Business casual (or power casual, as we like to call it) is our favorite dress code. It’s that perfect in between of polished and relaxed and it’s easy to style on every body type. That’s why we’re excited to help you find the plus size business casual attire of your dreams.
As professional stylists, we have experience working with people of every body type. Especially mid-size and plus size women.
- What to look for when shopping plus size workwear
- What your closet staples should be
- Simple outfit formulas to get you out the door in the morning and on with your day.
Ready to make style stress-free? Keep reading for our top tips on curvy business casual wear.
Table of Contents
What To Look For When Shopping for Plus Size Workwear
Not sure where to start your plus size business casual journey?
First, you need to know what to look for. Having the right criteria from the start saves you time, energy, and money.
Our first rule is to make sure you have the basics. These will be your most versatile pieces that you can use endlessly in hundreds of outfit combinations. You can always come back later and add accent pieces.
Second, For all of our clients, we always recommend following our NLW Style System.
- Focus on core colors
The majority of your closet should be made up of black, white, grey, and navy. Why? Because these neutrals go with everything. These provide you with that solid foundation that you can add on to as you gain style savvy.
- Prioritize fit
Never settle for “good enough” or “almost” when it comes to fit. If something doesn’t fit you 100% right, you’re not going to love it. Sooner or later you’ll end up getting rid of it or resenting it.
You need to spend time trying on different styles, sizes, and plus-friendly brands to find what works for you. We know it sounds like homework. But it’s worth it to invest in yourself.
- Invest in high-quality pieces
No one wants to say it, but buying cheap is expensive. If you buy a fast-fashion sweater, for example, chances are it’s not going to last you very long. Just a few washes and the color starts fading, the knit starts pilling, and the stitching starts to come apart.
A well-made, high-quality piece will last you much longer. We know it’s an investment.
But you can always check out consignment and second-hand stores for hidden gems at a wallet-friendly price. (There’s also a whole world of plus size online resale stores to help you out!)
Plus Size Business Casual Clothes: 3 Essential Pieces for Your Closet
You know what to look for in your plus size business casual clothes. Now let’s discuss which pieces should earn a spot in your closet. Here are our 3 essential pieces:
We love blazers because they add structure to a look, instantly making you feel (and appear) in control and powerful.
As a layering piece, they also make your outfits more visually interesting. They’re an opportunity to tone down a bright outfit, or to punch up a neutral ensemble.
Knowing what blazer is perfect for you depends on your workplace, personal brand, style goals, and proportions. (That’s why it’s great to work with a professional stylist to help you zero in on what’s right for you.)
For example, let’s say you work in a creative or tech field. The right blazer for you could be a slightly oversized boyfriend style. Or a cropped blazer in a houndstooth pattern or neon hue.
But if you work in a more traditional profession like finance, you might need a more classic fit and color.
The three fit points that shouldn’t change no matter what, however, are shoulders, arms, and body.
The shoulder seam of your blazer should hit the high point of your shoulder. The sleeves should end at your wristbone, and the body should leave you enough room to comfortably lift your arms and cross them too.
Second on our list of go-to plus size business casual attire, is knitwear. Knitwear refers really to any sort of knit garment. But we’re mainly talking about tops, sweaters, and cardigans.
We love these pieces for curvy workwear (especially for plus size business casual fall and cold weather style). For one, layering is the ultimate hack to taking an outfit from casual to polished. It adds visual appeal to your outfit in an instant.
But a reason knitwear is especially great for plus size clients is the practical comfort and stretch. Knits give you much more versatility than a blouse or button-down. You’re also more likely to find one that fits you and tailors to your body shape.
With blouses and button-downs you have to worry about gapping at the buttons or lack of mobility. But with stretchy knits, you’re good to go.
For your knitwear collection, we recommend lightweight sweaters in core colors to start. (You can always add in seasonal colors as you go like pastels for spring or rich earth tones for fall.)
Why lightweight sweaters? Because they’re not as bulky as thick knits and they’re easy to tuck into trousers. Speaking of which, let’s move on to our next recommendation.
The category that’s the hardest for most people (not just plus sized ladies) is trousers. With trousers and pants, it’s tougher to find your perfect fit.
That’s because there’s less wiggle room. Pants are cut to very specific patterns which don’t always work with every person’s silhouette and build. Additionally, trousers are usually made of more structured materials.
That means that, unlike knits, you don’t have as much flexibility to get your sizing right.
However, we know that trousers are a must-have for most business casual wardrobes. So we wanted to include them.
The best way to find trousers that fit you is, again, by trying different brands, styles, and silhouettes until you find your perfect fit. There isn’t a shortcut here.
Now let’s say you find a fantastic pair of pants that fits at your widest point but is too large everywhere else. Then you also have the option to have that piece taken in by a tailor
We know that alterations aren’t always easy to find and we know they’re an investment. But do this with a few well-made pieces that you love and it’ll be worth it for a custom fit.
(This is something we recommend to all of our clients, no matter their size. Most people need alterations. Hardly anyone fits something to a T straight off the rack!)
One of the changes we’ve seen since 2020 and COVID-19 is the loosening of dress codes. Offices aren’t as strict as they used to be about what workers should and should not wear.
This also means that brands and designers have added more casual designs and comfortable features to their office apparel.
We say, take advantage of this. Seek out work pants with drawstring pants or hidden elastic waistbands. That way you get the fit you love without sacrificing style.
3 Easy and Stylish Plus Size Business Casual Outfit Ideas
You’ve got your closet set with your must-have work clothes for professional plus size outfits. But we know that’s only part of the puzzle.
How do you take all of these ingredients and turn them into a head-to-toe ensemble?
Keep reading for three of our favorite women’s plus size business casual outfits.
The One and Done
There’s nothing we love more than a good monochrome moment. The idea with this outfit formula is to pick one color and wear it from head to toe.
But instead of trying to make sure you’re wearing the exact same shade all over, we recommend mixing it up.
For example, take a look at this chic fall-out fit above. The model is sporting a camel-tan sweater dress, beige knee-high boots, and a brown, lightweight boyfriend blazer.
Although all of these hues are shades of brown, they’re different gradients. This makes the ensemble much more interesting, dynamic, and fresh.
Plus, if you’re looking for a quick business casual outfit, dresses are the way to go. They’re easy to accessorize with a layering piece and closed-toed shoes for the office.
Our next plus size business casual outfit formula is all about color blocking.
Here, you select different solid colors for each piece of outfit to create strong contrast and a clean look.
Black and white always make a powerful statement for colorblocking. It’s simple, chic, yet bold.
The key to getting this look to work is fit.
We’ve found that many of our plus-size clients love high-waisted pants. They’re always in style, give your curves security, and are a great way to define a higher waistline.
Partner high-waisted trousers with a lightly cropped blouse or with a tucked-in top to highlight your well-tailored look.
One thing we hope you’ve noticed is that all of our plus size work outfits are simple. Why? Because we believe great style should be simple.
This outfit is another example of how all it takes is having the right pieces in your closet to create phenomenal looks.
In this ensemble, we have a basic black top tucked into statement pants. These wide-leg trousers feature a subtle crinkle texture and a waist-cinching tie for a subtle yet styled effect.
Keeping the top simple allows the more modern pants to shine, but even the trousers aren’t overdoing it. It doesn’t take loud patterns and colors to stand out from a crowd.
Did you like our approach to plus size business casual style and want to learn more about taking your wardrobe to the next level?
Apply for NLW’s Plus Size Styling Services. We have over six years of experience helping plus size women build the closet of their dreams.