Which plus-size business casual attire is best?
Business casual attire strikes a balance between professional and comfortable, making it a popular dress code for many offices. If you’re ready to invest in a few business casual pieces, begin by adding basics to your work wardrobe.
Business casual basics include blazers, dress slacks and blouses. While comfortable, many of these pieces are structured or have clean, crisp lines. If you’re looking for a versatile staple, our top choice, Lands’ End Plus-Size Sport Jacquard Blazer, comes in two neutral patterns that coordinate easily with other business casual basics.
What to know before you buy plus-size business casual attire
What is business casual attire?
Business casual attire includes comfortable yet professional basics, such as blazers, sweaters, slacks and skirts. Tops that fall into this category include blouses, collar shirts or knit tops. These pieces usually are paired with clean, simple footwear such as low-heeled shoes, flats or boots. There’s some flexibility when it comes to jewelry, although it mostly includes classic pieces with a modern spin, like pearl studs, small hoops or simple necklaces.
Machine washable vs. dry clean only
Before you purchase a piece of business casual clothing, decide how invested you are in taking care of it. While a lined wool blazer is an elegant essential, it’s one of many pieces that are dry clean only. As a result, you’ll have the ongoing cost of getting it professionally cleaned.
There are countless options for easy-care, machine-washable clothing. Many polyester blouses and slacks, for example, are line dry. Some of them are wrinkle-resistant, so you won’t need to spend time ironing or steaming them.
When you buy clothing off the rack, there’s a good chance you may need to tweak it for an ideal, custom fit. Getting clothing altered isn’t the cheapest service, but it makes a world of difference in the fit of certain pieces. For example, a tailored blazer fits better around the shoulders and small of the back. Taking up the hemline of longer pants prevents them from dragging on the floor.
What to look for in quality plus-size business casual attire
Plus-size business casual attire is available in sizes 14 and bigger, as well as sizes 3X and bigger.
Many women find a better fit with number sizing when it comes to slacks and skirts. Additionally, several bottoms following number sizing are available in different inseam lengths. Only some high-end blazers and tops are available in number sizing.
Other garments use progressive sizing, such as 3X. Fit is often hit or miss with these pieces, especially for wearers who are between sizes. Other wearers note it’s common to experience size discrepancies across brands that use progressive sizing.
Business casual attire usually is made with quality materials that retain a “new” look wear after wear. Several affordable pieces are made with polyester and stretch materials such as spandex, Lycra or nylon. Not only are these fade- and shrink-resistant, many of these garments are less likely to wrinkle.
More expensive pieces are made with premium materials such as wool, cashmere, silk or lace. These materials look and feel luxurious, and there’s a noticeable quality difference between them and cheap imitations. They withstand the test of time better than pieces made with more affordable materials.
Well-made business casual pieces such as blazers and skirts usually are lined with thin, lightweight materials including silk, satin or polyester. Linings create a neat, smooth foundation behind heavier shell materials. Additionally, they make garments easier to slip on and take off, including over base layers like blouses or hosiery.
Colors and prints
When choosing business casual attire, you may feel torn between solid colors and prints. There’s no need to stress over which is better to buy; instead, choose solids and prints that coordinate well. Many professionals invest in a few solid pieces, such as a navy blazer or black slacks, that are easy to match with printed tops.
How much you can expect to spend on plus-size business casual attire
There are several plus-size business casual staples, such as slacks and blouses, that cost $25 or less. Pieces that are made and cut better run between $30 and $80. High-quality blazers and slacks made with premium materials may run as high as $100-$300.
Plus-size business casual attire FAQ
Do you need a blazer, or can you wear sweaters?
A. Many professionals wear sweaters instead of blazers, provided they fit well. Simple sweaters are recommended, although there are many striped, argyle and floral styles that are considered acceptable. You can dress up sweaters with brooches or skinny belts.
What type of bag should you match to a business casual outfit?
A. Structured totes remain a top choice for their simple, practical designs. Their clean, crisp lines also complement outfits as opposed to overpowering them. However, if you’re looking for something smaller, a classic top-handle or frame bag is ideal.
What’s the best plus-size business casual attire to buy?
Top plus-size business casual attire
What you need to know: A versatile investment popular for capsule wardrobes, this single-button blazer has a neutral pattern that coordinates well with basic colors.
What you’ll love: The blazer is made with a flexible blend of cotton, polyester and spandex. Its notch-collar lapel gives the design symmetry and structure. It accentuates the waist and coordinates well with most skirts and slacks.
What you should consider: The blazer isn’t lined, and it doesn’t have the high-end feel of other options.
Where to buy: Sold by Kohl’s.
Top plus-size business casual attire for the money
What you need to know: A well-cut design available in many sizes, this pair of pants has a flexible waistband that doesn’t dig into sides.
What you’ll love: The pants have clean, crisp lines with pleats and smooth pockets. It’s easy to find a tailored hemline look since they’re available in regular, petite and long sizes 16 to 30. The belt loops are wide enough to accommodate most belts.
What you should consider: A few wearers felt the pants didn’t have a flattering cut and appeared “boxy” around the seat.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Easily an all-season business casual top, this flowy option with short sleeves and a scoop neck coordinates well with blazers and sweaters.
What you’ll love: The flowy dolman sleeves add movement to the top and won’t feel bunched inside blazers or sweaters. It has a semi-sheer, lightweight shell with an opaque lining. The machine-washable design is wrinkle-resistant.
What you should consider: The top is somewhat short, making it difficult to tuck inside many skirts or pants.
Where to buy: Sold by Kohl’s.
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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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