Recently, my friend Danielle visited me in New York for the week. I thought it would be fun if she joined me on some "appointments"—after the runway shows are over, fashion editors set off on appointments where they resee collections up close. Big mistake. While I ogled the designs and fabrics, Danielle seemed overwhelmed. She couldn't discern the fads from the investment-worthy trends and dismissed much of what she saw as unwearable by anyone with a "normal body." After the fifth appointment, she huffed, "Ashley, just tell me what to buy already!"

And so I did, devising her a handy shopping list packed with flattering and versatile pieces guaranteed to give her heavy winter wardrobe—and yours—a spring awakening.

Anything neutral. The runway scene-stealers this season were soft, lovely taupes and nudes. These shades are ideal for layering, which makes them exceedingly plus-size-friendly. My favorite for spring: Marina Rinaldi's biscuit-colored, military-inspired silk vest. The cinched waist hides a multitude of sins and looks ridiculously slimming with leggings.

A mouth-watering cardi. Here's the God's honest truth: A head-to-toe black ensemble screams, Don't look at me! A simple cardigan in a retina-popping shade of berry, persimmon, or lemon will magically revive a boring pair of slacks. My fave this season: Lane Bryant's soft-as-cashmere cotton cardi in watermelon. Wear it to death—I certainly will.

A full skirt. I know big girls are genetically hardwired to stay away from these figure-busters, but not all full skirts are created equal. Avoid looking like a patio umbrella by finding one whose minimal pleating lies flat on the tummy—pleats should fall around or below your lady parts. The navy tie-dye cotton number I found at Anne Klein looks simultaneously demure and funky. Pair it with chunky sandals—a must if you're on the shorter side like me.

Silky pajama top. Before you diss pajamas as this season's harem pants, hear me out: They look great untucked, which means they are really flattering on top-heavy gals (provided you're wearing a good bra!). I've fallen hard for a long, billowy silk crewneck in a peachy taupe, also from Marina Rinaldi. It's as easy to wear with jeans as it is with a pencil skirt, and is on track to earning my wardrobe MVP title this season.

Brown accessories. Give your heavy black handbag a rest this spring and invest in a brown leather carryall instead. It wears well with everything from jeans and a trench to a meeting-with-clients navy suit. I especially like brown bags with gold hardware, which always look classy.

Have you started spring shopping yet? Tell me what you're planning to buy at marieclaire.com/ashley. See you there!

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