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Suits for the larger professional

(20 Posts)
avenginggerbil Wed 01-Jul-09 14:27:59

I really need help. I am training to be a lawyer and applying for jobs. I am constantly told that I should dress the part (ie, to get a well-paid lawyer job, I should dress like a well-paid lawyer). So far so good.

I am 5'6", a size 28 on top and 24 below. I have horrible tree-trunk like legs. I can't stand up, let alone walk, in heels.

Where do I go to find a conservative, yet stylish suit? The high street only seems to offer cheap and cheerful which is not what I want/need.

Are there no fat professional women? Am I doomed to unemployment because I can't look 'right'?

Please help!

avenginggerbil Wed 01-Jul-09 17:52:52

Bump for evening style gurus

avenginggerbil Wed 01-Jul-09 17:53:10

Unless there really is no answer!

EachPeachPearMum Wed 01-Jul-09 20:28:59

What about somewhere like Elvi? I believe their quality is good... and they have a sale on atm.
They have stores in the following places:

Ayr Hourstons
Bangor Menarys
Canterbury Nasons
Carlisle Hoopers
Chelmsford Quadrant
Croydon Allders
Isle of Man Tynwald Mills
Newton Abbot Austins
Newton Mearns
Norwich Jarrolds
Perth McEwens
Tunbridge Wells
Wimbledon Elys
Windsor Daniels
Yeovil Denners
York Browns

EachPeachPearMum Wed 01-Jul-09 20:34:32

My manager is a very tall, large lady- and she always looks well-dressed.
A good haircut is important, and she always wears nice jewellery- not expensive, but tasteful costume jewellery.

Marks and Spencer go up to a 28 and I know she shops there... however, she is likely quite a bit older than you!

Babbity Wed 01-Jul-09 20:39:56

Why don't you get suits made? It's not as expensive as you might thin. I know loits of lawyers, and you definitely need to go a bit more upmarket than M&S.

avenginggerbil Wed 01-Jul-09 21:17:44

Thanks folks; M&S is ok at a pinch, but I was hoping for something a bit more upmarket - and I hate the fact that you can't try on anything over a 20 in M&S any more and have to go to the pariah's ordering area.

There used to be an Elvi in my local John Lewis, but it has gone - they said it had gone out of business, so I shall look at that site EachPeach.

Babbity, do you have any idea how/where one gets a suit made? It may be the only solution, but it is really frustrating!

Thanks for help so far. Any other ideas out there?

EachPeachPearMum Wed 01-Jul-09 21:47:31

Marisota go up to size 38.

Anne Harvey?

avenginggerbil Wed 01-Jul-09 22:28:35

Ooh - I've never met Marisota. That looks promising. Anne Harvey is my current standby, but it always seems pricey for not that spectacular stuff. I don't mind paying, but I'd rather pay for something really good, if you see what I mean.

aarghhelp Wed 01-Jul-09 22:42:48

Artigliano Spirito

avenginggerbil Wed 01-Jul-09 22:45:36

Aargh, thanks, they have some nice looking stuff there - though possibly too exciting for lawyers!

DollyPardonme Wed 01-Jul-09 22:55:42


I am a lawyer (couple of decades on in my career from you) and also not the smallest person by a long chalk.

I also have done a lot of interviewing of trainees. The impression you make at interview is extremely important - you don't need me to tell you that.

I'd suggest getting a couple of very neat suits. Good shoes - even if flat. Good accessories. Make sure your hair and make up are immaculate. If you are larger (in my personal experience) it's easier to look scruffy (hot, clothes not fitting right etc etc) so work on all that. If shirts or blouses gape (certainly do on me) then go for upmarket smart T-shirts with good necklaces. Provided you get the presentation right the interviewers will stop thinking about your appearance and concentrate on what you are saying. Body language also very important so work on that.

I rarely wear suits to work nowadays and have a suite of summer dresses which I'm using at the moment. But I don't work in a very corporate environment (I'm an employment lawyer), I am quite senior in my firm, so don't have to impress my boss, and also am a bit don't give a damn (which you can't afford to be when starting out).

Can't give you advice about where to shop: isn't there a MaxMara larger line (can't remember its name but think it begins with V) which might have some good stuff.

good luck

avacado Wed 01-Jul-09 23:12:43

Message withdrawn

aarghhelp Thu 02-Jul-09 09:54:14

Marina Rinaldi?

avenginggerbil Thu 02-Jul-09 11:52:46

DollyP, that is so helpful, thank you. Perhaps I should add that I am 43 and career changing, so I think it is probably even more important to look right so they can see beyond how ancient I am!

Avacado, thanks for the tips, I will follow them up.

Aargh - I have a lovely Marina Rinaldi suit I bought in New York in about 1989 (sadly no longer fits!); any idea where/if she sells in the UK?

aarghhelp Thu 02-Jul-09 12:08:38

I googled and got the rather unhelpful but very arty MR website but also apparently Harrods.

I am a professional who has to wear suits/ pretty smart work clothes. I notice the lawyers I meet tend to wear exclusively black with usually white shirts, sometimes a bit of demure grey if they're feeling groovy. That is too harsh for me. I wear suits to work but go for a softer look, often in blue tones, which suit me. I have been an 18-20 though have just lost 2 stone. So I am just within the upper limits of many of the high stores. If I am buying a suit I like a long skirt (to hide my legs), a single breasted jacket (more slimming), and I like the jacket to stop just past my bum if poss.

I used to work with a colleague whose key to the professional look was to always wear a tailored jacket, though she wore summery dresses under.

I have bought off Ebay very successfully though. Especially smart suits of the Alexon variety. I ask for the measurements at hip waist and bust, and if it is just bigger than my own, it will fit. Lots of people buy a suit as a one off eg for interviews, then sell on. I've seen MArina Rinaldi on there as well!

DollyPardonme Thu 02-Jul-09 20:41:43

aven - you can get Marina Rinaldi at outlets like Bicester village although what they have in on any partic day will be ??????

Career change: we have a few people in that camp. You need to find a firm that is looking for all the good commercial/life skills you have and is open minded to older candidates. If you join them at 45, after law school, then you've got, what, 20 years ahead. I think firms are slowly getting more openminded but there is a tendency for some of them to go for the 22 yo grad out of habit.

You've got loads to sell to a firm at interview.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 02-Jul-09 21:56:44

Avenginggerbil, this is not particularly helpful, I know, but I go to New York every year or so and stock up on clothes which fit. Would that be an option for you? I have friends in NYC so accommodation is free for me, and I usually get a cheap flight.

If you're in London, do you want to come late night shopping one night? We could be the Two Fat Ladies!

DollyPardonme Thu 02-Jul-09 22:06:18


Avenginggerbil, I have just worked out your name. I thought it was something to do with ginger. I am soooo thick sometimes - love your name!

avenginggerbil Thu 02-Jul-09 22:35:17

Thanks for the support Dolly - sometimes I fret that I have left it all too late, and other times I know I'm good for 20 yrs, and unlike the 22 yr olds won't burn out and go off to live in a yurt!

MrsS, that would be lovely, but I'm in the sticks at the moment. Am liking the going to NY to shop idea though!

I think I should have put a capital in the middle of my name - in fact, I'll go and namechange it now! (Though there is gingerness about here as well!)

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