What Should Plus Size Women Wear in the Summer?

Donna Cosmato
Woman wearing capris and gardening

No matter what your summer destination or occasion, it's important to be appropriately dressed in comfortable clothes that make you look and feel great while flattering your curves. Finding the perfect outfit for any situation is quick and easy when you know what you need and where to shop and what styles work best for the season.

Casual Wear for Summer

Every summer casual wardrobe should include tops in various styles and colors, sundresses and maxi dresses in various shades, sleeve and hem options as well as shorts, skorts, skirts, slacks and capris. Look for summer weight fabrics like cotton, rayon, eyelet, poplin, seersucker or blends of these textiles to keep you cool and dry.

  • Tops and dresses should fit well - not too tight, not too loose - and cover the tummy to distract attention away from any problem areas. Short, cap or three-quarter length sleeves conceal heavy or sagging arms, and open back tops may be more flattering than halter or plunging V-necks.
  • Shorts and skorts are summer staples, but if you are uncomfortable revealing so much skin, opt for capris or loose fitting gauze pants in basic colors for mixing and matching purposes. Flat front, no pocket styles create the slimming illusion you crave but if a gathered waistband is essential for comfort, choose a style with a gathered back waistband and flat front waistband.
  • Most casual clothing can do double-duty as beachwear, but you may want to add specialized pieces like swimsuits, swim cover-ups or plus size travel wear. While maxi-dresses make excellent swimsuit toppers, a stylish sarong or vividly colored pareo breathes new life into your standard wardrobe.


For one stop shopping for all your plus size summer casual clothes, try OneStopPlus. This virtual shopping mall for extended size women features well-known brands like Woman Within, Roaman's, Jessica London and many more for your shopping convenience. Orders over $50 ship free, and they offer an extremely generous return period for unwanted items: 365 days. Look forward to finding items like these:

  • Khaki Prarie Peasant Top: Flaunt your boho style in this chic peasant blouse from Alight. The waist shirring is perfect for disguising any tummy area problems while the intricate cutwork and embroidery on the bodice add a feminine flair. V-necks are ultra-figure enhancing choices for larger women and this one is just right - not too plunging or revealing. Choose from sizes 1X to 3X for around $30.
  • Skort in soft sport knit with custom-fit waist: Skorts are multipurpose garments that give you the best of both worlds - ample coverage for larger hips with the stylish appearance of a skirt. It features an adjustable elastic waistband - just adjust the drawstring for a looser or tighter fit - and side seam pockets. You'll love the wide range of color options (11) and sizes (1X to 6X). At prices ranging from around $13 to $22, you can afford to indulge in several pairs. The vast majority of customer reviewers praised it as being easy care and wrinkle resistant.

Summer Career Wear

If suits are necessary, look for styles manufactured from cotton, cotton blends, rayon or linen, as these textiles are breathable and comfortable in almost any temperature. If your workplace allows, consider switching from suits to dresses or separates for the summer months to stay cool and comfortable. Office-appropriate dresses like classic

A-lines, sheaths and shirtdresses are better professional choices than sundresses and maxi dresses and are typically flattering for plus size women.

Simply Be

Simply Be is a great place to shop for your summer career apparel. They offer a well-rounded inventory of career wear and separates ranging from traditional blazers to trendy pencil skirts to wide leg pants and career dresses from brands like Anna Schotz, Jeffrey & Paula, and Bespokefit. Sizes range from 18 to 32 and there are petite and tall options. Price points vary from around $15 to $115 but most items cost roughly $30 to $60. Spend over $100 and your order ships free.

A few great styles include:

  • Mix & Match Wide Leg Pants: These trendy wide legs pants contain a touch of stretch fabric to give you the day-long comfort you need and smooth out any problem areas. Top them with a pretty blouse or tee and add a matching blazer for an instant, pulled-together look. Available in two colors in sizes 18 to 28 and various inseams for under $40. Customer reviews are mostly positive, complimenting their attractiveness, comfort and flattering fit.
  • Mix & Match Short Blazer Length: This ultra-comfortable one-button blazer is made of a stretchy fabric to give you the freedom of motion you crave and is the perfect companion piece for any skirt or slacks. The unstructured tailoring is a forgiving style that is especially flattering for full-figured women. Choose from three basic colors in sizes 18 to 28 for around $60.
  • Geo Print Wrap Dress: Create the illusion of a taller, slimmer figure instantly in this office-ready dress from Simply Be's career dress collection. The black/white geometric print is spot on in trendiness and features like arm concealing three-quarter length sleeves, faux V-neck and wrap bodice ensure you'll look and perform like a champ in any work environment. It's available in sizes 18 to 28 and retails for around $52.

Dressy and Formal Wear for Summer

Summer weddings, vacation cruises, or high-tea parties are fun to attend but also good venues for showing off your stylish summer fashion sense. The best fabric choices for dressy summer options are natural, breathable textiles like cotton, linen and rayon or blends of these fibers. Wrap style dresses or dresses with bodice or side ruching or shirring are universally flattering as are evening pant sets especially those with long jackets or dusters to conceal heavier hips. The event's formality dictates the appropriate hemline choice. If you keep one or two tea-length dresses and a formal gown or two in your closet, you'll never have to stress at the last minute.

Ulla Popken

Ulla Popken is a great place to find stylish fashions in plus sizes, and they offer a particularly robust inventory of special occasion dresses ranging from $50 to $200. Whether you are looking for evening pantsuits, evening jackets, or wedding-appropriate dresses, they are sure to have a style you'll love.

  • Crinkle Dress Set: Whether you're responding to a last-minute party invite or prepping for a special date night, you'll turn some heads in this light, airy, and oh-so-feminine dress and duster set. The A-line fit of the dress is exquisitely enhancing and creates a flattering, figure-skimming silhouette for an extended size woman, while the duster is loaded with features like an asymmetric hem, three-quarter length sleeves, and side vents and is the perfect tool for disguising any lower body figure flaws. Choose from two colors in sizes 16/18 to 32/34 for less than $150. Reviews from customers who purchased this dress focused on the fit, the compliments they received, and its "springy" look.
  • Golden Spirals 3-Piece Pant Set: You'll set the night aglow in this sparkling pant set no matter what the occasion. The open front duster and its cascading hem downplay hips and draw the eye downward in a vertical line to create a slimmer appearance. The tank and duster are embellished with an abstract beaded and sequined design, and the pants are an easy pull-on style. It retails under $150 and comes in sizes 16/18 to 32/34. According to reviews from customers who bought this ensemble, it is a popular pick for wedding guest attire.


Macy's is a well-known source for high-end clothing for plus size women, and they carry a nice inventory of chic plus size cocktail dresses. They offer their online customers free shipping on orders over $99 and free returns for unwanted items. Try this vivid turquoise evening dress when you need to make a fashionable impression.

  • Trixxi Plus Size Sleeveless Beaded High-Low Dress: Wear this on-trend high-low dress when you need to look trendy but want to be cool and comfortable. It goes from wedding receptions to captain's table dinners seamlessly, and the uneven hemline plays up good-looking legs while the Empire waist and skirt fullness camouflage heavy hips and rears. It features a stunning beaded neckline, ultra-flattering bodice, and waist ruching. It's a fashion steal at under $65 and comes in sizes 18W to 24W.

Summer Dressing Tips

Do you want to look your breezy best this summer? Follow these simple guidelines no matter what you wear:

  • Wear the right undergarments. Hot weather makes girdles, Spanx and longline bras look unattractive, but if you need extra shaping, you can achieve it without burning up. Leave those hip and thigh shapers in your lingerie drawer and choose a smoothing brief instead. Additionally, a strapless bra is less confining than a longline.
  • Choose the right size because too-tight or too-big clothing is not flattering no matter what your size. To stay as cool and carefree as possible, wear clothes that skim your body, not hug it.
  • Wear clothes you feel comfortable in. For example, tank tops are popular summer garments, but there's no need to wear them if you'd prefer not to bare your arms. Simply opt for short sleeve or cap sleeve tees, which keep you cool but provide a little more coverage. The same goes for shorts; if your legs are your least favorite feature, wear capri pants instead.

Shop Smart

Solving the puzzle of summertime dressing is simple; shop with merchants that understand your full figure needs and offer trendy, up-to-date styles for you to choose from. Given the wealth of available options, the only limit on your style is the size of your wardrobe budget. Be a savvy shopper! Take advantage of every merchant's special offers, perks, incentives and sales and you'll come out ahead in the long run.

What Should Plus Size Women Wear in the Summer?