Written by William Bryant Rozier
Fashion blogger and stylist Mary Byrd likes patterns and how they the juxtapose. She pays attention to fabrics and how they feel. Budget-conscious, she likes to hit the clearance section first. She selects something then it’s on to the next one because for Byrd, the selection process is love at first instinct. “Except at Goodwill,” she said, where she has to spend time finding, but most of the time, when she’s shopping, “I usually know when it’s going to be a good day.”
The Fort Wayne-native shops at the same stores most of us do or have, like JCPenney, one of her favorites; she frequents New York & Company, H&M, Target, TJ Maxx.
Byrd has parlayed that passion into a dope side job; she has consulted for national stores, like JCPenney and Kohl’s, has spoken on a fashion panel for another department store, and has won online fashion contests with all-expense-paid trips included…one of her outfits won a competition for actress Eva Mendes’ spring fashion line, where she was flown out for that. She consults for regular folks, who don’t have a store or a star connection.
To connect further, she will be introducing lifestyle content to her fashion blog: CurlyByrdieChirps.blogspot.com.
People have always looked up to her to find something to wear. Byrd’s skill was first confirmed by her family, when, as a teenager, she was put in charge of clothes shopping for her cousins and siblings.
When she started posting her choices to Instagram, she cultivated a digital family of like-minded women who trusted her judgement, even among local women, “who want to shop on a budget and know where to get fashionable pieces,” Byrd said. “Whatever your age or your weight, you still want to feel great when you walk out the door.”
She continued: “And women can relate to me because I’m not that 20-something model type body. I’m like an everyday woman, just like they are.”
Byrd was age 40 when she started blogging; the single mother wanted her “own creative outlet” that belonged to just her. It was more of a lark than anything else, she said. If something didn’t come of it…oh well. She wrote about her outfits, she found deals…she posted coupon codes. A regular segment showed how Byrd took one outfit and styled it three different ways. “If you can style a $10 jacket three different ways, it’s worth more than $10,” she said.
Her love of clothes and fashion also came from a place, when she was a teenager, of not having the funds to buy all of the wants. When she did get what she wanted, like on Easter and Christmas when she was gifted a new dress, she got excited about it.
Appreciation and thankfulness came with it, directed at the purchasers like her aunts and uncles who paid for them when her mother couldn’t. “I used to draw like little outfits that I wanted,” Byrd said. “When you don’t have a lot of money, you’ve got to be creative.”
She likes to push her own boundaries, yet she will watch and learn from other fashion bloggers when she needs a stronger shove. Fashion no longer is restricted by rules, like not mixing patterns or wearing white after Labor Day, she said. She’s a musician, a painter. “For me, my fashion is art.”
Her blog started to take off when JCPenney (them again) reached out in 2015, after Byrd tagged the store in an Instagram post about this polka dot skirt that everybody “went crazy” about. The store flew her, and other fashion influencers, to New York for their spring collection, to ask for opinions. The weekend was replete with superstar treatment: limo, photographers, fine hotel. They let her keep some clothes. That’s how they treat you in the show.
Mary Byrd, Fashion Blogger & Stylist
Instagram & Twitter: CurlyByrdie