This page was last updated in January 2023, unless otherwise noted.
We haven’t talked explicitly about the best workwear for cusp sizes in far too long, ladies – if you’re a size 16 or 18, what are your favorite stores and brands? Given that the average American woman is now a size 16 and 5’4″this is a particularly tricky question because with these stats you can fit into regular sizes (eg 12, 14, 16, 18), plus sizes (eg 10W, 12W, 14W or 16W), petite common sizes (such as 14P, 16P, 18P) or the rare bird, small plus sizes (12WP, 14WP or 16WP) – that’s why women in this size range are called “inbetweeners!”
But many “regular” stores only carry sizes up to size 12 – and many “plus” stores only start at 18W. Add to to the fact that most stores have very few of these sizes on their shelves, and you can be stuck in a never-ending cycle of online shopping and returning items, as several readers noted in our post on how to return items purchased online.
SO. Let’s discuss, ladies: What is the best work clothes if you are a size 16? If you are an “average” size and right on the edge of plus size, what brands or stores have you found to be the best for you? What style of clothing best suits your body type? Which brands run small; which runs large?
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(Note that we’ve sprinkled some of our favorite plus-size basics throughout this post—note that most also come in sizes 14-16.)
Some of the brands I know of include:
“Regular” workwear brands in sizes 16-18 (aka “Misses” sizes)
(I realize that “regular” brands is an understatement, but I mean to distinguish between a size 16 vs a 16W – if anyone has suggestions for anything other than “regular” or “miss” sizes, I’ll take it. )
See also our latest overview of best work clothes for size 16 and other cusp sizes; Also check out our list above of options for plus size petites.
Independent brands with XXL-3X sizes
It can be difficult to make the cross for the “X” size – but if you’re looking for something to wear, you should consider these stores.
(See also the inclusive size sections Shop bopat Revolve and at Intermix.)
Made to measure work Clothing
In search of the best tailored work clothes? From 2023 are the best options we know of Brooks Brothers, SumissuraEtsy sellers Heart my closet, VigilanteLabsand CelesteLilouas well as smaller brands such as Loud Bodies, Sharpe Suiting, IGIGI, eShaktiand Rita Phil (pencil skirts only). Some of our favorite stores that offer free alterations for members include Nordstrom, J.Crew, Banana Republicand Uniqlo (select styles). If you are crafty, you can also see our overview of sewing patterns for work clothes.
Petite workwear in sizes 14P, 16P, 18P
From Jan. 2023, this is where you can find small sizes over a size 12…
Workwear for Plus-Size Petites (12WP-44WP)
From Jan. 2023, this is where you can find petites in plus sizes…
Small work clothes in large sizes (10W-16W or 0X)
Plus size clothing tends to be cut slightly wider than regular clothing – a size 16W will be larger than a size 16, for example.
Image via Fotolia / Syda Productions.
Admin note: This post was originally written in January 2017 but has been updated as noted above.
Updated stock photo via Indbetalingfotos / CandyBoxImages.