5 Plus-Size Clothing Tips for Job Interviews on a Dime

5 Plus-Size Clothing Tips for Job Interviews on a Dime

Hello... ladies. I dare say this will be a lady-centric entry. If you are like me, your wanderlust has summoned you to websites likes Careerbuilder, Indeed and Google searches for jobs. And, once you've set your target, you're out into the world on the job interview trail.

That's all well and good, but what about if you find yourself at a size 18, working out and losing weight, but need to look presentable and put together at your current weight. Quite the predicament. And something I stress over continually, because I am looking for a job but I miss wearing the closet full of clothes I have that run in smaller sizes.

In case this is your reality, let's talk about what you can wear now, and look great in, without spending a ton and having to throw out your nice clothes as you slim down.

1. The Blazer / Jacket: I don't know who invented it, but boy were they smart. 

This is one of the pieces you should own--it will cost a little more-- but if you have ONE nice one it can go with many different outfit combinations. It can be paired with matching pants as a suit, but with dresses, jeans, different pants and different skirts. It's versatile and you should get one. The above blazer is from Lane Bryant, which is my favorite place (so far) to get blazers and pants. When starting out, I do recommend buying the full suit...

  • This Sateen Blazer from Lane Bryant is currently $69.95 it comes in 5 different colors 
    • I want to note that LB usually as great sales going on, and it's rare I ever pay full price for anything between their Real Woman dollars or computer-generated coupons.
    • Try an internet coupon site such as retailmenot.com. You will often find coupons that take your purchase price down considerably. Please note: this website, which is my favorite, offers printable coupons, too. Meaning you can take them to the store with you. This site saves me a lot of money and I love it. Add it to your bookmarks.

How does this work with your weight loss?

  • As you lose weight (i.e. at an average rate of 2 pounds a week), you will probably not drop a  dress size for 5-7 weeks. A dress size usually changes between a 10-15 pound change. So, you get to stay your size for over a month, whether that be at your new job or through a month of interviews, before suit size becomes an issue. At that time: Consider having your suit tailored.

Tailoring: If you love the jacket and want to keep wearing it, tailoring is an option. This option could cost you anywhere between $20-$75. I am not a tailor, but when I have fluctuated in weight my main concern is the jacket doesn't cinch in at my waist enough--the dimensions of the arms and lapels are not an issue. This kind of tailoring isn't that expensive. Meaning your $69.95 investment (or less if you used a coupon), combined with a estimated $20 in tailoring, has the potential to last you 10-14 weeks. That's a lot less than a fancy-smancy blazer from Nordstroms. Just saying.

2. The Suit: I advocate getting one. Wear it as your power suit, mix up the pieces to create more looks.

Carrying over from the essential blazer, I advocate buying the matching skirt and/or pants to your blazer. This is your foolproof formal wear. And, you can wear the pants/skirt with a number of different tops to mix up your look.

  • The above Sateen Skirt (much like its pants counterpart) is available at Lane Bryant for $59.95. 

How does this work with your weight loss? 

  •  I often find that as you lose weight it is much easier to skip tailoring if you started our wearing a wide-leg trouser or pencil skirt. More wear for your buck before tailoring becomes an option. So, instead of abiding by a 5-7 week time frame, maybe it could be more like 6-9 weeks. And by that time there might just be a sale for you to hit up with your new slim figure.

3. The Blouse: I used to be very unoriginal and thought office and formal meant buttoned shirts. I was wrong. If you are in a transitional weight-loss phase but need nice clothes now, buy the blouse.

  • The above Blouse is from H&M's plus size line, which you can find for $9.95 here

 Whether or not this particular blouse appeals to you, blouses in general should be well stocked in your wardrobe. Blouses are typically non-clingly, sometimes flowy shirts. Sometimes they are in a unforgiving fabric like chiffon or non-stretch cotton, sometimes they are full of lyrca or spandex. But they can be a in-transition girl's best friend. Here's a few reasons why:

  • For work they can be worn under a blazer (or, as we'll talk later a cardigan), so they can be sleeveless, lower-quality material (think poly blend from Forever 21) or bold patterns for a pop of interest. Meaning...it's possible to re-utilize a shirt you got on clearance at the end of summer since you are going to use it as a layering piece
    • Many many stores will carry cheap versions of a blouse (think H&M, Forever21, clearance racks at Macy's, Saks, Nordstroms, Lane Bryant, Carson's, etc.). You can stock up on different types of blouses to wear with your more expensive pieces (blazers, cardigans, the shirt you HAD to have...) to create interesting and different looks.  

How this works with your weight loss?

  • Since they are not supposed to be too fitted, they can be flattering and still appropriate even as your dress size changes. You can get a lot of life out of blouses.
  • Depending on your laundry habits, you might shrink your blouse to a smaller size. Often made primarily of cotton, it's not hard to shrink these articles of clothing in the dryer. Be careful 

My Two Cents: Since I mentioned the button-up shirt (Oxfords) above, I will comment now. If you are in-transition for a major weight loss, 30+lbs, I recommend staying away from Oxfords. They look great and polished, but can look very sloppy and unflattering if not properly sized to your body. And, since your body is going to be changing, I don't think it's worth the hassle, especially since Oxfords can be much more expensive than blouses, yet I don't think they are worth enough to truly worry about tailoring. I just think they should be avoided until you are at a stable size. Be patient.

4. The Business Dress: You knew this was coming. It put Diane Von Furstenburg on the map. The wrap dress. The button-down dress. The high sccopneck dress. The linen with fancy ruffles dress. It comes in many shapes but you know the dress.

The business dress should be more conservative than a date-night dress (sans cleavage, hits at the knee) but just as feminine in the way it showcases your features. And it doesn't have to cost you hundreds to look good.

  • This particular plus-sized dress is $29.99 for Target and can be found here

Target has make great leaps the past 4-5 years in acquiring help from designers and "borrowing" ideas from fashion houses to give women more fashion-forward, affordable clothing choices. Here's why this works:

  • The business dresses are usually double-lined, less stretch and cling, naturally tailored for a polished look, often have cloth or sequin/gem/metal embellishment. They often have zippers to form to your shape better. You give the impression that you aren't wearing a sundress from last year. You're powerful, intelligent and you know what's appropriate.
  • These dresses come in a variety of sleeve lengths--meaning this is a cost-effective. professional look you pull off without the blazer. You don't want to wear it everyday! (Or turn into Marge from The Simpsons and the Chanel suit she kept trying to sew and change... wow I am getting old. 1990's reference) 

How this work with your weight loss?

  • Many of these dresses have a wrap dress quality. Meaning, you get to decide how tightly the dress is conformed to your shape. Wrap it tighter as you lose weight until the dress is way too big for you. Then, buy another great dress at a low price. Or, pair it with a cardigan, blazer or a belt so you can still create the silhouette you like.
  • If you are worried about lumps or bumps, wear spanx. Smooth your problem areas so you feel confident and powerful in your beautiful dress. Then, when those lumps and bumps diminish, you can go sans spanx without losing your confidence.

5. The cardigan: A personal favorite of mine. Much like the blazer--but not as formal--this helps spruce up a look that needs more refinement without requiring a suit.

This cardigan is available at The Gap (sizes XS-XXL) for $29.99 here. A nice cardigan with an interesting print or embellishments can go a long way in a professional atmosphere. They are often brightly colored/patterned or if muted they can have embellishments that make them look unique and stylish. It's more casual than a blazer, and a lot more polished than just a blouse. I picked one I saw at The Gap to show a range of stores you can shop at, but really a great cardigan can be found at a lot of different retailers in plus sizes--and The Gap owns Old Navy, which also has nice cardigans for cheap, too.

This is a great piece to own if you work in a business causal atmosphere, or, if you are interviewing for more relaxed attire positions, such as in journalism, non-profits, or are meeting in a neutral place like Starbucks. Paired with the blouse you are going to buy, this is a great look for a business causal setting.

How does it work for your weight loss?

  • Cardigans are lightweight, usually stretchy material. By natural, they will give you some breathing room. Besides, if you don't feel comfortable with it buttoned, wear it open. Or, if the opposite issue is bothering you and you feel self-conscious regarding your stomach area, leave the last 1-2 buttons of the cardigan unbuttoned, making the cardigan appear snug but leaving so wiggle room at the bottom.

Bonus Tip: The Shoe: I hate that this is still the acceptable choice of footwear for interviews, but I still think a heel is considered the must-do for job interviews. And, if you are like me, you love the look of heels, but you want to kick them off once you've walked a few blocks on concrete. So, if you are going to wear one, here's some help:

The above shoe is from Sofft, which is an incredibly comfortable shoe line, I found on Amazon.com for $49.99 that you can find here. Sofft brand does a great job of providing soft cushioning and making their shoes true to size. For heels, it's my go-to brand. I have heard of another comfortable brand called Taryn Rose, but her prices are very steep and not realistic for many people who are starting out.

Also, just because you have to wear heels to the actual interview doesn't mean you have to wear your heels everywhere. My suggestion (which I do to this day) is bring your heels in a plastic bag in your purse and wear a pair of flats or flip flops while commuting and put your heels on in a bathroom or ::gasp:: the elevator.

What I left out? Jewelry - Jewelry transcends size. You know what you like and where you can get it. If you want more jewelry options on a budget, try stores like Forever21, Charming Charlie.

Good luck out there! You're going to look great.

Lady J can be found at http://ladyjwanderlust.blogspot.com and on Twitter at: @LadyJWanderlust

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