Your Guide to Business Professional Attire for Plus Size Women

March 28, 2024

If you’re a CEO or executive, or work in the corporate world, there’s an understood dress code to follow. It skews formal and above all, professional. If you’re plus size, it can be difficult to find corporate wear that fits YOU.

At Next Level Wardrobe, our expert stylists have years of experience working with clients of many shapes, sizes, and ages. This includes clients ranging from size 00 to 24. We’ve gathered our team’s best tips and tricks for a quick and easy guide on plus-size corporate wear.

But before discussing your closet musts and where to shop, let’s cover the basics.

What is Business Professional Attire for Plus Size Women?

Business professional attire for plus-size women is all about creating polished, well-fitted outfits. They should make the wearer feel confident and comfortable in any setting, especially at work. 

If you’re looking to add business attire to your collection, start by figuring out what your office’s dress code is. That way, you can make sure you’re following those guidelines when you’re building outfits or shopping.

Generally, business professional dress codes tend to be on the more formal side. You won’t see jeans or sneakers in this sort of work environment. However, you might see smart separates like trousers, blouses, and blazers, or dresses.

How to Find Business Attire for Plus-Size Women

Understanding what business attire is for plus size women is one thing. But knowing how to find it is another thing altogether. Here are our stylist-approved tips on making shopping for plus size professional attire easier.

  • If you’re shopping for plus size corporate wear online, take your measurements (or have a friend take them for you). 
  • Then, go off each brand’s size chart for your best bet if you’re shopping online.
  • In general, we at Next Level Wardrobe believe that you should ignore what the tag says and try on everything.
  • We know it takes time, but it’s the only way to know how and if pieces will fit.

3 Must-Haves for Classy Plus Size Business Attire

1. Blazer 

  • Nothing instantly elevates an outfit like a good blazer. It’s also required for most corporate workplaces. 
  • Seek out a black or navy blazer to start. These shades are formal and versatile. 
  • Later you can add other core-color options such as white, brown, or gray.
  • If you struggle to find comfortable options, particularly around the arms and bust, look for stretch blends to give your blazer added flexibility.
  • If your office is more casual than the traditional business professional dress code, go for soft knitted blazers instead of structured wool pieces.

Product by Nic + Zoe, shop here.

A fantastic option to add to your closet is this fringed black blazer from Nic+Zoe. The fringe adds personal style while still being subtle. Plus, the black color is professional and versatile.

Combine it with trousers in a seasonal color like maroon for fall or cream for summer for a year-round look.

2. Blouse

  • Complete your plus-size corporate wear power outfit with a blouse. 
  • Again, neutrals will never do you wrong, but this is an opportunity to experiment with color and texture.
  • If your wardrobe’s been skewing dark, try tonal colors like light blue. Or a heathered gray top for visual interest.
  • Once you’ve got the basics, you can add a pop of color that suits your personal brand and office environment.

Product by Boss, shop here.

This knot-neckline piece from Boss is a great addition to punch up your wardrobe. The rich cobalt blue brings energy and excitement to any outfit. 

Pair it with a skirt and blazer while you’re on the clock. Then when you’re ready for an evening out, add a few sparkling accessories and a low heel.

3. Trouser

  • In the corporate world, trousers are the go-to practical yet sophisticated clothing choice.
  • Again, turn to core colors.
  • Cotton is the gold standard. It’s professional, classic, and breathable.
  • If you’re a New York CEO looking to upgrade your style, consider a wool pair of trousers in winter. These will keep those below-freezing days at bay while still looking stylish.
  • No gapping at the waistband and no pant legs dragging on the floor. 
  • Look for trousers that break at the top of your shoe or ankle.

Product by Liverpool, shop here.

For plus size women seeking out professional plus size trousers, Liverpool is a staple. This brand does a great job of providing chic and well-fitting bottoms for plus size clients.

Lately, we’ve been loving the wide-leg silhouette for all of our clients. It looks good on every body type and is on-trend without feeling “trendy”.

Wear it with a fitted top like a turtleneck and a classic leather loafer to complete your ensemble.

How to Build Outfits with Professional Plus Size Attire

So you know which pieces to buy for professional plus size attire. But how do you go about creating outfits with those pieces? 

The key is to follow the NLW style system. We use this system on all of our clients, regardless of their size, shape, career, or gender. The core ideas of this system are easy to follow and to adapt to anyone’s unique needs.

The three guidelines of this system are:

  1. Focus on core colors
  2. Invest in essentials
  3. Prioritize fit

1. Focus on Core Colors

One of the most common things we hear people complain about when it comes to their personal style is, “I have a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear!”

One of the main issues is that people don’t have enough unifying pieces that act as the foundation of a great outfit. Oftentimes, folks buy clothes without asking themselves, “What pieces do I have that go with this? Can I make at least five outfits with this item?”

Because of that, they end up with more “accent” pieces than “core pieces.” The key to fixing this is to invest mostly in core colors. Core colors are black, white, navy blue, and gray. 

  • We recommend having the majority of your closet in this palette because these colors go with everything. 
  • If most of your closet lives in this family, you’ll have more versatility and an easier time getting dressed in the morning.

2. Invest in Essentials

  • Another reason why you might have that “full closet, no outfits” feeling is not having the right pieces in your closet to begin with. 
  • You might have tons of the wrong clothes in your closet. For example, we see a lot of people who overbuy in black trousers. You only need one or two black trousers, not seven.
  • Having too many of the same basics can lead to outfit fatigue.
  • Other people overbuy blouses in a hundred different patterns and cuts. They think this will give them more options but it leaves you feeling overwhelmed and confused.
  • Invest in essentials. Buy the pieces you actually need for your lifestyle. When you go shopping, go in with a concise shopping list.
  • Don’t be afraid to spend a little extra on a piece you’ll get a lot of use out of. Finding one phenomenal, well-made black blazer is better than buying ten poorly-made, ill-fitting blazers.

3. Prioritize Fit

  • Prioritize fit. If something doesn’t fit and flatter your body, you are not going to want to wear it. 
  • Start working with a tailor to get the right fit. Most clothing will not fit you (whether you’re plus, petite, straight-size, or tall) straight off the rack. That’s where alterations come in. 
  • Fit can make or break your wardrobe, so it’s an investment worth making.

Looking for expert help dressing yourself in business professional attire for plus size women? check out our plus-size image consulting services. Team up with one of our style experts to revamp your closet and professional mindset.

About the Author - Cassandra Sethi
About the Author - Cassandra Sethi

Personal Stylist & Image Consultant

Cassandra Sethi is a Personal Stylist and Founder of Next Level Wardrobe, a luxury Personal Styling and Shopping Service that helps successful professionals of all ages and sizes. After working in the fashion industry for over 25 years, she used her expert knowledge to create a proprietary styling system called ‘The Next Level Wardrobe Style System' which guarantees clients more outfits with less items in their closet. NLW has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Tamron Hall Show, NY Mag, Huffington Post and more.

*Disclosure: Next Level Wardrobe only recommends products that we’d suggest to our clients or personally wear ourselves. All opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, Next Level Wardrobe may earn a small commission. Read the full privacy policy here.

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Cassandra Sethi

is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. She is the Founder of Next Level Wardrobe and 'The NLW Style System' that guarantees clients more outfits with less items.

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