There are so many challenges in the office that looking good shouldn’t be one of them. For the “off the rack” ladies looking good tends to be easier since there’s a plethora of stylish, suitable, office fashion for the size 00 to size 12 sect. What about suitable office fashion for plus-sized career women? Are there any unique fashion challenges for plus-sized women? There are plenty.
Aside from the inability to find anything adorable in plus sizes, it’s also harder to find something office functional. Many items still come in with the design “hallmarks” of plus sized fashion:
- Three quarter sleeves
- Four way stretch
- Bold & challenging print
- Excessive embellishment
- The Mrs. Roper MuMu
Even in the highest end of plus-sized fashion houses, I see those items. It actually seems to get worse in places that sell both plus-sized and smaller-sized clothing. One side dedicated to the cute, adorable, and trendy fashions then once you cross the chasm to the other sizes the fashion totally changes. I long to see jeans without elastic bands on BOTH sides of the store but I live in disappointment.
I was about 400 pounds when I heard the story about Oprah’s stylist who used to buy two designer suits and have a tailor put them together to make one suit for her. If one of the world’s richest women has to resort to that then what happens to the rest of us?
Here are some tips to survive the office in a plus size:
Know your size and wear it. It may make you feel better to be “in” a size but there is nothing attractive about a size 22 cramming herself into size 14 clothing. It’s essential that you appear confident at work and wondering if you are going to bust out of your pants at any moment does not convey confidence. If it makes you feel better to cut the sizes out of your clothes, do it. No one has ever looked inside the back of my shirt to check my size at work!
Know your shape and dress it properly. Some plus-sized women are heavier at the top and thinner on the bottom, some are narrow on top yet heavy through the hips and thighs, and there are also women that are hourglass-shaped. Each shape requires different attention especially with accessories. A perfect example is the wrap dress. Simple yet elegant and can transform from day to night with ease which makes it amazing office wear but the same wrap dress looks completely different on the three body styles. Be conscious of your shape and where you draw someone’s attention with your clothing.
Know how to let your underclothes take up the slack. There’s no replacing a well fitting bra and comfortable panties. Here’s an area where you should really spare no expense because your bra lends so much to your shape and posture. The new “Butterfly” bras are flying off the shelves at Ashley Stewart for their enterprising design and world class comfort that addresses every possible challenge with fitting a plus sized woman. Visit www.ashleystewart.com to see this beauty. Spanx is another brand that has amazing body shapers, footless tights, VPL free hose and panties and they come in nearly every size. Go to spanx for the full list of Spanx brand under clothes. Both brands are a little pricey but completely worth the investment for the comfort, look, and shape, they provide.
Know where to find what you need. Don’t settle for substandard items. Plus sized women generally have larger and/or wider feet and the shoe selection can be limited locally. Never underestimate the power of the internet for finding a size 8 WWW. As the bearer of a size 11 foot, I can tell you that the best place to find shoes in any city is where drag performers shop. If a store is carrying a large selection of women’s size 14 pumps then they will have the size 11s too!
Know how to dress between sizes. If you are in the process of losing weight, it’s important to make purchases that can handle your between sizes. A button down shirt that you wore as a size 26 could easily be used as an outer layering piece over a t-shirt on a casual Friday. Be creative.
Know that you are beautiful ... and let everyone else know it too. If you’re overweight, it’s really easy to challenge your self esteem on a daily basis but it’s important to know that even if you aren’t at your goal weight you still are beautiful. Celebrate yourself and let that shine.
Having been challenged with my weight for over twenty years and working in the corporate sector, I am very sensitive to the needs of plus sized women and career fashion. Having successfully lost over 200 pounds, I hope to share what I have learned on how to dress myself … and love myself as I continue my journey losing weight.
What tips do you have for plus sized dressing?