Not a day goes by that I don't receive an e-mail from an exasperated reader complaining that she has no style. I'm always saddened by these letters. A woman without style is like the middle seat on an airplane — a bad view from every angle. My response to these hapless readers is always the same: Whose style would you like to have? Just because we're curvy doesn't mean we have to limit our fashion references to Mad Men. It's surprisingly easy to draw inspiration from even slim style icons as a first step toward cultivating a look all your own. The key is not to mimic — instead, adopt a piece from their repertoire and pair it with something that works for you.
Ah, the woman I invoked in the fourth grade when asked with whom I'd want to be trapped on a deserted island. (Think of all that raffia!) I have what I call my "Chanel outfit": a tweed jacket from Target that I usually wear with jeans. I'll top off the chic ensemble with a Chanel-esque necklace (think pearls and chains). For a couple of off-the-rack keepers, it looks like I blew two months' rent. When shopping for a cropped tweed jacket, pay attention to length and fit. The jacket should fall right at your belly-button line — too short and it will call attention to your midsection. Skip boxy or oversize cuts, which tend to make curvy girls look like linebackers. Coco would recoil in horror.
Get to know your local tailor because pulling off Hepburn requires a superbly well-fitted camel or gray trouser (enough black!), wide-leg or cigarette-style. Spend a bit more on a high-quality, sturdy knit like gabardine, which will hold you better than a cheap rayon. Let me be blunt: Hepburn wouldn't be caught dead with visible panty lines, muffin tops, camel toes, or pockets straining to stay shut! Neither should you. Wear your pants with cashmere sweaters in basic solids like navy, charcoal, and black — a strong yet sexy look ideal for a woman who means business.
I'm all for risk-taking, but even women as slim as door cracks have difficulty pulling off Carrie's Barnum & Bailey looks. If you're like me (a size 20, give or take), turbans and tutus are reliable no-nos. But here's how to appropriate some of her fashion sense without looking wacky: Wear a single garment or accessory that will have your guy tilting his head to the side before asking, "When did you get that?" Whether it's a pair of neon-pink stilettos or a straight-out-of-Studio-54 sequined tank, it's the item of clothing sure to spark a conversation.
Your turn! Tell me your favorite fashion icons and how you achieve their looks at marieclaire.com/ashley. Until next time!