I’m a size 6. I’ve been as small as a 4 and as large as an 8, but there hasn’t been much variance since I’ve hit adulthood. I’m not petite, I’m not particularly large, I’m neither tall nor short. I most certainly am not plus sized. My most valuable shopping tip might surprise you.

When I’m shopping online or in catalogs I check what the plus sized models are wearing.

Unless you’re tall and willowy and shaped like a fashion model looking at most websites won’t help you understand what clothing will look like on you. Although Stefanie and I have closets full of clothing that are the same size we really don’t look good in the same types of clothing.

There is more to dressing a woman than her size.

Here are two similar looks.

two women wearing similar outfits, one is a traditional fashion model and one is a plus sized model

Both women are wearing dresses over denim, a questionable choice but let’s just play along. It’s easy to see where this isn’t a difficult maneuver for a traditionally slim and tall fashion model. The wrap dress is cinched at the waist and it gives her the slightest appearance of hips. Unfortunately looking at this gives me no idea of how it will look on me, I have no waist. It’s sort of a straight line down for me.

If I go to a plus sized model I end up seeing someone who looks like me. The model on the right doesn’t have a nipped in waist and, frankly, the dress over denim look is just unflattering on her. She is beautiful and looks great in other photos. This plus sized model with a figure that resembles mine helps me make my decision.

When I’m trying a new style I often land in a dressing room and try on a dozen items and leave in frustration. Sometimes though, I’m smart about it and I cruise through H&M plus to check out trends.

Next time I’ll try to figure out why 100% of their plus size dresses are dark green or black. Hey H&M I’m going to let you in on a secret: Plus sized women look great in bright colors!