Feeling Too Fat to Interview

Feeling Too Fat to Interview? | CorporetteHow can you feel confident during an interview when you don’t feel the best in your clothes? A petite and plus-sized reader wonders how she can look her best, short of losing 40 pounds in a week:

Interview suits for the short and round. Please help!

I admit it. At 5’2″ and a size 14/16 I am both short and fat (sigh! it kind of got away from me). For everyday work wear this isn’t really an issue, but what on earth do I wear for a job interview?

Suits typically come to mind for interviews, but with my lack of height and overall ROUNDness, typical business suits (pant or skirt) really aren’t all that flattering on me. They tend to make me look even shorter and well, dumpy.

Short of losing 40 pounds in a week, what job interview looks would you suggest?

Note: I’m not in an ultra-conservative industry, but this would be for management level positions.

Thanks for any guidance!

We’ve recently rounded up the best stores for plus-sized workwear (including for petites and sizes 16-18), we’ve talked in the past about how to buy (or tailor) a great plus-sized blazer, and of course we have our Guide to Interview Suits, but nothing quite addresses this. And I can suggest a few suits for Reader M (such as the pictured Talbots suit or this Pendleton suit available up to 18P), but that doesn’t totally address the situation here (at least the one that I’m seeing when I read between the lines):  your confidence is taking a hit because of how you look.

Take this with a grain of salt, as it is coming from another person who is deeply unhappy with her weight (one super stressful six-month patch in 2009 and I suddenly gained 25 pounds, followed by additional pregnancy pounds that refused to budge at ALL until recently — joy), but here’s my $.02:

– You are not being hired for how you look (unless you’re a model).

– Right now, you are in control of the things that an interviewer will rightly take into consideration about your appearance:

  • Properly sized clothes.  Ignore the size on the label, and buy the clothes that FIT YOUR BODY.  If your clothes are clearly too tight, that reflects on your judgement.  This is true for women of all sizes — if a size 4 decides to stuff herself into a size 0 suit, it doesn’t look good.  Another thing that’s true for all sizes: cleavage (NONE should be showing — zero) and a conservative skirt length (if it’s above your knees, reconsider, or at least use our interview mirror trick).
  • Neatness.  Neatness always counts in a job interview — and knowing that you’re at the top of your neatness game can help boost your confidence.  To that end, you may want to consider getting a blow out, getting a manicure, even taking that extra time with your makeup to feel put together.  Again, I’d advise this for anyone going into an interview, but particularly here where you may want that extra boost of confidence.  You don’t have to look glamorous or beautiful, just neat.  (This is similar to my theory on interview makeup — you just want to look awake and alive, not like you’re ready to do a YouTube tutorial.)
  • Being comfortable enough in your own skin to focus on the interview.  If you’re like me, the less confident you feel in your clothes, the more you’re going to play with your hair, tug at your skirt, etc, etc.  If you can’t walk in your high heels, pick a different shoe.  If your Spanx are too tight and you can’t breathe, pick a different undergarment.  If you’re deeply unhappy with how you look in a standard skirt suit, this may mean that it’s worth it for you to wear something other than a skirt suit for the interview — if you’re more confident and feel more professional in a dress that’s been tailored to your measurements (check out our round-up of bespoke dresses here), and an amazing blazer (maybe start here, here, here, or here), this may be the time to deviate from the norm.

Be confident.  Walk in there like you own the place and have every expectation of being accepted and rewarded for the person you are, not the person you’ll be in 40 pounds.  As they say, fake it ’til you make it.

Big hugs to you, Reader M: you can do this.

UPDATE: I apologize to everyone who felt this title was incendiary — to me it’s a totally normal feeling to have to struggle through of feeling “too fat” to do something — that additional noise created in your head when you don’t feel “your best” for why you shouldn’t do something already challenging. I usually try to keep the blog clear of my own body issues; my apologies for failing to do that in this case. Obviously no one IS too fat to do anything, and of course not for interviewing.

Readers, what are your tips on feeling confident in an interview when you don’t feel like you look your best?  If you are also plus-sized and petite, what is your go-to interview outfit?


  1. My husband and I are headed to San Francisco Thu – Sun for my 30th birthday. Looks like the weather will be about 60 degrees with no rain. Any tips on clothing to pack? Would I look totally out of place in flat, knee high boots?

    Also, Alcatraz or whale watching? Which is better? The times conflict so we need to pick one or the other.

    I really appreciate any input.

    • saltylady :

      We did Alcatraz this summer and loved it, but apparently you have to get tickets awhile in advance. Or maybe that’s just summer, I don’t know. We went whale watching on Sunday in So Cal and it was great but Alcatraz was better.

    • You want layers. 60 degrees sounds warm, particularly if you are coming from the east, but we get wind and fog here that make it feel much cooler than what the thermometer reads. Flat knee high boots sound perfect, I wear something similar 2-3x a week, either over skinny jeans or tights. You will walk most places, so comfortable shoes are a must.

      I would do Alcatraz over whale watching. To get really good whale watching you have to head either north (off Pt. Reyes) or south (Santa Cruz or Monterey), and given your limited time in the city, it’s not worth the drive.

      Fisherman’s wharf is super, super touristy. I’d avoid. Consider the Ferry Building instead. Also Coit Tower and North Beach are fun if it’s your first trip here. Lots and lots of good restaurants in the Mission, you can search past threads for reccommendations.

      • Carrie Preston :

        +1 to all of this advice. I’d also consider just taking a Ferry to Sausalito or Tiburon to see the city from the bay and walk around instead of Alcatraz or if you can’t get tickets. Have never heard of whale watching close by (as SF anon notes).

        • Shoot – I just looked at the whale watching trip again and it is in Half Moon Bay which looks to be a ways away from central SF. We weren’t planning on renting a car. Is there any public transportation that we could ride from central SF to Half Moon Bay? If not, how much would taxi be?

          • No real public transit options to Half Moon Bay. It’s pretty far, and it’s not right off the freeway or anything. I would guess a taxi would be at least $75-100 each way, but don’t know for sure. If you are a member of zipcar, you could rent one for the day. Really, if you only have 3 days, this is not the best use of your time.

          • Carrie Preston :

            Hmm, I don’t think there’s public transit to HMB. I just did a quick fare quote via Uber from SF to HMB and it’s quoting uberX at $67-90, problem is I’m not sure if you can get an uber back from there. HMB is lovely and one of my favorite places but it’s really it’s own day trip. If you’re just here for a couple of days it’s so easy to fill your time closer that I’d probably skip it.

          • Thanks SF Anon. I think we’re going to have to forget about the whale watching. I really appreciate your advice.

          • Carrie Preston :

            PS- I haven’t been whale watching so I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing you might just be spending a lot of time on a boat looking at the ocean. For my time, I’d rather go to the Cliff House out at the ocean in SF and get a table by the window with the same view. A less motion-sick experience, plus cocktails.

    • The boots you described are totally fine; boots are worn all the time in SF regardless of temperature. I agree with Ferry Building. Walk along the Embarcadero, both directiions from the Ferry building (it is the equivalent to Pier 0; the even numbered piers are southeast of the Ferry Building and the odd numbered piers are northwest.) You may want to go to the Exploratorium at Pier 15. There are some places to eat including, Slanted Door, at the Ferry Building or try Plant Café at Pier 3.

      In North Beach, try Park Tavern or Tony’s Pizza. There are lots of places on Columbus that are pretty good. For breakfast or brunch, Mama’s at 1701 Stockton Street, but know that there is always a line. The cable car museum is supposed to be interesting and it’s free. Go to Golden Gate Park and the De Young Museum there. Have a good time!

    • Flying Squirrel :

      Super highly recommend the View lounge at the top of the Marriott near Market St. Most guide books recommend the Top of the Mark for rooftop views, but the View lounge is way, way better. If you get there early (I think they open at 4 or 5pm) you’ll be in time for the sunset and almost guaranteed a table near a window even on weekends. I can’t overemphasize how great the views are day or night. We always take out of town visitors there, and I almost always want to drop in for a drink when we are up in SF for the day.

    • Joanna Toews :

      Alcatraz all the way!

      Signed, former San Franciscan

    • i was stuck in san francisco this weekend trying to get home from a west coast trip. the weather was just lovely. leggings, a sweater and flat boots are perfect. maybe add a scarf for when the sun goes down. however, if you take a boat ride, prepare to freeze on the water. so i would bring a jacket for that reason alone.

  2. I was apprehensive upon reading the title but Kat, you gave really good advice.

    Instead of a skirt suit or pantsuit, I think a “dress suit” is the way to go. I have a similar body shape to the OP (although I have to deal with a tail, too, sigh) but wearing a properly fitted dress and an awesome coordinated/matching jacket with sharp shoulders and a tailored waist would make you look AMAZING, not that you don’t already.


    • Catherine :

      I wore a dress suit-like look (blazer and dress) to an interview recently, and knowing I was in something I LOVED and felt good in worked so much better than trying to find anything else that fit. Definitely do it. And then rock the interview!

      • (Makes note to self to take this advise while simultaneously smacking self in head for not doing this a long time ago.)

    • A well fitting jacket can do wonders. Keep the pants/skirt neutral and find a jacket that nips in at just the right spot. You may not be able to find that off the rack but a tailor can make the adjustment. I agree with Kat that properly fitting clothing says a lot, not the size label inside.

  3. Sydney Bristow :

    Gah I’ve totally been there and still am sometimes. I typically do what Kat recommends and focus on wearing something that fits properly.

    The other thing I do is try to get one item that I completely love. It can be anything you wear or carry. I feel better when wearing my favorite earrings or a new necklace that I’m totally obsessed with. It could also be shoes or a handbag. Since often the clothes are simply doing a job, especially in an interview with somewhat defined formalities, having that one awesome piece that I adore gives me something else to focus on when leaving my house as long as everything else fits as well as it can.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      And for what it’s worth, a 14/16 while sometimes hard to find (especially in petite I imagine) is not something I associate with “fat.” Overweight, perhaps, but not fat. It is a size that can commonly be found in regular stores even though specialty stores may carry it too. Speaking as someone who once wore a size 22 I am still incredibly excited to buy clothes in regular sizes at stores I couldn’t even consider before.

  4. I’m not short, but I do have weight issues, so I’ve been there before.

    A couple tips —

    I find I feel worse in pant suits than skirt suits. Part of that is what i see in the mirror – it just looks like so much fabric to me, and I feel like a man. Part of that is because pants are so much less forgiving than a skirt – they seem to have a smaller weight range for fitting, so I get more frustrated with my weight fluctuations, and in turn, my confidence takes a hit. With a skirt, I can fix period bloat with a pair of spanx, but those are really uncomfortable under pants.

    Pinstripe suits can be really flattering and will lengthen you out.

    Stick to shirts without collars or extra fabric. Get some nice shells in your favorite colors/prints. Since you are not in an conservative field, you can likely get away with color or a fun pattern up top. Make sure you love your top.

    Finally, get yourself the most rocking pair of shoes and bag you can possibly pull off for an interview. Those will always fit.

    • Totally agree with you re: pants vs skirts. But sometimes (a lot of times), skirts just cut across the middle of your body and look awful. I am Team Whatever Looks Good and Formal.

    • I did a LOT of interviewing as a hiring manager in my most recent job. Here’s the thing, you are going to be mostly sitting down:). So focus on great hair for the impact you want – i.e. health and competence. Make it shine. Wear basic no-makeup makeup, simple earrings, and a necklace that’s memorable, like a small collar-height pendant. If your interviewer is female, she may notice and comment:).

      • By coincidence I will be interviewing for a promotional opportunity tomorrow. I have also been on the other side of the table dozens of times, and I’ve always found it very distracting when women wear their hair down. This is especially true when the hair is in less than perfect condition, or the cut has grown out, etc. Do you agree? My hair is very healthy and has been trimmed recently… I definitely look more vibrant with my hair down, but I was planning to pull it back in a simple twist for the interview. Half of the panel knows me well, the other half has never met me in person.

        • I think it depends on what makes you the most confident. I interviewed many, many people this past fall and I don’t really recall finding it distracting when women had their hair down. I personally never wear my hair up except when at the gym or very late at night when I’m alone, because (for whatever reason and I’m sure it’s my own issues) I think it looks much worse that way. It would completely kill my confidence to put it up for an interview.

        • I’m fine with hair down, as long as it is healthy and well-maintained. Granted, I worked in tech, informal tech at that, but hey, it’s not as though I’m surprised you have hair:).

  5. This post could basically describe me to a T. I agree with all of the comments above – what about a dress? I feel way more comfortable in a dress than in a skirt and pants that have waistbands – and therefore, you’ll usually see me in a dress. Wear the best accessories you can find, as well as fabulous shoes and a handbag that make you smile and you will totally rock the interview. Best of luck!

  6. IT Chick in MN :

    I’m a few inches taller and a size or so up from the questioner. I’ll second a well-fitting dress and blazer. As a thorough apple-shape, I’ve had some luck with looking for jackets/blazers with longer lines. Good luck!

  7. TJ: Any recommendations for really good/trustworthy laser hair removal in Los Angeles, preferably on the west side near Santa Monica/Culver City/Marina del Rey? It would be great if they were affordable, too, but location and quality of the work are more important to me than a good deal.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Interested as well. Hi neighbor!

    • Another neighbor here! I went to Dr. Tattoff on Wilshire at La Cienega and have recommended it to several people already. I had great results on all areas I had laser hair removal – and, whenever I want touch ups (because the cold hard truth is that no laser removal is completely permanent), they have a great deal for follow-up sessions. Their laser doesn’t hurt at. all. (in fact, it almost feels…pleasant?) and all their technicians are registered nurses so I always felt like i was in capable hands.

      Highly, highly recommend it!

  8. Kat, I appreciate the advice in this post, but not the title. The reader never said she felt “too fat to interview” (as if there is such a thing), but rather asked for tips for flattering clothing for her body type given the clothing constraints typically associated with interviews. I think a title like “What to Do When Your Interview Suit Isn’t Flattering” would be more appropriate.

  9. I was going to point out that Talbot’s has a line of women’s petite sizes — and when I went to the site to make sure they have suiting, I saw the photo Kat used to illustrate this post! The seasonless wool dresses and jackets would make a great interview outfit.

    Talbot’s sizing can be inconsistent — I think I have clothes in about 5 different sizes from there — and the stores tend to have a very limited selection of suiting so if you order online you may need to get multiple sizes to try. You can make returns to the stores.

    Good luck with the intnerviews!

    • I’m 5’2 – 5’3 and I feel OP’s pain. Talbots has the petite sizes, yes, but the 14-16 petite suiting sells like hotcakes – that’s my size, so I know whereof I speak! I’ve been haunting their web site for three months trying to find the elements for a navy wool pant suit in my petite 14-16 size. Unbelievably, I cannot acquire two matching navy suiting items in my size. I’m going to have to wait for the spring releases in hope and buy at close to full price just to acquire them.

      There are also fewer suiting items in this size range in consignment stores, on eBay, and just overall.

      I had an interview recently and I wore the standard not-too-matchy tech-interview outfit – a black blazer, a cream silk shirt (both Talbots!!!), interesting pendant, and gray pants with black ankle boots. If I fail at getting that suit, I’ll get the olive jacket at Pendleton’s right now and a pair of tapered black pants to go with that cream silk shirt, bless it.

  10. I agree completely with the recommendation to wear a dress suit. The photo at the top of the post is a great example of a black dress suit that would be perfect for the interview. I would wear a similar necklace to draw attention to my face.

  11. I'm there with you :

    Sheath dress + blazer = success! That’s pretty much all I wear now, and it’s easier to manage if your dress and blazer sizes are different. Also second Sydney Bristow’s advice to have one piece that you love. It feels a bit “What not to wear” but a well-fitting blazer does cover many things that otherwise make me feel ugh. And, control top hose or tights help a lot – even if you size up so they’re not super tight, it always helps me feel a bit smoother.

    Know that many of us are right there with you. BUT – OP, you can do this! Buying a new, well-fitting outfit will help your confidence. Hugs and rawrs!

    PS. I hate the conflation of size 14/16 = plus size! Plus size starts beyond that. You can get a 14/16 in “regular” size stores. Plus, I personally find it incredibly hard to find cute, well-fitting clothes at this size, where a 14 could be too small but plus sizes are too large. I wish that retailers would recognize the huge market for good clothes in a size 16. They’d get all of my money! /rant

    • Anonymous :

      Plus size is 12 and up.

      • I don’t think that’s true.

      • #anonymousat1:51istryingtomakeyoufeelbadaboutyourself


        • I'm there with you :



          • Having been a size 6 that was directed to the plus sizes, I just did a quick Google search to see what RTW considers the smallest plus size, and it is a 12.

            Yes, asking for a 6 and being sent to the plus sizes did p*ss me off, but as a matter of record, we don’t make the RTW size rules, kids.

        • anonjustincase :

          It doesn’t fit with the definition I use in daily life either, but it does fit with the wikipedia definition of “Plus-size clothing”.

        • Why is she trying to make her feel bad? I thought 12 was plus size too (and I am a 14- not trying to make anyone feel bad) but I thought that was the cutoff

      • St. Paul Anon :

        I’d say plus size is anything with a W behind the number. As someone in that size range, I can tell you that 12’s and 14’s are sometimes available in a plus size cut (ie 12w and 14w), though not nearly as often as 16’s. For instance, at Talbots plus sizes start with 12w, 14w, and 16w, while regular 12, 14, and 16s are also available there. Practically, it just means that I try on (a) the size I think I might be, (b) a size up or a size down from what I think I might be, and (c) the plus size (W) variation of each in order to find the best fit.

      • Waitwhatthe :

        A Misses size 12 is not plus size, at least not to someone of average height or taller. A 12W is technically plus size. Actually, I think the “W” sizes are all plus size, since they have larger arm holes, bust lines, and waists (smaller waist to hip ratio) than their non-W counterparts. It seems to me though that “W” sizes cater more to apple shapes and bigger boned women, whereas non-W sizes work better for hourglass and pear shapes with narrower bone structures (regardless of height).

  12. I’ve interviewed while very overweight, and a few things helped me keep my confidence up:
    1) I wear makeup.
    2) I dress so that I feel like myself, but professional, formal, and powerful. For me, this is usually a good black pantsuit, low heels, small but sparkly earrings, and my hair back so it’s out of the way.
    3) I make sure to go to the gym and eat right for a few days before the interview so that I feel physically well.
    4) I think of the most dynamic, charismatic overweight women I can, and I try to channel some of their energy. Celebrities are helpful for this, like Melissa McCarthy and Jennifer Hudson (back when she was heavier), although I also try to think about women I know. If I would hire them for a job, why would I assume that my weight would prevent someone from hiring me? I might be fat, but I can be fat, charming, and totally great at my job.

    Good luck!

    • I would second #3. Obviously you cannot lose 40 pounds in a week but I know I always feel better when I eat well and exercise every day for a week than when I binge and lounge around for a week. It could go a long way towards improving your mood and attitude.

  13. OP, I was in your shoes a year ago — I felt totally uncomfortable interviewing because I was (and still am, but working on it) heavier than I wanted to be as I was interviewing for new jobs. But I decided that I couldn’t lose 40 lbs in a week (that would be awesome! sigh), so I might as well be as comfy as possible in the prof clothes I needed.

    –Ignore the size you are buying. Even if you are “always a 14,” if it doesn’t fit or look right, it just doesn’t. If it squishes your belly or you’re pulling at the shirt because it bunches funny, size up or down until it’s right. That was a hard thing for me to do, but it was nice to only worry about messing up my answers to an interview rather than also worrying about needing to pick a wedgie mid-interview as well.

    –Give yourself some love. You got this interview because you obviously rock on paper and know your stuff. Show them that with your intelligent answers and charming personality. That’ll win them over more than anything else. :)

    Good luck!

    • Your second point is a good one. If it’s possible, get a personal shopper (or friend) who will look at how clothes fit you and force you to try on clothing that will flatter you. Different brands have different sizing scales.

  14. HELP! This post is basically about my mom. She will be fired at the end of the month. This isn’t negotiable.. there’s a lot of horrible management involved. She was laid off 4yrs ago, searching for 2 years and then landed this job. She has an awesome resume. She’s the hardest working person I know. She’s also overweight and has no confidence. She has no confidence regarding her appearance and now she has no confidence regarding her abilities because of this job. I try to build her up because other people were treated just like her at this place and they have high turnover, so management seems like the common thread, not her. And don’t think me posting this has to do why she has no confidence.

    Unfortunately, I do think appearances count for something and that ageism is a huge terrible reality. She’s 55, so she already has that going against her when looking for a job. I do think being extremely confident can combat appearance. I just wish she could get some of that.

    Any thoughts, advice? Advice on overcoming age discrimination? She’s been pretty active on the networking circuit but that barely helped 2yrs ago and led her to this awful job.

    • The single biggest improvement in my confidence in the last few years has come from exercising regularly and INTENSELY. Boot camp programs, CrossFit, or training for a run (like a 5k) could all help. Nothing creates confidence like realizing that your body can do something you never thought it could.

      So… maybe get your mom a gift certificate for some personal training sessions, or for a safe but hard-core gym?

      • And I should have mentioned she had knee surgery like 3 months ago for a torn meniscus and recently had ovarian cysts removed which are still healing. The last couple of months haven’t been good for her :( She wanted my dad to go to weight watchers with her. She needs a buddy for a lot of these things but I’m trying to encourage them both to go. He could stand to lose some weight too.

        • Oh no! So much for my suggestions. Here’s hoping things get better for her soon.

          Has she read Ask a Manager’s advice about interviewing and job searching?

          • I’ll look at it and refer it to her. Corporette is the only career blog I’ve found that I like, but I’m going to encourage her to seek advice from Ask A Manager. She’ll ask my opinion on career related things and etiquette when she knows she’s going to be let go. I think my feedback’s worth something but I’m only 25. I’d be great if she could get feedback from other working professionals

          • marketingchic :

            What about giving her a spa day or makeover? At any size, feeling polished feels good.

        • Mountain Girl :

          Are you close to her? Can you be her WW buddy?

    • anon prof :

      suggest that she color her hair if she doesn’t already and it is gray. I don’t want to start a flaming war about it, but for some people it takes years off how old they look (and I say this with gray streaks that I love, but I would color over them if I were job hunting)

      • She’s been coloring her hair. She needs an updated hairstyle but I have no idea what to even recommend.

        I like the spa day. She expressed interest in getting a massage.

      • S in Chicago :

        Maybe have her make-up done? Next to hair color/style, that’s another area where it’s easy to start to look dated or feel like you’re in a rut. I went to the Bobbi Brown counter after my birthday last year and treated myself to some of their recommendations. I have to say that the blush she recommended (and learning how to apply it) did wonders to perk things up a bit.

    • Anon for this :

      Not to make light of your mom’s situation at all, but the discrimination thing is a raw spot with me right now. Not job related (sort of as I am looking for another job, but I am not unemployed), but on a personal note.

      A group called Sweet Adelines International came on my radar yesterday. I looked at the local chapter’s website and did not see anyone who looked like me in the pictures. I went to the international web site and found more of the same. I did a Google search and wiki says they have been “whites only” since their inception!

      How evil is it that a non-profit group that is supposed to be bringing joy through song would turn their backs on someone because they resemble Lucy Lui, Kerry Washington, Sheetal Sheth or Eva Longoria instead of Kristen Bell?

      So incredibly sick and pissed that this is still blatantly going on in 2013.

      • That is some kind of special right there.

      • anonjustincase :

        Wikipedia says that the group opened to all races a few years after 1957. Current Sweet Adeline website says that they are open to members of any race (http://tinyurl.com/mp6s4jc). Website looks very white, but there are a few non-white faces here and there. In short, there’s obviously an unpleasant history of racism and exclusion but I see no evidence of the systematic and rules-based racism in 2013.

      • FWIW, my mom sang with a Sweet Adeline group a few years ago in our town and she is not white. She enjoyed it for a while but quit after getting fed up with having to use a trowel to put on the makeup and grin from ear to ear while singing. Too cheesy for her.

  15. Anonymous :

    I hate the word fat, and I know it’s just a word and should not have power, but I still hate it.

    • Yeah, this is a very subjective thing. Many size acceptance advocates are offended by the term “overweight” but happily identify as fat. I have mixed feelings about it as well though.

  16. TJ: Hive advice, please? Has anyone been overpaid on accident before? I took some unpaid leave over the holidays. I’ve since returned, but my paycheck doesn’t reflect the fact that my leave was unpaid and I think I was paid for the time I took off. I work in a highly bureaucratic government office where HR would handle all such issues and HR is a monolith that’s difficult to navigate.

    • Email your boss and have him/her tell you how to handle it?

    • I am a labor and employment lawyer and have seen employees disciplined and even fired for knowingly accepting over-payments, so you need to take care of this to avoid that possibility.

      First, of course, check your pay stub to make sure that this is what happened and to make sure there wasn’t some other payment (any unused vacation time you forgot about, e.g.). Since most employees now have direct deposit, you may not have a stub in hard copy and may have to request it or get it from your intra-net page.

      Then report the situation to anyone you can in the HR monolith — and include a specific question about the proper person to address it — and copy your supervisor or manager on it so that person is aware. Make sure to request a read receipt so you can show you reported it, and also print out a hard copy and take it home (or copy it to your home e-mail address). If you don’t get a response in, say, a week, send a follow-up with the original message appended. And then do it again in another week or two if necessary.

      And, finally, put aside the extra money (it’s really easy to spend something like that) so that you have it if you need to repay the employer or so that you’re covered if the employer takes it out of your next paycheck.

      Good luck getting it sorted out.

    • Your paycheck may not reflect the change for another few pay periods as these systems tend to be slow. How do you submit your time off? Talk to whoever coordinates things like finance and HR forms in your office, or there should be a direct HR/Pay and Benefits line you can call (and wait on hold for 45 minutes).

      • Ooof, alright, will work the 45 minutes into my schedule. Thank you all! I just started working and all this is really good to know. Thank you thank you!


      • That’s true, there’s usually a 2-week lead time for pay stubs. You always get paid 2 weeks later.

  17. I worked for a woman who was 5’9 or 5’10 and definitely plus sized (obviously didn’t ask so I don’t know for sure her size, but I do know she did a lot of shopping in the plus sized department at Talbots!). I was always amazed at how completely put together she looked- she had funky accessories, always a pop of color (reading glasses, scarves, chunky rings, whatever…not all at once, though!), wore pants in dark colors and generally dark tops but lots of color up by her face. Her hair was always colored and done nicely (never roots or frizz), and she wore enough makeup that she looked put together. Above all, she had a smile and confidence.

    I once saw her on a sick day (no makeup, schumpy clothes, generally feeling terrible) and she looked at least 50lbs heavier. I was amazed at the difference her workwear made! On the flip side, I once saw her on her way to an interview. She looked like a rockstar in dark suit separates with white piping up near her face. (And got the job and left the company and made me sad.)

    • Frankly, I think it’s much easier to look put together and commanding at 5’9″ or 5’10” than at 5’2″. Taller women are “on level” with the men. You’re already at a disadvantage being really short (I’m 5’2″). When I’m overweight I’m invisible. People can LITERALLY talk over my head.
      When I’m thin, I’m “adorable” and “cute”.

      I find at either size, a good pair of hidden platform pumps you can walk well in make a huge difference. I’ve got a pair that have a 3/4″ platform, hidden, and a 4 inch heel. I usually wear with pantsuit so pants cover most of the shoe. They are matte black leather, very conservative, with a wider than stiletto heel so they don’t veer into dancer territory if you know what I mean.

      I have, over many years, noticed a huge difference in how people relate to me professionally when I present as 5’2″ versus 5’6″ ish. At either weight.

      • Ciao, pues :

        which shoes?!?! i’m on the hunt for good, conservative, platform pumps.

  18. A suit can hide a multitude of sins. I wouldn’t abandon all suits, but look for a great fit and high quality, and know going in that you are going to have to see a tailor to get the best possible fit. I agree with not getting hung up on size, and I love stores that carry petites and regular sizing of the same suit, because I frequently mix a petite jacket with a regular pant to get the best fit.

    Also, is part of the problem trying to stuff a button-down shirt into that suit? I love the look of a crisp button-down with a pencil skirt–on everybody else. But I am an apple and I just can’t pull it off. A less fitted shell or blouse may make you feel a bit more comfortable in a suit.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Oh goodness yes! I’ve given up on button down shirts because they are impossible to fit on me. I always go with a nice blouse or even a sweater shell when I couldn’t find a blouse even though it might be seen as less formal. I figure that’s better than looking ridiculous in a button down shirt that is straining to be held together with safety pins or obviously too big overall.

    • +1 Pencil skirts aren’t universally flattering.

  19. Gosh, can anyone lend me some patience. I’ve interviewed for a very interesting position on the 20th of Dec and they have been away for holidays and got back to office last week. I still have not heard from them and it’s sooooo frustrating. I’m checking my phone like a maniac and eating truffles (like a maniac). Please send me some luck :(

    • Lady Harriet :

      I had my third interview on the 19th for a job I really want. The hiring manager told me I’d hear back from them before Christmas. (Seriously???) I still haven’t heard back. I sent a short email today asking for an update on the timeline, since it’s been two weeks past the date he gave me. So, no advice on patience, but I’m in the exact same boat and definitely sympathize!

  20. So I’m hearing tons of mention for wearing a dress with a blazer. Do you wear a matchy one? Like a sheath and blazer from a separates line? Short of a completely plain sheath, I’m always nervous about any sort of “visual interest” in a dress paired with a blazer. Like I would be afraid to wear a dress that had an assymetrical neckline or one-sided ruching or something with a jacket. Do people who aren’ta size 2 actually do that? (I am the only person I deal with on a regular basis who is a) a woman around my same age and b) in a suit so my field of reference is limited)

    • Sheath dress plus blazer is my go to look for when I’m doing meetings on the west coast. Its professional, put together, but a bit less stuffy than a full suit. And if the person I’m meeting with is really casual I just hang up my blazer (which is also why I default to sheath dresses, they’re much more formal without a jacket on). I generally save my ‘visual interest’ for my blazers as its easier to find plain sheaths, but I just bought a funky tweed sheath that looks fantastic with solid blazers.

    • Wildkitten :

      For an interview I’d do matchy.

  21. thread jack :

    I’ve interviewing for a new position (I just finished graduate school) in an industry where titles are very flexible but salaries tend to be pretty well set in stone (little negotiating room – there’s a clear scale). I love the job description and so far they have indicated that I will likely receive an offer shortly, as soon as the approval process is through. Like I said, I love the job description, but I feel as though the title is a bit below what the job’s responsibilities are, and would really need a bit of a title alteration to take the job. When is the best time to bring this up? I assume after I have the offer in hand, but I wanted to get the hive’s opinion.

    Because the industry has very standardized salaries, titles are super important, particularly as it’s normal to change jobs every 9 months – 2 years.

  22. I’m late to the post but – Reader M – I was in your shoes two months ago. (I’m 50, 5’3″ and size 16/18.) I was interviewing and got a dream job. I was able to feel confident by wearing colors by my face and outfits that I loved, even if I didn’t love how I looked in them. I’m in finance and I wore a Talbots dark pink wool jacket over a black sheath dress for one interview and a dark grey wool Pendleton skirt suit with a vibrant blue tie-front blouse for the second interview. Tasteful jewelry and polished shoes and leather tote finished the outfit.

    Good luck!

    • While in the shower this morning, I thought of some other things that I did that boosted my confidence:

      Sharp haircut
      A blow-out wouldn’t hurt if your have time
      Professional brow wax
      Manicure (I did it myself – stepped up the hand cream in advance, paid attention to my cuticles, made sure nails were neat)
      Maybe a massage the day before after some yoga for stress relief

      Also, I cut down on anything that tends to cause bloat (like beans, brocolli, carbonated beverages).

  23. BigLaw Refugee :

    I agree with all the posters here. Also, as a pear shaped, short size 14, my go-to confidence-boosting outfits involve A-line skirts. One is a tweed suit that a Macy’s personal shopper found for me (it wasn’t a petite size but fit great) and another is a black A-line skirt that I pair with short, colorful blazers. (It may have been just luck as I only did it once, but my experience with the free Macy’s personal shopper was terrific – they bring you tons of stuff, so you can try on a lot of sizes and styles to see what works, without having to wear yourself out wandering around, waiting in line, etc.)

    Also, a stylist once advised me at this size to ditch the tiny, delicate jewelry I’d acquired in my 20’s because “you’re more substantial than that.” A diplomatic way of saying now that you’re bigger, you need your jewelry to be bigger to make an impact. That doesn’t mean tacky or flashy, but just big – so it doesn’t disappear. Statement necklaces, and large yet tasteful earrings can help make you look put together.

    Good luck!

  24. Tina Gaspard :

    Thanks for this. Just what I needed to hear right this minute. Focus on why you’re there, what you can control and rock the interview! :)

  25. Thank you! I loved the title of this blog. I feel like that all the time. I’m “mordibly obese” and I have a hard time finding anything that fits comfortably. I am expecting a big interview with a school system and I am thinking about being a freelance virtual assistant. So I am in need of nice clothes. Any other suggestions? If you email me I will give you my size it not a normal plus size.