It’s so easy to get into a rut with our clothes. We wear the same separates together over and over again. Or the same accessories with the same dresses. The problem is that we buy a lot of clothes that aren’t versatile. Dresses that are appropriate for the office, but not for drinks after work. Sequined tops that are clearly made for a night on the town that shouldn’t be worn in daylight. But versatile clothing can go from day to night. Or from weekday to weekend.
Shopping for plus size clothing can be such a treasure hunt that we settle for clothes that aren’t versatile. And not everything we wear needs to be so flexible. But we’re rarely only going to one place per day, and versatile clothing makes it a lot easier to get dressed in the morning.
You know a piece of clothing is versatile when you reach for it again and again, no matter where you’re going. And it goes with lots of things you already own.
The Little Black Dress
The mother of all versatile clothes is the LBD. A good black dress can go anywhere with the right accessories. Add a blazer for the office, then ditch the blazer and add standout jewelry for the evening. Casual it up with a denim jacket, or make it fancy with your best (real or faux) pearls.
Have three weddings to attend in two months? With major overlap in the guest list? You can still wear the same black dress to all three without repeating a look. Add a jacket for one, a great scarf for the second, and a statement necklace for the third.
The Maxi Dress
Maxi dresses are more than a quick trend because they’re so comfy. Yet they look dramatic and stylish. What a great combination.
Jan Tanury, owner of plus size boutique Botticelli explains the appeal.
It’s more comfortable than yoga pants and always looks
stylish! I prefer a maxi dress with a print. The print acts like camouflage for minor bubbles. Maxi dresses can either be casual
or dressy, depending on the occasion. But no matter what, they always make a statement and they make a girl feel good. They are my go to piece when I don’t feel like wearing body armor or shaving my legs! They also travel well and they can go from dining room to poolside with just a change of sandal. In my opinion they kick the LBD to the curb.
If you find a maxi dress that has spaghetti straps (why, designers, why?), then layer a tee underneath so you can wear a bra without the straps showing.
The Cascading Cardigan
This is another trend that hasn’t faded away. All because it’s flattering and versatile as all get out. Wear one to dress up jeans and a tee, or add a casual touch to a dress.
Stylist Fanny Woo says that cascading cardigans are super versatile.
The longer cardigan will elongate the frame as well as add depth to the outfit.
Design consultant Mariana Leung thinks the cascading cardi’s versatility lies in the different ways you can wear it.
A wrap sweater in a light weight knit is wonderful for a variety of looks. You can leave it flowing for a relaxed chic that covers all sins. You can also wrap the ends around yourself to emphasize the curves you like but still disguise the ones you don’t. You can also get creative with different draping to make use of your favorite jewelry pieces to hold them in place.
Have fun with a cascading cardigan. Try wearing it in different ways with different outfits, and you’ll find that it goes with almost everything in your closet.
The White Top
You need one top that will go with several outfits. The right white top will go with that skirt you just had to buy even though you had no idea what to pair with it. It’ll go with your brown pants, your black skirt, and your jeans. We even wrote a whole blog post (that’s been really popular!) about finding the perfect plus size white top.
Karen Brunger, chief stylist for the Style Institute says you should get a, “simple, classic white top that can sit smoothly and comfortably underneath a jacket or sweater.” She also points out that not everyone white top should be pure white.
It is important that the white selected suit the person wearing it, in order for her not to appear anemic, jaundiced, tired, or patchy. Whites can be cool - ice and soft white, or warm - cream and pale beige. If you are not sure of the white that suits you best, a neat trick is to match it to the color of your teeth.
You can also check our guide to figuring out whether warm or cool colors suit you best.
The Lightweight Jacket
Think a light jacket is only good for keeping your warm? Think again.
Kendra Porter, a New York based image consultant and stylist, gets tons of wear out of hers.
The most versatile piece in my wardrobe is a soft lightweight leather jacket. It is perfect for jeans and a t-shirt, but great for edging up a cocktail dress. Heading out after work with a change of accessories, I have a whole new look. In the winter, it works as a layering piece instead of a cardigan or blazer and even does double duty under a fur vest. It is the best investment one can make living through all four seasons.
Head into your coat closet – you may already own a light jacket that’s versatile, and just haven’t thought of it that way. Bonus: a jacket with a defined waist will emphasize your waist, or create the illusion of a defined waist if you don’t have one.
Don’t skimp on your versatile clothing. You’ll get lots of wear out of each piece, so your cost per wear will be lower than something that gives you only one look. Plus, since you’ll be wearing your versatile pieces again and again, you want them to be well made, so they don’t wear out too quickly.