As John Apatow’s go-to costume designer, Leesa Evans is the sartorial eye behind many of Hollywood’s funniest films from Bad Neighbours to Bridesmaids, Snatched to Trainwreck. Not only is Leesa one of Hollywood’s most powerful stylists and the women responsible for changing Amy Schumer’s outlook on fashion, she is also a fierce fashion feminist fighting to change the way woman view clothes and their bodies forever.
It was a true joy to catch up with the badass babe to chat Amy, fat-shaming and how fashion has the power to transform our lives.
When you think of a Hollywood stylist, most people think of someone who fits whippet-thin actresses in sample-size dresses straight from the runway. You’re trying to change that conversation? I strive to help people through my costume design for film and my celebrity styling and my private styling to really reframe fashion. It’s the idea that regardless of your size or your age or your economic level, that there is clothing that best supports you as a person.
Amy Schumer credits you for helping her with that, how did you meet? We started trying on clothes [for a fitting for Trainwreck], and there was this feeling of, “Wait a minute. I actually like this. What’s going on here?” and I don’t think she had had that experience before. She didn’t realize how much we could tailor the clothing to be right for her as an individual.
Amy is so funny and fearless, and to think that even she is not immune to the kind of body-shaming that’s put on so many women is interesting… When she started to recognize that there were certain things that made her feel good, she was aware enough to just continue to repeat that process.
You both then co-founded Style Fund, what is it? It’s based on the belief that feeling great about what you wear everyday manifests limitless possibilities. So we’re literally teaching women how to dress to feel amazing.
Where do you think the problem with fashion and feeling the need to be a certain size begins? Maybe that’s something that is started on the runway. You see all these incredible pieces of art and we’re supposed to emulate that, when in reality, it is just art. Because we all have to get dressed every day, we take it for granted that it is something we should know how to do innately, when in reality, it is something that we have to put a little bit of effort into.
“I got thyroid cancer, and it was the impetus to my changing my opinion about clothing… all of a sudden my body changed significantly. I gained all this weight and I suddenly had to figure out a way to get back to that place where I felt incredibly confident again. “
It’s a philosophy hard-won through circumstance, isn’t it? I got thyroid cancer, and it was sort of the impetus to my changing my opinion about clothing, because I always had this innate thing, feeling comfortable in my clothes, but then all of the sudden in my mid-to-early 30s, my body changed significantly. I gained all this weight and I suddenly had to figure out a way to get back to that place where I felt incredibly confident again. It was kind of life-changing, in a really positive way, that I could feel as good as I felt 50 pounds lighter, then I could help other people feel the same way.
It’s easy to make judgements about how people look, isn’t it? We don’t know the circumstances of why someone wears a zero and someone wears a 20, and it’s kind of irrelevant, because clothing should be there as a tool to support us at any time that we need it in life.
Things are changing, slowly. At the recent New York Fashion Week, Plus-Sized models walked the runway a record 27 times. Sports Illustrated are embracing curves, as is American style bible, Vogue. How do you feel about the term “plus size”? I don’t subscribe to the word “plus-sized.” I don’t believe in it. I don’t think there should be two different clothing stores. I don’t know that dressing someone who is a size 16 or 18 is very different than dressing someone who is a zero or a two, because it’s all about proportion.
So, how do we dress for body confidence? Asking someone to remember the last time they felt really great in what they were wearing and to recall what the shape was. It’s all about proportion. Once you find the shapes that make up the silhouette that’s individual to you, from that point you can just make it effortless.
Leesa’s Tips For Body-Confidence Dressing:
#1. Find what makes you happy: Start by asking, when did you have a great day and really felt great- they probably loved what they wore- look for pieces that have similar lines. #2. Forget size, understand silhouette: Everyone has unique proportions that suit them. If you like narrow skirt- look for that shape in other clothes- pencil skirt, narrow pants, even jackets. It’s about the outside of the shape. #3. One color, one neutral: It's hard to go wrong if you stick with one color, one neutral, but of course if you feel bold, go for it!