How to Find Your Size: Straight Talk with a Size 12
July 23, 2015
The multi-talented Emily runs our warehouse here at MM.LaFleur. In the office, she’s all business (except when she’s hosting mandatory dance breaks). But when we let her loose in front of the camera, she turns into a stone-cold fox. Here, she talks openly about how to find your size and the pieces that make her feel fierce.
I hate that women around my size have been labeled “real women,” as if there’s a type of body that is more or less “real.” Real women are size 0, size 26, and everything in between and beyond. And yet at 5’6” and size 12, I feel like most retailers aren’t designing for my body—and that’s because they aren’t. There is a lot more variation in body shape as women go up in size, and yet I’m often expected to fit into a scaled-up version of a dress meant for a size 2.
That’s not the case with MM.LaFleur dresses. One of my favorite things about how Miyako designs is that she works in 3D, accounting for how a dress fits around a person—essentially, she builds in space for curves. Moreover, she loves getting feedback from all the different body types in our office. When a new dress comes in, the whole office tries it on, and we get to see how the piece fits on different shapes and sizes. Some don’t work on me, but that’s okay; some pieces work best on me because of my curves.
The hardest thing to come to terms with, as a more “Rubenesque” woman, is that sizing can be deceiving—and demoralizing. If I am wearing a dress in a size 10 and I go into a store and only fit into 14s, I haven’t suddenly gotten larger, but I end up feeling like I did. I struggle to not let size define me, and to focus on finding the correct fit. If I wear something that is too small on me, I know I will look larger than I would in a bigger size that fits well. I try to view my numerical size as the top of a bell curve and to use it as a jumping-off point when figuring out what to try on; things in sizes on either side of the bell can fit just as well, depending on the garment.
The second hardest thing is that some silhouettes simply don’t work on me. I would love to wear backless dresses in the summer, but it’s just not comfortable for me to be braless. I love the idea of a shift dress, but they make me look way bigger than I am. I have to dress for the body I have, and ill-fitting clothes, however beautiful on other people, serve little purpose in my closet.
I don’t own pants—I live in dresses and skirts. I like simple dresses that stretch, so ten pounds either way won’t mean disaster when I go to get dressed. I wear a lot of black (read: I spill a lot of coffee and red wine), and I gravitate towards two styles in particular: A-lines and anything that shows off my amazing ass. It took me a really long time not to shy away from curve-hugging silhouettes because of my size, but then I realized: They show off my slammin’ bod!
The Emma is my “don’t fuck with me” dress. It has a lot of va-va-voom, but nothing is really showing. The ladies are fully covered (and looking great) and the hem hits at the knee. I wear this dress when I want to impress at a big meeting or negotiation.
The Lydia is a thick enough material that it skims the little bumps and lumps and just shows off my shape. I love the side seaming on this dress—it adds long, slimming lines and narrows the front panel to emphasize my hourglass figure.
Full disclosure: I never meant to buy this dress. I was building a desk at MM’s new warehouse and I ripped the one I was wearing. I threw on the Lydia because it was close at hand and was not split down the backside. I walked past a mirror on my way back to my desk, sat down at my computer, and purchased it. No regrets.
The first day it was warm enough to ditch stockings, I wore my Eliza. My favorite feature is the wide neck, which shows off my collarbone, and how incredibly soft it is. There isn’t anywhere I haven’t worn this dress: out to dinner in Montauk, to Sunday brunch in the city, and to work almost every Monday during the summer. I particularly like it paired with our Greenwich Avenue belt in bone.
The Hanna is the dress I was most excited for this season. Between the wrap at the waist and the volume of the skirt, this dress screams “party.” I can pair it with pearls and heels for a wedding, or cork wedges and a big, bright necklace for brunch. A lot of my jewelry, like this necklace, came from my grandmother. She loved Vegas, and her wardrobe had a lot of bright orange and sequins, so her jewelry is the epitome of “statement pieces.”
Photos by Frances F. Denny