The 2021 Plus Size Workwear Guide: Loft Alternatives and More

A few weeks ago, a comment deep in the replies of a random Instagram brand post made waves throughout the plus fashion community online: Loft had apparently decided to discontinue their plus sizes entirely.  This was frustrating and disheartening for a whole myriad of reasons (some of which I get into in this excellent piece on Fashionista), but the practical considerations of having one of your go-to places to shop suddenly exclude you is a major one.

So I asked my Instagram community whether you’d be interested in a post about where to find alternatives, and the answer was a resounding YES (with hundreds of yeses and literally only one no!)  There were a few different categories for Loft replacements that came up (including denim), but the clear winner was workwear.  As someone who spent many years struggling to find office wear that fit correctly and looked good, I am not surprised. (I am, however, surprised at how short-sighted Loft is being by dropping their plus customers before giving them a shop to restock their wardrobes for the back-to-office rush that is sure to come).

Fortunately, there are so many more brands now that offer plus size workwear, including a bunch you might not be familiar with.  I’ve done a deep dive on the market to research the best plus workwear brands for 2021, and I’m listing some of my top picks below.  If you find anything you love, I’d really appreciate it if you use the links here to shop: If it is an affiliate link, it supports the work I do here and allows me to spend more time doing in-depth guides like this one!  

Affordable Plus Size Workwear Brands:

Leota is one of those companies that I don’t think gets enough credit for just how longstanding their commitment to plus is.  They were one of the only contemporary workwear brands to offer plus back when I first started blogging, and I’ve found that their wrap dresses fit even better than *the* iconic designer brand that now offers plus (a controversial opinion, I know!).  Leota’s pieces are versatile enough to wear outside of the office too, and feel great on.  I recently started partnering with Leota again, so I have a Curvily reader discount code for any purchases from their site: 20% off with coupon code CURVILY.

1.State, a casual contemporary brand found in department stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s, checks a lot of the same boxes that Loft did.  Higher neckline and signature styles that come in a bunch of colors simplify the shopping process (I know I used to buy good office tops in as many colors as I could afford, and this style has 10)!  The retail price point is a little higher, but it is not uncommon to find markdowns at the department stores, and sometimes you can even find deep discounts at bargain outlets like the Rack or T.J. Maxx.

Eloquii‘s focus on plus sizes and trend-driven selection makes them a natural place to shop for a statement piece, but they also have a great offering of work-ready blouses, sharp dresses, chic suits, and well-fitting pants.  The latter is particularly noteworthy, because they offer three different body fits: The Gena fit, for “a fuller mid-section and narrower hips and thighs;” the Viola fit, for body shapes with hip measurements 1-2 sizes larger than their waist measurement; and their classic fit for measurements that are in line with the standard size chart (i.e. the default if a style name doesn’t have Gena or Viola in it).  Eloquii’s retail prices are about in line with Loft’s, and they also have regular sales and markdowns – always check their site for a discount code before checking out!  You can also check out their sale section or their lower-priced Eloquii Elements diffusion line for serious steals if you were sale-only shopper at Loft.

Kiyonna: Back when I worked in Big Law, my wardrobe was a constant sore spot for me, as I’ve always loved fashion but the options in my size were so drab and ill-fitting.  Finding Kiyonna was a game-changer for me: It was the first time I had a sharp, professional dress that was actually made for my body (it was this same cut, and I still have my original dress!).  They are serious about keeping their fit consistent over the years too, so if you are the type of shopper that likes to find a style you love and buy it in multiple colors and prints, Kiyonna is for you.

Foxcroft is a classic shirting brand that has been offering plus sizes for years, with crisp cotton button downs and no-iron options that will work for even the most, ahem, buttoned-up offices.  Their staple pieces retail for around $90 and don’t often go on sale in core colors, but you can sometimes snag fun colors and prints or slightly different cuts discounted for as low as $26 at outlets like Nordstrom Rack.

Sarah wearing a white button down top, plaid jacket, and black pants

Court & Rowe has a modern preppy vibe that translates easily into business casual workwear.  This Swiss dot blouse would look just as chic under a blazer or worn with wide leg slacks as it does worn casually with jeggings and my favorite Baacal car coat.  The best selection of Court & Rowe plus can be usually be found at Nordstrom (though it is looking pretty bare at the moment – hopefully this brand isn’t bailing on plus too!), but you can also find deep discounts off-season at bargain stores.

Vince Camuto: What started as a shoe brand has really expanded since, and their plus workwear tends to be solid.  Nordstrom usually has the broadest selection of plus, but you can also find pieces at Dillards, Macy’s, and the Rack.

Halogen: This is a Nordstrom house label, and the aesthetic is very workwear-friendly, with lots of versatile blouses and separates that are both pulled together and comfortable. The retail price point of Halogen is very similar to Loft, and Nordstrom often offers sales that knock it down further.  You can also check out Nordstrom Rack for even deeper discounts.

Bobeau: This affordable brand can veer more casual overall, but there is a good selection of pieces that fill the more laid-back-workplace attire gap being left by Loft’s departure.  I find good markdowns at online outlet stores too, with shirts under $10 available as of publishing time.

Gibsonlook: This brand hits that slightly-boho-but-still-work-friendly vibe that a lot of Loft’s plus size offerings had, and there tends to be a good variety marked way down at the Rack at any given time.

Modcloth: Known for their cutesy, quirky retro vibes, Modcloth isn’t an obvious choice for workwear, but some of their blouses would be a perfect accompaniment for a pencil skirt or slacks. They often have big sales on their own site, but you can also find major deals on discount sites.

Lane Bryant: Back before the world shut down, a big part of my day-to-day was attending fashion events in NYC. I’d often get compliments on my Lane Bryant pieces, usually followed by either (a) complete confusion from straight size peers who had never heard of the plus brand before, or (b) excited “oh really?” replies from plus size people who hadn’t shopped them in a while. All this to say: Don’t count LB out! As the longest-running plus size brand, I’ve encountered many people who have outdated ideas about their offerings, so I always encourage them to give LB another look. They are particularly good for work-to-weekend dresses and pants, especially for hard to fit sizes. Year after year, Lane Bryant has remained committed to steadily improving and refining their pant fit, and the results speak for themselves IMO.

NYDJ: While primarily a denim brand (that’s what the “D” in their acronym name stands for), NYDJ has slowly increased their non-jean offerings.  Their blouses are easy to wear and very office friendly, and you can find good deals on their non-denim pants on sites like Marshalls and the Rack.

Standards & Practices: This is another label known for their denim and casual looks, but I’ve been seeing a lot of office-ready dresses and pants from them lately.  And if you have a less strict dress code, their wide leg denim trousers could definitely work for work.

Torrid:  Though it first started off as a plus size offshoot of goth staple Hot Topic, Torrid has morphed into so much more in the years since.  You can still find licensed tees and more casual pieces there, but their workwear section has a lot of options that can work for the office, from blouses to classic black pants, all in sizes up to 6x.

Bar III: The most current of Macy’s house brands, Bar III’s plus section is small but impactful, with both classic neutral suits and bold statement colors.  I’d love to see Macy’s expand their Bar III selection to include more of the fun, fashion-forward options they have in straight sizes though! #plussizeplease

Ulla Popken: I’ve noticed that this European plus brand has recently started to up the style and selection of their stateside offerings, and that includes some fun office-ready pieces. I’m personally drawn to this springy printed linen suit, but they have some more classic options as well.  Their overall selection all includes some items that are decidedly not my personal style, but the broad size range (up to 34 US) definitely warrants them a mention, and I’m hoping they’ll keep adding more interesting pieces going forward.

Liz Claiborne: Right before publishing, I saw a post from my blogger friend Ashley Dorough that Liz Claiborne now goes up to size 5x.  I used to longingly look at the straight size LC offerings when I was just starting out in my career and desperately needed affordable career-wear, so as soon as I saw that they were offering a good range plus sizes now, I knew I needed to include it here.

Workwear Upgrades

If you are looking to invest in workwear pieces that will last for years for your back-to-office wardrobe, there are some excellent options that offer plus sizes:

Laws of Motion:  If you’ve ever felt like your usual size just doesn’t fit correctly in one area or another, Laws of Motion is definitely worth a look.  They’ve developed a unique “microsizing” system with 144 sizes in the 0-24 range, each specified to a different body type.  They worked with the experts at KEDIC Fashion Workshop to make sure their plus fit was impeccable, and it shows in the results.

Pari Passu: Button downs are notoriously hard to fit (as are more structured pieces in general), so Shanna Goldstone created a new, plus-specific fit model to work on different body types, and did it with lots of data (information from over 7,500 plus women!). Between the plus body info and 16+ months of fit work, Pari Passu came up with three different body fits to help their chic pieces fit different plus body shapes as close to tailor-made as possible.  I’m also a big fan of their Goldie leggings (soft, comfortable, no compression, and completely opaque) – aka perfect for the transition from working at home to the office.  I recently joined Pari Passu’s partner program so I could get a discount code for you too: curvily20 for 20% off using this link!

Henning: Former Glamour editor and plus model Lauren Chan created Henning after years of frustration from not being able to find the luxe workwear she wanted in plus, and the resulting label is chic and fashionable, with beautifully made pieces that have serious wear-for-years potential.  Henning’s suits and jackets are the standouts, but they also recently launched a work-from-home inspired line with soft trousers and machine-washable cashmere.

Eileen Fisher is one of those well-established labels that is known for their quality, and for prioritizing sustainable practices long before it was trendy.  I really love that they recently made the move to offer all of their styles in their full size range (XXS-3X), so you can browse their classic staples without worrying if they come  They are also known for their higher price point, so for many plus shoppers, they seem out of reach.  If you’ve been wanting to try Eileen Fisher but can’t afford their retail price, I recommend keeping an eye on TJ Maxx and Marshalls websites.  You can’t search by their brand name, but if you click through their “Reveal Designers” bar beneath certain styles you can find major steals, like a $29 pair of silk pants and a shift dress for $39.

Talbots: If you are looking for sharp, well-made suits that will pass muster for the strictest of corporate dress codes, Talbots’ plus size selection is a solid bet.  They are definitely a higher price point, but the quality will bring the price per wear down over time, and the styles all veer on the classic side, so there is a lot of potential for years of wear.

Gravitas: This NYC-based label was founded by Lisa Sun after her first career performance review mentioned she should “seek to have more gravitas.” The resulting brand is all about strong, self-assured pieces that project the same – which can be vital in corporate office settings. I appreciate that Sun made sure to include plus size women in her vision, with sizes XS-3X offered.  If you want to shop from a multibrand plus site, Gravitas is also offered at CoEdition.

OfMercer: With a variety of well-fitted, classic office attire from dresses to blazers, OfMercer is a strong choice for sizes up to 2X that want to come back to the office with nothing less than absolute composure.  In addition to their own site and their NYC boutique, you can shop an edited OfMercer selection at CoEdition if you want to try them with other plus labels.

 

Baacal: Sometimes, you don’t know how much something was missing from your wardrobe until you have it.  That was 100% the case with me and silk blouses from Cynthia Vincent’s sustainably and ethically made label Baacal.  I never even thought of myself as someone who’d wear a silk blouse, but as soon as I tried one on, I realized what an incredible wardrobe staple it was.  I wear mine with jeans and leather pants, but they just as easily pair with pencil skirts or office-ready trousers. However I style them, I instantly feel more chic and pulled together when I put one on – always a good thing to have in your closet! Baacal also offers sharp blazers and dresses that you’ll find yourself reaching for for years to come, as I recently discussed with New York Magazine’s The Strategist.  Baacal’s pieces are investment quality and the price reflects that, but because I’m a longtime partner of Baacal, I was recently able to get an exclusive discount for Curvily readers: 15% off the Baacal site with code CURV15.