By Jamé Jackson
If you’re a “curvier” girl, you’ve probably struggled with work clothes that just won’t cooperate with your body. Trust me, I know the feeling—and so do plenty of other ladies. “I think curvy women run into the problem of fit, especially within corporate America, where there are dress codes that you have to follow,” says Ashley Dunn, a Houston-based influencer and stylist. “Unfortunately, it can be tough for curvy girls to find outfits that make them feel confident. If I’m going shopping for work clothes and all the dresses, skirts, and pants are fitted tightly without give, I’m left with just the options in front of me.”
That’s a frustrating position to be in. But don’t give up, young whippersnapper! Ed’s friends are here to teach you how to put together an insanely polished and professional wardrobe that’s perfect for the workplace.
Determine what truly works for you.
First, you’ve got to figure out which styles are most flattering on your body—this will likely require some trial and error, but you’ll get there! “It took a lot of shopping and style phases, but I can confidently say I now know what works for me and what doesn’t because of that experience,” says Maricia Josephs, founder of MusingsofKrav.
Then, figure out which companies fit your aesthetic and offer clothing in those styles. While some retailers don’t seem to understand that not everyone is a size six or below, many are starting to get on board. “What’s so great is that these brands cater to curvier figures in an inclusive way, because they realize your curves shouldn’t exclude you from wearing cool, fun, and interesting pieces,” says Josephs. Not sure where to start? Target, H&M, Zara, Topshop, and ASOS all get rave reviews from our experts. And don’t forget about your local vintage shop!
Try before you buy.
It’s important to test out any potential office clothing to make sure that you can sit, walk, and bend over in it without any slip-ups. “When things bunch up, that usually means the fit is wrong,” says Josephs. “A major problem busty women—myself included—have is button-down shirts that always gape open. Even if you like the item, it’s always best to find something that you can comfortably wear.”
Take it to the tailor.
When you think about tailors, you may picture tuxedos and ballgowns or something exclusively for those with more money. But in actuality, a great tailor may just be your secret weapon. “When I’m shopping, I go up a few sizes in pants, skirts, and dresses and take the pieces to my tailor to get them fitted for me,” says Dunn. “This has proven to be my most effective solution.”
Always be ready for an emergency.
You never know when something might tear, so you may want to keep an extra pair of pants and a long robe or kimono at the office, just in case. “If something were to rip, you can always slip the robe on for a glam moment and no one would notice a thing,” Dunn says.
Jamé Jackson is a freelance fashion and beauty columnist and writer based in NYC. She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheBlondeMisfit.com, a site geared for women of color in the fashion and beauty industry. To keep up with her love for color, blonde obsessions, and random beauty antidotes, check her out online at Theblondemisfit.com and follow her on Instagram at TheBlondemisfit.