Workplace Fashions For Plus-Size Women

This article discusses some ways a plus-size woman can have a great workplace wardrobe.

Plus-size women have a clothing challenge in common with nearly every other woman: workplace fashions. With "casual Fridays," "business casual" and other changes in workplace traditions, a woman many find herself wondering what to wear to work.

A great deal depends on her job, and what the management expects their female employees to wear. Most businesses will accept nice slacks or pants on women nowadays, which enables any woman to expand her wardrobe considerably. The days of the "power suit" are long gone, so what essentials does a plus-sized woman need in her closet for work?

First, she needs a couple of pairs of nice slacks and a couple of skirts, in basic colors, like khaki, navy and black. These will pair with almost any top or sweater, so they are essential. Plus-size women may have problems finding tailored pants that fit properly, so a nice pair in a good knit may be an option. Most plus-size specialty stores have a career section, so she should visit and see what basics are available.


One of the great fabric advances in plus-size clothing is "slinky knit." This polyester/spandex ribbed knit has a beautiful drape, is roomy, looks great, and comes in a variety of colors and styles. Every plus-size woman should have a pair of black slinky knit pants and a black skirt. These pieces can go very dressy, or casual, depending on what they are paired with. Garments in this fabric are available everywhere. They last a long time and are usually reasonably priced.

A plus-size woman working in a more formal business environment should also have two jackets: one for winter, one for summer, in black and ivory or khaki. These can be either tailored or boxy, and should fall below the hipline. A woman can vary her look with these jackets with colorful scarves and funky pins.

Tops are where a woman can have her variety. Whether she buys sweaters, knits or blouses, she can vary her look in a variety of ways. A pair of black slinky knit pants looks great with a white shirt topped with a vest in brocade or velvet. Tops are usually less expensive, so a woman can have a trendy piece or two without breaking her clothing budget. Obviously, she should shy away from tops that are revealing or unprofessional in any way.

Shoes are another basic wardrobe component, and again, a woman should consider where she works when she buys shoes. Most plus-size women do better with flats and low heels. Higher heels should be chunky, for more support. Many plus-sized women feel they find a better fit in dress shoes with sling-back heels, but this is a matter of personal preference. For a less-formal workplace environment, a pair of good loafers may be just what the doctor ordered. Sandals may be appropriate in summer. A woman should key off what the long-time women workers wear.

This plus-sized writer works for a newspaper with a slightly more formal newsroom dress code. However, I live in knit pants, sweaters, knit tops, big shirts and the like. I wear black flats in the winter, white ones or sandals in the summer. On very wet or nasty days, I wear white sneakers. It all depends on the office environment.

A plus-size woman should look for quality and durability in her clothes. Garments are hideously expensive, and plus-size more so. There is no use spending money on what will disintegrate when it is washed. Classic pieces are also a good point of focus. Buy something that will be wearable year after year, regardless of fashion. These pieces can be accessorized to modernize their look.

A plus-sized woman who considers quality, durability and versatility in her workplace wardrobe should be able to put together one that will serve her well for many years.

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