Vol.1, No.10

Professional business attire for plus size women

How to find the right professional wardrobe with a full figure using basic business pieces that flatter your curves and plus-sized shape.

A woman in skirt and shirt
Photo Credit: Adam Booth
Dressing professionally as a plus size woman can be a challenge. But a professional woman is used to challenges. Embrace this one; here's how.

You first need to evaluate your figure. Are you an hourglass, curvy with a smaller waist and bigger hips and chest? A pear is often a couple of sizes smaller on the top than the bottom? Or is your body like an apple, with the bulk of your weight in the middle, with arms and legs that are thin? Are you solid without curves and shape?

Learn to emphasize your positives and take the focus off of your negatives. An example of this would be to draw attention to your waist if you have one. Try belts or scarves with an A-line skirt. Or maybe you want to give the illusion that you have a waist. With a jacket, skirt and scarf or belt, you can do this easily. The jacket will work with the scarf or belt giving the illusion of a waist while hiding the facts under the jacket. If you'd like to downplay thighs and hips, skirts in subdued solid colors, with patterned or bright colors on top, draws attention upwards. If your chest is large and rear end nonexistent, the reverse comes into play. Go simple and plain, with flattering cuts on top, with pattern or other visuals to draw eyes down. Another visual could be as simple as a scarf tied around your waist with the ends off center draped over your hip. Fuller bottomed skirts also add bulk to the bottom, pulling the eye down.

Jackets need to fall in the proper spot to be the most flattering for you. For example, if you have an ample rear end, and a small top, the last place you want a jacket to end is right across your behind, because that will draw attention to an area you want to camouflage. Instead, try longer jackets that skim your hips. Or try a jacket that is a tapered hem or V-hemmed instead of straight across. If you have a large bust, you will want to avoid jackets with pockets on the bust line. Instead, try a simple cut with a tapered waist.

Get creative with scarves if you want to add flair to your jackets. A long scarf draped over the jacket will elongate your figure. Just make sure the ends of the scarf don't end at your bust line. Learn scarf tricks. There are many ways to tie and drape them to enhance your look. Scarves draw the eye upward toward your face. Scarves are an excellent way to add variety to your base wardrobe inexpensively. They dress up an outfit, and can add flair and individuality.

Look at the clothing you have in your closet or dresser. What items draw the most compliments? Those might be clue pieces to help your discover your best look. Try that item on? Does it fit well? What are the compliments? Color? Color can be a great tool to draw attention to you as a whole and not parts and pieces of your body. Do you know which colors are the most flattering? What color do you get the most compliments on when you wear it? Which color makes you feel good when you wear it?

Ask a friend to help you. Go to the library and find some books on dressing in the workplace or hints for full figures. Find a website or two to help you determine your body type, the colors that look best with your hair and complexion, and how to draw attention to where you want it.

Look around the job site. What position do you want to someday have in your office building or company? How do the most impressive individuals in that position dress? That is the style that you will want to model your wardrobe after. If you are content with where you are, aim for the top there also. If you dress professionally, you feel better about yourself and more confident when interacting with others.

Dressing professionally doesn't mean that you must spend a fortune on clothes. Nor does professional have to be uncomfortable. You need to write down your unique fashion profile for future shopping/dressing opportunities. Your profile includes the clothing styles that flatter your shape, the colors that flatter your complexion/hair, the styles that speak of professionalism at your workplace, and the items that you already have in your professional wardrobe.

Look through your wardrobe. What items do you have that flatter your figure, emphasizing what you want to emphasize, down playing what you'd like to hide? What pieces mix and match? What pieces fit well? If you have five bottoms (three skirts, two slacks), four blouses/nice T's/short sleeved sweaters, two jackets and a cardigan that mix and match you may already have the foundation of a professional, flattering wardrobe. You have up to 60 different combinations as you mix and match pieces.

Look for items to add your unique touch to the outfits. Don't forget to look through your scarves and your jewelry. Do these items go with the outfits that you have chosen?

Consider adding neutrals that flatter your coloring to the mix. A black, navy or gray skirt or jacket could give you another 12 combinations or more.

If you love the look of the latest fad or fashion look, buy one or two items that you could blend into your wardrobe, always keeping your unique fashion profile in mind.

You can do this through a color that will blend with your basics, a popular pattern on a scarf, or a style of clothing that will flatter you. Where fads are concerned, most won't be your friends. Add just a hint or flavor.