Shopping for what to wear for your job or internship can be a struggle. Shopping for work clothes when you’re not a size zero? Even more challenging. You want to look professional and office appropriate, but you also want to show off your sense of style in clothes made to flatter your curves. The key is to create a career wardrobe that mixes both classic essentials, like the perfect blazer and pencil skirts, with on-trend pieces, all in silhouettes that flatter your body. The best part? We’ve done all the searching for you. Keep scrolling to see the seven essentials you need to chic-ify your workday wardrobe.
1. A work-appropriate LBD
The most versatile career piece you can have in your closet? The little black dress, but a version that’s more work-appropriate than your favorite LBD for a night out. It works for any season and can be styled in tons of ways – it’s the perfect go-to piece for those “I have nothing to wear!” days. Hurley says it’s also the perfect piece for curvy girls looking for a more streamlined silhouette, especially through the midsection.
“For areas that you want to look smaller, darker colors are good,” Hurley says. “I like to suggest to my clients that, especially if they carry more weight in their stomach area, they have a more monochromatic look through the stomach.”
The trick to making the piece work for the office is to look for longer lengths and a more covered-up silhouette at the top. We love this sheath dress from Eloquii, which has a flattering hourglass shape but has angular cutouts up top to add a cool-girl touch. Another great silhouette for curvy shapes is the fit-and-flare LBD, like this ponté knit dress from Jessica London, which will highlight your hourglass shape. Style with leg-lengthening black pumps and a black bag to go for the all-black look, or add printed, colorful accessories, like leopard pumps and a red bag, for a vibrant touch!
2. A well-tailored blazer
Like the LBD, the basic blazer is a work-wear staple that will never go out of style. Hurley says curvy collegiettes should add one to their wardrobes because of its versatility and flattering “V” shape.
“A blazer is one of the best things to make sure you have in your wardrobe because they go with everything,” Hurley says. “You can take a blazer and put it over a sleeveless top to make it appropriate for work.”
While we love a more oversize shape for off-duty looks, for the office, invest in a shape that has a more tailored waist and ends at the widest part of your hips, which looks more dressed up for the office. To flatter a curvy shape, Hurley recommends investing in a quality blazer to make sure it is tailored and structured enough to fit your curves correctly.
“The more structure it has, especially in terms of having seams along the waistline, the more it will create the look of a waist and be flattering,” Hurley says.
It’s all in the details: Tailored seams at the waist and pockets that slant slightly downward on this tailored jacket from Lane Bryant create the illusion of a narrower figure and emphasizes an hourglass shape. For the spring and summer months, it’s also great to have a white blazer on hand; we like this pretty quilted one. Want to really make a statement with your office wear? Try a fun color or pattern, like a floral blazer, which can brighten up a monochrome ensemble!
3. A perfectly cut pencil skirt
Not a big fan of the pantsuit? A pencil skirt is a great way to look polished and professional without being boring! For work, it’s totally worth it to invest in a basic go-to pencil skirt in a quality fabric. Hurley says the key is to look for crisp fabrics that aren’t as stretchy or form-fitting as the pencil skirts you might wear for a night out, and to pay particular attention to the length.
“The most common mistake that curvy girls make is wearing their clothes too tight,” Hurley says. “Pencil skirts are great; the general best length is around the middle of the knee, or just above the knee at most.”
We like the side-zip detail on this skirt from Lane Bryant, which gives it a fashion-forward touch that still looks appropriate for the office. Also look for a wrap shape, like this leopard print wrap skirt, which are not only super on-trend but also flatter curvy shapes. Color-blocking details near the hem of the skirt in a bright color such as pink can also have the effect of balancing out curvy hips and streamlining your silhouette.
4. A pretty patterned dress
For days when you want to add a pop of color into your office look, look no further than the patterned dress! It’s a great way to make a statement in a sea of blacks and grays, and it’s easy to throw on when you don’t feel like coming up with an outfit for the day.
“A patterned dress can be fun and young, and V-necks in particular are flattering,” Hurley says. “Then, make a solid-color blazer be the piece that will create the ‘V’ that will be flattering to curvy shapes.”
The fashion-forward print and pop of blue on this printed sheath dress is chic and statement-making, but the three-quarter-length sleeves and longer length make it great for work. The mixed prints of this Eloquii dress create a defined waist. Add black tights, a cute blazer and your favorite high-heel ankle booties to your printed dress pick. You’ll be the most stylish girl at the office!
5. Go-to pants
Pants for the office doesn’t have to mean a boring, gray pantsuit! A great alternative? Straight-leg tailored pants that go with every top in your closet. Basic black is great to have on hand, but Hurley also suggests wearing lighter-colored pants with lighter tops to balance your silhouette.
“A lot of stores will sell darker-colored pants, and if you put a lighter top next to that dark-colored pant, you can end up creating an ice-cream-cone shape, when what you’re trying to do is look as much like a hourglass figure as possible,” Hurley says.
For basic black, we love the satin pockets on this tailored pant from ASOS, which add a stylish touch. For a lighter look, camel-colored pants are a great option. Want to go for a print to draw some attention to your legs? Try a pair of dogtooth-print trousers. Bonus: All of these pants match with your go-to blazer! Wear these pants with your favorite pair of pumps for a silhouette that will make your legs look killer.
6. A feminine blouse
For days when you want to add a girly touch to your office look, a floaty, feminine blouse is the perfect piece. Since it can easily be worn with a gray or black blazer and pencil skirt or pants, you can go all out with the pattern and colors. We like the look of a classic collared button-down shape, like this leaf-print blouse from Forever 21, layered under a chic jacket, which brings in the flowy look at the waist and keeps it from swallowing up your curvy shape. Other fun patterns to try? Snake print and polka dots are both cute and fun while still being conservative enough for the office.
7. A flared midi skirt
The midi skirt trend has been going strong for some time now, so why not incorporate it into your work wardrobe? The longer length makes it a great choice for the office, but the flared shape makes your waist look super tiny! Make a statement in a bright, fun hue like this green scuba midi skirt from Eloquii or in a spring-ready floral-print skirt. It looks super chic with ankle boots and a crisp white button-down to let the skirt stand out.