The Best Workwear For Size 16 (and 18, and 16P, and 16WP, and 14W…)

midsize young professional woman talking on phone; she wears a gray sweater with a blouse with a bow

midsize young professional woman talking on phone; she wears a gray sweater with a blouse with a bow

This page was last updated January 2023 except where 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 the fact that the average American woman is now a size 16 and 5’4″, this is particularly a difficult question because with those stats you may fit in regular sizes (e.g., 12, 14, 16, 18), plus sizes (e.g., 10W, 12W, 14W, or 16W), petite regular sizes (such as 14P, 16P, 18P) or that rare bird, petite plus sizes (12WP, 14WP, or 16WP) — this is why women in this size range are called “inbetweeners!”

But a lot of “regular” stores only carry sizes up to size 12 — and a lot of “plus” stores only start at 18W. Add to that the fact that most stores carry very few of those sizes on the shelves, and you may be stuck in a never-ending cycle of online shopping and returning stuff, as several readers noted in our post on how to return items bought online.

{related: 100+ great shops for plus-size work clothes}

SO. Let’s discuss, ladies: What’s the best workwear if you’re a size 16? If you’re an “average” size and right on the cusp of plus sizes, which brands or stores have you found to be the best for you? What styles of clothes work best for your body type? What brands run small; which run big?

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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.)

Hunting for the best sweater jackets for plus sizes? Some of our favorites of 2022 include: navy / black / green / gray / burgundy (not pictured but also)

Some of the brands I know of include:

“Regular” Workwear Brands in Sizes 16-18 (aka “Misses” Sizes)

(I realize “regular” brands is a flawed term, but I mean to distinguish a size 16 vs a 16W — if anyone has any suggestions for something other than “regular” or “misses” sizes I’ll take it.)

Also check out our latest roundup of the best workwear for size 16 and other cusp sizes; also check out our list above of options for plus-size petites.

collage of 4 women wearing busty blouses -- button-fronts made especially for women with bigger breasts

As of 2022, some great dress shirts for women with large breasts: mustard / white / blue / white (also check out this indie brand)

Independent Brands With XXL-3X Sizes

It can be hard to make the cross into the “X” sizing — but if you’re looking for something to wear you should consider these stores.

(Also check the inclusive sizing sections at Shopbop, and at Revolve (XXS-4X).)

Made to Measure Work Clothes

Hunting for the best made-to-measure work clothes? As of 2023, the best options we know of are Brooks Brothers, Sumissura, Etsy sellers Heart My Closet, VigilanteLabs, and CelesteLilou, as well as smaller brands like Loud Bodies, Sharpe Suiting, IGIGI, eShakti, and Rita Phil (pencil skirts only). Some of our favorite stores that offer free alterations for members include Nordstrom, J.Crew, Banana Republic, and Uniqlo (select styles). If you’re crafty, you may also want to check out our roundup of sewing patterns for workwear outfits.

Petite Workwear in Sizes 14P, 16P, 18P

As of Jan. 2023, this is where you can find petite sizes above a size 12…

Workwear for Plus-Size Petites (12WP-44WP)

As of Jan. 2023, this is where you can find plus-size petites…

Some of our favorite plus-size suits for interviews as of 2022: Calvin Klein / Eloquii / Universal Standard / Talbots /(not pictured but also J.Crew

Smaller Plus-Sized Work Clothes (10W-16W or 0X)

Plus-size clothes tend to be cut a bit wider than regular clothes — a size 16W will be bigger than a size 16, for example.

collage of 5 dresses: 1) black with elbow sleeves, 2) burgundy with long sleeves, 3) black faux wrap with three-quarter sleeves, 4) hot pink print with three-quarter sleeves, and 5) faux wrap with crewneck and three-quarter sleeves

Above, some of our favorite plus-size wrap dresses for work: one / two / three / four / five (not pictured but also check out this Etsy seller)

Picture via Fotolia / Syda Productions

Admin note: This post was originally written in January 2017, but has been updated as indicated above.

Updated stock photo via Deposit Photos / CandyBoxImages.

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