Style

'She knows what works': How Hoda Kotb's mom gave her confidence — and style

My style hero for as long as I can remember has been my mom. My mom can look at any human being walking down the street and say "I know what dress should be for you."

She'll take it off the hanger in a store — it'll look weird and misshapen — and you'll put it on and it was as if you were born in it. She does it constantly.

TODAY

The dresses in my dressing room, she finds them in a store, puts them in a box and sends them to my apartment in New York. I take the box to work without opening it. I hand it to the wardrobe people. They ask, "Have you tried it on?" No! I don't need to.

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    The 2016 TODAY Style Heroes List

    Welcome to our first annual TODAY Style Heroes list, honoring 40 actors, designers, athletes and revolutionaries changing the style world.

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    Alicia Keys -

    Alicia Keys' decision to go makeup-free reminds us all that beauty really is on the inside, and it also inspired some women to ditch the concealer and lipstick for a few days. Now she says going bare-faced is a metaphor for something much bigger. "I believe this is the time of the woman," Keys said. "The definitive moment when we get to uncover the ideals that have been placed upon us and be who we are, as we are, in all of our beauty, depth and complexity. For me, not wearing much makeup is a metaphor for that."

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    Ariel Winter -

    Between flaunting her curves on Instagram and slamming body-shamers with well-crafted tweets, Ariel Winter is fearless, and that makes her a star in our book. We've watched the actress grow up on "Modern Family" and she's shared with TODAY how she's stayed so grounded through it all.

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    Christian Siriano -

    Since launching his career on "Project Runway," Christian Siriano has become a pioneer in the fashion industry, as one of the first high-end designers to embrace all sizes. He's created two collections for Lane Bryant, and recently stunned spectators at New York Fashion Week when he sent five plus-size models down the runway at his show. For Siriano, that call was a no-brainer: "I just wanted to have different sizes," he said. Hey, it makes sense to us!

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    Dana Donofree -

    When Dana Donofree couldn't find any pretty bras that fit after undergoing a double mastectomy, she took matters into her own hands. She founded AnaOno, a lingerie line for fellow breast cancer survivors. As one vendor put it, "it brings back confidence, not just comfort."

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    Ashley Graham -

    Arguably the most famous curve model on the planet, Ashley Graham has been featured in Cosmopolitan, the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and more. Graham is more than a pretty face, though. She's also a body-positive activist eager to prove to everyone that curves are beautiful, and that's why we love her. "Stop judging yourself," she has said. "Embrace the things that society has called 'ugly.'"

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    Chrissy Teigen -

    Chrissy Teigen, who welcomed her first child this year with husband John Legend, is fun and funny — just what we would want in a best friend. And despite being a famous swimsuit model, she's also refreshingly down-to-earth about topics like body image and motherhood. Rushing to the gym after having a baby? Not Teigen's style. Lilliana Vazquez, of the TODAY Style Squad, calls her a personal style hero.

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    Dascha Polanco -

    "Orange Is the New Black" star Dascha Polanco proves that you don't have be a sample size to look fabulous on the red carpet. We love the actress' style, confidence and body image philosophy that she shared with TODAY.

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    Jennifer Aniston -

    We've loved Jennifer Aniston's effortless style since her "Friends" days, but this year she caught our attention with a powerful statement about how women are portrayed by the media — and how that can affect young girls. "The message that girls are not pretty unless they're incredibly thin, that they're not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we're all willingly buying into," she wrote in a viral essay. Aniston is ready for a change, and we couldn't agree more. And that's also why TODAY Style Squad member Jill Martin calls her a personal style hero.

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    Daisy Ridley -

    The 24-year-old Brit is best known for her role as Rey in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," but we also love her red carpet style and the good head she has on her shoulders. Case in point? Knowing when to stand up to body-shamers on social media. "I will not apologize," she said, when someone critiqued her size.

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    Adele -

    The British Grammy winner is more than an amazing singer-songwriter. She's also a mom and a confident woman who loves her body, but reminds us all that it's perfectly normal to have bad days, too. Her beautiful music? That's just icing on the cake.

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  • Ify Ufele

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    Ify Ufele -

    Ify Ufele, who was once bullied at school, burst onto the fashion scene at only 10 years old, debuting her plus-size, African-inspired designs at New York Fashion Week earlier this year. As she puts it, "I turned negative attention into positive attention." Way to go, Ify!

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    Iris Apfel -

    Even at 95 years old, Iris Apfel is still turning heads. The fashion muse and sometimes model — she's starred in an Alexis Bittar jewelry campaign — is often photographed at fashion shows, parties and events, always dressed to impress. We love her bits of wisdom about living life to the fullest, in style. No wonder Bobbie Thomas from the TODAY Style Squad calls her a hero!

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    Laurie Hernandez -

    The pint-sized Olympian wowed us with her acrobatic feats in Rio, and we also love her playful sense of style. Hernandez reminds us all how beautiful it is to be strong, and how important it is to love the body you have. That's a message we're happy to share.

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    Iskra Lawrence -

    Iskra Lawrence is a plus-size model and one of the stars of American Eagle's #aerieREAL campaign. She's also an outspoken advocate for body positivity, and not afraid to speak up for the cause — like when she posted this bathroom selfie to make a point about thigh gaps. "You are meant to be you and no one else," she said. "Your body is your home so love and respect it."

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    Jennifer Weiner -

    Best-selling author Jennifer Weiner won us over with novels including "In Her Shoes" and "Good In Bed," but this year she appeared to be on another mission: to get women to love themselves. Her #weartheswimsuit movement encouraged women to put on a bathing suit and have some fun this summer, but she's also well aware that self-acceptance is a journey. "I struggle like everyone else," she said. "I have good days and I have bad days. I have days where I'm content with what I see in the mirror, and I have days where I'm like, 'Oh God, can I just have a do-over?'"

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    Kristen Bell -

    In the summer blockbuster "Bad Moms," Kristen Bell played a rule-abiding mom who decided to shake things up and have some fun. She's not so unhinged in real life, but she also doesn't beat herself up over things that don't matter so much -- like losing the baby weight, a common concern for moms in the spotlight. "Who cares?" the actress said. Kristen, we knew we liked you.

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    Johnny Weir -

    What's not to love about a man who wears a headpiece made of roses? Johnny Weir has never been shy when it come to style, and we love the figure skater's bold looks and brave attitude when it comes to trying — or creating! — fashion trends.

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  • Bryne Huffman

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    Brynne Huffman -

    Brynne Huffman stood up to a body-shaming bully on Facebook and in the process, the mom of two became an advocate for positive body image and self-love, even launching a social media group for women to "celebrate each other." "I want to have an ongoing commentary in a safe place about what's going on in my life, along with suggestions from other people about how to love yourself, shop for clothes you love and feel as beautiful as you are," she said.

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    Jillian Mercado -

    Model Jillian Mercado is bringing a much-needed dose of diversity to fashion. The New Yorker, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, has appeared in ad campaigns for major brands including Diesel and Target. "I love that fashion is this revolving door of culture and ideas that never stops spinning," Mercado said.

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    Kate Winslet -

    We've been fans of Kate Winslet for decades now. The actress is always perfectly poised and put-together, while still feeling relatable, and that's what makes her a true star.

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    Leslie Jones -

    "Saturday Night Live" star Leslie Jones is one of the funniest women we know, even when faced with hardship — or hackers. And her style is on point, too. We especially love this red gown by fellow TODAY Style Hero Christian Siriano that Jones wore to a "Ghostbusters" premiere in Los Angeles.

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    Matt McGorry -

    He caught our attention with roles on "Orange Is the New Black" and "How to Get Away With Murder," but it's Matt McGorry's activism that really has us hooked. The actor isn't afraid to speak up on behalf of women's rights and he's determined to prove that a man who's in touch with his emotions isn't weak — he's strong. We like your style, Matt!

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    Amy Schumer -

    Whether she's making us laugh on stage, posing for the Pirelli calendar or speaking up about body image, Amy Schumer is funny and feisty, and that's why we love her.

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  • Mindy Scheier

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    Mindy Scheier -

    Mindy Scheier is a mom on a mission to make clothing work for everyone — including kids who have physical disabilities. That's why she founded Runway of Dreams, which partnered with Tommy Hilfiger this year to create a line of adaptable clothing. The adjustable hemlines and magnetic closures make it easier for kids like her son, who has muscular dystrophy, to get dressed. "It's going to be our new normal," Scheier said of the inclusive designs.

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    Michelle Carter -

    Michelle Carter won a gold medal in shot put at the Olympics this summer, but that's not the only dream she's accomplished. She's proud to be a body-positive makeup artist who runs a company called Shot Diva, which is also her nickname. "I think it's important to do whatever makes you feel your best," she said of her beauty looks during matches. "For some people, being bare-faced is wonderful. Others like a little bit of mascara and eyeliner. Others want a full face (of makeup)." We completely agree — find what works for you, and go for it! 

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    Melissa McCarthy -

    She's an actress, a comedian, a producer and a fashion designer. Need we say more? McCarthy has never disappointed us when it comes to spreading a positive message about body image and self-confidence. She's urged people to "stop tearing down women," and we're grateful for every time she's encouraged us to love ourselves, just the way we are.

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    Meghan Trainor -

    Ever since she burst onto the music scene with "All About That Bass," it's been clear that Meghan Trainor is proud of her curves, and we love her confidence and body-positive message. She's also adamant about not being Photoshopped, even yanking a music video this summer when she realized that her body had been edited to appear slimmer.

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    Susan Gregg Koger -

    The ModCloth co-founder is so dedicated to celebrating women's bodies the way they are that she created an entire company around the concept. She also took her mission to Washington, D.C. this year, to fight for the Truth in Advertising Act, which calls for the regulation of altering models' appearances in ads — meaning you would see real models, not airbrushed ones.

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    Renee Zellweger -

    Bridget Jones is back. Actress Renee Zellweger reprises her breakout role in the upcoming film "Bridget Jones' Baby." But she also caught our attention this year when she spoke up about accusations that she had plastic surgery, reminding us all that, well, it's really none of our business. That her looks made the news at all is just a reflection of "society's fixation on physicality," Zellweger wrote in a viral essay.

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  • Misty Copeland

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    Misty Copeland -

    Misty Copeland is breaking barriers in the dance world as the American Ballet Theatre's first black female principal dancer. She's a perfect example of staying true to who you are and fighting for what you want, and that's something that we can always get behind

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    Jamie Brewer -

    Actress Jamie Brewer is bringing some diversity to our TV screens. From major acting roles to walking in New York Fashion Week, Brewer has never let Down syndrome stop her from pursuing her dreams. She's best known for her roles in the FX hit "American Horror Story."

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  • Ibtihaj Muhammad

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    Ibtihaj Muhammad -

    Ibtihaj Muhammad is challenging stereotypes about what an Olympian should look like. She made history this summer in Rio as the first U.S. athlete to wear a hijab while competing in the Olympics. The 30-year-old Muslim woman took home a bronze medal in fencing.

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    Williams Sisters -

    We admire their fashion almost as much as their athletics. Sisters and world-class tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams approach the game (and life) with style and strength, and that's what makes them TODAY Style Heroes.

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    Sally Field -

    She's been dazzling us on the screen for decades, but Sally Field makes our list for a variety of reasons. The "Hello, My Name Is Doris" star is refreshingly honest about aging in Hollywood, and she's not afraid to stand up for herself, once even telling her agent "You're fired," when she suggested she wasn't "pretty enough" to be in movies.

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    Ronda Rousey -

    UFC fighter Ronda Rousey keeps her head held high, in the ring and outside. She's honest about her ups and downs and through it all, she remains tough — and that's always in style.

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    Tess Holliday -

    Model Tess Holiday is a body-positive activist who isn't afraid to stand up to critics. We love her bold retorts on social media, which remind us all that beauty — and health — looks different on everyone. "If my doctor thinks I'm OK, then I'm OK, internet," she has said.

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    Tim Gunn -

    We have lots of love for the man who helps women everywhere "make it work." And this year, Tim Gunn also spoke up about a huge problem in the fashion industry: the lack of plus-size clothing that fits well and looks stylish. "Designs need to be reconceived, not just sized up," he wrote in a popular essay. "It's a matter of adjusting proportions."

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  • Tracy Norman

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    Tracey Norman -

    When Tracey Norman launched her modeling career in the 1970s, appearing on a box of Clairol hair color, no one knew the stunning model had been born a man. Now she's an advocate for the transgender community and once again working in fashion, recently appearing on the cover of Harper's Bazaar and in a new campaign for Clairol. "Eyes are open now to the beauty we possess and the talent we possess," Norman said of fellow transgender stars such as Laverne Cox.

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    Zach Miko -

    You might recognize Zach Miko from a Target campaign or as the first face of modeling agency IMG's new "Brawn" division for plus-size men. Now, he's dedicated to creating more options for big-and-tall men who have trouble finding stylish clothes that fit well. "In 15 years, plus-size clothing for women became a $20 billion industry," he said. "What if the big-and-tall industry became just a quarter of that?"

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    Zendaya -

    Whether she's dazzling us at the Met Gala as Michael Kors' date, or pairing dreadlocks with an Oscars gown, the 20-year-old Zendaya's style is always refreshingly unique. She's also spoken up against heavy use of Photoshop and the importance of self-love: "If there's any definition (of) being perfect, you're perfect at being yourself," the singer once said. "There is no such thing as ugly."

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RELATED: Hoda Kotb: 'My mom makes me believe anything is possible'

TODAY

She knows my body type and she knows what works. How many people have their mom sending them dresses that they don't even ever have to try on?! She has impeccable, crazy taste. Unlike her daughter — me!

RELATED: Ariel Winter: How Sofia Vergara taught me to love my body

NBC
Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford with their moms.

The thing my mom did since I was a kid, no matter what I wore, or how I looked or if my hair was a mess, she always said, "You look beautiful today" no matter what.

RELATED: Leather, lace, bow ties! TODAY anchors try trends they've always wanted to wear

TODAY

I always felt confident in that way. So whatever you drape on top is fine. I remember what that felt like. If I decided I was going to wear a cowboy hat, like I did in high school for an entire year for no reason, she always encouraged me.

RELATED: Tamron Hall spills her favorite beauty buys, makeup tricks and more

The best thing anyone can give you is confidence and no matter what you wear, you feel like a million bucks.

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Hoda’s Mother’s Day surprise for her mom: A new kitchen

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Hoda’s Mother’s Day surprise for her mom: A new kitchen

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