Big Business Wear

 She couldn't find anything at the mall that fit her either.

She couldn't find anything at the mall that fit her either.

Note: This post originally appeared on

It's no secret that clothing options are limited for women who wear size 14 and over. But you don't have to let that keep you from looking your most professional and fashionable at the office. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a meeting wearing something that isn't quite right for the occasion, simply because it was the only thing in the closet that fit. I've been there myself, so learn from my mistakes and save yourselves.

Think you're above fashion? Wearing stylish, appropriate, well-fitting clothes to the office projects an air of intelligence and competence. Don't believe me? Remember the last person you saw with a muffin top caused by too-tight pants, or a beaded sweater better suited to a holiday party than the workplace? You probably wondered what they'd been thinking leaving the house dressed like that. If you're not confident in their ability to dress themselves, why would you entrust them with an important task?

For suit wearers, the solution is fairly straightforward. Buy suits in your size, don't forget to have them tailored to fit you impeccably, and your closet is full of outfits you can throw on during your morning routine.

But if your dress code fits into the wilderness between business casual and full-on corporate, things get a little more complicated. It's hard enough to find clothes that fit your company's sartorial niche. Finding them in plus sizes can be almost impossible. A trip to the mall is likely to leave you tired, cranky and in possession of approximately one-third of the garments you had hoped to buy. 

Shopping in catalogs or online improves your chances of finding the perfect work outfit, but does take some effort. I can hear you complaining about the shipping and handling costs, but you'd probably spend the same amount of money at Cinnabon after four hours of shopping that have left you with precisely one top. The savings in time and frustration alone are worth a few postage charges.

Since you'll be buying clothes without having tried them on, it's a bit of a gamble, but most retailers accept returns. Once you've figured out what size you take at each online store, you'll be able to order with confidence. Even then, you'll still probably need a trip to the tailor, but you should be doing that with mall-bought outfits too. Yes, it's cheaper to wear hems that dowdily hit you at the top of the calf rather than at the knee, but you'll look so much more put together once you have them fixed.

Follow fatshion blogs to find out about sale codes and retailers that you may not have heard of. For inspiration on what separates to get and how to put them all together, take a look at the fatshionista group, which displays photos of plus sized women wearing their latest fabulous outfit, many of them office appropriate.

No, it isn't fair that your thinner co-workers can build a work wardrobe with hardly any money, time or effort. But you can do it too, with much less aggravation than you expect.