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How to Dress a Plus-Size Body at Any Age!

Today, the great fashionista, Andrea Pflaumer talks about how to dress a plus-size body. Just because you don’t fit a certain mold, does not mean you can’t be fashionable. Enjoy, darling! 

dress for a plus sized body

Fashion is for all ages and body types.

You Can Be Fashionable at a Plus-Size

There’s a terrible misconception that plus-sized women will never look as fashionable or chic as the rail-thin ones we see on the fashion runways or in magazine spreads. Well, that’s just nonsense. Some of the most sophisticated and tasteful dressers I have ever known are larger women.

The fact is that many of us are wearing larger dress sizes than we did even 15 years ago. As we age it does become more difficult to shed excess pounds. The body’s estrogen is stored in our fat cells so after menopause we produce less ovarian estrogen and we need our fat cells to have to take overproduction. The good news is that with a few extra pounds our skin might remain plumper, we might have less facial sagging, and our hair might not thin out as easily.

So, let’s revisit our opinions about what it means to be plus-sized and how to use some fashion tips to our advantage. We’ll also talk about some of the sites that offer great options for plus size fashion.

Body Shape First

As with all dressing, body shape, coloring and personal style should always be the first considerations for how to dress fashionably. The rules and details are not significantly different than those for anyone of any size.

But understanding your body shape is important. If you don’t know what your dominant body shape is, consider where you tend to gain weight or have the most difficulty losing it. That will tell you what shape you have. Then, simply dress to emphasize what you want to be seen and to de-emphasize what you don’t.

If you tend to gain weight evenly throughout your body you are what we call a rectangle. Your styling choices will not change significantly with weight gain.

If you tend to gain weight around your middle you are likely what we call an apple. The key is NOT to de-emphasize your waist, but to wear items that define it. And avoid overly loose jackets and tops.

If you tend to gain weight around your hips and thighs, you are likely among the most common body shape for women, a pear shape. Create some interest above the waistline with patterns, colors, silhouettes, accessories or necklines that emphasize your bust and draw attention to your face.

And if you end to gain weight in your breasts, hips and bottom, you are likely an hourglass shape. As with the rectangle body type, your styling choices aren’t going to change significantly. Don’t be afraid to emphasize your curves.

Some women have bodies that combine two of the basic shapes, so the recommendations for each can work for them.


Patterns That Do and Don’t Work Best

Your height can be a determining factor for patterns and prints. The taller you are, regardless of your size, the larger your patterns can be. Scale and proportion are crucial to sophisticated dressing. So, for example, if are tall and you like florals, you might want to choose those that are more bold than delicate in size. But if you are petite and intrinsically voluptuous, a larger floral might work just fine. Let your fundamental style be your guide. The same goes for the size of any botanical or decorative prints.

When it comes to stripes you can ignore the idea that plus-size women can’t wear stripes. Again, just consider the scale. If you are short – and especially if you have a short torso – large horizontal stripes above the waist will make you look proportionately imbalanced. They will also emphasize where you have bulges on any part of your body.

Also, what we tend to love about stripes – their clean, crisp lines – lose that clarity when worn over larger curves. They dip and bend out of shape. So avoid horizontal stripes if you have a large bust. The same goes for wearing ribbed knit tops and sweaters. Now, vertical stripes are a different story. They will, in fact, create some elongation to the body. In a stiffer fabric like cotton, the lines will keep their shape. But in a knit, they will also bend just as horizontal ones do.

Also, always keep demarcation lines in mind. That’s important when wearing color-blocked prints or pieces. Wherever there is a change in the color, wherever a hemline falls, a sleeve ends, or a neckline ends, that is what will be emphasized visually. So avoid wearing anything that ends exactly where you are carrying your most weight. It’s all about emphasizing what you want to and not emphasizing what you don’t.

Fit and Construction

If you need one yardstick by which to judge if something fits well it is this: don’t look sloppy. A lot of larger women give up on style and start wearing tent-like tops and dresses to cover themselves. The truth is that it does just the opposite. So don’t think you have to give up style just because you’re carrying a little more weight. If, for example, you loved fitted jackets and pencil skirts, you most certainly can continue to wear them.

Now if your personal style is more relaxed then sure, you can wear looser tunic tops. And if you have a little drama or like a costume-y look you can wear slightly oversized pieces. But pay attention to the details and the quality. This becomes even more important when you are plus-size. When you buy garments of as high a quality as you can afford, both in textile and construction they just look better. Some of the new textiles that combine small amounts of a synthetic with greater amounts of natural fibers (including linen, cotton, silk, wool, tencel, and bamboo) not only look better, they last longer.

As for fit, look for any part of the garment that pulls or hangs awkwardly. If it has darts, make sure they hit at the right part of your bust line, your hips or waist. Check the lining and stitching for quality. These details are even more important in something looser or with less support in the construction.

Make sure your whole outfit works together to create a sophisticated look and not a haphazard one. That might mean buying an entire outfit as shown on a website or in a shop. Stylists create those outfits because they are visually pleasing in proportion and the pieces go together well.

dressing a plus sized body

High quality fabrics and perennial favorites boost the style of any plus-size fashionista.

Perennials that Will Make You Look Chic

Here are a few garments and guidelines that will help you look stylish.

Trench coat: You can never go wrong with a wear-over-anything trench coat. These days you have so many options in terms of color and textile. We’re also seeing a lot of them in leather, which would really amp up your style if you have some drama.

Great shoes and bag: You can wear very simple, inexpensive things like jeans (yes, plus-size women can look great in jeans) and a blouse or tee shirt with a blazer. But add one great bag and really nice, well-made shoes and your style quotient goes up dramatically. This is another part of the importance of buying the best you can afford.

Foundations: Your first layer can be shapewear if you can stand it. There are a lot of options out there these days but make sure you, 1) can breathe in it, and, 2) are fitted by a professional, just as you would be when choosing the right bra. As for bras, if you’re carrying bulk in your upper or lower back, look for one that covers a wider area of your torso.

Uncomplicated layering pieces: Next, a selection of non-bulky layering pieces will be an important part of many outfits for you. They should be made of flat knit textiles, such as rayon or rayon blends and in your most flattering colors. They should drape well and the neckline should flatter your body. V-necks will elongate your torso more than rounded ones. But if you have a lot of roundness in your features and face, scoop necklines will be lovely on you too.

Perfectly fitting jackets: A blazer that indents at the waist and/or a jeans jacket that gives you some “wiggle room” are two types of finishing pieces that can pull together many outfits. Try to avoid large bulky jackets that are too roomy. They tend to add pounds visually.

Bottoms: One great pair of jeans, one great pair of slacks. Darker wash jeans are more flattering and slimming in general. Choose a pair with no more than 5% stretch fabric or they will start to bag pretty quickly. Avoid front darts, pleats, and in-seam or angled pockets. They will bulge out at your hips and emphasize any extra weight you carry there. Wide leg pants work best with closer-fitted, shorter tops and jackets. Straight leg pants or jeans work better with blazers or slightly longer jackets.

Color: Wearing mono colors, or different depths or tones of the same color can be slimming and sophisticated. Then you can add pops of color in accessories.

Credit: Huntswoman

Where to Shop

This is a great time to shop online as everyone is having incredible sales right now. Almost every retailer carries some plus-sizes. But there are some that cater specifically to plus-size or carry a lot of styles that are flattering to plus-sized women. Here are some options:

Covered Perfectly

Mod Cloth


Curvy Sense


Lane Bryant


Soft Surroundings


Now, stay healthy and happy. And don’t wait until you lose weight to be fashionable. Dress your beautiful body as it is right now.

Did you find this helpful? Let us know in the comments below!

Andrea Pflaumer is the author of two books: the Amazon best-seller Shopping for the Real You: Ten Essential Steps to a Perfect Wardrobe for Every Woman: Fashionistas, Fashion-phobes, and the Over 50 and She’s Got Good Jeans – a guide for how to shop for and where to find the perfect jeans for your body and budget.

She does in-person and online wardrobe and shopping consultations for women worldwide and blogs at Shopping for the Real You. Her free course, Lazy Person’s Guide to a Perfect Wardrobe is available on GoHighbrow. Andrea hosts two video series: Vital, Vivacious, and Visible after 50 and Shopping for the Real You: Expert Edition. She interviews women in the areas of fashion, beauty and wellness on her Shopping for the Real You YouTube channel. She is a regular contributor to several national and international publications for women over 50 and is presenting an online class this November through the American Institute of Image Consultants.

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December 5, 2023


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  1. Carlene says:

    Great, this, which are always helpful. I’m right in the edges of so-called “plus size” and I love that you are acknowledging that is women don’t have to be a size 2 to be beautiful and fashionable. Cheers!!

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      A big woman is gorgeous and even more gorgeous when she stands tall with good posture, puts a smile on her face that makes her eyes twinkle and lets the world know…Here I am!. I am smiling. Warmly, Honey

  2. Andrea Pflaumer says:

    Thank you Carlene! Yes, beauty comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors.

    • Susan "Honey" Good says:

      Thank you Andrea for writing this important story. Please continue to add to Honey Good. I think it is important. So nice to have you with me. Warmly, Honey

  3. Amy D says:

    I very much enjoyed this article. Although I am currently on the thin side (size 6/8/10, S/M, depending on brand, style, and piece of clothing), I spent decades at a size most would have called plus (18/20, XL/1X, at my largest). Your advice is spot on. One of biggest thrills at losing the weight was being able to again wear my decades old London Fog trench coat! One thing I have learned, as an hourglass pear, is that the styles that are flattering don’t change, but the size things are labeled can be deceptive. It is important to try things on and see how a garment drapes and fits on one’s own body, and not to be afraid to go up a size to avoid gapping buttons or other symptoms of being too tight and then adjust the rest of the item with tailoring.

    • Susan Good says:

      You are ‘spot on’ even owning a London Fog trench! I am 100% in agreement with you. Warmly, Honey

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