By Katie Sturino
Oct 16, 2018 @ 1:00 pm
Courtesy Katie Sturino

I’ve heard all the “rules” of plus-size dressing: Stick to slimming all black, always go for draped styles, stay away from head-to-toe prints and horizontal stripes, and don’t even think about wearing cropped tops or short shorts. But where’s the fun in that? The number of brands that make my size (14 to 16, depending on the designer) is painfully low, especially considering that about 68 percent of women in the United States wear a size 14 or up. But I’m not about to follow those dowdy guidelines; I love fashion, and I am here for it.

Courtesy Katie Sturino

So let’s bust some myths. I’ll start with leather jackets. I purchased my first “investment” leather jacket in my early 20s. It was $800 and butter-soft. But its most notable feature? It barely fit and left my arms numb. “It will stretch,” they said. Guess what? It didn’t. I couldn’t even zip it (strangers would chastise, “You must be freezing — zip up your jacket!”). Having learned my lesson, the next time I bought a leather jacket, it was a men’s one from BLK DNM. It fit perfectly, and I looked like a chic Frenchwoman with a devil-may-care attitude. The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to check out the men’s section (at least until fashion gets with the program).

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Courtesy Katie Sturino

Until recently, my only firsthand experience with thigh-high boots involved trying to cram my wide size-12 foot into a too-tight riding boot, like I was Cinderella’s stepsister. I promptly aborted the mission and left the store. Years later, though, I spotted some Stuart Weitzman thigh-highs made for wider calves — an updated sizing convention that’s slowly being introduced across the market. They were perfection. Since then, several other brands have hopped on board, so I finally have the equal opportunity to covet shoes I can’t afford just like everyone else! I ordered several less expensive pairs from Longtallsally.com, and the rest is history.

Courtesy Katie Sturino

Next on the agenda: jeans. I opted out of them for the first 28 years of my life because the people who made them didn’t think I needed them in my size. With most stores selling only up to a size 32, I was shit out of luck. Things have glacially started to change in the past year or so, and NYDJ, Good American, and J.Crew now make some great options; I favor high-waist styles, which tend to provide more support.

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Courtesy Katie Sturino

My most recent game-changing discovery is that layering is not the enemy. There’s a common misconception that adding layers turns any look bulky. But let me introduce you to the thin, body-hugging turtleneck from J.Crew. Ironically, it’s an article of clothing I learned about from a fashion blogger who wears a size 0, and she convinced me that it would flatter any frame. It’s now my go-to piece for making summer dresses winter dresses, turning sweaters into full après-ski looks, and even helping me pioneer the fall caftan — all without creating a layering fiasco à la that famous episode of Friends in which Joey wears Chandler’s entire wardrobe at once.

Courtesy Katie Sturino

Finally, I implore women of all sizes to invest in a long camel coat. It is universally chic and the perfect complement to any fall look. Your wardrobe will thank you. And now, with full confidence, I can say, “Come at me, fall!”

Sturino is the founder of The12ishStyle.com and personal-care brand Megababe.

For more stories like this, pick up the November issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Oct. 12.