Evolution of flat-plate wakes in sink flow has been studied both analytically and experimentally. For such wakes, a similarity solution is derived which considers simultaneous presence of both laminar and turbulent stresses inside the wake. This solution utilizes an additional Reynolds-stress term which represents the fluctuations similar to those in wall-bounded flows, accounting for the fluctuations originating from the plate boundary layer. In this solution, it is shown that the total stress, the sum of laminar and Reynolds shear stresses, becomes self-similar. To investigate the accuracy of the analytical results, the wake of a flat plate located at the centreline of a planar contraction is studied using hot-wire anemometry. Wakes of both tapered and blunt edges are considered. The length of the plates and the flow acceleration number K = 6.25 × 10−6 are chosen such that the boundary-layer profiles at the plate edge approach the self-similar laminar solution of Pohlhausen (Z. Angew. Math. Mech., vol. 1, 1921, p. 252). A short plate in which the boundary layer at the edge does not fully relaminarize is also considered. The development of the turbulent diffusivity used in the analysis is determined empirically for each experimental case. We have shown that the obtained similarity solutions, accounting also for the initial conditions in each case, generally agree well with the experimental results even in the near field. The results also show that the mean velocity of the transitional wake behind a tapered edge becomes self-similar almost immediately downstream of the edge.