Fitting In: Button-Front shirts for the large bust.

In real life, when I’m not blogging  or playing music and pretending to be the re-incarnation of my idol Patsy Cline, I work in technology for a Wall Street firm.  Assertiveness, self-confidence and that quality of being self-assured is (for better or for worse) here in droves.  Most of my colleagues are men.  At least 50% of them are multilingual and hail from places around the globe.  What I have in common with all these techies is my nerdiness.  What I have that is tremendously different is another X chromosome and very large breasts.

I bring up all of these things to underscore just how important it is for me to present a professional image and how vital it is to have an impeccable foundation and well tailored, professional looking attire to fit in at my work place.  There is an unspoken uniform on Wall Street and it’s shirt that buttons.  My hunt for a well tailored button front blouse was epic.  What follows is a brief review of those I tried or considered.   All but the Front Room shirts that  I tried were purchased in my own name with my own money.

Here is what I’ve found:

Pepperberry

Wearing 36H, 38G and 40H bra various times over the past few years has had me at or slightly above the 18SC in Pepperberry’s shirts.  They were workable only underneath a sweater or with a particularly high-waisted skirt.  Why?  Too short.  I’m not opposed to others baring their midsection, and I’ll proudly sport a bikini on the beach.  But to be taken seriously in the workplace, I need the shirt to be longer.  The fit was fine across the bustline, but the fit in the arms was wonky, and they showed off a wide swath of my mid-section.   I brought a couple of these to last year’s Hourglassy clothing swap, and they found a home with someone a bit smaller than me.  It looks like from customer feedback, the newer Pepperberry shirts are a couple of centimeters longer, but until I travel across the pond and try these in person, I’m hesitant to place another order.

Carissa Rose —

I never got around to trying these, and they don’t appear to be in business any longer.  I kick myself for not trying these, because she absolutely had tunic-length shirts that I’m certain would have been plenty long enough for me.

Rebecca & Drew —

I tried these.  Back in the day, you could order via your bust size.  This was pre-2008, I was then in a 38G, and went for a 38H to give a little extra space.  Back then, I was ignorant of the difference between US & UK sizing and have no idea which R&D were using, but it was a pretty good call, fit-wise.  Even their tall option was a bit short for me, but not so bad that I didn’t keep it, as it’s fine with high-waist jeans.  R&D’s logic went to InStyle and the shirts were to be manufactured in China and a whole lot cheaper.  Has anyone tried?  Looks like they aren’t in business any longer.

BiuBiu — 

These are the shirts that made me realize the power of bloggers.  The lovely Georgina Horne modeled two of these, looked good and looked enough like my shape that I just had to try them.  Thus began a realization that anything she modeled was quick to sell out in my size, so I should not wait for a sale if I want something specific.  This is a line I want to shout to all manufacturers — My size always seems to be out of stock.  Clearly there are alot of us.  Please make more.   Powder blue & white button- downs became mine.  Better than Pepperberry, better than R&D, but not excellent.  I also ordered a fuscia shirt that I wore over the best bra I ever owned and the color ran, turning my white KrisLine bra into a bizzare greyish pink shade from which it won’t recover.  Lesson here – match the shade of the top to the bra.  Always.

Campbell & Kate — 

To be honest, I still don’t fit in an off-the-rack size from C&K and needed to go the custom route so it isn’t a perfectly fair comparison, fit-wise, to the other lines.  As expected in a custom made shirt, the fit is spot on.  But it isn’t just the fit quality that makes these stand out.  The fabric quality and tailoring are above and beyond the others I tried.  Above and beyond.  Rolled up, the sleeves look good.  The weight of the fabric is substantial, and I never have bra show-thru.  I haven’t had the color run and stain another garment.    I wash, shake out and plop onto a hanger to dry and they are ready to wear again within a day.  Because I was getting these custom made, I went for French cuffs on two of them.  I picked these cuff-links up at the airport in Rome when I had a few euros to use up before returning stateside.  Details matter.  My boss wears cuff-links every day and I feel powerful with these, like they are my secret weapon.

Campbell & Kate, with French Cuffs

Campbell & Kate, with French Cuffs

If you fit into C&K’s standard sizes, I envy you.  If you don’t, please join me in pestering her to do more custom work.  With pink, blue & white in my wardrobe now, I could use a few more colors.

 Front Room —

It was a delight to find morefrontroom.com.  Melanie Love graciously sent three tops for me to try that I will review in detail over the next few weeks.  They arrived just before the holidays and I’m in love, love, love with all of them.  So much so that I’ve gone and ordered another essential silk utility blouse plus two more tops from them.  If, like me, you are at or slightly above the largest sizes offered by most full-bust clothing manufacturers, give them a look.    In a 40H bra, the XL fits me nicely, even generously.  From their site:

Is this a plus-size line?

We have some plus-size crossover (can nobody come up with a better term than “plus”??) because so many of us have to size up to accommodate our boobage.  So someone wearing size 18 to 20 with big boobs may be able to size down and wear our XL, especially straight and hourglass shapes.  The key to fit is selecting the size that works for the largest feature of your body.

What I’d been hoping for since first finding Pepperberry is that someone would make more clothing to fit my size and shape.  And my prayers were answered.   I don’t care if a line is called “Plus-sized.” I only care that it fits.  And these do.

Front Room is having a year-end sale, with 60% off and free shipping on orders over $99 CAD. 

Comments

  1. Why aren’t all the websites links? Please update!

  2. Ooo I never thought of cufflinks for women! The head of my division always wears cufflinks (and bowties he sews himself) and they’re always so fun. No real need in my current position when I wear jeans and t-shirts but good think about for the future.

  3. Don’t forget Urkye – the Rohe is not longer available, I think, but they just released a new top called Minimal.

    I’ve been pretty satisfied with BiuBiu and Urkye button-downs and haven’t tried other brands, although I do supplement with custom-made shirts.

    • Right! I have an Urkye knit dress that I picked up at one of the swaps. It’s workable for me because of the stretch, but I’m worried the button front shirts are too small for me.