Big Busts and Stripes Forever? Not Necessarily

As you know, I’m pretty preoccupied with horizontal stripes on this blog. If you didn’t know, here’s proof:

  1. Beginning of my stripes obsession
  2. Width of stripes is key
  3. A great striped dress on a woman with a large bust
  4. More observations about what makes stripes work
  5. Stripes that highlight the bust can be okay (or not)
  6. The challenge of horizontal stripes that end up diagonal because of a large bust

I even have a Pinterest board called Great Stripes for D Cups and Up.

So today I’m adding three more resources to the mix. First is Karen Hughes’ latest post on her StyleYOUniversity blog: When a Nautical Stripe Goes Wrong. She doesn’t only show you the wrong, but also the right–and I’m willing to bet that her client providing the example is at least an F cup, which makes it even better for Hourglassy‘s full bust readers. Karen highlights 5 factors to pay attention to when considering stripes:

  1. Size of stripe
  2. Color of the stripe
  3. Color of the background of the shirt
  4. Fabric
  5. Fit of the shirt

Second, the 2012 BBC Amateur Scientist of the Year award was given to a woman who set out to prove that horizontal stripes really do make us look wider. Instead of using 2D drawings, as a researcher did in 2008, Val Watham showed videos of models to 500 people who rated how tall and wide the models looked in each outfit. Her findings showed that “horizontal stripes make people appear wider, while vertical stripes make people appear taller,” and that “models who wore all black outfits were deemed to be the slimmest of all”. However, I would be very interested in a study that took Karen’s 5 factors into account.

Finally, as further proof that all stripes are not created equal, take a look at this Striped Ponte Sheath Dress that I tried on a Ann Taylor this morning.

Of course it was the neckline and sleeves that attracted me to this dress (not too much fabric), and the fabric has a nice weight so it passes Karen’s fourth criterion. I also think that the size of the stripes over my bustline is fine.  What takes this dress out of the running for a gold medal (or even a silver or bronze) is (1) the larger stripes around my middle make it appear wider (isn’t this fascinating to see?); and (2) the fit is too baggy.

From the side, you can see that the bust dart is too high on me in my Fantasie 4520, although that may be able to be remedied in my Fantasie Rhiannon. Also, the dress does one of those shapeless waterfalls from bust to hem. If you try this dress and it works on you, PLEASE send pics!

You’ll be happy to hear that my trip to Ann Taylor wasn’t a waste–I found two other great dresses and cardigans that I’ll tell you about soon! None have stripes, however.

Hourglassy Back Interest

Aren’t you impressed with the care with which the seamstress matched the intricate patterns in this vintage dress?

busty women remember your back great pattern matching here
You can also find such attention to detail in this longline bra from my friend Moira Nelson‘s collection of vintage lingerie.


Neither this dress nor this longline are sized for a full bust, and as much as I love the quality that was so commonplace back then, I would only go back in time if I could wear today’s bras for big busts. In this article by a woman who wears a small band and large cup, the author tried bras from long ago and today. She raised my hopes when she wrote that the vintage store owner “grabbed sizes like ’34B’ – laughable to me, considering the bras I own all bear multiple D’s on their labels. But sizes since the 40s and 50s had changed dramatically, she assured.”

My own expectations returned to reality when the writer concluded that, “In some cases, that delicate design meant an unsupportive, floppy fit. The bras were attractive, artful even, but among the many I tried, the pointy cups and silky fabrics did little to support.” I wonder what women with large cups and small backs did in fifties and earlier. Did they simply wear the wrong size? Did they sew their own? Was there a utilitarian brand that catered to them?

Speaking of a utilitarian brand, I want to highlight last year’s review of the Pambra’s bra liner before the summer gets away from us. During our days of 90+ temperatures, my bras became so sweaty that I washed them after every wear. The next heat wave we get, I’m pulling out my Pambra’s.

Off the Rack ~ CURVexpo Preview

It’s that time of year again—CURVexpo is coming up! It’s taking place in New York City in a week. Last year was my first time, and I ended up spending two days there and writing two novel-length posts on Hourglassy (Part 1 and Part 2).

After looking at the list of brands on the Curve website, there doesn’t seem to be much new stuff for the big bust industry, though I did discover a couple interesting things that I want to check out. First, Curvy Kate released a press release announcing their new multi-way plunge bra, the “Desire,” which will go up to a J cup. This is wonderful news for anyone who sizes out of the GG-capped strapless Freya Deco. I can’t wait to get a look at it. The only thing that isn’t clear is whether it can also be used as a plain strapless bra (though the release says they’re “working on” a strapless to be released in Fall/Winter 2013, so maybe not?). I’m also hoping winner of Star in a Bra USA Krista Cousins will be there, and that she’ll be able to chat a little.

The second thing that piqued my interest is that something called “Sculptresse by Panache” will be exhibiting at the show. Has anyone ever heard of this? I tried Googling it, but all I came up with were various CURVexpo listings. Is it shapewear?

Other than that, I’ll be checking out the new offerings from old favorites Eveden, Panache, and Curvy Kate. I’m still waiting for the release of some of their bras I fell in love with at last year’s CURVexpo! I also want to see what’s new with Claudette, who last year told us they’d be expanding their size range to smaller backs and bigger cups. Additionally, I’m curious to see if there’s been an increase in more shades of “nude” for women of color, as I’ve noticed more buzz about that throughout the past year. And of course I’ll be hanging out at the Affinitas booth to see their new designs for the upcoming seasons.

Readers, what do you want us to find out for you? Any trends you’re hoping for? Any brands you’d like to see expand their size range?

The Busty Closet and 10 Colors that Almost Anyone Can Wear

You may have noticed that lately I’ve been basing garment purchases on colors that I’ve fallen in love with and letting style take a back seat. Of course, once I get home and study myself wearing the new garment, style climbs back into the driver’s seat. This isn’t a problem that only busty women have, but it’s certainly one we can relate to: finding a garment that fits us in a flattering style and color.

Fit is always my first priority, but after that, I tend to choose flattering style over flattering color. This has led to such a boring color palette in my closet that it’s no wonder I was vulnerable to a gorgeous terracotta and rich purple.

The rich purple reminded me of a list of colors that 90% of the population can wear well. They are called Universal Colors, and usually there is one or two in each season’s trend colors:

  1. soft white (close to ivory)
  2. warm pink
  3. watermelon red (the darkest part of a slice of watermelon)
  4. bright burgundy
  5. medium grey
  6. medium turquoise
  7. teal
  8. periwinkle blue
  9. medium violet
  10. medium denim

(Thank you to Carol Davidson, my Introduction to Image Consulting instructor, for sharing these.)

During my image consulting class, I matched this list with paint chip cards from Home Depot with mixed success. Understanding colors is an ongoing process for me (I’m still trying to figure out if last week’s purple qualifies as a “medium violet”), and if it’s the same for you, I hope that you can use this list as a tool during the upcoming seasons.

It’s hard to believe, but right now clothing manufacturers are deciding the colors that you will see on the racks in Fall/Winter 2013/14. I met my friend Liz for dinner last night (she creates active wear for tall women) just after she attended a color seminar at the Texworld fabric trade show. It was fun–and totally confusing–to pore over the theme and color cards she’d received. It was also overwhelming. I wish I could tell you more about them, but the only one I remember is a neon peachy/nude.

Here’s hoping that with each new season, you’re able to find something that checks off all three boxes for you: fit, style AND color.