Upgrade Your Plus Size Office Cardigan

Posted by Jen Anderson on

Upgrade Your Plus Size Office Cardigan

If you have a desk, there's a good chance that you have a cardigan draped over the back of your desk chair. If you have an office, it might be on a hanger. It's black, maybe gray. It's not the prettiest piece of clothing you own, but when the office air conditioning is blasting, you're not picky. But if you're really honest with yourself, it's a shapeless lump that you wouldn't wear in front of clients. You can do better.

woman wearing a black and gold chain print jacket


Everyone has a schlumpy office sweater, so why do you need to upgrade yours? The infuriating fact is that plus size women are perceived as sloppier and less intelligent than their peers. We have to dress more nicely to compensate for other people's incorrect opinions. You may not care what Stu in Accounting thinks of you, but your boss, your boss' boss, and that person's boss control your annual performance review and raise. You are constantly running a PR campaign to get them to reward you for your skills, talent, and hard work.

What To Look For

Something lightweight is actually a much better choice than a cozy wool sweater. For one thing, you don't want to wear something that'll add bulk to your outfit. If your office is so cold that you really need to bundle up, hot beverages and a space heater will do the job better than a heavy sweater.

But the big reason you want to go lightweight is where you keep that cardi - hanging it on the back of your chair. Hanging up anything knit is going to result in it stretching out. A lightweight knit will still stretch, but not as much as something heavier. 

woman wearing a monet floral print jacket

A black cardigan or jacket sounds like the perfect choice. And it might be the right choice for you. We're looking for something that'll go well with most of your outfits. Any neutral color will work well. But don't discount prints.

Yes, really.

We all tend to stick to wearing our best colors, so it shouldn't be too hard to find a print that coordinates with your work wardrobe. Or you can go with a neutral print. Any print that's black &white, black &ivory, navy &white, or navy &ivory is a neutral print.

I know you don't go to work to look fabulous, but going beyond the obvious clothing choices makes you look intelligent because it demonstrates that you know more about style than others.

Treat Your Office Sweater Well

When you're going home for the weekend, or leaving the office for an extended period of time, roll up your cardigan and put it in a drawer. You keep that thing hung up for convenience, but if you're not there, why subject it to the evils of gravity? 

woman wearing a mini dot print jacket

Don't forget to take your office sweater home for regular washing. How often? That's between you and your sweat glands. If you're constantly cold and never break a sweat at work, then monthly washings are sufficient. If you've been getting frequent visits from the Hot Flash Fairy, weekly washings are the way to go.

Is It Really Worth It?

I know your lumpy old sweater is cozy. I'm not saying you should throw it out, just wear it around the house or even around the neighborhood. Just not in the office. I know it's a hassle to actually put some effort into a piece of clothing that's usually an afterthought. But you put so much into assembling your work outfits that you shouldn't spoil the look when the office gets chilly.

Check out our other posts about working while plus size.


Please listen to us! I live in Florida but every restaurant is freezing cold. Much as I love your jackets, they just don’t do it in movie theaters and dining places. I’d love a VickiVi cardigan that’s warmer than your jackets. Don’t get me wrong, I love to mix and match my outfits for the appropriate places, but these Icelandic places need warmth.

—Barbara corin,

I hear ya. I learned to knit myself so I could get the exact sweaters I wanted. But even my creations weren’t sufficiently corporate for some workplaces.

—Jen anderson,

The point of an office sweater is to keep one warm if it is cold (either because of air conditioning or because of outside temperatures). Even in Southern California, the Vikki Vi “cardigans”are not warm enough for that. They are great for putting on over a simple blouse to dress an outfit up, but I couldn’t wear them today, for example, when the temperatures have fallen and I’m actually wearing a heavy sweater-jacket over another sweater.


I agree wholeheartedly with Gail and Gail. I like the idea of something comfy and warm with full length or pushup sleeves. A “knitted”acrylic texture (vs. knit poly) would be wonderful Most of the women I know end up wearing men’s flannel shirts (but not by choice!). My sister has told me the same thing –almost impossible to find larger-sized, nice-looking cardigans. And yes, I’d like the option for it to be large enough across the bust and middle to close

BTW, I was enthused when I saw something about “sweaters”but you don’t have a “sweater”classification –just jackets.

—Diane carol gilson,

Maybe just use jersey swing jacket as template and make in one ot two thicknesses of soft wool combo or nonwool and button(s) or belt with fitted cuff


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