How can I find a stylish size 16 work wardrobe?

Your question

Before I had my children I was a size 10-12. However now I struggle to fit into anything smaller than a size 16, and I’m finding it increasingly hard to find stylish clothes for work. Can you give me an idea of how to put together a work outfit that will help me to look – and feel – great?

Our answer

The good news is that you’re in great company. The average dress size in the UK is now a size 16 (40” bust, 32” waist, 43” hip), with 45% of British women fitting a size 16 or over. And the fashion industry is slowly recognising that there is an army of female consumers demanding stylish, attractive clothes in larger sizes.

In response to growing demand, ASOS have launched Curve, and Very include a range that goes up to size 32. The fashion industry has also seen high profile collaborations including Evans’ Swan range by Clements Ribeiro, and H&M recently used a UK size 16 model, Jennie Runk, to front their swimwear campaign.

The most important message I impart to my clients is confidence – if you don’t feel confident in what you’re wearing, it shows in many ways, including your posture, assertiveness as well as those all important first impressions. However, it’s easy to feel good about how you look simply by planning a considered, stylish outfit highlighted by on trend accessories. 

With that in mind I’ve put together a stylish work outfit that can be worn by the average-sized UK woman.

Good tailoring is essential and these linen trousers skim over thighs and have a flattering bootleg ankle width which covers cankles or a wide calf. Try on several sizes to make sure you have the right fit – many brands use different size charts so ignore what’s on the label and rely instead on what it looks like in the mirror!

Add a colour burst to your outfit, too. This turquoise cardigan draws attention up towards your face, and the soft V shape neckline is flattering for a plentiful bosom, while the longer sleeve hides a less than toned upper arm.

Be bold and layer a black and white wide stripe vest under a cardigan. This breaks up the colour blocking and allows you to be on trend as well as pulling the outfit together.

Accessories are your best style friends! Snake print is an emerging trend and this python print bangle means you don’t have to spend on trend. Match this with a white and snakeskin bag. These black and silver sandals cover a heel that may not be baby soft, and again shows that you’re fashion aware by donning metallics.

If you prefer a heel to elongate your legs, these wedge sling backs from M&S tie in with a snake print upper, while the wedge heel offers more comfort.

Whatever your size or shape, looking groomed and put together will give you the confidence you need to feel good about yourself – and perform at your best at work.

Answered by Karen Skagerlind from Wardrobe Wand.

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