If you are one of the “lucky” people who have a well-endowed bust area, you already know and experience the little things that unite us – the struggle to find a bra, the achy back, buttons that never want to stay closed, and proclamations to the effect of “I wish mine looked like that!” (To which I typically respond, “Trust me, no you don’t!”)
When choosing what to wear, people with larger busts often struggle to find clothing that’s flattering, professional, and comfortable – most tops and dresses aren’t made with our proportions in mind. It’s always tempting to throw on a giant sweater and forget about it, but that solution doesn’t always fit the circumstances.
I’ve been “blessed” with I-cup breasts. Yes, the letter I. Over the years, I’ve found a few guidelines that make a big difference in my confidence while putting together an outfit.
1. Properly-fitting bras.
This is undoubtedly the most important tip. If you’ve never been measured for a bra, it’s likely you aren’t wearing the right size. Wearing the wrong size of bra can make the pain worse, and it greatly affects the way your clothes fit – just like underwear that’s the wrong fit or style. Foundational garments are essential to any outfit.
Getting measured is easy. If you have a tape measure at home, you can measure your band and cup size at home – there are charts all over the internet that can help you determine your size. Enlist the help of a friend to make sure the measurement is accurate. You can also get measured for free at most department stores that sell bras. I wouldn’t recommend going to Victoria’s Secret for this – they don’t sell cup sizes larger than DDD, and if you’re big-chested as well as plus-sized, there’s almost no chance of finding anything in the right size.
Once you know your correct measurement, you can find a bra that’s right for you. Shopping for bras larger than DD can quickly get expensive, ranging anywhere from $50-$100 for quality options. The major exception is Target, which recently came out with a line or cheap, good quality bras that go up to cup size G. Regardless of price, it’s important not to settle for anything when you aren’t comfortable. In-person shopping has the advantage of trying on a bunch of different style options without committing. Depending on your size, you may not have the option to shop in-person, as many brands only carry the larger sizes online. I’ve found that a bra with underwire is essential for me to get enough support, but many people dislike underwire. It’s entirely up to you.
With a properly-fitted bra, your tops and dress will fit better and look nicer. you’re more likely to have good posture when your chest is supported – always a style plus.
2. Layers are your best friend.
Sometimes you find a super cute top that seems to fit, but then you realize the cleavage situation is….big yikes. It’s not like we can control how much spillage we get, but your employers and your grandma might not understand that. Unless you’re heading out on a Friday night, the best solution is usually to throw a camisole under it. It’ll help to cover what needs to be covered, with the added benefit of smoothing out your overall appearance.
Make sure to go for thin and form-fitting camisoles when shopping. Bulky tank tops can be awkward and shapeless under your top, and in the summer thin camis will keep you cool.
3. Don’t shy away from form-fitting clothes.
This tip may seem counterintuitive in some ways if you want to minimize how much your chest stands out, but baggy sweaters and boxy, shapeless blouses aren’t doing any favors. They may be comfy, but they don’t tend to be very flattering. When you’re big-chested, and you wear a bulky or formless top, the fabric skims over your chest and doesn’t conform to your body, meaning you end up looking wider and bulkier all over. So ironically, trying to disguise and minimize the size often has the opposite of the desired effect.
The solution is to look for styles that conform to the shape of your body. Blouses with “princess seams” can be great for this, as well as wraps or faux-wrap tops and dresses. These styles create lines that draw attention away from the bust and give your body a more proportional look Personally, I’m a huge fan of wrap dresses because they’re accommodating of size up top and they accentuate the waist. Win-win.
Examples of both styles are down below. You can see the vertical princess seam on the blouse and its streamlining effect. Mad Men character and big-chested style icon Joan Holloway is wearing a wrap-style top and, as usual, she’s killing it. Notice too how her waist is accentuated – it brings balance to the whole look.
4. Mind the gap – sew it shut.
The universal complaint of the busty person: button-downs rarely cooperate. The fabric stretches and gaps between buttons, buttons pop open or rip off entirely – it’s never-ending. If I had a nickel for the number of times that most important buttons decided to fail on me when I was in class or at work, I’d probably be able to buy a house. The easiest temporary fix for this is double-sided tape- they sell tape just for fabric that shouldn’t fail. In the long run, it’s best to sew the buttons shut permanently.
To ensure no further wardrobe malfunction, you’ll want to get the problem buttons sewn shut, along with the gaps between them. If you have no clue how to sew, like me, there are plenty of tutorials for basic sewing and this exact project on Youtube and sewing sites all over the internet. Otherwise, if you’re scared you’ll ruin your clothes, find a local tailor. Alterations aren’t usually too expensive, and the professional work should ensure that no button will even dare to pop. It can be a worthwhile investment.
5. Prints all day.
Prints serve the double-duty of adding fun to an outfit and distracting from any “issues.” In this case, a busier fabric will draw attention away from your chest. It can be something as simple as stripes, or something like a floral pattern or beyond – don’t be afraid of color. This tip seems simple, but if you’re someone who isn’t very adventurous with clothes or is self-conscious, prints can add great variety to your wardrobe while also serving a purpose. Smaller patterns are especially flattering, as they don’t overwhelm your body or the rest of the outfit.
In the past, having a large bust has made me shy about what I wear. Finding clothes that are both flattering and not too revealing has been a constant struggle for me since middle school. Gradually I’ve moved away from bulky and boring clothes, and with that, I’ve begun to find more confidence. Physical looks aren’t everything, but when I feel good in an outfit, the outlook on my day changes dramatically.
Big boobs are annoying. Own them anyway!