The women featured below are actresses, models, musicians and writers who don't fall within the straight-size range. They've proven to the world that style (and success) has no size limit. Read on to learn more and get inspired by these beloved plus-size fashion icons.
The British songstress is known for her retro fashion sensibilities. She favors fully feminine frocks with defined waists and full coverage on top. Adele is a great example of knowing what works and sticking with it. Her savvy style sense has landed her features in Glamour and Vogue.
#2 Denise Bidot
Denise Bidot is a body positive fashion model, influencer, and fitness enthusiast. You can catch her on Instagram doing yoga and HIIT workouts. She's also known for showing off the stretch marks from time to time. Her personal style is edgy, youthful, and sexy. Bidot is living proof you don't have to be twenty-one or a size 2 to be any of those things.
#3 Danielle Brooks
The Julliard-trained actress is best know for her role as "Taystee" on Netflix's Orange is the New Black. Brooks has gone through a quiet style evolution since she first hit the red carpet scene back in 2011. Her fashion sense even got her a collaboration deal with Universal Standard. Her current style involves bold colors, patterns, and body-con silhouettes. Brooks favors deep v-necks and empire waists.
#4 Lauren Chan
Chan is a plus-size model turned mogul. She's launching her highly anticipated fashion line, Henning, later this year. As a former fashion editor for Glamour, there's no doubt she'll kill it.
#5 Beth Ditto
The self-described "fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas" hit the Hollywood scene in the early aughts and never left. She rose to fame as the powerhouse front-woman for the band Gossip. She also began a solo singing career and created her own plus-size fashion line. She has so many iconic fashion moments in her repertoire. Vogue did a feature on a few of her most famous outfits from 2006-2017. Beth Ditto has a sort of punk-adjacent style that's all grown up.
#6 Roxy Earle
Earle began her life in the spotlight when she signed on for The Real Housewives of Toronto. She became a body positive activist, founding the #mysizerox hashtag and developing a brand of straight and plus-size clothing. Her line is set to re-launch later this month. Like any good "housewife", she's very active on social media. Earle rocks the sexy trophy wife look. In her closet, you'll find a lot of animal prints, high heels, sequins, plunging necklines, and body-con silhouettes.
#7 Ashley Graham
One of the most famous plus-size models in the world, Graham has worked for fashion houses like Michael Kors and Dolce & Gabbana. Like so many of the fabulous ladies on this list, she's a multi-hypenate mogul too. She's got a podcast called "Pretty Big Deal". Graham also serves as an executive producer for the reality series American Beauty Star. All in, she's a pretty big deal herself.
#8 Sabina Karlsson
Karlsson is a Swedish model who has was featured in the pages of Vogue and Cosmopolitan as a minor. She started her career as a straight-size model, but struggled to fit into samples sizes once she became an adult. So, at just 18, she transitioned to the plus-size modeling world in order to maintain her natural weight. Her plus-size career has proved even more lucrative, with her walking runways for Michael Kors, Christian Siriano, and Chromat.
#9 Queen Latifah
The Queen needs no introduction. She's mastered nearly every art form from rapping to acting to songwriting to producing. Latifah currently serves as an executive producer for several projects including MTV's Scream: Renaissance series. As someone who's been in the industry for thirty years, it's clear she paved the way for a lot of the women on this list.
#10 Iskra Lawrence
The British plus-size model has a fun, youthful style that's all her own. Her casual, laid back vibe is more L.A. than London, which suits her lifestyle. She's frequently photographed in a bikini. Most recently, she's on the cover of Glamour Digital. Inside, she advocates for diversity in fashion while promoting her campaign for Aerie.
Lizzo is my religion. Let her fearless fashion and unmatched vocal range take you to church.
#12 Melissa mccarthy
From her star-making turn in Bridesmaids to her Oscar-nominated performance in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, McCarthy is already a Hollywood legend. Yes, I know she was actually nominated for an Academy Award for both roles. That's why she's a legend! And she's really come into her own on the style front, with glamorous and effortlessly chic looks like the one pictured above.
#13 Chrissy Metz
Known for her role as Kate on NBC's This Is Us, Metz favors Old Hollywood Glamour when it comes to fashion. She's a big fan of sequins, bows, jewel tones, draping, and large patterns. Like many fair-skinned women, she's a "winter". She knows what works for her and employs it regularly. Keep those jewel tone, empire-waist dresses coming, they do good by you Chrissy!
#14 Natalie Nootenboom
Curve Model Natalie Nottenboom took the fashion world by storm at the age of 16 when she was signed to the NYC agency Muse. She was the first plus-size model to walk for Anna Sui. At only 18, she's shared runway gigs with the world's most-booked models, like Gigi Hadid and Taylor Hill. Nottenboom has appeared in campaigns for Forever 21 and Volcom.
#15 Marie Southard Ospina
The freelance writer and fat-acceptance activist has a unique personal style. Like several women on this list, she's working to de-stigmatize cultural beauty standards. You might've ready something from her on Refinery29 or caught an appearance of hers on The Today Show. Her fashion sense is fun and feminine with a rockabilly edge.
#16 Natasha Rothwell
Rothwell is a fantastic writer and actress. She plays the hilarious "Kelli" on HBO's Insecure. If you haven't seen the episode where the girls go to Coachella, do yourself a favor and check it out. Ms. Rothwell is the gift we don't deserve. On top of her amazing acting skills, she writes for Insecure. She also served as a writer for NBC's Saturday Night Live for two years. When it comes to getting dressed, she prefers classic looks in solid colors. When she goes for a print, it's a staple--think stripes or florals.
#17 Amber Riley
Riley gained household-name status when she portrayed "Mercedes" on Fox's Glee. Since then, she's grown up with sophisticated style to match. She favors a fit-and-flare silhouette for most of her looks. In other words, she prefers structure at the top, a defined waist, and an a-line skirt.
#18 Jill Scott
Another plus-size style icon who needs no introduction, songstress Jill Scott's style philosophy seems to be "go big or go home". The woman has range. She can wear everything from a leopard caftan to a country-club twinset to leather pants to a tweed suit.
#19 Diana Sirokai
London-based curve model Diana Sirokai made headlines when she recreated Gigi Hadid's nude shoot for Stuart Weitzman. As such a stunt might suggest, Sirokai's personal style is sexy with a side of sexy. The glamour gal is currently an ambassador for the fast-fashion retailer Fashion Nova.
#20 Allison Teng
The Curvy Girl Chic founder regularly serves up plus-size fashion inspiration on her blog. Her personal style is feminine, trendy, and Instagram-friendly. Her love of floral prints, dresses, and color has made her a style star.
#21 SaucyE West
Like several other plus-size models on this list, West uses her platform to promote fat acceptance. In 2017, she created the #fatandfree hashtag campaign, encouraging participants to shed their internalized fatphobia.
#22 Oprah Winfrey
Oprah has a singular influence on our culture. She's known as a media personality, a billionaire, and a philanthropist. One thing that gets glossed over? Her solid fashion choices. Oprah consistently turns out classic looks, from a burgundy lace gown to that body-skimming black Versace she wore to pick up her Cecil B. Demille award. Whoever manages Oprah's bust situation deserves an award too. Ms. Winfrey is always locked and loaded. I've also been loving the bold glasses she's been sporting the past few years.
Did I leave your favorite plus-size style star out? Let me know! And if you're still looking for my plus-size style inspiration, might I suggest this post on where to shop for work clothes?
Note: all images sourced via Google Images
As a stylist and entrepreneur, I'm always at work. Even when I'm not working, I'm observing the people around me, surveying stores, and well, eavesdropping.
I was in a high-end consignment store last week. A woman's whole batch of clothing had been rejected. She marched away from the buyer and demanded to speak to a manager.
Honestly, I was ready to roll my eyes. Go read online reviews for any consignment store. The consignors complain the prices are too low. The shoppers complain that the prices are too high. Rinse and repeat. I thought her complaints would be the same as everyone else's.
But this was different. The woman asked the manager why they refused to buy any plus-size clothes. The manager said there's no market for plus-size items in their stores.
Here in the US, the average woman's size is 16-18. In a country where most women are plus-sized, there's definitely a market. It's just under-served. How did the store manager even know there's not a market? He's refused to ever buy plus size clothing!
The woman left without buying or selling anything. On her way out, she shouted "You know big girls like nice stuff too!" And she was right. So, where's a fashion-loving gal supposed to shop when she isn't straight-sized? I'll tell you.
How is plus-size defined?
We can debate all day what numbers are really plus-sizes. Some people say it's anything over a size 14. Others will say it's over an 18. There's a whole group of women who are between straight and plus-size who are woefully under-served by the entire fashion industry. I call this being "cusp" sized, because you're right on the cusp of fitting into both departments. Yet, nothing fits in either one. It sucks. For the purpose of this particular blog post, I'm only including stores that carry at least a size 20.
And, we'll be exploring stores that aren't already well-known as plus-size retailers. For example, you won't find Torrid or Lane Bryant on this list. We're focusing on department stores and boutiques that cater to chic women who wear a size 18-24. This post is for successful women who need quality work wear.
20 stores for plus size women's work Clothing
#1 A Piece Apart
While most of their wares are too bohemian for conservative offices, some of the pants and tops are work-friendly. If you're on the petite side, you can probably get away with sporting some of the dresses too. Shop here if you want quality pieces you won't see on anyone else. And, if you happen to be visiting NYC, visit their boutique.
#2 Anna Scholz
Here you'll find gorgeous dresses and fun, trendy pieces rendered in quality materials. While their aesthetic is fairly bohemian, it can work for entrepreneurs and creatives. They are an exclusively plus-size brand.
#3 ASOS Curve
Online mega-retailer ASOS serves up some reliable plus-size work wear. Things tend to veer toward the trendy, cheap side though. It works best for those under 40.
The legendary department store offers plus-size clothing from high-end designers like Marina Rinaldi and Lafayette 148. They've also got affordable options from Vince Camuto, City Chic, and Sanctuary Curve.
#5 Curve Couture
Situated on Cedros Avenue in Solana Beach, Curve Couture is San Diego's best plus-size retailer. They also have an amazing accessory collection. Their company motto is "real fashion in real sizes". And they only carry sizes 8 and up. But, hey, if you wear a size 2 you can get some earrings or a scarf. (See how it feels?!) Kudos to Curve Couture for their irreverence and success.
Make sure to ready the customer reviews before making a purchase at Elloquii. Their quality is hit or miss. That said, you can score some solid plus-size work pieces at reasonable prices. Most of their items are under $100.
Are you into ethical fashion? You have to try Everlane. Like a lot of plus-size retailers, Everlane has great accessory collections. Their shoes and bags are highly rated.
If you're in a business casual environment, try Loft. Their wrap dresses, tops, and knit blazers are perfectly appropriate for a modern office. Loft is a great brand for apple-shaped women and those who are larger in the middle.
For those who love designer wares, Misook has you covered. Seriously, cover yourself in Misook and you will instantly feel like the boss babe you are. It's not cheap. But neither are you.
#10 M.M. LAFLEUR
For those of you in the C-Suite, I urge you to check out M.M. LAFLEUR. This NYC based company creates high-quality pieces that are truly timeless. Explore their high-end suiting and sheath dresses. You won't be disappointed.
If you work in a creative environment, consider Modcloth for plus-size dresses and tops. Many of their offerings are appropriate for a business casual or creative atmosphere. It's great for artsy entrepreneurs.
Since it's a department store, Nordstrom carries many different plus-size brands. For nice, reasonably-priced work wear, I love Tahari and Vince Camuto in particular.
#13 Nordstrom Rack
Of course, you can also visit the Rack and score great deals on Nordstrom's plus size clothes.
Tip: If you're in San Diego, the Carmel Mountain and La Jolla/ UTC locations have the best selection of work clothing.
PinkBlush is a maternity clothing retailer that specializes in romantic and extra-girly fashion for women who wear sizes XS-3X. They make fantastic sweaters, cardigans, and dresses. Most of these can be worn in a business casual environment.
#15 Sak's Fifth Avenue
For my ladies in the C-suite (this is a code word I'm using for "rich AF", can you tell?), get your rich butt over to Sak's. Pick up a Marina Rinaldi skirt. Throw an Akris Punto blazer in your bag. Grab an Oscar De La Renta dress while you're at it. You've earned it!
#16 simply. be.
It's very similar to Eloquii. I could just copy and paste that description here. But that's lazy! Also what if you skip that one, but read this one? Like Eloquii, simply.be. offers inexpensive work wear for a woman who wears a size 20 or larger.
Tip: Check the reviews because quality can be hit or miss.
Like every other millennial mom, I clock a lot of time at Target. Even if you're not in their target demo, don't sleep on this big-box retailer. They have amazing designers working for them. For plus sizes, Target offers several lines. Ava & Viv, Prologue, and Universal Thread are my favorites.
#18 OF/ MERCER
It's Another hip, online boutique offering high-quality work wear. If you don't want to look like everyone else, check them out. They serve the woman who wears a size 14W-20W.
#19 Off Fifth
It's Sak's cheaper, sluttier sister! She lets everyone in! Jokes aside, Off Fifth is the place to score premier designer duds at a steep discount.
This UK-based fast fashion retailer serves women who wear sizes 14-34. It's great for those of you who need "cusp sizing". Again, cusp sizing is what I call it when you're straddling the line between straight and plus-size departments.
The perfect store wouldn't have plus sizes
Let me just pat myself on the back for that magnificent click-bait headline. Of course, stores should carry all the sizes from 000 to 30. But they shouldn't separate out those above a certain size and give them a weird, exclusionary title. Even Melissa McCarthy agrees with me.
If I could snap my finger and create the perfect store, I would. All of my inventory would be available in petite, straight, plus, and long.
Is that top available in petite? Yes. Does this dress come in size 22? Yes. Do those jeans come in long? Yes. Can I get this blazer in a size 20 petite? Yes. I would be saying yes to people all day long! I wouldn't separate short clothing and size 20 clothing into a special department. And every item would be available in every size.
While there are a few independent retailers who already do this, I would love to see it become a standard practice in the industry. It would certainly be the standard in my perfect store.
And, I wouldn't alter the design of a garment for clients who wear larger sizes. Have you ever noticed how a straight-size top will have nice buttons and seaming at the waist, but the "same top" in plus has cheap buttons and no shape? Yeah, my store wouldn't pull that crap.
Even online, I wouldn't make my customers who wear a size 24 click over to another page for the same dress. I'm looking at you Loft! A size 2 would be on the same drop-down menu as a size 24.
Unfortunately, my perfect store doesn't yet exist. I'm glad we're getting there. Where do you love to shop for high-end work wear? Did I leave out your favorite? Sound off in the comments!
Shop stylist-approved plus-size WORK clothes
Want to hire a stylist?
Shopping is overwhelming even for women who are straight-sized. It's even more daunting when you wear a plus-size. I offer in-person styling services for women in San Diego and Orange County. Of course, I also style women virtually. As an online stylist that's provides a truly personal service, I can style you no matter where you live. Check out my virtual styling services here.
Thank you for stopping by! I'm currently taking a blogging break. I'll be back in September with a fun series about shopping for chic outfits when you wear a size 14-24. In the mean time, check out my most popular style blog posts.
If you want to keep in touch on social media, find me on Instagram and Twitter at @stylebyjaq. And if you're on LinkedIn, you'll find me there too. I regularly post fashion tips and style stories.
I'm Jaquelyn Wahidi. I'm a personal fashion stylist, writer, and entrepreneur in San Diego. I help women organize their closets, define their style, and shop with intention. My style blog features practical fashion advice for women everywhere. Addicted to blazers since 2004.