Summer Bummer for the Busty (Plus Some Pretty Good Dress Finds)

Today you get to see the other dress finds I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, beginning with the Jessica Simpson seersucker dress that broke my heart. I usually steer clear of bateau necklines (although the Macy’s site calls this one a “crew”, which I ALWAYS steer clear of), but the fresh colors and princess seams won out. Even though I believe this dress has more fabric above the cleavage line than a busty girl needs, it doesn’t really maximize my boobs all that much because the flared skirt and bright yellow band at the bottom help to balance my top.

jessica simpson busty seersucker dress

When I found this dress, it was on sale for $57. That plus the fact that this dress is lined in cotton meant I had to buy it. I didn’t think the armholes would be a problem, but once I put it on over my nude Fantasie 4520, I realized that this dress didn’t give near enough of the fabric that a busty girl needs to hide her bra!

jessica simpson busty seersucker dress too big armhole

Yes, it even has POCKETS, which makes me even more sad that I can’t wear this everywhere all summer.

What are our options when sleeveless armholes are too large?

    1. I know that some women decide not to care. I wish I could get there, but my ordinary beige bra is just too ugly to showcase to the world, especially when everything else about this dress is so cute.
    2. I could not find a single alteration option. Away from the dress, I’d think, “I’ll just find some complementary fabric and fill in the blanks.” Then I’d try it on again and have no idea how to get there. The yellow piping along the armhole is adorable, but it also discourages any meddling. This armhole is meant to be outlined in a particular yellow, not in some other scrap of fabric!
    3. Wear a bra that’s meant to be seen.  I don’t own a bra that’s meant to be seen, and I forgot all about the Claudette bras that Leah showed us in February. Since I now wear a 34G in some brands, there’s a chance I could have fit one, so I’m kicking myself for not holding onto this dress long enough to try one with it! However, a new bra wasn’t in my budget, and I felt like it would have wiped out the savings on the dress.
    4. Wear a bikini top as a bra that’s meant to be seen. Perhaps the Cleo Matilda or Cleo Lucille would have worked. Although this wasn’t in my budget either, at least a bra-sized bikini top has a better cost per wear ratio–especially if the bikini top can be mixed and matched with different bottoms for the beach or pool!

      cleo matilda and lucille

      Although I prefer patterns, I wouldn’t want the Lucille pattern to show through the fabric, just the armholes! Since I’m wearing my black Idina under the dress in the very first photo in this post, there’s a chance a patterned or navy bikini top would have worked fine.

    5. Wear a cami or a Perfect Cami. The idea of an additional layer under this dress defeats the vision I have of wearing it while sitting in the shade with a glass of iced tea. Just thinking about an extra layer changes the scenario to sitting with my back against the air conditioner (although  Perfect Camis are perfectly sheer and are almost like not wearing anything extra).
    6. Try another size? Since this is a size 14 and has plenty of room in the torso, perhaps a smaller size would help. At the time, the store only had a size 10, and I found the fit much too snug for my taste. You can see images of me in the size 10 after the jump at the bottom of this post. However, I’ve since discovered this dress is now available in all sizes again on the Macy’s website (although not on sale), and it’s sometimes available in different color combinations on eBay. So if I decide to try a size 12 and it solves the problem, you’ll be seeing me in this dress again (and again and again).

None of these solutions are perfect. The perfect solution would be for Jessica Simpson to revise her pattern so that the dress covers comfortable and supportive bras that are already in a busty woman’s lingerie drawer. Do YOU have a perfect solution I haven’t considered?

———————–

Here are more dress discoveries from that shopping trip.

Ellen Tracy Floral-Print Pleated Shirtdress.

ellen tracy 12P and 12 comparison

The 12P on the left was too short-waisted, but the regular 12 on the right was great. This dress has pockets. Yay! The lining isn’t cotton, but it’s a stretchy polyester that won’t trap sweat the same way that acetate linings do.

ellen tracy red dress bodice detail closeup

Princess seams and generous fabric for the surplice neckline make enough room for a large bust. You can easily hide any safety pin that you use for cleavage control.

I can only find this Ralph Lauren Stretch Zip-Front Shift on the Ralph Lauren site where it looks completely different on the model than it does on me.

This is a size 14P. Although you can clearly see the seams in my Idina (as well as evidence of air conditioning), there's NO boob-smashing going on! Another hooray for princess seams.

This is a size 14P. Although you can clearly see the seams in my Idina (as well as evidence of air conditioning), there’s NO boob-smashing going on! Another hooray for princess seams.

Here’s another Ellen Tracy dress that I can’t find on the website.

ellen tracy shirt wrap dress

Regular size 12. I’m pointing at the waist dart that helps make room for the bust. Although it’s a little snug at the bust, it can be unbuttoned a little without flashing anyone. The side zipper makes for a streamlined fit. Same lining as the floral pleat dress. A little bit of armhole bra flashing.

And here’s a khaki dress from Vince Camuto that has convinced me to stop looking for khaki sheaths! I need color!

Size 14. There were deep armholes that created major bra flashing, the fabric folded in back, and the lining wasn't nice. But I like the idea of this dress.

Size 14. There were deep armholes that created major bra flashing, the fabric folded in back, and the lining wasn’t nice. But I like the idea of this dress.

The Jessica Simpson dress in size 10.

It's not super obvious in this photo, but there's some definite boob smashing going on in this size.

It’s not super obvious in this photo, but there’s some definite boob smashing going on in this size.

For good measure, I’m REALLY happy with the Ralph Lauren dress that I did buy (and keep!).

I tore the tags off on Friday and have already worn it twice.

I tore the tags off on Friday and have already worn it twice.

 

Comments

  1. wendybien says:

    For the Jessica Simpson dress–I’m not sure how this would work for you as I can’t tell exactly where the fullest point of the bodice is (i.e. where the boobs go!) but my usual short-torso busty girl MO is to buy sleeveless dresses in the size that fits my bust, and then just take in the straps at the shoulder seam by 1 to 3″. Your mileage may vary of course but for me this usually aligns the bodice better with my anatomy, eliminating the giant armhole issue as well as ensuring that my bosom is located where the designer intended!

    • That’s my go-to petite alteration for all standard sized tops/dresses/patterns. It looks like it might need to be an angled decrease since the neckline looks like it fits well. But I would pin it and see if that works.

      Alternatively, I wonder if gently stretched thin (perhaps lingerie) elastic sewn into the inside of the armhole would fix things?

      • Darlene C. says:

        Katie, I think I’d need to see a diagram to understand what you mean by “angled decrease”.

        I love the possibilities of elastic. With these armholes, I feel like elastic would successfully gather in fabric that is spread too wide, but I’m not sure it would cover the bra in the end. But you never know unless you try, so I’m going to think about this one.

        • I guess it’s basically a dart without the point, with the imaginary point being towards your neck. You take a wedge out of the front strap instead of a rectangle when you take up the strap’s excess. Does that make more sense?

    • Darlene C. says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Wendy. I like where the apex and waistline hit in this dress, so I’d be concerned that this would cause each to end up higher than I want. But if I try this dress again, I’m definitely going to pinch it to see if your method would work for me. I love that you’re also short-waisted!

      • wendybien says:

        I’ve also done this using only length from the back of the bodice and not the front, which leaves the bust- and waistline in place in front (does that make sense?) Being busty, I often have that weird fit problem where the waistline sits an inch or two higher in front than in back, which looks funky from the side, and this evens things out. Try it if you look at the dress again!

  2. Hi, nice dresses! 🙂

    I haven´t really had armhole problems, but I guess my solution could work there as well? I have some Desigual dresses that have waaay too revealing necklines. I bought these cheap, non-supportive, top-like sports bras from the supermarket and wear them under the dresses. Of course I do also wear a regular bra under them.

    It is similar to the cami-solution though, but sometimes the sports bras are much cheaper and they come in fabric that removes moisture from the skin.

    • Darlene C. says:

      Brilliant! But I like the idea of wearing an actual supportive sports bra instead. I could totally justify a Panache sports bra in white or the orange/blue combo for this purpose. Just this weekend I wore an old white compression sports bra under a low neckline tee shirt around this house, and I found myself wishing it were a nicer bra so I could wear it out. Thanks again for this suggestion!

  3. I know what you mean! I take a slight tuck at the arm hole (currently have 2 tops on my chair just waiting for that to happen). And sometimes, I just let the bra show; if I’m at work, I’ll be wearing a cardigan anyway. If I’m outside, I’m too hot to care.

    • Darlene C. says:

      Hmm. I bet a tuck would achieve the same result as the elastic thread that Katie suggested. Filing this idea away. I don’t think it would work on this particular armhole, but I know it would work on others. Perhaps my mistake is shopping while the temps are only in the 70’s! If we were in the 90’s I would acquiesce to option 1 a lot faster.

  4. Talk this over with a seamstress first but, how about finding some fluttery yellow chiffon (or mesh fabric) then, tacking it around the base of the armhole to give you coverage. Then, extend the yellow fabric under the shoulder strap to make a flutter-cap sleeve.

  5. I did try once my turqouise Panache sports bra, but at the end I felt a bit weird about it. You know, separate cups and all, it felt like “revealing my bra” too much. But I guess other people didn´t think anything weird about it, they probably didn´t even know it´s a bra that´s showing. If it feels comfortable, Panache sports bra is totally cool for this purpose!

    It´s nice to read other suggestions, too! I have once altered a dress by taking in the straps. It worked out okay… I guess. 🙂

  6. donna m says:

    I never find the old navy jersey(not ribbed) tami camis to be hot or bulky. I wear them under everything and they come in every color. The yellow would be great!

    • Darlene C. says:

      Good to know. I actually was considering a few cami options on Zulily yesterday.