Large Bust Wedding Dress Dreams with Curvy Custom Bride

Scrolling through Instagram recently, I stumbled across Curvy Custom Bride and was excited to recognize its founder, Leila Breton, the columnist who gave us incredibly helpful instructions for big bust alterations for coats, armholes, waists and more. I link to all ten of her posts at the bottom of today’s interview. Leila had to scale back her extracurricular activities in 2014, but she didn’t scale back her sewing trajectory. Instead, it moved from hobby to full time profession, and you’re going to love reading about it today.

Darlene: We are super excited to hear from you again after your last column in 2014. Tell us what you’ve been up to!

Leila: It’s so great to be back on Hourglassy. You know I’ve been obsessed with fit for some time now, starting with my own closet, and now helping women get a perfect fit! I recently rebranded from Three Dresses Project to Curvy Custom Bride. While I still do TDP social media-ing, my energy is focused on reaching out to curvy women who are tired of shopping for a wedding dress that exists only in their imaginations! You know, that dress that is the exact look and the perfect fit? For a lot of us with fuller chests, that just doesn’t exist.

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Darlene: You describe hiding behind your bouquet on your wedding day. What else led you to wanting to serve the busty niche?

Leila: I’d have to say being busty myself, and feeling the pain of trying to buy clothes that made me look and feel worse than I already did. Shopping made me feel like I didn’t belong. Wearing clothes that don’t fit affects your daily life. The most frustrating thing is that I don’t fit in “standard” sizes or plus-sizes. It’s the in-between gripe. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way, and now I have the skill to provide a valuable service that I think goes beyond just fitting or just creating an awesome gown. Sometimes I feel like an Alterations Therapist. There are a lot of emotions that come up with what I do and I believe in holding space for my clients.

Darlene: Can you share some of your clients’ pre-Leila horror stories with us? [Read more…]

Off the Rack ~ Shopping for Bridesmaid Dresses

A few weeks ago, I visited my longest friend to look for bridesmaid dresses for her wedding in Chicago next fall. I’ve been a bridesmaid only once before, when I was the maid of honor at my sister’s wedding. But she selected dresses from J. Crew so we all mail-ordered our dresses separately without ever meeting up or trying anything on. So this was the first time I’ve ever really gone shopping for a bridesmaid dress.

There’s definitely a reputation for this activity being awful, but I had a total blast! The group included a variety of body shapes, sizes, and heights, so everyone was sensitive to personal comfort and lingerie needs.

The wedding is a super fancy black-tie affair in September, so we were looking for long dresses in dark colors with “something special.” We went to two local boutiques. One had more conventional dresses but excellent customer service, while the other had what I thought were nicer offerings, but our consultant wasn’t very good. Additionally, the second shop didn’t allow photography, so I only have real photos from the first place.

I’ll give an overview of some of the styles I tried on and then share my final thoughts. I think this first group was all dresses by the brand Dessy:

The rack from which we were selecting.

The rack from which we were selecting.

[Read more…]

Off the Rack ~ A Review of the J. Crew “Sophie” Bridesmaid Dress

For the third week in a row, I’m talking about weddings! But this time, I’ll be a bridesmaid instead of the bride, for my younger sister’s July wedding in Massachusetts. Both she and I went straight for J. Crew when we were looking for bridesmaid dresses because they offer multiple cuts in the same fabrics. I ultimately went with David’s Bridal because I wasn’t crazy about J. Crew’s colors at the time, and David’s was cheaper and had more cuts to choose from.

But my sister’s style errs on the preppy side, and J. Crew is totally her style, so when they offered a 25% off deal, she went for it (and there was another 25% off coupon this past week, so if you’re interested in these dresses, definitely sign up for the mailing list!).

The two dresses she offered the maids were the strapless, sweetheart neckline Marlie or the deep-V Sophie, in sea spray faille. They’re the exact same silhouette aside from the straps.

The Sophie.

The Sophie.

Sophie on the model.

Sophie on the model.

Sophie in profile.

Sophie in profile.

Since I never shop at J. Crew, and it takes months to get an appointment in their bridal shops, I went by the size chart and ordered online. Unfortunately, the size chart turned out to be completely incorrect. At 37”-29”-41”, I’m between their size 8 (36.5” bust and 29” waist) and 10 (37.5” bust and 30” waist). I ordered the 8, but when it arrived, I was completely swimming in it. It was just hanging off me and I could make a fist out of all the extra fabric:

Apologies for the terrible phone selfie.

Apologies for the terrible phone selfie.

Next I went to a J. Crew store to re-order it. I was hoping to just look at a smaller size on the floor to figure out if I needed a 4 or a 6, but they wouldn’t even let me in the bridal suite without an appointment. I asked if there was someone working who could advise me on sizing, and the cashier said the only people who know anything about the bridal merchandise are the bridal consultants and they were all busy.

I even tried just asking the cashier if he could advise on J. Crew’s normal dress sizes, explaining that I had technically sized slightly down with the 8 based on the chart, and it was humongous. But he didn’t know anything either! This was really aggravating. I ended up just going with the 4 and figuring I could come back and exchange it again if necessary. Two dress exchanges would literally take less time than the wait for a bridal appointment.

A few days later, the 4 arrived and it was a big improvement…but to be honest this is not a boob-friendly dress, and after trying it on again this week I don’t think it’s very flattering on me overall. It’s pretty obvious that it was designed with a straighter figure in mind, but I don’t think I could have sized up and gotten it tailored because the arm-holes are already too big and showing off my bra.

First up, the measurement discrepancies: Size 4 is supposed to fit a 34.5” bust and 27” waist, but when laid flat the waist actually measures 15.5” for a total of 31”. As for the bust, it does have three-dimensional cups, so if I allow my measuring tape to follow the boob curve while the dress is laid out, it’s about 19”, and measuring flat across the back is 17”, for a total of 36”.

So overall, the size 4 is an inch and a half bigger in the bust and four inches bigger in the waist. What the hell is J. Crew thinking?? Not only are the measurements off significantly, but the bust-to-waist ratio is also wildly off. The listed measurements have a difference of 7.5 inches (and this applies to most of the sizes), but the actual garment has a difference of only 5 inches.

Here are photos of the dress on me:







As you can see, it fits okay, but as usual the dress is not curving under my bust. Additionally, it’s a bit small in the bust, just enough to squish my boobs together and make some cleavage. I don’t particularly mind this, but it’s something to keep in mind if you need to look conservative.

I thought the dress would look cuter if I belted it, and my sister wants me to wear a sash or something anyway, to differentiate myself as the maid of honor, so I got a couple different wide ribbons to try out. The one I like best is a 2.5-inch wide slightly stiff grosgrain. It really helps define my waist better, and to lower the waist to where mine is actually located (my long torso strikes again!).



Unfortunately, though, the poof of the skirt in front, the shape of my tummy, and the slippery fabric of both the dress and the ribbon mean that it instantly slides up to a very unflattering position and basically outlines the roundness of my belly:


From the side, it practically looks like a maternity dress:


So what’s the solution? I’m hoping I can figure out some non-permanent way to make the ribbon stay in place in front. I might have to just sew a tiny stitch right in the center of my tummy and then remove it later.

Aside from all the negative comments about fit, there are some positives. The quality is really lovely. The fabric is heavy and feels nice, and the garment is fully lined. It also has pockets! And these pockets are actually big enough to hold a good amount of stuff, but thanks to the full, stiff skirt, you can’t see whatever’s in them. So I’ll be able to slip lipstick, a compact mirror, cash, and ID in the pockets, at minimum. Maybe my digital camera too . . . .

One other excellent design feature is that the straps have little loops to hold your bra straps in place. Why don’t all dresses have this??




I do have to note, however, that the loops are under an inch wide, so if you wear GG+ bras (which tend to have thicker straps), these may not work for you.

Overall impression: The dress is nice, but J. Crew really needs to sort out its sizing issues. And this design is definitely not what I would describe as “boob-friendly.”


Best Breasts Forward: Celebrating Color?

As we round out the school year and I prepare for countless graduation events for my son, I am being forced to go through my closet and decide if I’ll be needing to purchase dresses for any events. I will have the yellow Pepperberry dress in my hands soon to review and am hoping it will fit well.

Besides this cheery yellow beauty and a cream dress I purchased from Pepperberry a few years back, I’ve realized that most of my “event worthy” dresses are black. There was a time in my early 20’s when I could count on one hand the number of pieces in my closet that weren’t black. Black has always made me feel strong without drawing too much unwanted attention. Whenever I’m asked my favorite color I say, “Purple for crayons and black for clothing.”

As I looked at my beautiful LBDs I decided to embrace the fact that maybe Black is my color. Of course, I’m open to yellows, greens and what hot mamma doesn’t love red, but black IS a color to me. It doesn’t mean I’m bland or goth or that I lack imagination; in fact one of the things I love most about my black dresses is that depending on my hair, makeup and accessories they can show many sides of who Mia is.

Stay tuned to see the many sides of Mia ~ The Graduation Edition, where I will be showing the different events I attended, what I wore and how I wore my favorite color . . . black.