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Poised, Polished, Professional and Plus Size: Plus Size Wear to Work Tips

We share a few plus size fashion tips on the attire or what to wear in a professional or business casual office setting, as a plus size woman!

Before we begin, I must stress:

Dressing professionally does not equal dressing dowdy.

 I have quite a few questions asked to mean about what to wear to the office, being professional, what constitutes as being clothes for work and how to still be stylish while adhering to whatever dress code you have- all while being plus sized.

Please pardon the long post today! It’s chock full of info! Besides before I delve into the designers and retailers, I feel it’s best to lay the foundations… yes?
SO, to answer this question, I have decided to break this down into a mini series of tips and tricks (it is a vast and varied topic!) – as well as address certain looks/occasions and how/where to get them! Before we get into what to have in your closet, let us chat a bit about a few basics that cross a variety of industries AND situations that could affect just what your career and wardrobe!

Why the Dress codes?
It can be a bit frustrating and/or daunting, but understand that these guidelines were put in place not to “hinder you” but to create an environment to project an image to clients, potential clients, the brand’s image, and not to distract from your company’s business atmosphere!

But then where does that leave you?I too, had issues when I moved into executive roles- having to dress more “professional” without losing my identity or style aesthetic. Trust me, it can be achieved!

Poised, Polished, and Professional

Some of you reading may ask why does this matter, why am I addressing this? Well, we live in quite a visual society and oftentimes how you dress can affect your job one way or another! In the office more so if you are looking to advance! Don’t believe me? In a survey, 41 percent of employers said that people who dress better or more professionally tend to be promoted more often than others in their organization!

In addition to this, according to the survey, dressing professionally is more important in some industries than it is in others. Financial services is one industry that places the most emphasis on professional work attire. Fifty-five percent of workers in this sector say well-dressed employees are more likely to be promoted than others.

An additional 51 percent of sales representatives say the same thing about the likelihood of promotions in their industry. On the opposite end of the spectrum, only 33 percent of manufacturing employers and 37 percent of IT employers say that professional attire influences whether or not an employee gets promoted.

I must add this: While I NOW work at home, I have been a manager, lead, supervisor for a variety of places, whose dress codes can quickly vary within the same company dependant on your role you have! I hated having to send people home from work because they looked like they were going to the club, or I could almost see their goods… YES. Their goodies. I keep a few professional pieces in my closet for those special meetings and events- you just never know!

Tips for Being Plus Sized in the Workplace

The Business, Business Casual, or the Creative workplaces (I will go into more detail with this at a later time) all have some guideline or another. These are generalities, but general practices for most workplaces! But below are a few tips when in the workplace that will help you navigate through those waters:


  • Being blessed up top as a plus sized woman can be a tricky thing. Even a conservative cut can still draw attention to your bosom, but there a few tips here:
  • Limit the amount of cleavage you show. If your top doubles as a top you would wear out with the girls, this may not be the right top for you
  • If you raise your arms and your midriff shows, either rock a camisole, change the size, or opt for another blouse
  • If your blouse gapes at the center (from the button ups), if you find yourself tugging at it even before you leave the home, it would be best to change your blouse so it does not distract your others


  • Such a tricky thing here. But in order to keep it professional, fit is key here!
  • If your pants double as leggings, they are too tight for the workplace. Your business or professional slacks should graze your curves, not expose them.
  • Make sure that your pants are pressed, ironed, or whichever you like to call it, you be surprised how much a polished look changes your mood!
  • NO VPL. You know visible panty line!

Skirts and Dresses:

  • I smile as I write this, because my days working for a major department store, this was always a place where us women pushed the boundaries!
  • Length, your dress or skirt should always be at least to your fingertips’. If you take a wide or long step, I should not be able to see your mother’s name, address, and phone number…
  • Your dress or skirt should not be so tight that walking from one side of the room to another turns your skirt into a top (YES, I have seen this!)


Depending on where you work, most places have opted for a closed toe shoe policy. And some even drill down that if your shoes are flat, they cannot be sling backs (workplace injuries of the past I am sure). Whichever you choose, your shoes should be comfortable! (or at least keep a great catch all comfy pair at your desk) like I did!


This is always a tricky one that this Cali girl had to get used to… Growing up in church, I grew a slight disdain to wearing tights and hosiery. Also in 90+ heat, who in the hell wears tights? BUT, in the professional workplace, especially while I was an executive, I was always encouraged to wear tights and never go “bare-legged” as my old supervisor used to say. In this place, consult and observe your colleagues to see how they approach this. Thank god for innovations in hosiery- you can rock tights that are fun AND appropriate!

If you are on the fence about your look, change it! But for more clarity, ask your supervisor or your Human Resources staff.
What Items do you find the hardest to find when dressing for the workplace? 

**All Items show here are from Eloquii!**

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Written By

I am the Editor in Chic of The Curvy Fashionista. Often goofy. Forever emo. Always a Virgo. You can find me somewhere grooving to 90s R&B.



  1. Bootzey

    January 30, 2012 at 8:45 am

    I hate hose. But to keep professional, I wear longer hemlines and tall boots.

  2. MizLiz form BBWGeneration

    January 30, 2012 at 9:02 am

    Great advice.  Can I ask if you would do a review of the PERFECT shoe for these outfits?  I’m a tiny little 5’0 and if I don’t wear heels it will look AWEFUL.
    Finding heels that fit well with minimal pain at an AFFORDABLE price has been a task!
    My feet are as round as I am and wear between 6 1/2W to a 7 1/2W or 8 Regular.

    • Shawna White Kraft

      January 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

      A rounded toe 3 inch heel (or less) Mary Jane would be perfect for most professional outfits. My co worker and I are shoe fetishists and thats what we rock most of the time. Something like this: or even a little more pizazz in a patent leather like this:

    • Marie Denee

      January 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      I will i will! Promise!!! 

  3. Shawna White Kraft

    January 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I love this. Having NOT been a plus size girl before kids and now a plus size girl after kids as well as being thrown back into the professional workforce I had to find pieces really quick that would double as “Professional” and comfortable. Marie, maybe on a follow-up post you could expand upon wardrobe essentials for the workplace. Like 1 pencil skirt (knee length) and 2 pairs of black slacks and 3 Button up collard shirts in fun but minimal colors. So on and so forth to get a basic 2 weeks worth of outfits to start off with. 🙂 Lots of love!

    • Marie Denee

      January 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

      Shawna!!! We go waaaayyyyy back love! LOL I know exactly what you mean! I will be doing more on this series stay tuned!

  4. Glig22

    January 30, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Tops are impossible! I don’t want to look i squeezed in the top, but i don’t want it to big. I can never find pieces that fit me right.

  5. Jessiree

    January 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    I’m young (24) and curvy honey, like a chello (lol). My manager (whom I admire) asks that I dress more professional. The office is business casual. Like a mini her, but I don’t want to look matronly. I still want to be stylish, young, AND professional. Where should I start? She also suggested that I incorporate strong support garments into my wardrobe (in hopes of controlling my backside jiggle and keep some of the men from bothering me unnecessarily.)  Help!

    • Mrs. Jaye

      February 3, 2012 at 7:32 pm

      Spanx has a less expensive line of support garments that I’m totally falling in love with! They’re called Assets. For professional wear, Eloquii is a newbie, but awesome line!

      • Jessiree

        February 10, 2012 at 11:07 am

        Thanks! I’ll give it a look

      • Marie Denee

        February 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

        Thank you Miss Jaye! You rock for sharing 

    • Marie Denee

      February 11, 2012 at 10:56 am

      Hi @a13dbfa1266e68714b7e0cf5a98aac26:disqus I have recapped the essentials you should start with for your professional closet! Please take a look here:   Afterwards, if there is anything else you are looking for, please do not hesitate to reach out! 

  6. Angela Bright

    January 31, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Loved this article! I actually love dressing professionally because I had to work very hard to get where I am. Every time I put on a professional outfit I’m reminded I no longer work retail. Eloquii has completely changed my whole wardrobe. I really love their outfits and ideas.

    I’ll definitely refer to this.

    • Marie Denee

      February 11, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Yeahhh, @twitter-5835692:disqus did you find the latest post about the essentials?   

  7. Stephanie

    January 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Pantyhose tends to be a one-use item – they rip so easily! I wear Just my Size – any tips on other brands??

    • Marie Denee

      February 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm

      Ooohhh I am working on this! Say tuned!!! 

  8. Pingback: Link Love: The Curvy Fashionista on Corporate Looks - Curvy CEO | Curvy CEO

  9. Kristin McGuire

    March 9, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I find I have problems in the cleavage department. It is not my intent to have the girls on disply or peekeing, but it seems most tops are scoop neck or square or v…And with size K boobs, nothing hides them besides a mock turtle neck I suppose…

  10. Nouman Uz Zama

    April 3, 2013 at 6:42 am

    I agree with you dressing professionally is does not equal to wear normal outfit. You have to look good at work in your work wear outfit. These tips are really helpful for every working women. Thank you.

  11. Adri

    January 13, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Like I am so frustrated. I want to be cute and fashionable in the office but it is sooooooo painfully expensive. Any tips you guys??

  12. Pingback: Office Looks for Curvy and Plus-Size Women | Now I ain't saying she a GoalDigger

  13. Rose

    January 25, 2018 at 12:35 am

    Any suggestions on slacks or office pants and blazers for an apple shaped, plus sized woman? I have struggled for so long trying to find the right clothing! I often have to settle for clothing items that are too loose in one place and tight in another because otherwise I won’t have anything to wear *sigh*

  14. Lisa Kerr

    February 14, 2018 at 12:48 am

    Thanks , Great Post.

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