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How Do I Choose the Best Formal plus Size Clothing?

Lauren Romano
Lauren Romano

Those who need to purchase formal plus size clothing may think there is nothing out there that will look good, and if there is it's too much of a hassle to find it, but that's far from the truth. The first and most important step is to get measured and not do it alone. Before doing any shopping, check store websites to see if they carry the necessary size — it'll save time searching random stores for the perfect size. Purchase a body-shaper, then opt for an outfit that flatters almost every body type. Choose one that is a fabric and color that accentuates the skin and body perfectly.

The first and most important step of buying formal clothing is to get measured beforehand. Get the measurements done at a department store or by a loved one rather than doing it by yourself. It's much easier to have someone else do it than to try to perfectly position the tape measure just right. Measurements of the bust, waist and shoulders as well as from the bust to the floor should be taken.

Women who wear plus size clothing may find a greater selection online or through catalogs.
Women who wear plus size clothing may find a greater selection online or through catalogs.

Some stores cater only to plus size shoppers, others to those who wear standard sizes, and then there are stores that carry a variety of sizes. Rather than go to random clothing stores to check if they carry formal plus size clothing, review the websites first to see what sizes they carry. It not only saves time from having to run from store to store, but they will have employees that are skilled in finding the right clothing for a plus size frame.

Black is a naturally slimming color.
Black is a naturally slimming color.

Those who want to even out certain parts of their body can wear a body-shaper. There is a variety of types including those that slim down thighs, only the waist, from under the bust to the knees and one that includes a bra and continues down to the knees. Wear the body-shaper while trying on dresses to get an accurate idea of the fit of the outfit.

Women looking for formal plus size clothing should opt for an A-line dress, which is form fitting at the top and flares out from the waist; they come in various lengths ranging from above the knee down to the floor. Men who need a plus size suit or tuxedo should choose one that is basic and not comprised of too many layers. Skip a vest and stick to the jacket and a button down shirt, which typically makes almost any man look good.

Men looking for formal plus size clothing should stick to basic black. Although black and darker colors are slimming, women should first choose a color based on what complements their skin tone. Avoid clothing made from silk or satin, which clings to every part of the body and, more importantly, can feel hot and uncomfortable after awhile.

Choosing clothing is all about what accentuates the body well and what feels comfortable. Trying on the clothing is vital regardless of whether or not the size of the clothing seems to correspond with your measurements. Even if the outfit seems too loose all over or in one or two areas, a tailor can make the proper adjustments.

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Discussion Comments


@bythewell - I have a couple of formal dresses that I basically use for every occasion. I know they look good and they are both simple, so I can dress them up or down depending on what kind of occasion I need them for.

One of them I found online and only bought after a lot of research and measuring with tape measures. I also checked reviews to make sure the sizes were accurate and it seemed like they usually were. The other one didn't really fit that well at first, but I spent a little bit at a tailor and got them to resize it for me so now it looks perfect.

The hardest thing for me is admitting that it's worth spending a bit more to get the clothes in the first place. I always used to want to wait to make big clothing purchases because I was convinced I would eventually lose weight. But eventually I just came to terms with it. I am who I am, and I deserve nice clothes.


@pastanaga - I always make sure the store has a good return policy if I buy online, but that's why I prefer to buy in person if possible. I know it's tough, because there are so few places where you can get good plus sized clothes, but formal wear is so expensive I don't want to risk getting something that I can't really wear.


There are some fantastic stores out there which allow reviewers to post pictures of themselves wearing a particular piece of clothing, so you can see how it looks in action. I don't look anything like a typical model, even a plus sized model, so it's really nice to be able to see what clothes will look like on ordinary women before buying it.

It's hard enough shopping for plus sized clothes when there are so few choices, without having to send back items when they don't fit, or look terrible if they do.

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    • Women who wear plus size clothing may find a greater selection online or through catalogs.
      By: Hugo Félix
      Women who wear plus size clothing may find a greater selection online or through catalogs.
    • Black is a naturally slimming color.
      By: katalinks
      Black is a naturally slimming color.