Bustle's "Help Me Get Dressed" series is dedicated to answering all your burning plus size style, shopping, and fashion questions. In this installment, Henning founder Lauren Chan tackles the question of how to get dressed for work in the summer, especially as a plus size person.
Controversial opinion: I dread summertime in the city. Let me explain: I’m plus-size and I’ve typically worked in offices that have required me to look put together. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the turn of the season, it’s that my hatred for my 100-degree commute outweighs my love for Summer Fridays.
If you’re like me, you know that come June your jeans start smelling like sweat and your white button-downs sprout irreparable stains. And you are #overit. While I realize that a lot of women regardless of their size have these frustrations, they’re arguably worse for those of us who wear above a size 12. Why? We get hotter faster. We have issues like thigh chafe. And we don’t have as many clothing options from chic athleisure brands like Kit and Ace to sub into our workwear rotation.
Over the years I’ve developed some habits that make getting dressed for work in the summer more bearable. And at this point, it’s pretty much my duty to share them with you. So here it goes.
1. Reach for natural fabric.
It’s no secret that the cheap polyester, rayon, and viscose that plus-size shoppers are usually offered do not breathe well. These sweat-trapping materials make us hotter, hold terrible smells, and, I find, stain faster. Instead, reach for natural fabric like cotton or linen. Cotton is your best bet because it’s affordable and it allows for air to pass through it and absorbs moisture without retaining dampness.
2. Try new silhouettes.
Sadly, jeans are not your friend during the summer months. And when it comes to most workplaces, neither are jean shorts. If you love dresses and skirts, lean into that, but make sure they are long enough. A good rule of thumb: the bare backs of your legs shouldn’t touch the seat when you sit down. If a hemline that long is a little bit too hot, try adding a slit for airflow. If, like me, you are a pants-person, favor flowy ones like culottes.
3. Shop some unexpected brands.
Look beyond your go-to stores for your newest pieces. Indie brands like Elizabeth Suzann offer fairly priced linen items in a wide range of sizes. Mainstream brands like Athleta offer athleisure that could be disguised for the office when worn with a blazer. (Don’t forget: AC!)
4. Use hacks to your advantage.
Beyond that, it’s just about finding what makes your life easier. I apply Megababe Thigh Rescue when I wear dresses — and when I’ve really had it, I throw on Knix’s Thigh Saver shorts. I commute in Allbirds’ breezy eucalyptus tree fiber shoes and change into work shoes at my destination. I always have hair ties on hand so I can throw my hair up during my commute. I keep Tatcha blotting papers in my bag in case I have to run right into a meeting.
And, yes, sometimes I just yell at the sky and wish for October.