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…



  1. As a plus-petite, I feel especially challenged…Talbots seem to be the only place that caters to this demographic. Otherwise I am good friends with a tailor!

    • Another Laura :

      Yes, that’s me too. If Talbots went out of business I’d be in trouble. The challenges of wardrobe are why I’m making an extreme effort to get back into the 10-12 petite range.

      • Check out the new line of suiting at J.Jill – Simple 120. They carry the same range of petites 0 to 20 as Talbots. At one time they used to be owned by them (maybe still are??). I’ve ‘felt them up’ in the store and the fabric feels very nice and the cuts are good for business.

  2. Ashley Stewart is another store for business casual/casual options.

    • I like Ashley Stewart! (And don’t forget about Sears if you are in a pinch.)

      • I’m surprised to say this, but I LOVE the selection of suiting separates at SEARS! The trousers come in many different “cuts” and offer a whole wide range of sizes/lengths, including Short, Average, and Tall. LOVE THAT!!!

        I was skeptical at first with the $20-24 price, but kept finding them to be my go-to daily basic office wear and they’ve held up great (better even than some pricy brands). Who would’ve thought old fuddy-duddy image SEARS had such nice basics.

  3. I have to say, I am normally sorely disappointed in Lane Bryant. I am in that weird size 16-18, so sometimes I need a plus size and sometimes I don’t. However when I go in Lane Bryant it’s hard to find tailored pieces that fit properly, even in their size 14-16 range. It’s all frilly stuff, ruffles, cap sleeves and empire waists.

    I wish there were a Nordstrom nearer me, because I loved their selection. (If I’m being honest, I would love an Off the Rack somewhere nearer too. 90% of what I owned in Dallas came from there, and it’s missed.)

    • I’ve had good luck with getting 16 and 18 at the Ann Taylor outlet. Normal Ann Taylor stores near me don’t stock either size very well but for some reason the outlet does. I don’t usually fit well in plus sizing but often am too big for a 14 (my waist is pretty narrow but I’m built broad, especially in butt and thighs).

      • Suddenly Anon :

        @ anon: Not every store regularly stocks the 16/18’s, but if you ask a sales associate they can tell you which of their stores in your area DOES carry those sizes on a regular. Once you find the store, make friends with a sales associate and ask her to call you when they get in a new shipment . . . they will usually pull and hold new styles in those sizes for you so you don’t miss out.

        • Suddenly Anon :

          should have read “regular basis”

        • Also just order a ton online of whatever size & then return what doesn’t fit (they often have free shipping)… that’s usually what I do w/ AT.
          Although their suits have been ridiculous lately… ruffles…. seriously?

    • Just an FYI, Nordstrom Rack is now online. The selection is not huge, but I have seen some pretty decent stuff on there.

    • I’ve been sorely disappointed in LB’s suit selection in the last couple of years – they used to carry basics but now the only suiting they carry is uber-trendy, like cropped pants and tuxedo jackets. I’ve emailed corporate but apparently no one is listening.

      • I second the disappointment in Lane Bryant. The prices are ridiculous for the quality. I’m not paying $79.99 for a sleeveless ponte knit dress which is unlined and clearly cheaply made (seams coming undone in the store). I used to love Lane Bryant but the last couple years they’ve gone downhill.

        • Lane Bryant was owned by The Limited until about, oh, 7-8 years ago, when Fashion Bug purchased it…that’s when it went downhill. :(

          • Anonymous :

            I agree. Prices are outrageous! Especially for the quality of the clothing.

      • Their idea of “business wear” can be pretty comical. I know I am a little conservative in this regard… but still, I bemoan the lack of basics.

      • Layne Bryant simply does not fit me. I’m a petite 16/18 and everything seems to be sized for Amazon women.

        Their “other” store, Fashion Bug fits me better, but it is hit or miss. Last year they had some nice office basics, but this year is crap (too flashy).

        • I AM one of those amazon women at 6’0″, but the problem with LB is that for a tall, thick, straight up-and-down (read: minimal hip to waist ratio) frame with a high-hitting hipbone, the pants all nip in way too much at the waist, causing pinching and fearsome muffin top. I have found one style of pants that fits my shape beautifully, even giving the impression of properly placed hips from Gap in the Modern Boot Pant. They always seem to be out of the 16Ts though :(

  4. I’ve had good luck at Kohl’s. Also, Dress Barn, which is pretty frumpy, but once in a while, they have some good deals. It’s right next to my Trader Joe’s, so I pop in some times for a quick browse. Some branches carry a line of suits made by Jones NY- quality is good for the low price.

    My problem is that I’m right on the line between plus size and regular. Generally, my best fitting clothes are the 18s and XXLs at Ann Taylor (XLs there work for some items). I can wear those things off the rack, and haven’t found any other store that fits anywhere near as perfectly. I find the smallest plus size (14W and 1X) to be too boxy, but XLs and 14/16s are too small. Talbots sometimes has a 12W, which fits better width wise, but not long enough.

    Anyone else in this position? Where do you shop?

    • Oh Mel — I hear you! I too live in the borderlands of Misses/Plus sizes. I can’t button a 16 Misses blazer over the girls, but the same 16W blazer not only buttons, but hangs and makes me look bigger than I am.

      I no longer even try to button blazers. Tshirts are my friends — Target has a nice selection of XXL Ts that I buy and replace on a regular basis. Lands End runs big so I do a lot of Ts from them as well. For work, mainly Talbots. We are business casual, except for when I am in court, so it is a constant challenge to find stuff for the office that doesn’t seem too casual. Sigh.

    • Anonymous :

      Another “borderline” plus-size here too. I am a 14/16 pear-shape. The problem I have is that in many lines, the size differential between the misses’ and plus lines is so extreme. At Target, for example, I can’t wear the size 1 in plus because it’s too big – but the 14s and 16s in the regular lines often barely fit. Jones New York is a lot like this for me too.

      I wear a lot of Talbots because the sizing is so customizable. Depending on the garment, I can look at the regular women’s sizing, the plus sizing, or the regular and plus petite sizing (I am really short-waisted and so sometimes the stance or length on petite jackets fits me better). Part of what irritates me so much about their no-returns ‘final sale’ thing is that I will routinely order the same item in four different sizes and then return the three that don’t work – it enables me to get the fit that’s just-right instead of just-okay. I also like Pendleton a lot because they sell suits as separates, and very often will have the same jacket in the same colors/fabrics in the regular, petite and plus sizing.

      Barring that – I take a lot of stuff to the tailor. I think I am my tailor’s favorite client at this point. I am losing weight so he’s going to be REALLY happy pretty soon, when I drop another size and will have to get things taken in. I am trying not to buy too much in the interim.

      • Thanks – glad to know I’m not alone. It sounds like I need to hit Talbots more. I’ve never checked out Lands End either. I’ll definitely do that.

        What kills me is that I’d love to find some nice printed or colorful tops. Why is it that the rare pattern you see at this size range is so matronly? I see girls on What Not to Wear in such cute patterned blouses underneath their blazers, and I can’t see to find those for the life of me.

        • Anonymous :

          Tops are the hardest thing for me to find also. Grandma-styling and prints abound in sizes over 12. I don’t like button-downs (I have a large bust and a smaller waist, so they never fit correctly) and a lot of larger-size tops make me look pregnant or otherwise are very matronly, as you said. Most of my tops are very plain; the few that I consider “cute” are from Talbots.

          • Anonymous :

            The TLC What Not to Wear website has a “blog” where it has a shopping list for the “reveal” outfits. They are often from Lord and Taylor and Bloomingdales. If you see an item on a particular episode (check out “Miriam” from Season 7 for some colorful tops for those of us with chests) then you can go to that episode’s shopping list and find the designer and store.

    • I’m in the same boat, and I usually need a bigger size on the bottom than on the top. I can never wear two-piece suits because if the pants fit me (usually an 18 or 16/18W), the jacket is ridiculously baggy. And don’t even get me started on how so many plus size suits are cut – especially Jones NY! Not all of us want pants with legs that look like balloons! A size 18 pair of pants might be just a bit tight, but then a 16W pair has an elastic waist and is hugely baggy. There’s something not right about that! I have the best luck buying separates, usually at Talbots but I can also find things at JC Penney occasionally, and Dillard’s.

  5. goody two shoes :

    Brooks Brothers has some suits and tops. It is not a huge selection as of yet.

  6. Valleygirl :

    I’ve had good luck at Macy’s – mostly with the Calvin Klein – for suit separates, slacks and dresses (I’m 5’11, broad shouldered, and wear an 18 normally in CK). Also have had luck with Nordstrom esp. for work dresses. I’ve gotten a dress and pair of slacks from Igigi and the quality was horrible esp. for the price.

    The issue I run into is that I’m tall and range from a size 16 – 24 depending on the designer/cut/etc. so often I end up with too short of pants/dresses because the height variability doesn’t really seem to exist for plus size clothes. Also, so many of the selections are either the sequined loud prints that verge on wanna be club wear or very matronly looking. For example, the suit pictured does nothing for me.

    I’ve had some luck with because you can specify your height and custom order clothes (i.e., dropping a dress to below knee length or adding sleeves). You have to dig a little for work clothes and look more for dresses/skirts rather than suits – but I think a lot of the options would work with a blazer or cardigan over them. I’ve ordered four items (two dresses, two shirts) at various times and have been pretty happy with the experience.

    Also, with some digging – I’ve found some nice work pieces at Torrid – slacks, pencil skirts, cardigans. I guess the bottom line is – for good plus size work wear – you have to dig quite a bit.

    • I’m not plus sized, but I’m 6′ tall so share your problem with finding pants and sleeves that are long enough. I’ve taken many things to a tailor to get lengthened, and she is usually able to add at least an inch if not more to the pant legs or sleeves. That’s usually enough for me for regular jackets and “tall” or “long” sizes in pants. I’ve also bought cuffed pants and had the tailor take the cuffs out, which adds quite a bit of length. Just a thought!

    • Thanks to pointing us to eshakti and CK at Macy’s. It sounds like you and I are in the same boat – I’m 5’11” tall and usually a size 16-18. Generally “plus size” clothing is way too boxy (I’m not big-chested), so I have to find Misses sizes that include 18 or XXL. Eddie Bauer and J Jill tall sizes are great for casual clothing, but not for more formal work attire.

      I’ll also give CK a try, I’ve usually stuck with Talbots for suits. As a previous poster said, if they went out of business I’d be in really big trouble! I used to fit into the house Nordstrom brands, but a few pounds and work + law school have taken their toll. Am planning to work on that after finishing school.

      • Valleygirl :

        sign up for the eshakti newsletter – they normally send out codes for 20-45% off orders once a month or so…

  7. Sorry for the thread hijack but I’m in need of some assistance…

    Saturday, I attended a dinner party hosted by one of my biggest clients. Sunday morning I receive an email from her telling me that she has feelings for me outside of our professional relationship. Apparently this has been building in her for the last 6 months. We have had non-work interactions before with my girlfriend in attendance, and I’ve spoken of her many times.

    I guess my first question is – can our professional relationship be salvaged? I’m a freelancer and losing this client would really hurt. Also, I want to be clear that I’m not interested but don’t want to hurt her feelings – I know how hard it must have been to put herself out there like this.


    • Anonymous :

      I’d just respond something like this:

      “Dear X,

      I think you’re a lovely person and I value you as a friend as well as a client, but I’m very much in love with Girlfriend and am not interested in being with anyone other than her. I wish you all the best, and look forward to continuing to work with you.


      Let her down easy and make it about your relationship with your girlfriend, not her personally. Make it explicit that you still like her and plan to continue working with her.

      • This is great. Very nice, but clearly states that you’re with Girlfriend.

        • Anonymous :

          Although it doesn’t *really* have to be about Girlfriend, I agree it is an elegant dodge. More permanent and all-encompassing but still not personal would be if your personal firm/a firm with whom you work closely/ideally a professional group or org through which you are accredited/whose guidelines you follow has a guideline in place. I have been in this situation and sometimes when using current SO as the excuse, one feels defensive when it really isn’t your problem to defend. E.G. if you broke up w GF, would you want to have this discussion again? etc. The policy should be professional and permanent, not personal specific to this overture. Still, if the client seems stable and likely non-harassing of you and/or GF, and you see yourself w GF for some time, that’s a smooth way out, praising client’s courage and fine qualities, just with GF for now and for good.

          • Thanks for all the advice. I sent a pretty direct email that apologized for any mixed signals she may have received and indicated I was committed to my gf. I liked the direction of having it being more about my feelings about her than my gf being the reason, but I had already sent my email…
            She’s already replied – not with an apology but with an understanding of my point and reassurance that our business relationship will continue as usual. We shall see.

            Thanks again!

          • Anonymous :

            @Annon – glad it all worked out!

  8. Marina Rinaldi is a great go-to if you are lucky enough to live near a store (although they carry that brand at Saks Salon Z). I am also intrigued about possibly being able to wear a button-down shirt again through Clarissa Rose (has anyone gotten a shirt from her?).

    • There is a lot of MR at Syms/Filene’s Basement that I have seen recently — for amazing prices, too.

      • Oh, fyi: it’s in the “vault” designer clothes section, not in their plus size section.

    • Chryss F – I have purchased the Justina Strip shirt in French Blue and the Portia Pintuck in white. I love both of them. It is nice to have the professional crisp look of a button-down. The quality is as good as the custom shirts I had made, but still didn’t look quite right. When I had a question about what shirt to order, I called and spoke with Clarissa directly. She described the different details of the shirts. Based upon her suggestions, I changed my order. Shipping was very prompt.

    • my cups runneth over :

      check out Groupon this weekend and select Dallas for spend $50.00 for $100.00 at Carissa Rose.

  9. Brooks Brothers has some good basics in plus sizes now–black and navy wool suiting, wrinkle free dress shirts, dress pants. I can’t say enough good things about their plus size suiting. Quality is excellent, fit is remarkably flattering considering the sometimes boxy-quality to BB. Customer service is as you would expect.

    Pendleton has a few suits in plus sizes, but they are very odd about offering a jacket in plus size but not the matching skirt and pants or vice versa. But their clothes are very nice.

    Lafayette 148, if you have money to spend. I’ve been eyeing a suit on sale for a total of $550, but I hear great things about the brand.

    Nieman Marcus has a decent plus size selection and usually one or two plus size suits in their house brand.

    Talbots is still decent. Too expensive for its current lower quality, but good with sales.

    Eddie Bauer carries some suiting, but I have no recent experience with it. It’s machine washable for the most part, which always intrigues me. I had a couple EB suits just after graduating law school when they used to sell the AKA Eddie Bauer line, and they were very nice quality and fit.

    Gap goes up to a 20; Ann Taylor and LOFT go up to an 18. All good bets for sweaters and shells.

    There are a lot of good brands to watch at the listed stores–Elie Tahari, JNY, some Eileen Fisher, NM house brand, Calvin Klein, Anne Klein, etc.

    I am to the point of hating Lane Bryant–their clothes are ridiculously expensive, while being ill-fitting and poor quality.

    J.Jill and Land’s End tend to have some pieces, although not my style.

    The suits in my wardrobe are overwhelmingly Talbots, interspersed with JNY, Anne Klein, and Brooks Brothers. I have 15-20 suits, and probably 5 of them are non-Talbots. It’s still the main retailer offering formal suiting in plus sizes. I almost cry any time I hear rumors of business troubles.

  10. I have not been impressed with Lane Bryant lately. They used to have a lot of professional separates, but recently a lot of their clothing seems like it’s trying too hard to be trendy.

    The vast majority of my professional clothing is from Nordstroms and Macys. I also have tops from Old Navy, Target, and discount stores.

    I’ve had some luck with Coldwater Creek, especially for sweaters and tops. Of course, I work in a fairly casual office, so I’m not in a suit every day.

  11. I’m a 16w – 18w and almost everything I wear to work is from Talbots. I’ve tried the Brooks Brothers line and it definitely didn’t work on me because I’m short (5’3) and the proportions didn’t work for me.

    While I don’t have trouble finding the basics like suits and jackets, my challenge is finding tops to wear under jackets that are stylish and don’t make me look matronly (as an aside, I’m an apple – all of my weight is in my stomach and bust, so things like tank tops aren’t going to fly). I’m in court almost daily, so I’m always in a suit. Does anyone have any suggestions?

    • @Laura: Sadly no suggestions (other posters have named all my haunts) – just wanted to sympathize, as we share size and proportions. I will be back to see if anyone has ideas for us!

      Considering how appreciative everyone is of the Talbot’s sizing strategy, I am extremely surprised that no other major retailer (e.g., Ann Taylor, Banana Republic) has tried to replicate it. I think they are missing out on a fabulous – and under-served – segment of the market. I have read research that states that plus size women don’t like to shop, or that “straight” size stores don’t want to taint their brands with plus size clothes in their stores, but that just doesn’t reflect the reality that I have seen and heard. Anyone else?

      • Unfortunately, I can kind of believe that research. While there are alot of plus-sized women who are confident in themselves and their appearances, there are many more larger women who are not. They get frustrated by shopping when there are so few options for them. Then they feel like crap about themselves personally and their size because there’s something wrong with them, as opposed to there being something wrong with the clothes and the manufacturers.
        As for brands not wanting to “taint” their image, I totally believe it. The average American woman is a size 12-14. I have a hard time believing that those individuals running major retailers and brands aren’t aware of the fact. Therefore, the only logical conclusion in my opinion is that they choose not to carry larger sizes and don’t want fat people wearing their clothes.

        Signed, an often frustrated size 12-14 who thinks Banana Republic really does hate fat people

        • I didn’t want to believe that stores would worry about “tainting” their brand, but now I think that might have something to do with it. I was walking at an outlet mall the other day behind a 20-something couple, and the guy asked the girl if she wanted to go to Lane Bryant, and she got really upset at him! (She was small/average sized.) He had no idea why she was mad, and she explained it was a plus-size store (although I’m sure she didn’t say it quite like that) and he was like, ohh I thought it was just a women’s store. But the fact that she got so horribly offended by the concept of going in that store made me rethink the idea that stores might worry about how “straight-sized” consumers would react to shopping in the same store with plus sizes.

          • This is how one “straight-size” customer would react – I would love it. My sister is plus-sized and I really miss the days when we could shop together (we’re now at polar opposites of the size spectrum and can’t really shop in the same stores). My only misgiving is that this would mean A LOT of merchandise in the stores, and I tend to get overwhelmed as it is – totally can’t manage department stores.

            Many years ago, I wandered into a Lane Bryant because I thought the clothes looked really pretty. I felt a little airheaded when I realized it was a plus-size store, but oh well, I didn’t spontaneously combust or anything.

            It’s just silly – some people are big, some are small, some look good in sheath dresses, others look good in A-lines. I get really sick of all the value judgements attached to size.

        • I believe it, too. A casual glance at the comments following pretty much any news article dealing with obesity or dieting will show just how much venom and hostility is directed at fat people, women especially. Granted there is a bit of the internet anonymity effect, in that people tend to be nastier online than they would be in person, but my own experiences with bullying, random attacks, and shockingly nasty comments demonstrate that there really a lot of people who hate large people so much that they would never want to be associated with them. For brands whose identity and marketing relies a lot on the “young, beautiful, rich, and exclusive” cachet, having a fat person in your clothing really *could* damage your reputation with those people.

      • Not plus size, but that can’t be right. Lafayette 148 does great stuff in reg & plus sizes and great quality. Sure, it’s pricey but I’d rather buy 1 thing from them (or prowl for sales) that loads of stuff from other brands.

      • Soigne1908 :

        Another Talbots/Talbots Woman wearer checking in. I think they embrace the wider sizing because they really target women 35+, and I read somewhere that the majority of plus-size clothing buyers are over 50 years of age, although that might be slowly changing because younger women are getting larger.

        Ann Taylor and BR (along with J. Crew) still seem to target younger women. I miss Forth & Towne, which had sizes up to 20, dearly.

        For years, I was a buyer of Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman for bridge dresses and sportswear in misses’ and plus ranges. They have now went downmarket, and Liz Claiborne’s management needs to be taken to the woodshed. My purchases were mainly on sale, secondhand or at outlets. I work in media and have a mid-five-figure salary, so I have to be careful with money.

        I’m going to see if Brooks Brothers Woman is available in stores. I live near South Coast Plaza in California and can check in on a weekly basis.

        • BrooksBrothers no longer sells plus sizes, but does go up to size 20 online – I wish I had known this was a experiment, would have made a few more purchases. I’ve read a few comments and didn’t see RalphLauren mentioned. The lack of quality plus size options is a position buyers/stores have taken, as all the explanations mentioned don’t seem to be an issue for plus males.

    • I’ve had some luck with solid color and patterned short sleeved shells (both in sweater fabric and more of a lighter fabric) ordering online at JC Penney. Sometimes the quality isn’t great but you can get some fabulous deals!

    • Laura — Same here, 18P or 16-18WP and it is THE DEVIL to find pants and trousers and suits. I often buy “cropped” or “ankle” pants, which on me at 5’2″ hit at the right “regular” length!

      I’ll have to check Talbots again. I didn’t have luck with them before.

      I’m on a budget, so I have found SEARS to carry a nice range of suit basics that come up to 18 Short, and also 16W. They also have some nice plain shirts and plain tees and camis. Also, strangely, Fashion Bug had some nice plain button up shirts.

  12. The largest Encore department on the east coast is at Nordstrom – Pentagon City (Washington metro). Lots of suiting by Tahari, Anne Klein, Lafayette 148 and Jones New York, AND great service from a seasoned and dedicated sales staff.

    Harper Greer was a wonderful resource in San Francisco, however they’ve closed their doors and now offer their designer plus-size clothing online only at

  13. I sympathize with the 14-16 crowd. I work in the litigation technology group at a BigLaw firm so I get to dress more casually. If you’re in the market for ultra-basics (black tees, white tees, etc.), L.L. Bean has started carrying Women’s sizes. They make good quality stuff. I have a polo from them that I’ve been wearing off and on for about ten years (and back then I wore a 6-8! it seems to just keep growing with me).

  14. Sydney Bristow :

    Everyone seems to have covered the places I frequent most often, but I wanted to point out a store in Brooklyn called ReDress. Its a vintage/thrift store of all plus sizes. I got a great pencil skirt there a few months ago. They also buy clothes, so it is nice for anyone gaining or losing weight.

  15. I, too, am in that 14-16 range that makes clothes shopping hard, and I love Talbots and Nordstrom. Also, I’ve picked up a couple of blouses, shells and jackets from I think the sizing tends to run a little big, so I usually wind up with an XL, where I’d typically wear a 14w-16w on top. Should you decide to try it out, I suggest reading customer feedback to determine the fitting of particular pieces. The good thing about QVC is that all clothing – whether it’s from a designer’s line or a house brand – comes XS (or XXS)-3X.

  16. I’ll echo Talbots, which is where I get all of my suiting (I usually need it tailored, though). Nordstrom is also excellent, and since I don’t have one near me, I do all my shopping there online.

    Also nice: no nasty comments about how fatties just need to lose weight. I can remember a few Corporette threads where I felt really alienated.

  17. Thanks for addressing this again.

    Jones New York has a $99 suiting sale at the moment, that has some plus sizes still available. Worth a look.

  18. Oh, and Brooks Brothers, while it goes to plus sizes has a rather small size 22 as their maximum sizing. (and by that I mean the size 22 has a 49 1/2″ bust, compared to Jones New York’s 51″).

    • This is true! I’m a 22 in BB suiting, while I’m closer to an 18 or 20 in Talbots. But my 22 BB jacket fits perfectly off the rack, so I’ll forgive them!

  19. I really appreciate this post, because I have been asked to help my younger plus-sized sister find some interview clothes. Thanks, Kat.

  20. I’m just so pleased to see comments from so many other people in that difficult 16-18 zone! Some days it feels like I am the ONLY person in the world who can’t find work wear that fits me. It drives me NUTS, especially since, like one of the earlier commenters, I’m apple shaped, and all suits seem to insist on nipping you in at the waist. I hate buttoning jackets because everything strains when I sit, and I hate not buttoning because everything looks boxy and horrible.

    So yeah, I’m not any help about where to shop, but I’ll definitely be checking out some of the tips here! I really like Brooks Brothers for classics, so am thrilled to find out they have a plus range now. (And I’ve never EVER seen Calvin Klein suits in anything bigger than a 14. Sigh.)

    Can I also raise a pet peeve – WHY do some stores insist on putting those elastic inserts in plus sized pants/skirts? I just want something cut to fit me – I do NOT want elastic bits in my clothes! (Though that’s slightly hypocritcal because I don’t buy anything that doesn’t have some lycra in it anymore.)

    • Amen! I will put pants on and they look great but I sit down and I just know it’s not going to work! But most suits, when you move to women’s sizes, the pants have a fully elastic waist band and are so baggy in the legs. It’s horribly unflattering (on me at least)! I just want pants cut the same way as the regular sizes, but a little bigger. Is that so much to ask?

  21. Pendleton, Pendleton, Pendleton! their clothing is the best quality I’ve seen in my price range and fits well. note: I am a borderline 16/18 pear and sometimes have to switch between misses and plus depending on the cut of the slacks. And while the look is more than appropriate for my workplace in academe, it’s a quirky enough line in this part of the country that I don’t look like everyone else, which is important to me. A 100% Talbot’s wardrobe is a little pricy and a little too professional for me in my current position, though I expect to look to them more in the next few years. But for now, we’re going to a wedding in Portland this fall and I intend to leave my poor husband to hang out with the groom while the bride and I go strip Pendleton’s home outlet dry.

    I haven’t bought anything aside from jeans from Lane Bryant in ages–I agree with everything said above. I’ve had buttons fall off in the car on the way home from the mall, and seams split on loose pants in the second or third wearing. The only reason I do the jeans is that I’m hard on them and their medium “right fit” hip/waist ratio fits me perfectly.

    • I still buy their basic black pants. My office is business dress, but I can usually get away with wearing black pants and a blazer instead of a suit. Their medium/red right fit pants fit me perfectly too. It’s the only place I’ve found plus size pants that are cut to fit, and not with an elastic waist that bags out from there. They aren’t the best quality, but I can usually find a sale and get them for less than 30 bucks, so I don’t mind. Plus I’ve been changing sizes, and they’re easy to replace.

    • Also – how do Pendleton suits fit? I tried on a few at Dillard’s, but it’s been a while, and I remember them seeming frumpy and boxy on me. I’m petite and more of an apple shape. Maybe I just got unlucky with the ones I tried…

      • I’m apple-y (though not petite). I would say Pendleton’s is a bit more conservatively cut, so they can err on the side of boxiness. I find Pendleton’s pencil skirts are some of the very few that I can wear (usually pencil skirts just emphasize the wideness in my midsection – I don’t think Pendleton escapes that entirely, but they’re better, and at least the skirts don’t cut me in half). I do think the jackets can be a bit boxy, but if you look in the catalog, I think there’s quite a lot of variety in the jacket cuts – I usually shop their sales so have been limited in what I’ve been able to try. I suspect they’re more likely only to have their “classics” at a department store.

        I find that I cannot wear their pants AT ALL. Their skirts in 18 fit me great, but I have a hard time even buttoning their size 18 pants (and I have no idea what’s up with that! in part, the rise seems really short). I haven’t tried their pants in women’s sizes yet, so they might be better, but as someone mentioned, there are fewer matching options for the women’s sizes.

  22. Thank you for this thread – I appreciate the suggestions! Encore at Nordstrom has been my favorite so far, especially the Halogen suits. Some of the styles look younger but still good quality.

  23. I recently discovered – you have to search a bit, but they occasionally have some pretty nice suiting separates, as well as a lot of cute floral tops or traditional blouses to go underneath. Their clearance section is unbelievably cheap – ordered some fun casual clothes from them and was pleased with the fit.

  24. Do all Nordstroms have an Encore department? I’m ashamed to say that I walked through a Nordstrom, couldn’t find the plus size clothes, was too embarrassed to ask/afraid that they didn’t have any, and haven’t ever looked in store again. Did I just miss them?

    • How frustrating, RR! I typically see the Encore section next to the children’s department or intimates, not in the same area as the other women’s clothing. I hope that helps you.

    • I would guess that the Encore (plus size) departments vary in size and quality depending on the indivudual Nordstrom. I know the one near me is very small and has a limited selection – a random assortment of casual items and formal wear, with very little that is appropriate for my business casual office and occasional client visits requiring traditional suiting. I stick to their website, where I have decent luck – and just buy shoes in the bricks-and-mortar store.

    • I’m sorry to hear you were embarassed. I usually will ask “do you have any clothes in my size?”. It’s a matter of fact question– does your store carry my size? Not something to feel embarassed or apologize about at all. I definitely have days where I feel like nothing fits and get frustrated about it, but I love fashion and am not letting my size stop me from enjoying what I wear. Today, I am the size I am. Maybe I’ll lose weight in the future, but today I am a size 20W and everyone else will just have to deal with it.

  25. Re Talbots & plus-sizes: last night I got a mailer from them saying that they redesigned the Talbots Woman & Woman Petite websites, plus a 20% first purchase and free shipping thru March 19. So check your mailboxes!

    (No, I don’t work for Talbots — but I’d be scr*wed if they closed!)

    • Jealous! I haven’t received the mailer – but I have been on the re-designed website and already sent a note to their customer service to give them my kudos. They now feature actual plus size models sporting the Talbot’s Woman clothes, so you can get a better sense of how a particular style might look on you, no matter what your size/shape.

      I’m sure I’m wildly naive on this, but I really hope this earns them major props and new business and that other retailers take note. I love Talbot’s, but would really appreciate having more shopping options. Sigh.

      • Soigne1908 :

        IMO, it would require a sea change for certain retailers to take note. What has always floored me about clothing/fashion is that it’s an industry that seems to run counter to market forces. If the majority of women are size 12 and up, and quite a few of these women are middle class or above with disposable income, would it not make sense to have more options?

  26. 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.

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

  28. 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)

  29. 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…

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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!

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

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

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

work fashion blog press mentions