You’ve been laughing at Paula Pell’s jokes for years and might not have even known it. The 56-year-old comedian wrote for SNL from 1995 to 2013, and contributed to 30 Rock and Bridesmaids. But in the last few years, Pell has stepped out of the writers’ room and in front of the camera (starring in AP Bio and Netflix’s Wine Country) and traded her comedic writing for something a bit more serious: an essay for Glamour in which she described her struggle with people’s perceptions of her weight and learning to love herself.
The essay ended on a happy note, too: celebrating her engagement to “gorgeous love tornado” Janine Brito. Pell checked in with PEOPLE from the set of her Old Navy commercial to discuss wedding attire, her own feelings about shopping and what she’s bought based on the recommendations of her supremely funny friends.
Most importantly: Any idea what she’ll wear to her upcoming nuptials? “I want to wear pale blue for my wedding,” she says. “Most likely a long sleeveless dress that shows my tattoos that is fitted in the bust and an armful of gorgeous flowers. (And a giant smile and tears of joy of course.)”
Pale blue is among the “great colors” that she says make her feel happy and comfortable in her own skin, adding: “I love unusual prints and stripes [and] fabrics that feel good and wash well. I have a lot of great costume jewelry, so I love finding clothes that aren’t overtly intricate, so I can enjoy accessorizing. Because I am plus size I love when clothes that are cut and expertly designed for a bigger body and are flattering and free without feeling like a poncho.”
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The comedian is one of several stars who have spoken out about how the plus-size shopping experience has traditionally been unpleasant. (Melissa McCarthy once joked her choices were “hidden away on a different floor next to the tire section.”) Pell says being catered to at Old Navy is one of the reasons she was happy to film an ad for them.
“It is always a huge joy to shop in stores like Old Navy that don’t sequester the plus sizes in the back corner like they are in a shame-y time out,” Pell says. “It always feels mixed in with the other sizes and that makes shopping so much more fun and inclusive. There are so many stores that offer plus size but don’t carry them in the store. I’ll hear they have bigger sizes and go to shop and they say, ‘We do, just online only.’ It’s very frustrating since it’s always better to try things on and so many real people are bigger sizes.”
And though we had a lot of questions about her time on the Wine Country set (she’s pictured second from right, with, from left, Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler), we really wanted to know if they shared any shopping tips. “All my funny BFF’s are amazing sources when I’m looking for almost anything,” she says. “We are always exchanging suggestions of books we love, shows, jewelry, food, places to visit, etc. Recently Ana Gasteyer got the greatest pants at Old Navy with bananas on them and I thought they were crazy cute.”
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