Stares Bad. Breasts Private.

In a nutshell, that’s how I feel about modesty, and it’s how I decide what to wear in public. Perhaps you can see why I’ve been avoiding this topic. For some, my approach is tantamount to claiming that breasts are bad, but they’re not.

After all, how can a simple body part be “bad”? On the other hand, they aren’t exactly a simple body part. Rightly or wrongly, they’ve been loaded with meaning, and the biggest one is sex. On a strictly biological level, it makes sense because developing breasts signify puberty, but there’s more to it than I can even begin to cover here. On a practical level, I just know that in the United States and many other countries, a lot of people draw a connection between boobs and sex.

big busts and modesty going to extremes

I’m not going to sever that connection anytime soon. Whether I march onto the subway in a neckline that barely covers my areola or in an abaya that covers me from head to toe, people will maintain the connection between breasts and sexuality. What matters to me is how easy I make it for them to connect my breasts with sex, and they are more likely to do so if I’m wearing the plunging neckline than if I’m wearing the abaya.

But I don’t plan to wear an abaya. Being modest with breasts–especially big breasts–isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. I see a spectrum of living with large breasts that falls between two extremes. At one extreme, a woman disguises her breasts with baggy clothing. At the other extreme, she highlights them with lowcut, tight and minimal clothing. Living at either extreme doesn’t require much thought, but living between them does.

I try to explore what it means to live between these extremes on Hourglassy. Although you can tell from the title of this post that I tend to err on the covered-up side, this blog gives me a way to think about and experiment with where I want to be on the spectrum of big bust dressing for any given situation. I hope it does the same for you. extremes of big bust dressing


Here are the results of the Vavavoom poll that I posted several days ago. I asked, “In the time that you spend outside your home, what percentage of it is spent wearing clothing that intentionally emphasizes your large breasts as an asset?” One hundred twenty-five of you answered:

  • 47 said 5% or less (37.6%)
  • 22 said 10% (17.6%)
  • 14 said 25% (11.2%)
  • 23 said 50% (18.4%)
  • 11 said 75% (8.8%)
  • 7 said 90% (5.6%)
  • 1 said 100% (.8%)

As proof that there’s nothing simple about this topic, check out the great comments to the poll. Also be sure to read the upcoming posts by the rest of The Modesty Panel!


  1. I definitely agree with your sentiment “What matters to me is how easy I make it for them to connect my breasts with sex…”

    One thing really bothers me about Kim K’s dress is that that style can be done in a much more tasteful way while still being very bust-accentuating wavy like PUG’s Veronica dress ( Beyond being a bit too much, her dress just looks uncomfortable!

    • Great to see your post on this, Darlene – I totally understand where you are coming from with the idea of wanting to control how much your breasts are identified with sex, despite being at a different place on the modesty spectrum myself.

      Just had to chime in on Katie’s comment and say that I have been going out of my mind trying to find that Veronica dress in that color. It’s been sold out for months, and no one is selling one second hand and I love it more than any dress ever aghhhhhhhhh…

  2. The vavavoom poll is an interesting question… I think 0% I “intentionally” highlight my boobs. But I know I look better when I show skin on the chest, neck & arms and attempt to do that 100% of the time, showing off the girls is secondary component to that.

  3. Wonderful post, Darlene! Like you, I tend to dress more modestly with my necklines. When I first started watching Modern Family, I was like: Sofia Vergara is ROCKING the cleavage, so why can’t I? Well, even though I personally do not attach sex with breasts, I know many people do. I didn’t/don’t feel comfortable with the stares or comments. Should those people engage in that kind of behavior? No, but it doesn’t change the fact that they do, and I’m on the receiving end. Of course, there are sometimes I travel down to the other end of the modesty spectrum too, but I consider myself moderately modest. 🙂

  4. I’m with you on the “breasts private” view of modesty. I could put them on display but I don’t want to because they are private. I try to wear flattering clothes but I don’t wear flaunting clothes because I don’t want to flaunt them – they are private.


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