortunately, I never found a fashion fairy godmother for my Prom. I settled for a boring, beige two-piece brocade suit more appropriate for a chaperone than a teen-age girl going to Prom.

Pasazz: What makes Sydney’s Closet stand out from the competition?

Phyllis: Sydney’s Closet stands out from its competition because we are a specialty retailer. Sydney’s Closet caters exclusively to the unique needs of plus size women and plus size teens shopping for special occasion dresses. Our strength is our focus.  All we do is sell dressy dresses in hard-to-find plus sizes. And we do that very well!

Sydney’s Closet also stands out from competitors because we serve the extended size customer with our wide selection of dresses in hard-to-find sizes 14 to 44. Competitors typically quit at Size 30 or Size 32. Unlike our competitors, we never turn a customer away because we can’t find a plus size dress large enough to fit her curves.

Pasazz: In our phone conversation you spoke to me about an upcoming Sydney’s Closet label. Can you tell us more about that?

Phyllis: We’re excited to introduce Sydney’s Closet collection of exclusive designs for formal and cocktail dresses. We created the collection with our experience and knowledge of what fits and flatters the plus size women and teen. Just introduced, the collection is already creating a fashion buzz! “Sea Goddess”, our newest exclusive design, will be worn this summer at the Miss Plus America pageant!

Pasazz: What does the future hold for Sydney’s Closet?

Phyllis: We’ve only just begun! Plans are underway to expand Sydney’s Closet collection of exclusive designs and make shopping on our website easier – and more fun!

Pasazz: Describe your typical day at Sydney’s Closet.

Phyllis: I’m up at 5:30 a.m. Before I head to the gym, I go online to check the overnight orders and customer emails. By 8:00 a.m. I’m at my desk under a plaque that says “Dream Big”.

I read several newspapers and trade journals before I meet with the Fashion Team to review what’s anticipated that day and flag anything that needs special attention.

In a typical morning, I’ll plan a photo shoot, talk to manufacturers around the world and meet with our Web designer.

After lunch at my desk, I’ll review a sample dress for design and quality and work on an upcoming email campaign with the creative team.

Late afternoon I’m in the warehouse supervising dresses being shipped to Happy Customers around the world and inspecting new dresses just arriving.

Before going home, I return phone calls and answer emails.

Evening is reserved for family time and fun. Before bed, I go online to make one last check orders and customer emails.

Pasazz: How do you manager you career and family responsibilities? We’re sure it’s a juggling act!

Phyllis: It’s an easier juggling act because we’re a family business. My husband, Mat Librach, serves as Vice President, and my daughter Michelle “Mickey” Librach, a college student, helps maintain the website and translates for our Spanish-speaking customers.

Plus size formal dress Pasazz: What is your opinion of the plus size fashion industry, especially that targeted plus size teens and younger ladies?

Phyllis: Plus-size clothing has come a long way from being merchandised as “half sizes”.  But there’s plenty of room for improvement when you realize that plus size shoppers represent the majority of women in the U.S. today. The real niche is women under size 14!

Pasazz: What essential tips would you give to a plus size teen looking for a fashionable prom dress?

Phyllis: My essential tips would be:

  1. Shop year-round: browse teen sites and online Prom stores to catch trends for Prom 2007 and snap up cheap prom dresses from Prom 2006
  2. Decide soon: best-selling Prom dresses sell out by March
  3. Allow time: special order dresses take six to eight weeks to get to you
  4. Be size wise: carefully measure your bust, waist and hips + know those numbers
  5. Smooth curves: shape wear is essential
  6. Hue cue: find a prom dress in a color that makes you smile
  7. Work your curves: know which silhouette flatters your figure – not the model’s
  8. Nip and tuck: plan on alterations for a perfect fit

Pasazz: What tips would you give to plus size teenagers who feel insecure about their weight and appearance?

Phyllis: Shift your focus away from your weight. Everyone has an asset like a talent for music, writing, acting or sports or a dedication to community service.

Discover what makes you special and showcase it. It’s style not size that matters most. Remember, the most important accessory you need when you dress up is a smile.

Pasazz: And finally… your typical holiday: would you prefer a city break, roaming around museums, or would you rather opt for a beach holiday?

Phyllis: My favorite holiday is a family trip to a major city anywhere in the world that’s rich in history where I can explore restaurants, theaters and museums. But I confess to still loving a long lazy walk on a Florida beach, especially in winter!

Many thanks go out to Phyllis who was kinds enough to take some timeout of her very busy schedule to speak with, and also thanks for Erin Delanty! We greatly recommend you check out Sydney’s Closet collections if you are looking for formal plus size clothing.

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