The Ultimate Guide to Dressing Professional: Plus Size Edition

Two-thirds of the American Workforce are “plus sized,” yet, we are the hardest to shop for when it comes to professional clothing. Being plus sized myself, I can attest to the struggle to finding clothes that fit. For reference, I am a 20 Tall in pants and a 22 Tall in some other stores. I’m also a size 12 in womens shoes, so a lot of shoes are unavailable to me that are considered “professional.” I have worked in an environment that has me working in professional clothes and blazers for the past 6 years. Here are my tips, tricks, and ultimately a guide on how to dress professionally when you’re plus sized like me.

Measure Yourself

This is the most important step and should not be skipped. This will help you with ALL sizing guides on the internet when purchasing clothes online. Measure yourself by following these steps:


Begin with the bust measurement. Place the end of the measuring tape on the front of your chest at the widest point. Going under your arms, wrap the measuring tape around your back, making sure it doesn’t twist up. Pull it taut so it’s horizontal around your body. Try to pull your arms down over the tape and take the measurement.

Measure under your bust if you need bra dimensions. If you need to measure for a bra, also take a measurement just under your bust, keeping it horizontal and fairly tight. Round up to the nearest unit.

Find your natural waist. Your natural waist is the smallest part of your waist, usually just above your belly button and under your rib cage. Make sure the tape measure is flat around your body, and then take the measurement in front.

Determine your hip measurement at the widest point. Wrap the tape around your body, ensuring you go over the widest part of your buttocks, too. Keep the tape horizontal and flat against your body, and then take the measurement in front where the measuring tape meets itself.

Measurement tips from above are from this article, which has more in-depth information on measuring for all bodies: WikiHow

Know the Different Types of Professional Wear

Figure Out Your Style

Are you colorful? dramatic? polished? nude colors? What is your style? Here are some examples below:

Not sure of your style? Do some research on “work wear” styles that you appreciate. They don’t need to be plus sized models– you can usually find something similar.

Tips to Look Polished

  • Always tuck in your shirt! Don’t fear the fupa! It is an extremely polished look to wear your shirt tucked in. If you are worried about your fupa or stomach, add a belt to accesorize and take the notice off the area of concern.
  • Wearing a Watch: Wearing a watch looks professional is a good way to look put together. A cheap watch works!
  • Add a touch of jewelry: whether male presenting or female presenting, it’s a good idea to add a touch of jewelry. A necklace, earrings, ring, or bracelet will really make an outfit pull together.
  • Watch out for wrinkles! Some fabrics like crepe material tend to wrinkle easily in the wash. i would use a steamer from Amazon here so you can steam on trips or quickly in your bathroom before work if your suit jacket or materials get wrinkled.
  • Neaten up any facial hair: groom your face to match your style. Male presenting people should try to keep their facial hair neat and trimmed while female presenting peers can neaten their eyebrows or upkeep their hair to their liking.
  • Wearing lipstick or a tinted lipgloss helps people understand your words better. Stage performers wear lipstick so people from afar can read their lips, so it’s smart in a professional industry to help people understand you more.
  • Tidy your shoes: Clean your shoes if they get dirty and replace them when worn out, keeping tidy shoes.
  • Do not fear your breasts, folds, butt, or belly! It’s okay to have your body and own it. Wear clothes that are comfortable for you, but appropriate for the work environment.
  • Worried about your breasts? Wearing a camisole under your shirt will help conceal any cleavage and help any sheer tops become opaque.

Where to Buy

*None of these links are sponsored, but are merely opinion based.


Specifically with Torrid, there is a “Work (Any) Wear” section that has a graet starter section for pants, blouses, and shoes to get you started. There are different types of pant legs (straight, wide, ankle, etc.) to choose from as well as a variety of professional blouses and jackets. I highly recommend shopping the clearance section or signing up for their credit card for some awesome rewards and deals. (only if you want to!) This is a great place to buy size 12+ shoes.

Lane Bryant

The best pants in the entire world I’ve found for plus size– the four season’s pant line. These pants are stretchy, comfortable, hard to wrinkle, stain resistant, and ultimately? Comfortable like pajama pants. This is a must have for any plus size wardrobe and it comes in petites, regulars, and talls. I would also recommend watching out for their clearances and sales as you can get some great deals! This is a great place to buy 12+ shoes.

Old Navy

Old Navy just recently included plus sizes into their stores and online. I would recommend for a cheaper blouse and some color basics to shop here for more of an economic deal than Torrid or Lane Bryant.


For some basics like thicker turtlenecks for the winter, special blouses, or a good deal on shoes, I would recommend Amazon. Be sure to check the sizing measurements– I recommend also to click “prime” so you know shipping is adequate.


This can be hard to find, but sometimes you can find amazing deals at Target for plus size blouses, undergarments, shoes, and etc. It may even be smart to look into the men’s section and try something new. I would recommend this for sizes 3XL and under.

Some honorable mentions:

How to Shop

So you have your measurements, an idea of what you like, and you’ve been browsing some websites from above. What’s next? How do you pair outfits? Here are some good guidelines to follow:

  • Black is the most professional color for pants and blazers, but do not fear to step out of that comfort zone and pair a colored blazer with a black pant or vice versa.
  • If the pants are tight, go with a looser shirt. If the pants are looser, a tighter shirt will look better.
  • Try to match your inseam if you’re tall or petite– we want your pants and shirts to be the right length if at all possible.
  • Sneakers are professional typically when slip resistant and solid black. (no design)
  • Pair a nude color with a black jacket or pant or vice versa.
  • Comfy undergarments matter– avoid underwire at all costs and find support bras for your breasts. Lane Bryant has an excellent line here.

Do you have any good tips for dressing plus size for professional work wear? Have a comment or need advice? Leave a comment below!

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