Shopping for well-priced work clothes in plus sizes can be hard. No fear! I have some staple pieces that will keep your budget in check while also giving you a professional look. Here are some items to give your wardrobe a professional boost with inspiration for people of all shapes.
1. Can I say cardigans more than once????
Cardigans are a wonderful way to class up any outfit while providing comfort and an element of androgyny (men’s and women’s cardigans are virtually identical.) In addition, they cross over well from day/work wear to nightlife wear. I suggest buying a cardigan in gray, blue, black, and a statement color. I bought most of my cardigans from a Tommy Hilfiger outlet mall in Williamsburg, VA. However, if you don’t live near an out mall, I also like the cardigans over at Old Navy for the price point.
I currently have two vests that I go to whenever I am trying to look more put together and professional. Vests are a great multi-purpose form of clothing. You can pretty much wear then with anything! Goodwill or a comparable thrift store usually has some great options in all sizes.
3. Collared Shirts
Just like cardigans and vests, collared shirts have crossover appeal. If you have trouble finding one that fits you, keep looking! They come in all cuts, sizes, colors, and patterns! You can survive off of owning 5 to 7 shirts — one white, another light blue, and 3 to 5 of your choice. Get some with button-down collars, and some without so that you have a range of of casual and fancy (button-down = casual.) The combinations of cardigans, vests, and collared shirts are endlesssssssss. I recommend Saddlebred collared shirts and Ralph Lauren for plus sizes; they fit me well. Just shop around for what fits you best.
I have had GREAT luck at Goodwill. However, thrift shops are a mixed bag. Lane Bryant has some really nice blazers. The arms fit well enough that I can bend them and the body of the blazer fits perfectly to my curves. I suggest that you look out for a sale; Lane Bryant can be pricey (I went during a sale and got two blazers for $90, not bad). A blazer should fall below the waistline but not go past your bum. The sleeves should be in between the knuckle and the wrist.
Herringbone jacket, available at Lane Bryant for $89.95
Buy pants cheap and get them tailored. I would shoot for khakis and a light weight dress material. Try to stay away from the Poly and Ester twins. I find that slim leg pants are the most flattering look for any size. Have your tailor adjust your pants leg to about 9.5 inches to create the look (trust the tailor with the number of inches). I buy pants from all over, mainly Tommy Hilfiger on extremeeeee markdown and Old Navy during the holiday deal season. See my post about tailoring pants for more info.
Look for pants with these cuts:
Pants from Tommy Hilfiger (source: he99.blogspot.com)
Shoes can make or break an outfit. No holes, no tears, not too broken in for the office. Out of all of the above basics, I recommend that you spend the most money on good quality shoes. I like Clarks desert boots and Bass Weejuns for the office.
Bass Weejuns (womens) available at Bass
Blake is a graduate student in the Midwest studying higher education. She draws inspiration from the southern prep style, particularly the style at her undergraduate institution at the University of Virginia. Her current wardrobe largely consists of basic pieces in natural fabrics, simple colors, and carefully tailored fits. Blake is interested in adapting classic, well-composed style to queer masculine-of-center bodies of any size.