Big Bust Boredom Dressing No More–Shopping My Closet with a Professional Stylist

Our tagline–“Above average style for the above average bust”–often feels misleading because I’m so far from a role model for stylish dressing. On the other hand, I aspire to look stylish, and I know our readers do, too. So even if Leah and I are not professional stylists, we give busty women pieces that they can put together on their own.

Last week, Christina Frik, a friend who IS a professional stylist offered to “shop my closet” for me. I was amazed at the looks that she put together. SHE was amazed that I had so many “great pieces to work with”. She thought she was going to give me a long list of basics to buy. Instead, she suggested just four items that will help extend my wardrobe (that I share at the end).

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I set everything out in our living room, and Christina flitted around creating combinations I’d never considered.

Here’s my biggest takeaway about the landscape of big bust dressing: companies that produce clothing for D cups and up are doing their job. They’re providing big-busted women with great building pieces for individual style. We may complain about the lack of options–my side of our closet is practically empty compared to my husband’s–but the truth is, we have incredible essentials that can take us in all sorts of directions without having to compromise on fit. We ran out of time before we ran out of pieces!

Christina came up with options that fit into dress codes that are traditional business (think attorneys) and business casual (think techies), and I finally understand the power of accessories. Look at what she did with just 4 pairs of shoes, 2 necklaces, and 1 scarf. A variety of jackets, cardis and sweaters also helps.

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I had planned to donate this Urkye knit blazer and Express dress to our next Big Bust Clothing Swap until Christina put them together with my leopard kitten heels and new tortoise link necklace.

You’ll see that Christina came up with a lot of big bust looks for a button down shirt. That’s because my first priority was how to wear my own button-front shirts without looking like I’m going for an interview or ready to take food orders. The biggest lesson that bust-friendly designer Patricia McCaw of Bolero has taught me is: Wear your own designs. Now every time I go to an event where I meet new people who ask what I do, I’m ready for the question, “Are you wearing one of your shirts?”

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This 4-button Jones New York jacket that I bought years ago actually buttons across my chest without straining. The patterned pants are a new find from Alfani.

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The more I wear my Paige dress, the more I look forward to new lines from Bitter Lollipop in 2017.

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I still love this knit blazer from Express that I found at a discount store last year.

 

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Recognize this duster from last week’s cardigan survey? I think I’m going to keep it!

 

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This is the other cardi from last week that Christina tells me is a keeper.

As you’ll remember, shoes are always a challenge for me, and I’ve finally found a pair of high boots that fit my orthotics. However, I have a lot to learn about proportion. Christina has encouraged me to wear my ankle boots, t-straps and kitten heel pumps with low hems (like a knee or midi-length dress) and high boots with high hems (like a tunic over leggings).

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This sweater and the tunic below are two of the bust-friendly dolman sleeve pieces that I wrote about in the past.

 

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I don’t plan to keep this pleather jacket from JCP that I wrote about last week–I’m more comfortable with the faux-leather lined cardi–but this look is making me reconsider. Also, note the ankle boots with the low hem of this Rock Cotton tunic (that I’ve used as a swimsuit cover up and wrote about last year).

 

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This picture doesn’t do justice to the texture of the silk blouse from More Front Room.

Finally, I never would have imagined combining my Pepperberry moss-colored linen biker jacket and a brown belt with this Riley dress from Bitter Lollipop.

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My Doc Martin shoes are meh with this outfit, but they’re just a placeholder for one of the items on Christina’s shopping list for me. Here’s the list I promised you:

 

  1. a pair of taupe or tan ankle booties (she also thinks they’ll look great with my Samantha dress from DD Atelier)
  2. a long boyfriend blazer or cardigan with a hem that falls below where my legs join my torso
  3. a layering “shell”
  4. a long hem tank that falls below where my legs join my torso (could also be the same as #3)

Basically, I’m looking for everything that I saw this woman wearing on the subway the other day!

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I hope today’s post gives you some ideas for shopping your own closet! What pieces are you looking for this fall that will extend your wardrobe even further?

 

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Homework Help from Full Bust Readers

When I showed you how the DD Atelier Samantha dress fits me a few weeks ago, I confessed that I was going through a frumpy phase. Well, it turns out that confession is not only good for the soul, it’s also good for the wardrobe. Your comments became my homework assignment, and this is the result. Four steps took me from the look on the left to the look on the right.

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First, alterations. In my original post, I mentioned that I should probably hem the dress, but then I tried rolling up the sleeves and realized I should shorten them as well. This goes along with the petite issue that I mentioned last week. While I prefer waist-length sleeves because they highlight my waist, shorter sleeve and hem lengths also mean less fabric to overwhelm my frame.

Second, even though you can barely tell, I listened to what you said about patterned tights. I think I found the last pair of polka dot sheer black nylons in New York City! I had always considered opaque black tights to be a winter staple–almost like boot substitutes, but a friend set me straight in this email:

I agreed with the comments about “lighter” hosiery.  The solid dress (which was beautiful) and the opaque black tights felt “heavy”.  I liked the suggestions for patterns, but I’d keep it subtle and also consider lighter shades and something more sheer. “Fun” hosiery can look awkward on women our age–it can look like you’re trying to be too young or come off as vintage (in a not good way) or old.

Third, obviously, I changed my shoes. I also tried boots with this dress, but as with the opaque tights, they weighed everything down. I had no idea I already owned a pair that would work here (unless I wear them with opaque tights, of course!).

Fourth, I experimented with pendants. Wow! Thank you for opening my eyes to the possibilities! I often skip necklaces because mysterious metals give me a rash, but when reader Rachel wrote that she has “found a pendant chain that I like the length of, and I rotate what’s on it”, I realized I could do the same with a plain gold chain that I never wear.

For this dress, I needed something fairly prominent to break up the expanse of fabric across my chest–plus, a large pendant also helps balance–and sometimes even minimize–a large chest. However, I bet you’ll agree that anything is better than nothing, including the onyx rock pendant on the far left that came with my Rock Cotton tunic.

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I’ll also be experimenting with length some more. For instance, I usually raise the  cluster of freshwater pearls that you see in the above center photo by a couple of inches (although I’m still not sure why the pearls don’t work as well as the disks in the photo on the right. Too vertical? Too light? Any ideas?).

Below, I tried lowering the disks, thinking this would help group my chest with my neckline. Instead, I get a disk that bounces off the cliff of my bustline! Plus, in this case it looks like balance points trump neckline grouping. (Here are links to my first post about balance points, as well as my latest post about balance points.)

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These simple improvements to my outfit kept me so busy that I never got around to bracelets or brooches, but I’m looking forward to to trying those sometime as well.

 

 

 

Big Bust Celebration Dressing–and a Full Bust Find

Summer weddings and graduation parties are upon us, so we’re highlighting “special occasion dressing” on Hourglassy this month. We want to help you find the perfect dress–and what to wear under it.

My first contribution to this topic came out of my accessories field trip with Carol. Before we met at Macy’s, my assignment was to arrive an hour earlier to find a little black dress. I felt completely confident that I could find one to fit me in an hour because knit LBD’s are so ubiquitous. Also, based on Gina’s great success with a Ralph Lauren LBD in 2011 and my own favorite Ralph Lauren print dress (that I wore to Leah’s wedding), I planned to make a beeline to the Ralph Lauren racks.

I found this dress there immediately.

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Here’s what I love about it: the neckline hits right at my lower balance point, and I don’t absolutely have to wear a cami. In this picture, I also discovered that I can wear statement necklaces like this Bar III Caterpillar necklace to maintain the neckline while masking my cleavage!

bar III caterpillar necklace.tifI wish I could take credit for this necklace discovery, but it’s all Carol. She also found what I call a “Flintstone necklace” that does the same thing. I would never have noticed it in the store, but now I want to keep it! I’m sorry I can’t find it on the Macy’s website for you.

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Back to the dress. Here’s what else I like about it:

  • There’s no boob bifurcation. I’m wearing my 32FF Panache Hepburn balconet in these photos, and I accidentally brought this size 6 dress home because I thought the tag said “8”. So I think this dress is generously sized, which means plenty of room for my boobs. I’d love to see what size would accommodate a 32J, but I’m too afraid to ask Mia after the Express jacket–I only hope that she’ll humor me again after reading this!  My apex measures 40 1/2″, and I’m guessing I could still wear this size if I measured 42″.
  • There’s no armhole bra.
  • Even though it’s a cap sleeve, it isn’t the kind that acts as an arrow pointing to my chest. Instead, it has the effect of going sleeveless, but the caps and shoulder pads extend past the shoulders and widen them. I haven’t explored this in depth, but I think the contrast with my shoulders makes my bust and waist look smaller.
  • The fabric is matte jersey, my favorite.
  • It can be worn from work to cocktails–and to weddings and graduations.

It’s also available in the stores in eggplant and royal blue, and I found a photo of it in navy with white polka dots, but I haven’t seen that in the store or online. If I did, I don’t think I could resist buying it! As it is, I’m seriously considering keeping this LBD because I don’t have one, and even though LBD’s can be a dime a dozen, it’s pretty rare to find one this flattering.

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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.