Plus Size Work Wear: 5 Wardrobe Updates for Fall

by JeannetteP | August 20th, 2012   

Hi TheWorkingWardrobe Readers!

I’d like to quickly introduce myself before I tell you what I’m up to for fall, since I’m new around these parts! My name is Jeannette, and I love to write about plus size fashion, inclusive fashion (that is: clothing that is available in a wide variety of sizes and includes everyone). The lovely Rachel has invited me to regularly share tips with you all on pieces for your wardrobe that come in plus sizes or inclusive sizes, and I can’t wait to chat with you all! Also, you can find me on my fashion and fitness blog or on Twitter at @nettaP. Okay – on with the fall wardrobe update!

I’ve noticed lately that the nighttime temperatures around Brooklyn are starting to hint that fall is well on its way. That means it is time for get the ol’ wardrobe ready for the inevitable – gusty winds, cooler temperatures and unneeded air conditioning! It can be tricky to figure out what to wear to work during this time of year, particularly if you haven’t prepared your wardrobe. When you leave for work in the morning, it can feel wildly different outside than it will when you go out for lunch or come home in the evening. Office air conditioning can still be set to “freezing,” and you could literally be left in the cold if you’re not set up. So, there are five essentials that I recommend everyone add to their wardrobe to be ready in case you’re cold one minute and warm the next.

1. The Scarf.

A scarf, or a set of scarves, is the number one essential for fall. You can try scarves made of different materials, of different lengths, in different colors, and with different looks. It’s easy to add a scarf to a look that you already wear to work regularly. Scarves can not only update your look, but it’s an easy piece to remove and stuff away (or fashionably tie to a handbag handle) in case you don’t need it at any point. Here are three options that I’m thinking of adding to my wardrobe:

Scarves Plus Size Work Wear: 5 Wardrobe Updates for Fall

[Tory Burch Kipp Logo Scarf] [Echo Colorful Cheetah Square Scarf] [Echo Lightweight Wool Colorblock]

The Tory Burch scarf is a great one for those that have to wear or choose to wear suits to work. It’s a pop of color that you can tie around your neck in a festive way while still looking conservative and professional. The Echo Colorful Cheetah scarf is one that would work well in a more casual work environment. It’s a fun print in addition to adding a pop of color, and it’s also available in more neutral brown and beige shades. The Echo Lightweight Wool Colorblock scarf is an excellent option to have stashed at work and to wrap up in, in case of an “over air conditioned conference room emergency”! It also comes in a wide variety of color blocked options; but I love the orange, yellow and beige for fall. Excellent fall colors – getting ready for the changing leaves!

Nordstrom also has a great video that features four types of scarves that you can wear 16 different ways. Four types of scarves you might ask? Yes – squares, oblongs, wraps and sarongs!

2. The Boot.

Boots can be tricky for a lot of ladies because when they go past the ankle and start to get into the calf territory, one often finds that the width of the boot is too small or too large. The solution? Order a pair of boots that are meant for the measured size of your calf! I’ve become an expert on wide calf boot options out there in the universe. If you have a Naturalizer store near you, they do offer a wide calf boot option, but some folks have found that the boots aren’t quite wide enough for them. If you’ve got a smaller calf and find that boots flap around, again I recommend that you go with a custom width option. Now, where do you get these custom-sized calf boots? Enter … DUO Boots!

duoboots Plus Size Work Wear: 5 Wardrobe Updates for Fall

[Lazare Boot] [Beaumont Boot] [Amora Boot] [Lydie Boot] [Belice Boot] [Florence Boot]

Oh, DUO Boots. How I have coveted items in your store! These are boots that are an investment, but they are boots that you will love and cherish, wear over and over again, resole, and move to different heights in your career while wearing! You should measure your calf when you’re preparing to buy these boots. Tell DUO Boots your exact calf measurement, and your boots will fit like a dream! If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, take a look at what Simply Be has to offer.

Let’s talk a little bit about how to wear boots when transitioning to fall. These are great with dresses that might be a bit more summery. Maybe a sheath dress that you have in your closet? And then, adding a cardigan that you’ve belted to the outfit will really top it off and make it perfect for that transitional weather.

3. The Cardigan.

What kind of cardigans should you be adding in to transition into fall? I like to have a plain, solid-colored cardigan option, and then I also like to have an option or two that have some other details like ruffles or rosettes. I found some really nice options at a couple of different retailers.

Cardigans Plus Size Work Wear: 5 Wardrobe Updates for Fall

[Lauren by Ralph Lauren Rossoda Long-Sleeve Cardigan] [Lane Bryant Long Sleeve Cardigan] [Dorothy Perkins Animal Print Cardigan]

The first black cardigan with suede detailing at the shoulder is a cardigan that can go with a wide variety of looks and outfits. I’m always an advocate of switching out whatever belt comes with a cardigan just to give it a more structured, well put-together look. There are lots of belts available in plus size here at Torrid, at ASOS Curve, and at Target.

The pumpkin colored cardigan also comes in yellow, black, grey, blue, fuchsia, and beige. And the leopard print cardigan from Dorothy Perkins is great to add onto an outfit that’s otherwise pretty plain in style. If you want to take on mixing prints, I might save it for a weekend instead of the office, unless you work somewhere that’s got a relaxed atmosphere or you work for yourself (like I do!). I love to mix patterns, but it can be a challenge when you have a pattern as bold as this one.

4. The Legging.

Leggings get a lot of flack, particularly for the office. Yes, I understand that most people either love or hate them. I’m definitely in the lover camp. Layering them on top of long johns in the winter is my favorite way to make dresses keep working for me right through the snow. I love them under long tunics and tucked into boots, and I think they make a great addition to a transitioning wardrobe. Yes, even for work. The key is – they have to be well-made, high quality leggings. Oftentimes this means spending a bit more on a pair of leggings than might feel logical. You can’t wear leggings over and over again and expect them to stand up to repeated washings and boot-wear unless the material your leggings are made out of is durable.

Leggings Plus Size Work Wear: 5 Wardrobe Updates for Fall

[Eileen Fisher Stirrup Pants] [Lyssé Ankle Leggings] [Miraclebody by Miraclesuit Ponte Leggings]

None of these are cheap leggings. And, I have to say, you can sometimes find high quality leggings for a much lower price, but you have to be sure to try them on, touch the fabric and really think about whether or not the material is going to stand the test of time. I love the Eileen Fisher leggings with the stirrups because they’ll easily stay inside of boots with that handy dandy stirrup. $178 is certainly a lot of money to drop on a pair of leggings, however, and I’ve got a comparable pair of leggings from Forever21. Yes, that Forever21. I would NOT recommend buying a pair from them online without stopping into the store to check out the material they’re made out of.

The Lyssé Ankle Leggings are lined, and they’ve got a wide waistband. They’re $64, again, still pretty pricey for leggings. But if you think about them like a pair of pants, that’s not an unreasonable price in my mind. The ponte leggings from Miraclebody are made out of ponte fabric, and they’re also a great option. The ultimate test for a pair of leggings? Put them on with no top, bend over in front of a mirror and check your rear. I know, that sounds ridiculous, but unless you have someone you’re comfortable with doing the bend test with who can tell you whether or not your leggings are see-through when you bend, then it’ll be just you, your mirror, and a bright overhead light. Better safe than sheer and sorry!

5. The tights.

Tights can do a lot of what leggings do for you, but they can be a little bit more lightweight than leggings are. They’re great to layer underneath leggings, as well, and they’ll also work with heels and flats, which leggings don’t work with as well.

Tights Plus Size Work Wear: 5 Wardrobe Updates for Fall

[ASSETS by Sara Blakely Reversible Shaping Tights] [Land's End Women's Rib Tights] [Nylon Lycra Tights]

Assets by Sara Blakely has these reversible, opaque shaping tights that you can wear on the black side or the grey side. I found these at Bare Plus aka Bare Necessities, where you can find all sorts of hosiery and intimate wear accessories in both plus size and smaller sizes. The ribbed tights are from Land’s End, and I love a ribbed tight because it feels like you’re wearing sweaters on your legs! And you may be wondering why I’ve featured a pair of purple tights. Well, We Love Colors is an excellent source for plus size tights of any color and made any sort of way at an affordable price, but they don’t have a model wearing their nylon lycra tights in a more conservative color. I’m not recommending you wear purple tights to work, but I am recommending that you check out We Love Colors and see what they have to offer that might work for you that’s a little more appropriate.

Phew! And that’s it! We’ve been through all the items I recommend to add to your wardrobe to transition into fall from summer. Are you going to pick any of these items up? Are you on the hunt for anything in particular? Maybe in plus size? Let me help you find it!


@Candace_Lamb Wow thanks for all the RT's this AM! You made our day! :)


@theworkwardrobe No problem! I love the information you guys provide!