Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 Ways

by JeannetteP | September 27th, 2012   

When it comes to suiting, fit is essential. It doesn’t matter what size or shape your body is – if the suit doesn’t fit, it doesn’t look (or feel!) chic. So, it’s important to first be sure that you’ve either found the perfect fit off the rack or taken your suit to a tailor to be fitted. Once you’re sure your suit fits really well, what’s the best way to jazz it up? What’s the best way to wear it over and over again and not feel bored? In this post we’ll take one suit, and I’ll show you how to wear it 5 ways!

Screen Shot 2012 09 21 at 11.17.28 AM Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 WaysFirst thing’s first – where does one find a suit that will last? I personally love suits by Tahari and suits at Talbots. In this example, we will use a suit by Tahari that is currently available in plus size at Lord & Taylor.

This suit is a phenomenal option and a strong investment piece for the following reasons:

  • It’s got a single-button at the waist that will give you an hourglass shape
  • Because it’s not got a lot of embellishment or buttons, it’s got a really clean look
  • It can be styled many, many different ways
  • The pieces can be used as separates and paired with other suits easily
  • The lapel is notched but very clean and simple

The point of a suit that will be worn repeatedly is that it have great bones. That’s what this suit has, and I recommend that if you’re going into suit territory for the first time that you start out with something classic and simple like this and then use options like the ones I’ll be talking about below to jazz it up. This is also a particularly great option because … it’s on sale. About 50% off!

Other things to keep in mind about suits:

  • Classic Suit Colors include: Black, Navy and Gray
  • Look for high-quality wool – it’s supposed to keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
  • It’s best to stay away from polyester suits or polyester-blend suits
  • You might look for a wool blend with spandex (but not too much!)
  • I hate the double-breasted suit. But that’s just a personal preference! It’s definitely harder to pull off, so I would avoid them if this is your first foray into suit land.
  • It’s also great to find a suit that comes with options: pants and a skirt all in the same material as the blazer
  • Flat-front pants. End of story. You can go pleated pant, but please be sure the front is flat-front if you want a suit that will stand the test of time!
  • If you’re looking to elongate the leg (read: this is for my short ladies!), then stay away from a cuffed pant leg.

Screen Shot 2012 09 21 at 11.32.20 AM Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 Ways

1. The Fun Blouse

Obviously, because this is TheWorkingWardrobe, the first thing you’re looking for is how to wear your suit to the office. Easy! Pick a fun blouse to go under the blazer.

There are lots of different options for “fun” blouses out there. I like to go with something printed every now and then because that’s even more fun than just a pop of color! Pieces printed with chains are in-style at the moment, but I’m really appreciating Talbots’ take on the trend – they’ve gone equestrian.

This pattern also comes in a rich brown silk version, and Talbots has some other fun prints as well in paisley and floral. Another great option might be a pinstriped button down. My favorites are by Ralph Lauren – they’ve got great stretch to them, they last a long time, and they’re easy to dress down when you’re not wearing them with your suit!

Of course, a bright solid is also a great option, as well as a blouse with a pussy bow at the neck, or blouses with pintucking or ruffles. There are all kinds of fun blouses that you can choose from out there to dress up your suit and give it some excitement. Just be sure that the blouse will comfortably fit underneath the blazer.

2. The Expressive Brooch

Depending on how conservative your office is, you might be able to get really wild with the accessories you add to your suit. I love a fun brooch or lapel pin – they’re what I call your LAM piece (LAM=”Look At Me!”). If you’re going to a business networking event or if you’re at a large business meeting with lots of people from other agencies or at a client meeting that will have a lot of people attending and you want to stand out, then a LAM is the perfect way to do that. Here are a few options that I found after a quick search on Etsy:

Brooches01 Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 Ways

I love these options because they’re not your typical flower brooch options. Here’s where you can get them:

1 – Sterling Silver Winged Horse Brooch Pin
2 –  Large Parrot Beaded Brooch
3 –  Small Branch Brooch with Felt Berries
4 –  Large Petralux Stone Brooch with Rhinestones
5 –  Mod Dove Birch Brooch

Brooches02 Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 Ways

Just in case you want to go with a flower brooch, I thought I’d include these, too!

1 – White Lily Flower Brooch
2 – Lady Viridis Brooch
3 –  Turquoise Water Lily Felted Flower Brooch
4 –  Sunflower Recycled Zipper Brooch

3. Mix It Up

Just because your suit came together doesn’t mean you have to wear it together, of course. Why not try the pants with a colored shell and a cardigan in a different bright? This can add some serious color to your ensemble, while still maintaing the classic professional look. So, you have pants or skirt from your suit and a shell and cardigan on top with simple jewelry at the neck. Try this shell and cardigan on for size:

CardiShell Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 Ways

The cardigan is by Jones New York and is done in a luxe cashmere. The shell is also by Jones New York, and it’s also done in cashmere. Jones New York is always a great go-to for a classic look. In warmer months, you can try this look with just the shell under your blazer, too.

4. Do a Switcheroo

Another easy change is to switch out the bottom of your suit. If you have loads of suits in your closet, this is easy, but if you don’t, try another really nicely-made skirt on with an oxford shirt and the blazer from your original suit. Use good judgment when you’re trying for a skirt that has some pattern to it. Keep the print conservative and small if you work somewhere particularly conservative. This slim skirt is super modern, but it’s got interesting color strokes in the pattern, and it’s also got faux leather piping to give it a little bit of edge.

Screen Shot 2012 09 24 at 11.10.35 AM Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 Ways

You also, of course, have the option of wearing the blazer with a dress. An a-line dress, like this two tone dress by Calvin Klein below, is an excellent option. Screen Shot 2012 09 24 at 11.18.43 AM Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 Ways

5. The Weekend Look

Just because you wear a suit over and over again at the office doesn’t mean it can’t get some wear on the weekends. Especially if you’re going for a layered look – that blazer is so good for a throw on and go look if you’re going out to brunch or to run errands. Here’s a personal fave look of mine: blazer + button down in denim/chambray + maxi skirt + flats.

Screen Shot 2012 09 24 at 11.25.06 AM Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 Ways

There are lots of options out there for chambray and denim button downs at the moment, so be sure to search out one that fits you well in lieu of one that just sort of fits. This is a piece you can use to layer again and again, so fit is key! It just so happens that Old Navy’s Camp Shirts fit me very well, and I love to use them when layering.

There are tons of maxi skirts out there on the market these days. I saw a sequin one in plus size by Calvin Klein last year, and even though I haven’t seen one re-appear on the market this year, I’m sure one will show up in time for holiday, so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime, there’s always EBay! I found this sequin maxi skirt by Talbots in a 14 XL.

 Plus Size Work Wear: 1 Plus Size Suit Worn 5 Ways

Some people won’t want to rock a sequin maxi on the weekends, and there are plenty of other options in simpler fabrics. I love to mix sequins with toned down pieces on the weekend. It lets you get more wear out of your work wear suits and out of your evening wear sequins, and everyone will wonder where you’re going.

What new ways are you wearing your suits?


@impeccableimage Thanks so much! @nettaP writes our plus-size posts. She's amazing!


@theworkwardrobe @nettaP Keep up the good work! :) #plussize