Plus-Sized Workwear and Suiting

plus size workwear

Update 2016: Check out our updated discussion on the most stylish plus size suits — and please do sign up for our new Plus-Size Workwear newsletter if you’re interested in more plus-size content from Corporette!

It’s been such a long time in general since we talked about plus-sized workwear, that I thought an open thread would be great. (Pictured: Tahari Woman ‘Ruby’ Collarless Jacket (Plus), available at Nordstrom for $198.)

The places that I know of include:

But these are the obvious places! What brands are your favorites, particularly for suits?  Are there online boutiques that you guys like? Any Etsy sellers? Any bespoke places? (Have I missed any obvious places?) Plus-sized readers, please chime in…


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Pin on Pinterest


  1. Boden goes up to 16/18 in many items. They don’t typically have full suits, but I love them for fun tops, dresses and jackets.

  2. I get my suits from Jessica London. They’re inexpensive and they look nice!

  3. PSA: Macy’s doesn’t have a ton plus sized of suits in the store, but has a lot of suits on their website. Some are even on sale, including these ones: (Not wild about the matching cami, but love the jacket and skirt)

  4. I have good luck finding clothes and hate to hear plus sized women struggling with this issue.

    Target has great basic black pants (mossimo brand) that are lined, wear nicely and are usually about $20. I like Lane Bryant for pants as well. I have a Pendleton outlet near me that sometimes has good deals on jackets and skirts.

    Online, check out the sale pages at Saks, Bloomingdales and Dillards. Nordstrom also has suits all the time, and I can usually find something I like. Dress Barn has cheaper-quality clothes but also has a Jones New York line that is very nice. Talbots and Jones New York are also great. JC Penny, HSN, QVC– all have plus sized businesswear. Zaftique is good for dressses and other casual wear, and for jackets. Ebay has good deals sometimes.

    I stay away from Old Navy because I found their clothes to be oddly sized- the shirts were too short and not comfortable. Hopefully they have improved. Plus sized clothes need to be cut differently than smaller sizes, and too many retailers just make the clothes bigger versions of the rest of the line, which doesn’t work.

    Lands End– I could cry. They used to have a great selection of suit seperates that were nicely priced and fit very well. They stopped carrying most of them and I didn’t know it or I would have stocked up before they stopped carrying them.

    Macy’s– good sales, but I don’t shop there unless the store has the plus-sized section in a normal place, and it is clean and organized. Many, many Macy’s stores have the plus sized section in the basement behind the housewears, or in some other hidden place, and many times the section is in shambles, with no one staffing that area. I feel this is disrespectful and I won’t give them my money if they can’t place and maintain the plus size section properly.

    • I agree – I used to love to shop at Macy’s Woman dept in san francisco, but now that I’m on the east coast, their plus sized departments are a total mess and I feel completely disrespected there.

      I’ve bought a number of items at Coldwater Creek in the last few years…

  5. One more post because I feel so strongly about the issue of plus-sized clothing. Many brands, especially designers, don’t want to do plus sized clothing, and I am perfectly fine with that. I don’t think men’s stores should have to carry women’s clothes or shoe stores should carry groceries, so I have no reason to think all women’s stores should carry my size. Plus size clothing is hard to do well. You can’t just make a bigger version of your clothes—it has to be a different proportion. A size 2 dress can fit almost every size 2 out there. It doesn’t matter where she carries her fat because she has so little of it. A size 22W dress isn’t going to fit every size 22W woman—some carry weight in their busts, some their hips, etc. I think that’s what people don’t understand or think about—that smaller sizes may sell better because a higher percentage of women that size can wear the dress off the rack. Same with pregnancy clothes—they are generally shapeless because they are trying to fit every single pregnant size 6 out there, trying to cover all the bases, not trying to fit the tall size six with the long torso who is carrying her baby high.

    The problem with this from a business sense is that you have to make lots of different options in each size. Like Lane Bryant, who makes jeans based on body shape. It’s harder for small companies to do that, and harder for designers who aren’t plus-size to understand the difficulty of finding something in your size that fits your body. Plus size clothing sizes aren’t very useful because of the vast differences in women’s bodies, and the fact that those differences are magnified the larger we are.

    In my experience, my body is hard on clothes. My breasts are heavy, they bounce, they need a good bra and spaghetti straps just don’t work for that. Seams have to be well done, and forget most satin fabric because of this—thread doesn’t like to hold seams in satin. My thighs rub when I walk and pants need to have strong seams and good fabric. The clothes have to cover more and deal with more than it would if I were smaller—you can’t carry 10 pounds of sugar in a 5 pound sack. So if a designer puts out poorly made clothes, they shouldn’t be surprised that no one wants to wear them.
    And if they hide the plus size only online, or in the basement, or on unlabeled racks, don’t blame the customer for not buying it.

    I am this size today. I’ll be damned if I apologize for it. What happens in the future is in the future. Maybe I just gained weight or lost it or am trying hard to lose it or not trying at all. It doesn’t matter, because I have to deal with myself today. At this size. And, guess what, so does everybody else. Because thinking or saying rude things about me isn’t going to change the size I am today.

    • While I agree with most of what you said, the reality is that smaller women also vary greatly in proportions. My sister is a size six with wide shoulders an exaggerated hourglass shape, while my size six cousin is flat as a board, has narrow shoulders, and a short waist. While they are nominally the same size, there is zero chance that the same outfit will look flattering on both.

      • Adipositive :

        The proportions might vary, but they vary less than those in fat women.

  6. As a plus-size (sz 24) litigator, my work wardrobe is pretty much exclusively Tahari (from Nordstrom and, whenever possible, Nordstrom Rack) and Talbot’s. Those are the only brands I’ve been able to find that are relentlessly professional, well-tailored, and conservative. I find the quality wanting from both Calvin and Anne Klein and the Macy’s/Kohls/Penney’s brands. Jones New York is hit and miss for me, but I often find myself stalling on purchases from JNY because it strikes me as so unfair that their plus size suiting is terribly plain and basic while their straight size suiting is contemporary and relatively fashionable. At least Tahari and Talbot’s have some style.

    On web-only retailers like Kiyonna and Igigi, I have been very disappointed in the quality. Igigi especially seems dedicated to poly-rayon blends which just look cheap. I have one basic black Kiyonna skirt suit which is serviceable, but still a little cheap-looking. Certainly not appropriate for trial.

    Lane Bryant, as many have said above, is not really appropriate for a conservative office. Some pieces here and there might work but finding a good suit from Lane Bryant would be difficult. The clothes are trendy, throwaway fashion.

    Stay far away from Jessica London/One Stop Plus. The quality is appallingly bad.

    I haven’t purchased a suit from J.Jill’s new suiting line but I looked at the jackets in store and I was impressed with the fabric quality on the straight size suits. If the plus size suits turn out to be as nice, I will be delighted to have another option in plus size suiting. In general I find J.Jill’s quality good, if their designs are a tad basic.

    • Thomas Pink has (UK) plus sizes in a lot of their pieces, but the prices for dresses etc are hair-raising (although the quality of the stuff is excellent).

      • Thank you for the Thomas Pink recommendation, those suits look absolutely gorgeous.

  7. Thanks for the Talbots rec’s ladies! I’m a size 16-18 and have never really spent time on their website. Went on their yesterday after all the good comments and was amazed that they have so much cute stuff. Excited to buy a cute dress for a weekend away with my DH and for law school graduation!

  8. Try the Dialogue line at QVC. Also, HSN has nice dresses. Great thing about both is that you can order on-line & can send back anything, no questions asked, within 30 days.

    ShopNBC also carries clothing but I’ve never purchased any clothing from them.

  9. I know some have mentioned having issues with CK, but for those of us in the Northeast (not in NYC), Boscov’s has been carrying nearly the entire plus-sized CK line (including separates) for much less than Macy’s. Just recently I was able to pick up two of the dresses for 39 each. Some of my local Macys have serious problems carrying plus sized suits, so I have to wing it.

    • I just found out about Calvin Klein plus sizes at Boscovs this Xmas when I was visiting my parents in New Jersey. I went home with 2 suits and 4 dresses for <$400!

      I'm also in the dreaded 16-18 no-woman's-land and have found CK and Lauren to be my best bets for professional wear.

  10. I work in a science/government setting and find a mix of Coldwater Creek tops and Talbots skirts, jackets, pants works for me. For everybody who’s saying no Lane Bryant – that’s fine, but you may find a blouse or the odd knit shirt to add to your more formal appearing suit looks if you’re in a less formal environment. I also like tee shirts from Eddie Bauer for durability and for having available for going out in the field with our scientists.

  11. I’ve been dourly scouring the stores for appropriate warm-weather plus-sized attire. I’m in a creative field, but would like professional attire that’s a skosh more than business casual to wear to summer writer’s conferences.

    I’m also apple-shaped and feel I look better (and I feel more confident) in more tailored attire. Not so easy to find for summery temps.

    A good ten years ago, I’d read a quote from Ellen Barkin about how she’d told her then-husband (Gabriel Byrne, come to think of it), that if he ever saw her in a Talbots to drag her off because she’d likely lost her mind. :) Except, I don’t think she’s never been, as Alexander McCall Smith’s fictional African PI Precious Ramotswe character puts it, “traditionally built.” :)

    Anyway, thanks for the Corporette Plus round-up.

  12. I didn’t see anyone mention it but I was surprised to see that SEARS (yeah that old store) carries a full line of seasonless suit separates in MANY sizes and cuts and all the trousers are in Short, Average, or Tall. They even have a woman’s petite (like 16WP, 18WP, etc.) The quality/fabric is pretty good and the prices even better.

    I’ve come to love them for everyday office wear.

  13. Eloquii is a new line by The Limited. They have great suiting.

  14. Brooks Brothers (probably unbeknownst to most) was doing plus sizes until the end of 2011 and was my first choice, then RalphLauren, Talbots, Nordstrom, Lord&Taylor, and others listed in this post. It’s clearly becoming more and more of a challenge for plus sizing.

  15. I also am in that 16-18W range and I am a pear shape and large busted so in bottoms I am a 16W to 18 and tops can be from a 14W/XL or 1X depending on the clothes. I have a 16 jones wear shirt that fits me tight so size totally varies by designer. I recently bough a charter club suit from macys in 16WP and the pants fit me perfect in size and length the jacket will have to be taken in. The suit is sold as separates so I may try the 14W jacket and see how that fits. Sleeves need to be taken in about an inch and the sides some on the 16W. I am only 5’1″ so finding pants from a suit that fits properly with a heeled shoe without having to have it hemmed is a miracle for me. It is my first time trying charter club but the suit was a very good price and looks great. The 16W blazer is doable with some minor tailoring. At least I dont have to get the trouser tailored. I am still trying to figure out what brands and sizes work for me. I was able to get some great sweaters from cold water creek in a XL misses size that fit perfect.

Comments are closed.