Professional Dress for Plus-Size Women

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Work-appropriate clothing should help any woman look and feel powerful and professional. Sometimes it's difficult to find options that conform to corporate dress codes while still fitting the curves of a plus-size woman's body. But there's no need to feel locked into ill-fitting and unflattering looks. Plus-size professional women should carefully collect a wardrobe of separates and dresses that create a proportionate, feminine shape by focusing on cut, simplicity and fabric quality.

Nip It in the Waist

When dressing a plus-size or curvy body, it is important to create shape by accentuating the waist. High-waisted, wide-legged pants and high-waisted A-line skirts are classic workplace separates that define the waist while flattering the hips and thighs. Wrap dresses and belted shirtdresses also do a good job of creating an hourglass silhouette. Choose three-quarter or long-sleeve dresses with a modest V-neck to flatter your upper body and remain office-appropriate.

Cut It Close

Along the same lines, look for clothing that is cut close to the body, rather than boxy or oversized garments. Dresses that are cut diagonally or on the bias hug your waist and hips but are looser around your thighs, offering a fitted but forgiving cut. If you already have a defined hourglass figure, a pencil dress or shift dress in a heavy fabric is another way to accentuate curves without stretching them in skin-tight fabric. Opt for tops and blouses made of flowing, draped material such as silk jersey. These fabrics are flattering but don't create extra volume or look shapeless.

Blazing Trails

Blazers and jackets are essential elements of a plus-size professional woman's wardrobe. A well-tailored blazer that curves in at the waist and hits just below the hip is a simple way to slim your silhouette while looking covered-up and professional. Wear a blazer over a silk blouse tucked into high-waist pants or a pencil skirt for a fail-safe professional look. Avoid cropped jackets, as well as peplums, shoulder pads or other details that create volume on the upper body.

Keep It Simple

Avoid wearing more than one or two accessories or complicated details that create volume and draw extra attention, like pleats, frills or ruffles. In the same vein, avoid bold and bright patterns, particularly horizontal stripes, in favor of solid colors. Neutrals like black, white, beige, navy and gray work especially well for the office, but if you like color, offset a bright top with a muted tonal bottom or vice versa.