The Shape Issue

So your size doesn’t fit “the mold” — why should it? Spring dressing tips from a woman who not only gets it, but nails it.


It is one thing to love the idea of a trend — to admire a bizarre silhouette, appreciate bold color, fawn over intricate design. To actually adopt the trend is another matter. The reality of fashion is that many of us cannot pull off gigantic pants that start at our neck. Chartreuse will not flatter every skin tone. Just because a magazine says, “You too can rock a mini!” does not mean you will feel comfortable doing so. But that’s the difference between fashion and style: fashion is part of a larger industry. Style is determined by the individual.

Katie Sturino reminded me of this as I stood in her bedroom while holding a pair of wide-legged, striped cotton pants.

“Those will not work on me,” she said. “They’re great, but no.”

Because I sometimes think I’m Stacy London, I coaxed her into them: “You won’t know until you try!”

Because Katie is a good sport, she put them on. They didn’t work.

Well, we tried.

Katie and I met on the set of Adventures in Beauty Vlogging. She’s the proud owner of Toast, our vlog’s extremely hairy director, and the founder of Tinder PR. (Not that Tinder.) We bonded over small foreheads and balayage, but it was when the conversation turned to cropped denim flares — and how she has no desire to participate — that she offered up her bod for the site.

“I’m your reader,” she told me. “I’m not a size 6. I’m not even a size 8. I’m a 12. I have a hard time finding cool stuff in my size, but I love clothes.”

Clothes, as Leandra says, make up the language that we as women use to communicate. And as Katie points out, there are different dialects.

“Nothing looks worse than a body put into a trend that doesn’t fit well. It can be frustrating to not participate in ‘the shape of the season,’ but I enjoy the challenge of making it work for me. I focus on a print, or an accessory — there’s always something to take away. It’s helped me to cultivate my personal style.”

And as we know from nearly every NY/LA-and-Beyond Closet, at the crux of established personal style are the staples.

These are Katie’s:

1) NYDJ jeans. “That used to stand for Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. This is really outing myself, but whatever. I like them a lot. They’re high-waisted, they make a ton of different sizes, and they’re meant to flatter.”

2) High-waisted pencil skirts. “Don’t be afraid of a high waist! It elongates your shape and helps hold everything in. Pencil skirts give a good shape, too, and can be dressed down easily — I often wear them with sneakers.”

3) Head-to-toe prints. “Apparently you’re not supposed to do this if you’re super curvy, but I’m not a minimalist. I’m drawn to prints, so I don’t let them stop me. I find basics a bit snooze-y, and because classic shapes fit me best, prints are where I play around.”

4) Sneakers, clogs, and Birkenstocks for spring. “I’m really tall, and I have big feet. I wear my Twins For Peace x Mr. Men Little Miss sneakers all the time. They’re fun. Birks and clogs are my staple, but men’s designer sneakers are really cool, too, because a lot of women’s shoes are meant for a more narrow foot.”

5) One staple jacket per year. “Last year it was an Isabel Marant nubby knit one that looked like The Lorax. I’m currently looking for this year’s winner.”

There’s no Rosetta Stone for fashion. We gain literacy through immersion and sharing. So, whether you’re the size of a Beanie Baby or are twenty feet tall, tell us: what are you wearing? What works for you? And what in the name of Toast are you planning on buying for spring?

Images by Krista Anna Lewis

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  • Teresa

    As a size 12 woman who LOVES clothes, thank you for this post. NYDJ…really are life savers, they are really flattering…and yes I got over them being mom jeans really quick when they made my ass look great and my waist look even better. This was great! That Tibi top looks awesome Katie!

    • ratched

      I have worn NYDJ since the first year they came out. Granted, I’m an older woman, but most of their denim jeans and colored jeans are very flattering and not as expensive as other higher-end jeans.

  • Allie Fasanella

    Really love the last paragraph. This girl. Ugh. She’s hawt. This is how I feel about what she’s bringin to the table

  • katemcpsf

    Thank you for this! I’ve had the frustration too of translating “what’s in” to “what works for my bod” so always good to know I’m not alone. Love that super secret NYDJ tip 😉

  • Katie is gorgeous! Whatta fun gal.

  • Stephanie

    This piece was great! As a tall girl, did she mention what/where she goes to find appropriate length pants?

    • Amelia Diamond

      I want to do another one with her, maybe a little more focused on the how-tos. I’m going to ask her this as well as any other qs, so add em here!

      • amg

        How about which higher end designers are appropriate for size 12 n up?

      • Molly Borman

        Do it!!!

  • Jessica

    please more of this

    • Amelia Diamond

      Ok, noted for sure.

      • Annette Cohen

        What an awesome post AMELIA! Katie rocks! She beautifully articulated how challenging it can be for someone to feel stylish and confident when the fashion industry doesn’t necessarily acknowledge or appreciate his or her body type!

  • Katherine Sargeant

    I always feel a special connection with those who are fellow K.S.-ers and Katie is no exception. Loved this, thank you <33333

    • Kate

      As another K.S.-er, I didn’t notice it until I read this comment but now I think there may be something to us

  • Some great points made here. I especially liked the idea that fashion and style can be thought of somewhat independently! Well done 🙂

  • Betsy

    What a beautiful and stylish woman! Love! Kind of making me want to run out and buy some NYDJ jeans…almost. I am a J Brand person, through and through. Love the Tibi top – want!

    More of this, please!

  • Caro

    Thanks for this. One of my biggests “things” with “fashion” is that is appears to represent style as this all encompassing thing that’s the same for every woman but it’s not. The models and size extra small models are beautiful and no less “woman” than any other woman but they are not accurate portrayals of the population.

  • chloe
  • KT41

    Love this … new series? Totally agree: not every trend needs to be embraced. For example, the romper trend. Yes, go for it if you’re tiny and of a certain age. Definitely not for me. And that’s OK.

    • Amelia Diamond


      • nstwick

        i’ve tried them SO MANY times. so stubborn. long sleeved, long legged, tank topped, cut-outted & every combination in between. the hanger appeal is too much. i WANT them to look good but I’m a busty size 8 and w/o fail I look like one of those Vegas-Pool-Party-Cabana girls (which unfort duzn’t work in midtown [IMO]). so sad.

  • Really loving pencil skirts and heels right now. Actually I’m obsessed with the options at ASOS. Dresses for daytime and nighttime will always be a staple. Loving my leather jacket too, but I’ll have to retire that soon. I fluctuate between a size 10-12 BTW.. Last year I was an 8. Boo.

  • Kirsten

    oh mah gawd, i’ve been waiting for MR to address size & fashion. you guys cover so much that is good and empowering, but i’ve always felt like this was missing. hoo-ray!

  • Safiyah Seth

    I (seemingly like everyone else) really enjoyed that post ; not necessarily for its contents, but for its affirmation that there are women out there who approach fashion in a manner that is competent, capable and best of all empowered. Leandra is lovely, but she sure is skinny 🙂

    • Sarah Moore

      Ugh I hate the word skinny… It’s so often used in a derogatory way. Is it just me?

      • Safiyah Seth

        This is a good point. The word ‘skinny’ has indeed developed some stigma over time. I will use it less flippantly for sure as it really is context dependant. Sometimes it can be derogatory and yet, strangely because of my own conditioning, I also issue it as a complement. Hope I didn’t offend though. I love Leandra and the whole MR vibe!!!!

        • Sarah Moore

          I don’t think your use of it was derogatory, but somehow it gets my hackles up every time I hear it!

          • I am ‘skinny’, I don’t hate the word per se but stupid questions like ‘why aren’t you eating cake, you are skinny!’. Its pretty much like skinny people have no business thinking about their health – its frivolous. (Ok, sorry about the rant guys).


        • I loved what you said – ‘the MR vibe’! I don’t think I have ever articulated it but its so true. Fantastic content, of course, but also very fun, open vibe.

  • Emily Randolph

    gah! LOVE THIS. agree with below can we have more plzzz? she’s so hilarious and authentic. gives practical tips without losing any fun or fashion. what does she do in the summer when it’s super hot? shorts? what style dress? does she want to get coffee i could meet her in like 20?

    • Julianna

      Absolutely fabulous new perspective that from the comments is clearly appreciated and wanted. Yes we all love watching Leandra lead the way for the rest of us MRs but we need some less skinny viewpoints to help us apply Leandra’s inspiration.

  • Totally subscribe to the idea of one great jacket a year (or maybe 2). Before you know it, you’ve built a killer collection.

    Great post!

  • Katie- love ya style, love ya moves, love ya hair. More, more, more of this MR!

  • Jessica dW

    Thank you Amelia and Katie for this post!! Which in my humble opinion was a bit overdue. I was beginning to wonder if other readers also felt like they wished they could embrace some of MR’s/Leandra’s gorgeous styles, but would require a model’s physique to do so in a way that would actually boost my confidence and not destroy it. I love fashion, especially bold fashion, but I also happen to be pear shaped, and it’s always great to see inspiration that proves that those two things about me don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

  • The Losing Struggle

    I’m quite curvy, compared to all my friends.
    Sometimes it can be hard to find good dresses, because my taille should come out.
    But searching long enough results mostly in finding great things for my figure.


    The Losing Struggle | Bloglovin’

  • Nicole

    Love you Leandra forever, but this is a great fresh perspective! I am actually going to buy some NYDJs (great tip Katie!!).

  • Molly Borman

    I love this! Took me a while to figure out how to comment lol. Can you feature more of her? This article rocks!!! Thank u for this post and she should be a regular on MR!!!

    • Amelia Diamond

      yes we sure can!


  • Alina

    I have an interesting shape: I am something in between a pear and an hourglass shape, got measured and everything. I have a thin torso with a defined waist but big boobs and a I keep most of my weight on my lower half. I wear a size smaller on top.
    I am a petite woman, so in a lot of the clothes in stores I look like a 5 year old in mother’s clothes. I have been adjusting the hemline of pants since I was 13, I prefer British stores because they have Petite clothing and most pants have the Short version too. Petite but with big feet, I need wide fit shoes. A lot of hats don’t fit my big head. I have a small waist and a lot of dresses nowadays are not for me as they are straight up and down. So yes, I need a personal tailor! :). I do look in proportion though.
    I’ve lost weight, so I plan to buy everything, really, none of my old clothes fit me anymore: skirts and figure hugging dresses that emphasize my waist, a leather jacket and everything that my heart wants, that my eyes recognize as good for me and colorful!

    • Definitely understand what you mean. I live in London but honestly, even with the petite sizes its impossible. After much shopping, analysing and research, I have concluded that my size is UK petite 5 (which btw is a fantasy size). And same with the hats. But you get a hat sizing tape or something where you can adjust the size of the hat to fit you.

      I am especially upset about this today after my crush dress at J Crew, which is on sale, did not fit me (no, not that they don’t have my size. None of the sizes fit me).

  • Alina

    Oh, and Katie rocks! You go, Katie! So beautiful and strong.

  • Great article. I should stick to the one-jacket-a-year rule, but oh well. It’s my go-to item to buy.

  • Cortney Hamann

    Love Katie and the article!

  • Sarah

    This is great! I do often find though that many curvy bloggers are usually tall. Does anyone know any curvy bloggers who are on the short side? I’m 5’2 and a size 12 with big boobs, hips and a small waist and I always have trouble finding people to take inspiration from, especially with a weird boob to waist ratio. I also might not be paying enough attention.

  • Catherine Lajoie

    how refreshing! Definitely more of this. Gorgeous, stylish clothes that can work for the population at large. What a fascinating concept.

  • Avianti Jewelry

    It just takes one experience to make all the difference. Thank you

  • Rosaly

    Love this as a curvy girl myself! xo

  • Lua Jane

    Loved it. I’m a curvy, tipicaly mediterranean size 4, and as small as it may sound it’s not easiest to dress. Especially in veritable fashion sense (which is to say, not Kardashian circa 2009. style) It’s always inspirational to read articles like this. Gorgeous woman.

  • I LOVE this post. Let’s see more of Katie!

  • laraerae

    YES! As a size 10 or 12, I love Leandra’s style but would look pretty damn clownish if I tried to wear most of what she wears. Thank you for this post. I’m buying those jeans STAT they are HOT.

  • Emily Rother

    I bought my favorite white denim crops in the petites section at Talbots of all places. I’m 25! And shopping at Talbots! But when you find the right pair, you gotta go for it.

    • Amelia Diamond

      talbots is having a comeback !

  • Autumn Venegas

    I’m very tiny and have a hard time finding clothes that fit properly. My frame is small but I still do have a figure. I think classic silhouettes flatter just about everyone. I’m a personal fan of high waisted bottoms and fitted tailored jackets.

  • Hannah Cole

    Spirit sister! My booty battles to fit my hips so I have enough trouble finding pants that fit, yet alone don’t make my legs look like mini trees stumps. But nudie is my life saver, and high waisted skirts are my love.

  • Thank you for this post! So many of this season’s trends are nearly impossible to wear with a fuller figure (I’m a UK 12-14, so a US 8-10 if calculations are right?) – being an apple shape, there’s no way you’ll get me in crop tops, clingy co-ords or mom jeans. I know because I’ve tried them all on in the changing rooms and seen the results!
    I tend to find the most flattering clothes in COS and & Other Stories – if money were no object, I’d do most of my shopping there, but it is pricey.

  • I love absolutely all of this except the title of the post.

    Long story short, I have fluctuated over the past ~10 years of life between a size 0 and a size 12. I don’t think I stopped being “real” at size 4 or became more “real” once I hit size 12 or anything along those lines. I was a “real” girl/woman regardless of my size at any given time.

    So why do we do that? Thin privilege is absolutely a real thing, so I’m not here to say skinny-shaming is equal to fat-shaming. But I don’t think it gets better for any of us by framing certain women as more “real” than “other” women, whatever the criteria. So when I read a title like “Styling a Real Woman” I just had to wonder… isn’t that what y’all have been doing this whole time?

    More importantly! This woman is so rad. And has an eye for prints like whoa! I want that shirtdress especially bad.

  • I, too, have a hard time trying to figure what works best for me being 5’3″, curvy, busty, petite, yet muscular. It’s nice to see an article that reiterates that personal style is just that, PERSONAL. Not every trend works for ever person and we should celebrate our differences and the beauty that is in all of us.

  • Danielle

    May I state that the title of this makes it appear that if you don’t have curves, then you’re not a real woman. If you’re petite, if you’re tall and thin, if you have straight hips, you’re not a real woman? If you don’t have voluptuous curves and great hips than you’re not a real woman? This taking back of the term “real woman” is really frustrating to me because all we’re doing is turning fat-shaming around into skinny-shaming. What does that accomplish?

  • Lizzy

    So, I’ve been out of town and just got back to the internet and this AMAZING and well overdue post!! I know that fashion does not always feel obligated to accommodate plus sizes. I too am a 12 and have a hard time with certain trends. I was relieved to read that someone else is not able to make the wide leg thing work. Is there a way to pull off wide legs or even culottes if you’re not tiny? Specifically if you have a belly, can you just not pull it off?

  • Ola

    I’m not very tall and have rather strong thighs. So a mini or shorts don’t work for me, even though I love them. I also know that my neck isn’t like a giraffe’s so turtlenecks are not for me either (but maybe i shouldn’t write that here, lol). What i’m looking for right now is a simple tee with a low neckline, it suits my figure 🙂

  • VB

    Hands down, this is one my favorite posts from the MR! Not only is this girl smoking hot, I’m majorly feeling her humor, candor and tips. I love what she’s wearing. I might not be a size 12 but I want her style a lot! Keep it coming MR!

  • Amy

    Real woman? so does that mean none plus size women are not real? think about it…

  • alwaysconservative

    Many labels have their large size at 10 and anything over that is plus.Considering the average sized woman in the U.S. is 14, the fashion industry is doing itself a real disservice by not designing for over half of the women. Add to that the age factor. When they design for only those under 40, they are writing off 2/3 of the women. And I suspect women older than 30-40 probably have more money to spend. So why ignore that part of the population? Even when you do find a plus size, it is usually pretty blah. It is nice to see this issue addressed by a respected member of the industry.

  • Catherine Bell

    Spot on! I want to try everything but short and round just doesn’t fit.

  • Shayna

    “Average Size Woman” > “Real Woman”

    All women are real. It’s 2015.

  • misserock

    a ‘real woman’ means a size 12? i’m a REAL WOMAN and my best friends are all real women sizes 0-16. we are women that want to look good but happen to work and raise families and whatever. we don’t feel comfortable in european designer duds cause the elevate fashion over function. we want to be BOTH chic and comfortable. help us coordinate outfits put a stop to calling our plus size sisters ‘REAL WOMEN’. We’re ALL ‘REAL WOMEN’ with similar needs – we want your guidance on how to look good without sacrificing comfort whether we’re size 0-whatever. XO

  • Meredith Whitfield

    “Doesn’t fit the mold” makes me just #thesaddest. Dear fashion, most people in the US are her size! Most people want to look this good in clothes!

    More please!