I often get email requests for fatshion posts, and one of the most popular subjects seems to be workwear -- people need businessy attire that looks good, is affordable, and comes in a range of plus sizes. I understand this need. I WANT to help, I do. But every time I sit down to take a stab at it, I wind up with thirty browser tabs full of cat sweaters and dresses that a 1950s preteen would wear.
And if that wasn’t weird enough, the truth is even when I worked in a business environment in an office, I wore some strange stuff. For the interview for my last full-time office job (which was not a “creative” position, I assure you, but a standard desk-drone role), I wore an ankle-length goth girl skirt with massive industrial New Rock boots and a black blazer I’d studded myself. (Admittedly, this was in 2004 and I knew my interviewers already, but my point stands that I am a TERRIBLE person to give advice about dressing professionally.) (Ugh, why did I ever sell those boots?)
This is not that long-requested workwear post, and I’m sorry. I honestly don’t know if that post will ever manifest. Do you need an obsessive and exhaustive list of dresses to help you look like a bathroom wall or a giant breast or a girl gang? I’m here for you.
Workwear, I can’t be relied upon. I may lack the sensibility to do a workwear post. Or, um, the focus. HEY LOOK OVER THERE IT’S A DENIM PINAFORE!
You are gonna judge me. I feel your judgey eyes. But when I saw this denim pinafore on ASOS I freaked out and started doing all kinds of elaborate budget-math sorcery to bring it into my life. Fortunately my social life right now is limited to hanging out with apple trees and dusty antiques so our union was soon secured. (As an aside that will be of interest to some of you, ASOS Curve seems to have expanded their sizing to a US 24 in many items -- but keep in mind that their sizes run big, as I typically wear a US 26 and I have never had trouble fitting in Curve's US 22, so a 24 might fit you if you thought you were sized out before.)
I have a weird love for pinafores. “Pinafore” is in fact the British term for it -- when I was a kid we called it a “jumper” and that meant any dress designed to be worn with a shirt underneath, often cut wider at the top and/or sides for this purpose. (“Jumper” in British English refers to what we Americans call a “sweater,” and if you want to really confuse yourself trying wearing a jumper under your jumper. Hahahaha wait no one is laughing except me.)
Indeed, you find pinafores in British fashion more than American, probably because in the US this style is thought of as specifically child-oriented. Certainly not plus-sized-lady oriented. That’s a shame, because I think the whole apron-like skirted-overalls (skirtalls?) look is super cute and doesn’t have to come across like you’ve wandered away from an Elegant Gothic Lolita convention (not that there’s anything WRONG with that) any more than it has to look like you just finished mucking out the barn in your no-pants girl-overalls.
This is me in the aforementioned pinafore, making my cuteness argument in real life. Hi! I skipped the stripey top in the ASOS styling because -- I don’t know, that DOES read as a little juvenile to me, as a mature full-bodied 36 year old. Instead I wore a simple grey tee from Lane Bryant that I believe I originally bought in back in the 20th century.
As for the cardigan, I have a fat girl secret for y’all: all of my favorite big floppy long cardigans come from the dudes’ section at Urban Outfitters. Yes, I know, Urban Outfitters does not have plus sizes, and I won’t hypothesize why that is, but an XL in knitwear from the guys’ department fits my small-busted size 26 ass most agreeably.
There’s a reason why one of the more crucial fatshion tips is Always Try Stuff On, because you never know where pleasant surprises may be lurking. There are no rules! You destroy all rules!
The particular cardigan above has a black houndstooth intarsia pattern, and FUNCTIONAL POCKETS. MENS, WHY DO YOU GET THE USEFUL CLOTHING AND LADIES GET FAKEOUT PRETEND-POCKETS? This exact sweater is not on the site now, because I bought it a few years ago, but seriously if you, like me, are both adventurous and a confirmed walker of the cardigan path, keep an eye on Urban Outfitters further into the fall. (I always wait for sales because I’m cheap as hell, but I also think the men’s cardigans I’ve bought at UO over the years are all very nicely made.)
Oh, and that bag. It’s a giant plastic-coated-fabric bag by Cath Kidston, who does a floral like no one else, and I adore it even though it’s not lined and it has a random slab of loose plastic inside to shape the bottom. On the up side, it’s reasonably priced at $50. I had been carrying a cheap floral backpack I got at Target (no link, as it is sold out) because I’m into this whole 90s renaissance happening lately, but unsurprisingly for a $20 bag, one of the straps ripped while I was stuffing it with corn and tomatoes at the farmers market. I expect this will hold up better. (The boots, it goes without saying, are Dr Martens, as if I wear anything else on my feet ever.)
But maybe this look is still a little too childish for you, who wants to look dainty and cute but without wearing anything that includes a bib.
What’s more demure than a bow in the vicinity of your neck? BASICALLY NOTHING. You’re like a kitten! A grown up lady kitten with a bow around her neck! I’m really into navy right now and as usual I have no idea if that is a legitimate trend or something I’m making up in my head, but I really like navy as a softer, retro-ish alternative to steady old black, and this peter pan collar dress from eShakti is speaking to me something fierce.
I’m avoiding the crisp preppy nautical implications by wearing it with a lot of dusty greigey neutrals instead of the conventional reds or greens, and damn whoever said you shouldn’t wear navy with brown because I REALLY LIKE THEM TOGETHER. (Still on the fence about navy and black, though.) I also like to temper the tidiness of a prim dress with a big slouchy sweater, because I have this weird need to take things that are perfectly straightforward and mess them up.
For example, putting an oversized tweedy burgundy sweatercoat over a demure navy peter-pan-collared dress, so I can look like I escaped from some swanky New England boarding school in the 1960s.
Are neck bows still too cutesy for you? It’s pretty unusual that ModCloth would have a LESS twee option, but here we are.
Just because fall is on the way does not mean I have to forsake all florals until next May. I mean, I’ll wear obvious summer prints all winter (strategically layered so I don’t freeze to death, obvs) but I know this approach isn’t for everyone.
Modcloth’s dark daisy-printed option here is adorable and sweet without edging across the border into Giant Toddler Land. Throw an interesting cardigan over it and you’re warm AND cute, at the same time.
I really like pattern mixing so I’m into pairing it with this sequin-spotted cardigan from Old Navy. But, y’know, wear something more simple if you want. I’m just here to help.
Fall is easily my favorite time of year, fatshion-wise -- I love sweaters and scarves and boots more than anything (and yes, there will be another wide-calf boots roundup soon!) so I get REALLY EXCITED about getting dressed come September. Let me know what you’re looking forward to style-wise as the seasons change -- and if there’s anything in particular you want to hear about. Anything but workwear. (Sorry, again.)