Big Bust Prominence . . . Experimenting with a Polka Dot Boatneck

My friend gave me a polka dot dress a few months ago, and I wore it for the first time on Easter Sunday. It was a pretty cool day, and since I didn’t have the perfect jacket or sweater to wear over the dress, I wore one of my button fronts under it. I was so pleased with myself that I took this picture afterwards . . . and got a shock at how prominent my boobs were.

big bust neckline polka dot rolled sleeves front

They were much more dominant in the photo than they had seemed in the mirror that morning. After mulling it over, I came up with three observations:

  1. Other busty women do fine with boatnecks–Miriam Baker likes the way they balance her out. But every time I try a  boatneck, I look bustier.
  2. Using sleeves to avoid grouping my boobs with my waistline didn’t work any magic with this neckline. At best, it only neutralized the effect of so much fabric above my chest. All the fabric on top (including the added collar) makes me look like I’m hanging low, but at least the sleeves show how much lower I could go.
  3. This is very thin, super stretchy fabric, and it has to stretch the most at my bustline, which makes the print around my chest bigger there than anywhere else.

I couldn’t do anything about the neckline or the print, but look what happened when I got rid of all that extra fabric from the shirt.

big bust prominence better with less fabricMy boobs are still front and center, but they look more lifted, and I look slimmer without all that cluttery fabric.

Since layering underneath isn’t an option anymore, what happens when I layer above? I found this knit Calvin Klein jacket on sale at Macy’s last week and thought it would be perfect. A jacket definitely reduces boob prominence.

reduce boob prominence but jacket too longUnfortunately, this jacket also makes me look frumpy–a common issue for busty women. I mentioned this problem to my stylish friend Carol last week, and she said that length is often the culprit. It certainly is here. Look what happened when I pinned up the hem.

reduce boob prominence with jacket but remember proportionI should have learned this lesson from my Express jacket experience, but I guess I need to be hit over the head a couple of times before something sinks in.

This isn’t the last you’ll be seeing of this dress. That bare neckline is just begging for a necklace, and I’m going to show you my discoveries on that front as soon as I make them.



Playing with Accessories Soon

Will this finally be my Year of the Accessory? I love accessories, especially on others, but when it comes to buying them for myself, I’m either overwhelmed or under-confident. However, since I’m preparing to give my “D+ Dressing without Stressing” workshop to Bottomless Closet clients in May, it’s time to face my fear, so I’ve enlisted my stylish friend Carol to help me. It’s incredible how Carol always finds the just-right piece to amp up her style. Tomorrow, I’m shadowing her to find out firsthand how she shops for jewelry and scarves. Later, she’ll use my purchases to answer questions like

  • if you have to cover all cleavage in the workplace, how can you use accessories to soften a severe neckline?
  • how do you choose the best basics for you?
  • do watches, bracelets and rings make any difference when it comes to distracting from the bustline?
  • what’s too small and what’s too big on me?
  • what are the logistics of the balance point?
  • how do I compensate for my neckline metal allergy?

If you have any questions, ask away!

Of course I’m going to be grilling Carol about scarves, but Imogen Lamport provides a head start with her newly posted video, How to Wear Scarves When You’re Busty. I’m thrilled that Imogen still writes for D+ cups even though she herself recently had a reduction.



Full Bust Fashion Find: Meet Miriam Baker

When I read Refinery 29‘s recent post, “How to Dress When You’ve Got Big Boobs“, I thought, “Do we seriously need another advice-giver telling us to size up in dresses and shirts?” So I kind of enjoyed the indignant comments. But even more, I enjoyed finding Canadian full-bust clothing designer Miriam Baker’s links to her website sprinkled in some of the responses.

That's Miriam Baker in black, showing one of her pieces after her Fall 2015 show last month.

Miriam Baker, in black, holding her Charlotte dress following last month’s FW2015 show.

I clicked Miriam’s Fall 2014 lookbook and fell in love–not because I would wear everything in it (there sure are a lot of crewnecks in there)–but because finally we have a formally trained North American designer creating complete collections that take the sophisticated full bust customer seriously.

miriam baker fw14 cape

Dress and cape from FW2014

It’s reassuring that the technical requirements for large bust clothing construction aren’t mere afterthoughts for Miriam. She’s been considering–and experiencing the need for–darts, princess seams and extra fabric at the bust for a long time. Her clothing line emerged from her fascination with corsets and bras during her design training, as well as her inability to find the styles she wanted to wear in sizes that would fit her chest. Miriam herself wears a 32F in Prima Donna, or a 32G when she gains a little weight.

miriam baker pink dress seam closeup. 7jpg

Rather than rely upon stretchy knit fabric to make room for the bust, this closeup shows Miriam’s use of seams to create a form-fitting dress in woven material.

Miriam’s particular vision is not conceptual, cool or edgy. She doesn’t consider herself to be a trendsetter. Instead, she allows herself to be influenced by trends to create a look that will always be pretty, feminine and elegant. She sees her customer as classic, well put-together, polished and professional.

miriam baker ss15 eyelet blouse and skirt. changes x 50_Page_16

The eyelet blouse is one of Miriam’s favorite pieces from her SS2015 collection.

miriam baker fw14 107

Of course the white shirt dress with a twist is my favorite piece from FW2014.

miriam baker fw14 700 400 501 pink coat

Miriam Baker coats and jackets from FW2014 are warm enough for a Canadian October.

Interestingly, she breaks a lot of the full bust “rules” with her collections. There are those high necklines I mentioned.

miriam baker fw14 100

miriam baker ss15 eyelet white coat. changes x 50_Page_13

High necklines or not, aren’t you thrilled that someone has finally created full-bust-friendly dresses for our inner Audrey Hepburn?

And there is no way to “Show off your hourglass waist!” in this trapeze dress.

miriam baker ss15 trapeze dress. changes x 50_Page_06

miriam baker ss15 sleeveless graphic print coat

But if you saw these styles in a boutique and knew that they would fit your boobs, I bet you’d take them back to the dressing room. I know I would. Edgy or not, Miriam Baker is giving full-busted women the edge when it comes to choosing for themselves whether to follow certain rules.  When you can’t try a style because it won’t fit around your chest, you can’t analyze whether a style will work for you. But if a line of clothing is specifically constructed to fit you, you’re more likely to take risks and try something new just because you can. Finding Miriam Baker clothing in a store would definitely put the fun back into shopping.

Unfortunately, finding a store that carries Miriam Baker isn’t going to be easy. She won the Toronto Fashion Incubator’s New Labels competition last year, but some of the judges wanted her to abandon her busty business model. Now she’s working to win over store buyers. Given that the average bra size is supposedly a 34DD, you wouldn’t think it would be that hard, but clothing stores are even slower to accommodate larger cups than lingerie stores.

It’s not as if Miriam’s inaugural sizes are ultra-busty. She’s beginning with American dress sizes 2-12 for D cups. (However, I’m hoping they’re more generous in real life. Her sample size 4 fits a waist slightly larger than 26″, and the models in her size 4 clothing on the runway and in her photoshoots wore stuffed 34D Victoria’s Secret bras. Since a 34 is usually much “more band” than a size 4 needs, I would love to learn that her clothes can be sister-sized to fit at least an F cup in UK sizes.) Ultimately, Miriam hopes to expand her sizing up to a Prima Donna G cup.

Even though you can’t yet find her clothing in stores, you can contact Miriam through the email address on her website to make a purchase. And here’s some spectacular news: she can still make pieces from her FW2014 collection for you.

All fabrics for Miriam Baker garments come from Europe, including this season’s cream silk gown covered in sequins.

miriam baker ss15 sequin gown

miriam baker sequins on silk

Everything is sewn in Canada. As you would expect, the average retail price for a Miriam Baker dress is around CDN $430.

Have questions about a specific garment? Ask away in the comments!


Mini Mini Sports Bra Review: Chantelle Underwire Sports Bra

When I spied the new Chantelle sports bra in bright orange at Magic Corsets, I had to try it on. The 32F (UK size) fit perfectly and is really cute.

chantelle sports bra side

chantelle sports bra front

However, when I jumped up and down, I felt more bounce than I’m aware of in my Panache sports tank. It wasn’t Incompetent Sports Bra Bounce, but it simply didn’t meet the standard I’m used to. Which leads me to wonder . . . why bother creating a Panache copycat that isn’t going to do at least as good a job of support?

A lot of the online store reviewers rave about this bra, so I questioned my own impression until I found a single (so far) voice of dissent on the Nordstrom website: “If you wear a 32G chances are you need a bra with stability, this one fell short for me.

Obviously, I wasn’t tempted to purchase this bra, but it may be a good alternative for women who love Chantelle or simply want an orange bra (it’s also available in black and grey). I’m currently wearing the Panache Hepburn in 32FF (review to come soon), and I can just fit the Fantasie Susanna in 30G. The saleswoman at Magic Corsets warned me that the band runs tight in the Chantelle sports bra, so I didn’t try the 30 band and was prepared to try a 34 if necessary.


[Interestingly, my friend refused to photograph me from the back in this bra–it has a J-hook and three columns of three hooks–because she felt my loose skin was too unsightly. Until that evening, I thought I simply had a lot of back flab that would eventually go away with exercise. I also had no idea that I should be embarrassed by it. I even wondered if I should look into cosmetic surgery! Then a few days later after getting out of the shower,  I grasped two handles of my back skin in my hands, and feeling the living tissue, I thought, “This skin has served me well. It stretched when I needed it to. How could I ever get rid of it?”]