Best chic clothes for professional women over size 14

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Real Chic for Real-Sized Women

Universal Standard believes dressing should be a joy for ALL women

By Gretchen Kubacky

Five years ago, I was giving a presentation to several hundred people and I needed a comfortable, flattering, appropriate outfit. My Google search offered up two depressing options: stiff suits that looked like they’d been stuffed in the back room of a second-hand store since the 1980s or logoed T-shirts and ripped jeans aimed at 15-year-olds.

I was profoundly discouraged.  What’s a plus-sized professional woman to do when fashion fails to offer what women like me need, i.e. something in between?

Woman in Universal Standard outfit

Photo of Julie Harbour (@_stylishparadox) in the Enza Jumpsuit in Cinder

Enter Universal Standard, an online-only clothing retailer founded by friends Alexandra Waldman and Polina Veksler in 2015.  The company addresses the needs of the “plus-sized” market (can we please kill that embarrassing moniker now?) with well-made clothing in sizes 10-28. These two women understood that the 67% of American women who wear a size 14 and above were desperate for quality, elegance, simplicity, and statement-making style at a non-designer price point. These are beautiful on-trend pants, tops, and jackets that you can wear for years.

What I like about Universal Standard is the clean, simple lines, classic colors, and lack of fussy embellishments. Their iconic Geneva dress flatters you no matter whether you go up or down 10 pounds, and works for travel, business, and chic weekend brunches. I bought half of their debut collection.  

Photo of Angela Jones (@ultimatefashionista) in Universal Standard’s Phebe Sweater in teal, AHR Apron Skirt in eggshell

It’s clear to me that Waldman and Veksler are out to reshape the fashion industry. No trend is off limits because of size and women all over Instagram are flaunting their finds with hashtag #NowYouCan. They also have an innovative program called Universal Fit Liberty, which allows you to exchange core collection items for a different size within one year of purchase, at no charge; the items you return are donated to women’s shelters.


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