this thing's incredible

The Button-Down Shirt That Saves Me From Accidentally Flashing Strangers

Photo: Courtesy of the retailer.

In 2007, smack in the middle of an interview for a coveted internship at one of the biggest magazine publishers in the world, one of the buttons on my shirt popped open. Though mortifying, the situation didn’t exactly shock me — as a busty woman, I’ve long known that button-downs weren’t my friends. Whenever I wore them, my chest would strain at the fabric, leaving a persistent gaping hole at the largest part of my chest — and allowing co-workers and strangers on the train alike a little peep at my bra. The interview incident pushed me over the edge: I decided to swear off button-downs entirely.

Nearly a decade went by this way. Until 2016, when my fashion editor friend Lauren Chan designed a Lane Bryant and Glamour collaboration that focused on fashionable plus-size workwear — including a sleek black jumpsuit, a striped red-and-black shirtdress, and a white boyfriend shirt. In the photographs, the button-down looked stylish and professional and I found myself intrigued. I had my reservations (needless to say) but decided to order one. Much to my surprise, it fit perfectly — no gaping hole, no strained buttons. And after examining the garment, I realized why this was the case. The shirt has a clever mechanism — two tiny bonus buttons built on a placket (a small piece of extra fabric on the inside of your shirt) that holds the front together to prevent pulling, puckering, or gaping. And in case you move around a little too aggressively, and pulling or puckering or gaping does happen, the buttons-on-the-placket situation means that your skin won’t show — only that little slip of fabric. It’s thoroughly genius. And it single-handedly broke my shame-induced ban on button-down shirts.

I should also mention that the shirt is just nice: the fabric is breathable, and even though it is a “boyfriend” cut, it isn’t too boxy or too long. It has a classic collar and double-button cuffs that look really good rolled up to the elbow. It just feels good on. And it feels especially good to know that when I wear it, there’s a zero percent chance I will accidentally expose myself.

Lane Bryant Button-Down Boyfriend Shirt

Other Strategist-approved plus-size basics

CoEdition Baby-Pleat Dress

Writer Sarah Caldwell calls this, from CoEdition, “the perfect chic ‘Oh, this old thing?’ summer goth dress.” It makes her butt good, hugs her waist, and has a tie that’s superlong and hard to mess up.

Torrid Black Cropped Premium Leggings

Whitney is also a fan of these cropped, plus-size leggings. “The waistband is thick — about two inches — and supportive, meaning I never get that dreaded muffin top when standing or sitting. I wear a size 2, and they run from 00 (a women’s medium, so not plus!) to 6 (size 30), making them truly accessible for women of all sizes, unlike brands that consider a 16 the supper end of plus-size.”

NYDJ Women’s Plus Size Ami Super Skinny Jeans

The CurvyCon co-founder Chastity Garner Valentine loves these plus-size NYDJ Skinny Jeans for their tapered waist, small ankle opening, and amount of stretch — which, she says, is “great for accentuating my kinds of curves — I have a butt.” She owns somewhere between five to eight pairs of them, and none of them have worn out.

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