Why Not Just Buy a Bigger Shirt and Have It Altered?

Amazing what a 5 hour nap and a little weeding in the garden can do for me. Repeat yesterday? Forget it!

But I still want to review all the reasons we’d rather have shirts constructed for us (such as those by Bravissimo, Carissa Rose, AJRumina, Cast and, soon, me) than buy a larger size and have it altered. Not that you need these reasons, but I’ll certainly be ready for this question the next time I’m asked. And if you have more reasons than I’ve listed after the jump, please add them in the comments!

1. It’s impossible to alter the shoulders, as I discovered here. This is one of the few reasons I remembered to give in my answer yesterday.

2. It’s horribly inconvenient, as I wrote about here:

First, you’ll need to find your tailor/seamstress. Second, you’ll need to find the time to drop your shirts off. Third, you’ll need to be able to clearly communicate the results you’re looking for. Fourth, you’ll need to find the time to pick your shirts up, and fifth, you’ll need to decide whether you want to insist on further changes, or if the first set of alterations is enough.

The first item above, finding a good tailor, is really difficult. I plan to write more about it soon (if this is your area of expertise, I’d love to have you guest post about it here).

3. It’s expensive. So far, I’ve only had alterations made to shirts that I already owned or bought at discount stores, were already low-priced (like AJRumina), or that I’ve received free. Each time, I plan to have as many alterations as it takes to create a perfect fit, and each time, I come face to face with the reality that this basically involves an entire reconstruction of the shirt. Shirts for large-breasted women must have certain details that shirtmakers for small-breasted women don’t have to think about:

a. Multiple darts. My technical design consultant explained it to me with a drawing of a circle. If you want to form a small cone out of the circle, you cut out a pie wedge and attach the edges that remain. If you cut out too big of a wedge, you end up with a pointy ice cream cone. To avoid this, you cut out multiple little wedges. This is why some of our shirts have bust darts and waist darts. (Princess seams are simply bust and waist darts that are connected.) The waist darts don’t just cinch in the waist; they also give shape to the bust. A tailor can add waist darts pretty easily, but adding bust darts involves taking out the side seams and trying to do things never planned for in the original pattern. Since the fabric was cut using the original pattern, there may not be enough fabric to make the changes.

b. Length. Our shirts are always shorter in front because of that
big hill that the shirt has to cover. If we make the length even, the shirt will never stay tucked in.

c. Baggy backs. We don’t have big backs, just big breasts, but larger sizes are made for larger backs. Fortunately, the tailor can usually take care of this with more darts, but it’s one more alteration to pay for.

4. Finally, it’s marginalizing. Having to make alterations is just one more reminder that our curves fall outside what the mainstream clothing industry considers normal. Of course almost everybody falls outside their definition of normal in some way, but this is where it hits a large-breasted woman the most–with a button-front shirt.


  1. Awesome! 😀