Big Bust, Small Budget: Wearing My New Urkye Mala to a Spring Benefit

When I catch up with an old friend on Friday night, we’ll be doing it over dinner at a spring benefit she’s invited me to. The dress code is “festive attire”.

I’m interpreting “festive attire” to include “little black dress”. Fortunately, another friend of mine just purchased the Urkye Mala dress in size 40 44 00/000, decided it wasn’t for her even though she looked amazing in it, and sold it to me for $50 including shipping. After reading Erica’s review of the Mala dress, seeing it on my friend, and trying it for myself, I’m convinced that the Mala dress is a wardrobe sure thing for every busty woman. You can find my quick rundown of its pros and cons after the jump.

In preparing for Friday, I’m remembering one important lesson that I’ve learned from attending other New York City benefits where people dress up: Don’t try to be something I’m not. One thing I’m not is a woman with an unlimited clothing budget. I can’t afford to buy the kind of dress that will pass me off as a socialite who can’t afford to be seen in the same dress twice.  Instead, I need to concentrate on what I’ve been learning since writing this blog: try to be the best me possible.

Fortunately, the Mala dress serves as a great foundation for this goal, and after a quick trip to Marshall’s on Sunday, I put together the following looks for Friday night. None of them say “look at me“, but I think they avoid “hide me”. I welcome your opinions because there’s still time to try something else if you point me in the right direction!

P.S. I’m also experimenting with extending my legs with dark hose and black shoes, or beige shoes that match my skin tone. After the jump, I post a pic that convinced me that nude legs and black shoes are not an option. Also, shorten the dress an inch, or is it fine as it is?

great big bust LBD from Urkye

I was wondering if I had time to order from Sleevey Wonders when I had the idea of finding an inexpensive, tight sleeved top to create my own version of a Sleevey Wonder by cutting away everything but the points where the sleeves are connected to the bodice. I also remembered XLHourglass’s addition of sleeves to a formal dress last December: However, in this photo, the entire Max Studio top fit under the dress and would require just a little pinning to hide the neckline.

versatile busty lbd from urkye

You can’t see it, but this $25 Nine West cardi has gold thread woven throughout, which dresses it up. When I see myself in the mirror in this outfit, I really like it. When I see it in photographs, I think it looks too office-like for Friday night.

bust friendly lbd from urkye

I think this is my favorite look, but I’m not sure why. I borrowed the wrap from my friend, so it’s also the least expensive look. (Excuse the thigh highs sliding down in the pic on the left!)

Here are my favorite Mala details:

  • the streamlined sheath style;
  • the double panel of fabric down the middle front that helps disguise bulges, although I like my look better with shapewear;
  • the high sides beneath the arms so that no bra peeks out;
  • the wide straps that allow for a supportive bra; and
  • the wide, gorgeous sweetheart neckline.

If there’s one thing I would change, it would be for a heavier jersey fabric (or even a wool crepe!) for evening events. However, I know I’ll appreciate the fabric’s medium weight during the summer and will easily be able to wear it throughout the winter. Also, it’s unrealistic to expect a dressier fabric at this price. Finally,  I’m also concerned about fading, but I won’t know if that’s an issue until I’ve washed it in cold water a couple of times.


The image that finally persuaded me to look for beige shoes at Marshall’s.


  1. pdxeater says:

    I like the one with the wrap and the beige shoes the best! It looks very flattering, glamorous and just sexy enough for a night out. I like the pink cardi second (agree with the office assessment), and the sleeves last (too casual, and I think maybe opaque black tights might work better then hose). I think I like the beige shoes better in all the shots! Great to see the Urkye fits you at a 40, I’ve held off ordering from them because I thought I was sized out.

    • Darlene C. says:

      Thanks! I thought I was sized out, too, so this was a great discovery.

      • pdxeater says:

        I think the reason we all like the wrap is because it gives the illusion of the most skin showing, plus, there is a chance for exposed shoulders, which is sexier (but in a tasteful way).

    • I also like the wrap and beige shoes the best. I probably would get the dress shortened so it is just above knee height. In my opinion it hits at a rather awkward height. I have the same problem with both Urkye and BiuBiu, and tend to get them shortened by a couple of inches so that they hit above the knee instead of on the knee.

  2. I’m not always a fan of Nude shoes, but it works with this! I like the beige shoes with the wrap best. I might have to try some beige shoes myself now.

    • Darlene C. says:

      Let us know how it goes of you try it. I chose this pair because it can be dressed up or down and is actually comfortable–at least it was in the store. I’m working hard now to stretch them out in time for Friday.

  3. Wow, you look great! My favorite look by far is with the shawl, somehow it pulls the whole outfit together and I think it looks best with the beige shoes (although I like the black shoes/tights best with the cardigan). So any plans for buying more Urkye clothes? 🙂 I know I personally want her black jacket (fingers crossed it comes out soon! and she said in multiple colors…).

    • Darlene C. says:

      Yes…ties together w/o cluttering, right? Definitely going to order some of her tops next.

  4. Definitely the last look! The nude hose and shoes are more flattering and fresher. The sleeves in the first two pics cheapen the dress IMO.

  5. I agree with everyone else and like the look with the shawl-it is lighter looking. I do not like the sleeves at all-doesn’t seem to go. I think if you wore a sweater, an open one might be better-something loose and more flowy that wouldn’t look so heavy. And yes, the nude shoes.

  6. Now you can start knitting a nice lace shawl or stole to wear with your dress! 🙂

    • Darlene C. says:

      I was thinking the same thing! I’m feeling intimidated to begin my sweater because I don’t know how to do additions yet, and I bet a shawl would be a good way to learn. But I’m afraid if I start on a shawl, I’ll never get to a sweater.

      • Shawls are definitely addictive. I’ve been knitting lace shawls pretty much exclusively lately because they’re so much fun. There are some simple ones that would be good to learn decreases and increases.

  7. Definitely the last look.
    Black shoes are too closed to work with this outfit (closed shoes look very casual with skirts). So beige it is.

    And shawl wrap is the best for event. But I like Mala dress with cardigan, it’s just more relaxed and casual. And I think that to wear this top under dress there are should be something to support the sleeves (shoes, scarf).

  8. Adding my voice to the chorus in support of the final photo: gold shawl, nude shoes. I believe this dress could work with black shoes, but the ones in your photo are too office-y and clunky. I like them, but they look like shoes for slacks, not shoes to wear with a dress. To wear black shoes with that dress you would want to look for patent, slingback, gold buckle, or some other detailing that makes them look more like ornament for the feet and less utilitarian. I think these shoes cover too much of the top of your foot; notice how the beige ones scoop down to the toes, not up toward the ankle. Hope this helps!

    • Darlene C. says:

      Thanks, Ayan. This helps a lot. Actually, the beige shoes are a celebration of my new orthotics that allow me to wear high heels again! For the longest time, I was limited to shoes with a high vamp in order to keep them on my feet.

      • Vamp, that’s the term! And oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you had an orthotics issue. I get so frustrated with fashion’s insistent able-ism. I once helped a friend who walks with a cane shop for party shoes that *didn’t* look like nurse shoes; we were ready to take hostages by the end!

        Anyway, the more I look at the photos, I think what works is how the scoop of the beige vamp echoes the scoop of the neckline. I still think the high-vamp look would be fine if the shoe had a buckle or other detail to obscure the long plain sweep of it. You look lovely, btw.

  9. I really like the nude shoes/hose look on you. The last look with the shawl is my favorite for evening.

    I think a long sleeved flutter-sleeve shirt (if you could smooth it out under the dress with sleeves coming out under) would be fabulous. Same illusion as the shawl. If you find one definitely try it!

    I do like the first image with the long sleeve shirt under, and nude hose/shoes.