Most Flattering Clothing for Plus Size Women

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Actress Gabourey Sidibe wears blue jeans with a leather jacket, bold top and flat boots.
Actress Gabourey Sidibe wears blue jeans with a leather jacket, bold top and flat boots. (Image: Larry Busacca/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images)

For the most figure-flattering plus-size wardrobe, choose pieces that emphasize your curves and downplay problematic areas. No matter what you wear, choose the right size for your body and don’t get too hung up on the numbers. Whether you are a size 14, 24 or beyond, there are some basic pieces that make you look like a million dollars – a number that anyone can applaud.

Wrap Dress

A figure-conscious wrap dress seems to defy the logic of dressing for a plus sized figure, but the wrap dress is actually one of the most flattering garments that a full-figured woman can own. Tied slightly above the waist, the wrap dress highlights the area under the bust where most women are their narrowest. The fabric skims the body lightly, highlighting curves and camouflaging problems spots. An A-line skirt makes the waist seem smaller and balances wide hips, while a pencil-skirt wrap dress highlights hourglass curves. The wrap dress is also extremely versatile; layer a camisole under the V-neckline for work-appropriate coverage, then remove the camisole and add chunky jewelry for a bold evening look.

Blue Jeans

Denim blue jeans are a staple of casual wardrobes, but shopping for the perfect plus-sized pair can be torturous. While the right blue jeans for you will depend on the shape of your body, there are some general guidelines that can help your blue jeans become your most versatile and flattering wardrobe item. Choose a medium-weight denim with some Lycra, which will help jeans retain their shape and fit your body closely. Boot-cut jeans that flare slightly at the ankle are the most flattering cut for any body shape; beware of skinny-leg jeans and bell-bottoms, as both can make the body look wide. Dark wash jeans, like indigo or black, are slimming and can go from the office to a night out with a change of accessories. Avoid jeans with flap-covered back pockets, as they add extra dimension to the rear.

The Pinstripe Button-Down

A pin-striped, button-down shirt is figure-flattering for plus-sized women and can solve many different wardrobe quandaries. Narrow stripes elongate the figure, and the structure of a button-down with darts and princess seams gives you shape and support. Add one to a suit for a hit of office panache, or pair one with jeans, ballet flats and a cute necklace for a casual brunch with friends. If your shirt doesn’t fit properly, consult a tailor. Many stores offer alterations for a small fee as do some dry-cleaners. What may seem to be an insurmountable problem -- shirt gaps when buttoned, too much fabric around the stomach -- can likely be solved by an experienced seamstress or tailor.

The Correct Bra

No piece of clothing will be more flattering for a plus-size woman than a properly-fitted bra. With the right bra in the correct size, your figure will appear leaner and longer, and clothing will fit smoothly and correctly. Retailers like Lane Bryant and Nordstroms offer complimentary, in-store bra fittings by experts who will help you find your correct size. Both stores also offer extensive lingerie options for plus-size women. The ideal bra wardrobe should include several bras in a variety of colors that are undetectable under clingy wardrobe items and sports bras for working out or hanging around the house. A bra with feminine detailing like embroidery and lace is optional, but a great choice for special occasions.

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