Reader Mailbag Part II: Suggestions for Suits If You’re Not Size 2-14

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!

Now, by your question, we’re guessing you’re a hard size to find, either because you’re above or below the normal (2-14) range. Some suggestions for places to look:

If you’re bigger:

If you’re smaller, these brands run small and offer small sizes:

  • Theory
  • Victoria’s Secret
  • Check out the more expensive brands — anything worn by an actress or model or someone who is professionally thin. In our experience, sizes in those brands can run several sizes below those in normal stores you’d find at the mall.


  1. For women on the smaller side, Saks and Nordstrom’s both offer a good range of petites, including professional clothing. Neither is dirt cheap, but don’t forget that a well cut conservative suit will last you more than one season. (I’m a corporate litigator and the staple of my wardrobe is navy and black suits that I wear year in and year out). Saks offers excellent tailoring services as well.

  2. I appreciate your efforts at providing choices to a portion of your readership, but I disagree with your suggestions for finding suits at least for women on the larger side. Actually, I’m a bit disappointed that this site, which specifically caters to women “lawyers, MBAs, consultants, and otherwise overachieving chicks who work in conservative workplaces,” would suggest some of these places for shopping. The quality of the clothing at both Lane Bryant or Travel Smith is the equivalent of Lerners, Express, or the Limited. As for Macy’s well, Macy’s is usually a dump and I personally only go there in an emergency. Land’s End has some pieces also, if you’re over 50. Professional women in sizes 2-14 would hardly go there to buy clothing so why should larger women. Truth is the fashion industry doesn’t get that young professional women with curves can wear stylish, high quality clothing, and apparently neither does this site.

    For reasonably priced, higher quality clothing, I think Lord & Taylor is a good bet. Nordstrom also has some classic pieces. Saks has a great department as well, but usually overpriced, and some of the clothes are a bit on the unflattering (think mu mu).

    I do commend you for bringing the issue up and for at least thinking outside of the box.

  3. M – Most shopping I’ve done for those sizes has been for a relative who has a more casual lifestyle, so your input is really appreciated. I’ve edited the main text to include Nordstrom & Saks, and to link to your comment.

    (I had actually remembered that Nordstrom had a ton of the Misook stuff, which goes to 3X, but had forgotten about their collection of Ellen Tracy and Dana Buchman suits in larger sizes).

    I still think it’s a shame that more great basic suits aren’t online in all sizes — I would say that for all women, regardless of size, should wear a plain black or navy suit to the interview, and even Saks and Nordstrom doesn’t have that online. For plus-size the options are far better shopping physically in stores. If you can recommend any online places from which one could buy a suit, please do so!!

  4. thanks so much! corporette is great! i ended up ordering a suit online from talbots & just got it – but its too big. but you can return in the store – so thats what i am going to do.
    i got the navy pinstripe :)

  5. any suggestions on a purse?
    this is the suit i got

    and these are the shoes

  6. On the small side: I’m a size 0, and Theory was outside my law student budget. I ordered suits online from Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, and J.Crew. I was pleasantly surprised that a J.Crew one fit me perfectly (in a 0 Petite). The others were far too large, even in the smallest sizes.

  7. …Just wanted to add that I’ve been consistently disappointed with the quality and/or cut of clothing from the Victoria’s Secret catalog. :-/

  8. I am a size 16W and find that Talbots is one of the few places I can find good quality work clothes. I would NEVER buy clothes at Lane Bryant. Thanks for the post.

  9. Thanks, Corporette, for addressing the fact that professionals don’t just come in sizes 2-14.

  10. I just found this blog and it is so interesting! I’m very happy to be able to “consume” this information from your site :).

    After having two children, I am rebuilding my professional wardrobe with size 14 and 16 clothing that can be tailored as I continue to lose weight. I like to dress fairly conservatively in simple suits and I wear natural fibers…When I was in academia I had two pairs of jeans and one pair of danskos, and just swapped shirts every day. That doesn’t fly in my new capacity! (and I have to admit I’m kind of getting into it hehe)

    I recommend Brooks Brothers. I have two suits from them (16), and some knits – a silk sweater and a couple wool twin sets (L). I like it that their clothing consistently fits me, and that it is lined in rayon. They recently started a women’s line, and I find that the women’s style pants fit much better than their regular pants….I will buy size 16 jackets and skirts, and size 16w pants. Ive also bought their men’s pants. I don’t think the web pictures look so hot on their women’s line, but I think that is because they aren’t used to it yet.

    I also recently discovered J Jill, which is great if you like natural fibers. They have tons of stuff in wool, cotton, linen, and silk. They recently changed their simple 120 line of wool suits, which is too bad, but they still have it in black and brown. My main complaints with them are that *everything* is long-and-flowy and that colors are limited. They have plus sized clothing up to at least 3x. Their clothing also consistently fits me, which is great because they are mail order….I’ve only had to return one or two items, and then only because of preference, not because it didn’t fit.

    Ps I apologize for iPad typos…

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