Off the Rack ~ Shopping for Bridesmaid Dresses

A few weeks ago, I visited my longest friend to look for bridesmaid dresses for her wedding in Chicago next fall. I’ve been a bridesmaid only once before, when I was the maid of honor at my sister’s wedding. But she selected dresses from J. Crew so we all mail-ordered our dresses separately without ever meeting up or trying anything on. So this was the first time I’ve ever really gone shopping for a bridesmaid dress.

There’s definitely a reputation for this activity being awful, but I had a total blast! The group included a variety of body shapes, sizes, and heights, so everyone was sensitive to personal comfort and lingerie needs.

The wedding is a super fancy black-tie affair in September, so we were looking for long dresses in dark colors with “something special.” We went to two local boutiques. One had more conventional dresses but excellent customer service, while the other had what I thought were nicer offerings, but our consultant wasn’t very good. Additionally, the second shop didn’t allow photography, so I only have real photos from the first place.

I’ll give an overview of some of the styles I tried on and then share my final thoughts. I think this first group was all dresses by the brand Dessy:

The rack from which we were selecting.

The rack from which we were selecting.

[Read more…]

Full Bust Finds: Crinkle Pleated Fabric

If “crinkle pleated fabric” brings to mind a shapeless jacket from Chico’s, bear with me. The other day a neighbor gave away some clothes, and I found this blazer in her pile.

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The neighbor is very slender, and the jacket looked small even though the tag said medium. The only way I could see it fitting was if the crinkle pleated fabric expanded over my chest. I brought it home to try, and my theory proved correct! [Read more…]

Cozy Cardi for a Big Bust

While scouting the mall ahead of Big Bust Cardigan Week (I covered structured options, zippered biker options, dusters and bomber jackets), I kept avoiding snuggly-looking oversized shawl-collared sweaters because of course they would fit a woman with a large bust. However, my focus was on layers that could be worn in a more formal work setting, and these sweaters looked too soft and slouchy to be taken seriously.

Eventually, a plush oatmeal version of this Macy’s Charter Club number in size small wore me down. No, it wouldn’t work for a business formal dress code, but as an informal option, it was much less overwhelming than I expected. Then I discovered it in red, which transformed the mood from sleepy to energized. With Thanksgiving just a few days away, this is exactly the sweater I want to wear to walk off our big meal . . . go shopping on Friday morning. . . and out for brunch on Saturday. I think it’ll look even better with jeans, a fun necklace and the taupe ankle boots on my shopping list.

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Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

(Note: Clicking and purchasing through the Macy’s link can result in a commission to me. All opinions are my own.)

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Big Bust Boredom Dressing No More–Shopping My Closet with a Professional Stylist

Our tagline–“Above average style for the above average bust”–often feels misleading because I’m so far from a role model for stylish dressing. On the other hand, I aspire to look stylish, and I know our readers do, too. So even if Leah and I are not professional stylists, we give busty women pieces that they can put together on their own.

Last week, Christina Frik, a friend who IS a professional stylist offered to “shop my closet” for me. I was amazed at the looks that she put together. SHE was amazed that I had so many “great pieces to work with”. She thought she was going to give me a long list of basics to buy. Instead, she suggested just four items that will help extend my wardrobe (that I share at the end).

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I set everything out in our living room, and Christina flitted around creating combinations I’d never considered.

Here’s my biggest takeaway about the landscape of big bust dressing: companies that produce clothing for D cups and up are doing their job. They’re providing big-busted women with great building pieces for individual style. We may complain about the lack of options–my side of our closet is practically empty compared to my husband’s–but the truth is, we have incredible essentials that can take us in all sorts of directions without having to compromise on fit. We ran out of time before we ran out of pieces!

Christina came up with options that fit into dress codes that are traditional business (think attorneys) and business casual (think techies), and I finally understand the power of accessories. Look at what she did with just 4 pairs of shoes, 2 necklaces, and 1 scarf. A variety of jackets, cardis and sweaters also helps.

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I had planned to donate this Urkye knit blazer and Express dress to our next Big Bust Clothing Swap until Christina put them together with my leopard kitten heels and new tortoise link necklace.

You’ll see that Christina came up with a lot of big bust looks for a button down shirt. That’s because my first priority was how to wear my own button-front shirts without looking like I’m going for an interview or ready to take food orders. The biggest lesson that bust-friendly designer Patricia McCaw of Bolero has taught me is: Wear your own designs. Now every time I go to an event where I meet new people who ask what I do, I’m ready for the question, “Are you wearing one of your shirts?”

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This 4-button Jones New York jacket that I bought years ago actually buttons across my chest without straining. The patterned pants are a new find from Alfani.

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The more I wear my Paige dress, the more I look forward to new lines from Bitter Lollipop in 2017.

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I still love this knit blazer from Express that I found at a discount store last year.

 

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Recognize this duster from last week’s cardigan survey? I think I’m going to keep it!

 

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This is the other cardi from last week that Christina tells me is a keeper.

As you’ll remember, shoes are always a challenge for me, and I’ve finally found a pair of high boots that fit my orthotics. However, I have a lot to learn about proportion. Christina has encouraged me to wear my ankle boots, t-straps and kitten heel pumps with low hems (like a knee or midi-length dress) and high boots with high hems (like a tunic over leggings).

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This sweater and the tunic below are two of the bust-friendly dolman sleeve pieces that I wrote about in the past.

 

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I don’t plan to keep this pleather jacket from JCP that I wrote about last week–I’m more comfortable with the faux-leather lined cardi–but this look is making me reconsider. Also, note the ankle boots with the low hem of this Rock Cotton tunic (that I’ve used as a swimsuit cover up and wrote about last year).

 

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This picture doesn’t do justice to the texture of the silk blouse from More Front Room.

Finally, I never would have imagined combining my Pepperberry moss-colored linen biker jacket and a brown belt with this Riley dress from Bitter Lollipop.

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My Doc Martin shoes are meh with this outfit, but they’re just a placeholder for one of the items on Christina’s shopping list for me. Here’s the list I promised you:

 

  1. a pair of taupe or tan ankle booties (she also thinks they’ll look great with my Samantha dress from DD Atelier)
  2. a long boyfriend blazer or cardigan with a hem that falls below where my legs join my torso
  3. a layering “shell”
  4. a long hem tank that falls below where my legs join my torso (could also be the same as #3)

Basically, I’m looking for everything that I saw this woman wearing on the subway the other day!

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I hope today’s post gives you some ideas for shopping your own closet! What pieces are you looking for this fall that will extend your wardrobe even further?

 

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