Women's Style Inspiration  / Dressing for Your Shape  / How to Dress Plus-Size Body Types

How to Dress Plus-Size Body Types

Your comprehensive guide, from the best plus brands to simplified sizing.

Plus-size work outfit

A growing number of brands are (finally!) embracing inclusive sizing and creating fashion-forward designs. If you’re plus size, finding stylish pieces that hug your gorgeous curves is possible when you know which cuts and silhouettes to look out for. Keep scrolling for the complete guide to everything you need to know—from all the top plus-size brands to breaking down sizing conventions and expert styling tips for plus-size outfits.

curvy frame

Dressing for curves

For any figure, knowing your body shape is perhaps the most important consideration to creating flattering outfits. This knowledge will help guide your decisions, but we’re also sharing general tips that always apply to putting together plus-size outfits. 

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3 plus-size fashion tips:

1. Build a great foundation

Invest in quality undergarments for comfort and support. (If it’s been awhile since you’ve had a bra fitting, get one! This is free at any Nordstrom lingerie department.) Shapewear also helps create a smooth foundation for any look you put together.

2. Measure yourself

The conversions from numeric to alpha to plus-specific sizing are confusing (read more on this below), so have your measurements on hand. That way when you reference sizing charts, you’ll know how any garment, no matter how it’s sized, will fit.

3. Keep fit in mind

With silhouettes ranging from baggy to body-con, it’s hard to know what looks best. But it’s actually pretty simple—wearing clothes that comfortably fit your form will always be flattering. So look for pieces that hug your curves just right.

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What to wear if you have a plus-size body

Now that you know your shape and a few tips, it’s time for some details. When shopping for plus-size outfits, here are the best tops, jackets, dresses, jeans, and accessories to look for.


Best tops for plus-size body types

A few of our favorite ways to flatter your top half. Brands we love with extended sizing: ELOQUII, Halogen, City Chic, Marée Pour Toi

Peplum


1. Peplum
Enhances your bust and defines your natural waist

Scoop neck


2. Scoop neck
Directs the eye upward and flatters the bustline

Structured


3. Structured
Keeps curves in place with elements like smocking, darting, and ruching

V-neck


4. V-neck
Opens the neckline and elongates the torso


Best jackets for plus-size body types

Keep in mind you can always size up and then add a belt to define your waist. Brands we love with extended sizing: Lafayette 148, Rachel Roy Collection, Fleurette

Tailored


1. Tailored
Polishes your silhouette by structuring your top half

Waist-length


2. Waist-length
Defines your waistline or helps to create one

Belted


3. Belted
Also helps to define your waistline

Longline


4. Longline
Elongates your overall silhouette


Flattering dresses for plus-size body types

No matter what your body shape is, there are a few silhouettes that are universally flattering. Brands we love with extended sizing: Eliza J, Gal Meets Glam, Reformation

Midi


1. Midi
Elongates your body and makes you look taller

Wrap


2. Wrap
Emphasizes the waist to flatter your figure

Sheath


3. Sheath
Like the midi, this straight style lengthens your frame

Fit-and-flare


4. Fit-and-flare
Tucks in at the waist to define your silhouette


Best jeans for plus-size body types

Finding the perfect pair of jeans is tough for any size, but we have a few tips. Brands we love with extended sizing: NYDJ, Good American, Wit & Wisdom, SWAT FAME, Slink Jeans

Slim or skinny


1. Slim or skinny
Comfy and creates a leg-lengthening effect

Boot cut


2. Boot cut
The subtle flaring balances your curves

Straight


3. Straight
Like the sheath dress, this elongates your frame

High-waisted


4. High-waisted
Defines your waist, often with tummy-control construction


Stylish shoes and accessories for plus-size body types

Pay attention to proportion when accessorizing for your frame. Brands we love: Treasure & Bond, Tory Burch, Marc Fisher LTD, BP., Madewell

Belts


1. Belts
Defines your waistline and helps to create shape

Pointed-toe shoes


2. Pointed-toe shoes
Lengthen your legs and overall silhouette

Necklaces


3. Necklaces
Check the measurement length to see where it’ll hit on your bust

Bracelets


4. Bracelets
Check the circumference measurement to see if it’ll fit your wrist

3 outfit ideas for plus-size body types

Now that you know what pieces we recommend, it’s all about creating figure-flattering outfits. We’ve put together three looks for various occasions using the pieces highlighted above.

Everyday outfit

There’s nothing better than well-fitting jeans. Start a casual look with a straight-leg pair that lengthens your bottom half. A peplum top with a surplice neckline is flattering on curvy frames, while an eye-catching print and puffed sleeves draw the eye upward and help balance your proportions.

Sophisticated workwear

When looking for office-ready pieces, you can’t go wrong with a tailored blazer. We love contrasting a traditional pattern like this glen plaid with a more abstract print to make a polished but fashion-forward statement. The midi length of the skirt elongates your legs, especially when paired with pointed-toe pumps.

Out on the town

A fit-and-flare dress helps to define your silhouette, while a floral print and keyhole add dainty feminine touches. Pointed-toe booties are a modern alternative to pumps, and still fun enough for a night out. Finish the look with statement earrings and a perfectly messy updo.

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Simplifying size conventions

Fair warning—this is going to get a little confusing. But, we’ve done our best to lay out everything you need to know about the myriad size ranges made for plus clothing. Read on for a comprehensive size chart as well as how to convert from one size type to another.

Standard numerical

While this range of sizes historically topped out at about a 12, more and more brands and designers have extended up to 22 or 24. However, these are not the same as “W” curvy numerical sizes. Instead, they are roughly one size lower—so, for example, a standard 22 would be equivalent to a 20W.

Curvy numerical

These sizes range from 12W to 26W (the “W” stands for “women’s”). As we learned, a 12W is equivalent to a standard 14, and both of these are roughly equivalent to an XXSW. Which brings us to the next type of sizing: standard alpha.

Curvy alpha

Following the same formula, curvy alpha are plus-specific sizes that range from XXS to XXL, again adding a "W." In case you're shopping between brands and want to know equivalencies, an XXSW is similar to a 12W in curvy numerical. (Which, as we learned above, is equal to a standard size 14. You still with us?)

Curvy specific

This is probably the most widely recognized plus sizing, ranging from 0X to 4X. A standard XL is usually equivalent to a 1X, an XXL is equivalent to a 2X, and so on. Check the chart below for equivalencies to curvy numerical sizing. You'll likely find this type of sizing when shopping for tops, dresses, and jackets. 

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Want to know more?

We’ve compiled answers to some FAQs about dressing a plus-size body type. Click the questions below for more style advice.

What if I’m between sizes?
Can I wear leggings as pants?
What about footwear?
Should I dress in all black?
Do you have any tips for finding tall boots that fit?
How can I find jewelry that fits me?

Want more style tips? Visit our body shape pages and find out which looks work best for your frame. To get a Trunk full of looks styled just for your unique shape and size, talk to a stylist.