Interview suits for the pudgy and broke
March 22, 2011 8:06 AM   Subscribe

I am a short, fat female who needs an interview suit. Help!

Due to an impending layoff, I am going to have to get suited up soon and I would love to look put together for a change! I am 5'3'' and about 170 pounds. I am wearing a size 16 at the moment, but I am three months postpartum and still dropping baby weight. I expect size 14s to be just fine shortly. The vast majority of my excess weight is in my legs/thighs/hips. I am on a budget, but can probably come up with about $250 max. Does anyone have any suggestions for brands/stores to check out?
posted by feathermeat to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should add that my industry and position do not demand an impeccable or super-conservative look. Off-the-rack and inexpensive will be just fine for my purposes, as long as the fit is decent.
posted by feathermeat at 8:08 AM on March 22, 2011

Have you checked out (mefi's medea42's)'s Google Clothing Search? It's on the right-hand side of the page and gave some pretty good hits with "interview suit".
posted by jillithd at 8:10 AM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]
You might find something in Fashion Bug too
posted by royalsong at 8:13 AM on March 22, 2011

JCPenney's has a surprisingly good selection. I'm short and plump also and have good luck there and it's CHEAP.

Check out Fab Finds Under $50 for some good ideas too.
posted by ACN09 at 8:15 AM on March 22, 2011

You might want to check out Ann Taylor or Ann Taylor Loft -- I know someone who is about your size (judging by your height/weight info) and she's always been able to find good classic separates there. You could approximate a suit from those if a suit is what's needed...

I've had decent luck with Macy's (their online selection is sometimes better for higher sizes). Lane Bryant is hit or miss -- they've revamped their size model but some garments are still rather boxy and ill-fitting, at least on me. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
posted by palomar at 8:16 AM on March 22, 2011

Dressbarn (I hate that name) does some cute things for very reasonable prices, as does Macy's. The winter suit clearance racks at Macy's provided me with two new very nice suits for less than $150 apiece just two weeks ago and I'm no skinny minnie either. JCPenney's is also a decent bet for really inexpensive stuff that you probably won't wear all that much anyway so who cares how durable it is.
posted by supercapitalist at 8:16 AM on March 22, 2011

Or what ACN09 and palomar said. Should have previewed.
posted by supercapitalist at 8:17 AM on March 22, 2011

Nthing Macy's. I recently found a suit there that looked nicer than anything I saw at Ann Taylor, and it was under $100. They had a huge selection, too.

When I was a size 16 I found a cheap, decent suit at Sears. It wasn't the greatest suit in the world, but I interviewed in it and got the job.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:22 AM on March 22, 2011

Nthing JC Penney. You can buy suit components as separate for the best fit and they have a pretty large selection of petite styles. $250 should buy you the whole kit and caboodle: suit, shoes, something to wear under the suit and maybe even a new necklace. Also, never pay full price at Penney's as they have ridiculously frequent sales.
posted by heathergirl at 8:29 AM on March 22, 2011

Jones New York typically sells suits as separates so you can mix and match your sizes. If necessary you can match a Regular size 14 jacket with a Women's (Plus) 16 pant, for example.

If you can find a Jones outlet, you should be able to get a suit for well under your price range as they typically have lots of stuff on sale. JNY's e-mail notifications are great. They don't come ever day (like Talbot's). They really only come when there's a decent sale. (Data point: I got a notice the other day about 30 per cent off new merchandise. With the discount newly arrived sprint/summer suits were $170 for two pieces, and that's in Canada where the prices are slightly higher.)

Even if you can't find an outlet, a lot of the major department stores carry the line.

My biggest complaint with the company these days is the move to polyester from natural fibres (wool, cotton, linen). I really, really hate polyester, but of course we're women, so polyester is fine for us.

I mentioned Talbot's above. That's another option, although a more expensive one. On the up side, Talbot's still sells wool and wool blend suits.
posted by sardonyx at 8:33 AM on March 22, 2011

Nordstrom has a lot of wonderful plus size clothes, not just in workwear but in general. Stylish and high quality. Here's a great skirt, and if you look on the right side of the page, it links to the matching jacket for a complete suit. There are also pants.

If you pay full price in-store, you can usually get free alterations (there are some exceptions for complicated or extensive alterations).
posted by peep at 9:01 AM on March 22, 2011

1) If you're near a Bloomingdales/Nordstrom's/Macy's-type department store, get in touch with one of their personal shoppers who can pick out some options suited to your needs. The service is usually free and spares you a lot of time and pain.

2) Find a good tailor near you or take advantage of free alterations at the place you buy your suit.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2011

You should probably look at petite sizes. They're cut better for short chubby women. I like the classic gray dress slacks from Landsend or Eddie Bauer(on sale right this very minute) and a black or navy jacket, with a brand new dressy t-shirt, or a fine gauge cotton tee. It's an easy way to look well-put-together. The t-shirt can be a great color, or neutral, and you can add a scarf or jewelry to suit your own style.

I can't wear heels, and in Maine, can wear nice Dansko clogs, but you may want to look for a good-looking low-heeled pumps to dress it up.
posted by theora55 at 10:49 AM on March 22, 2011

Macy's, Bloomingdales are your best bet. For labels try Jones New York, Alfani, Liz Claiborne (kind of old-seeming in some ways), maybe Calvin Klein. You will for sure be able to get a nice suit for $250. Most of these labels you can get the top and bottom as "separates" ie buy them in different sizes so they fit properly.
posted by wurly at 10:52 AM on March 22, 2011

Jones New York petite suits tend to be the best off-the-rack ones I can find, and I'm built pretty much like you. But they have to be petite, or the jackets are just too long for our short torsos.
posted by Eshkol at 11:07 AM on March 22, 2011

Ann Taylor Loft petites

Talbots petites

Jones New York petites

Banana Republic petites

Best yet, purchase approximately your petite sized suit on ebay (used) and then have it tailed perfectly.
posted by arnicae at 12:19 PM on March 22, 2011

Another vote for the Jones New York label.
posted by pineapple at 1:14 PM on March 22, 2011

Everybody who mentioned JNY petits and woman petits is correct. Try to find examples in that sizing line. I should have mentioned them in my initial post.

If you're in a Jones outlet, you may also find Kasper or Evan Picone branded suits (along with a couple of other brands). They're similar in fit, so consider those as well. The Evan Picone ones are a bit more stylish and little bit more expensive.
posted by sardonyx at 2:29 PM on March 22, 2011

I was about your size when I needed to interview for my first job. Dress Barn women isn't fancy but it does the job for a decent price. They carry LeSuit and some other quite nice brands for lower cost. Also, I had some luck at Marshall's but it's a crapshoot.
posted by TravellingCari at 4:11 PM on March 23, 2011

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