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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Corporate Curves Report: Business as Casual

Hi to all you readers and hope your week has had a great start! Mine has. This Monday has been one of the most energetic ones in a long time. I attended an inspiring and interesting training for ICT management last week and that got me into reading Kotter during the weekend. I came back to work with Evernote bursting with ideas I had written down.

This week the topic is casual – more specifically casual at overnight business training trips with evening activities. It was very easy to pack normal clothes for the three training days, but then there were the clothes for the outdoor team activities and the sauna and hot tub and lounging by the fireplace after. It’s still my work colleagues who I’m with, but I need to reveal a casual side of me which is actually a bit out of character for me. The reason is my fixation on matching clothes, including coat and shoes and other accessories. Also, I’m not a very casual person to begin with. So I chose my most casual outfit, navy pants with this top below (and the scarf too).

Lindex top and scarf.

As an outdoor activity ensemble, it being winter and rainy, I chose my riding raincoat and my wellies. I wore them with dark blue jeggings and a white turtle neck knitted jumper.

Riding raincoat and a close match to my wellies but not exactly the same.

The most casual I ever get is when riding. It hurts my eyes how the coat does not match the rest of my outfit in this picture taken last Easter in Gredos mountains, Spain. Yes, I really am fixated on outfits that match, but with outdoor wear I  sometimes have to compromise.

Tattini helmet, Hööks jacket, Pikeur riding pants and Hööks riding boots. Horses name is India @Gredos mountains, Spain.

Here are some of my very cosy summer holiday styles. Even flip-flops need to match my dresses 🙂 Luckily they are inexpensive to buy.

Left: Pepperberry dress @Rethymnon, Crete Right: H&M dress and GinaTricot cardi.

 

On my yearly trail riding trips I do take easy-to-wear clothes with me for sightseeing and dinners as seen here. I’ve had the knitted tunic for a few years and it’s been a great purchase and a staple as my casual wear.

YourFace knitted top, H&M leggins and Vagabond ballerinas @Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

And last but not least, my grocery shopping casual style – this is the absolute most casual I can leave the house. Ever.

Pepperberry jacket, Dressman shirt (loaned from bf), Guess bag, NewLook boots.

Everyone’s own individual dressing style determines what we see as casual and that in turn determines what we view as work wear and what we view as party wear. For example my boyfriend’s father thinks that the blue and white long jersey dress seen above with the long cardi is very festive! And at the same time it’s one of my most casual dresses I own and only wear it as such 🙂

To conclude this post, as might be evident, I do put a lot of thought into what I wear. Every morning I lie in bed and decide on my outfit in my head before I get up. I think of what’s clean, whether I know where it is, which shoes go with the outfit and whether I know where those shoes are, etc. That sentence reveals that yes, my wardrobe collection is way too big. I need to make an inventory soon and donate some clothes to charity.

Busty Confessions from My Home Office: Clothes Matter

Meet the snuggliest bathrobe in the world. My sister gave it to me for Christmas one year, and it’s the one good thing about cold weather.

If I’m not careful, I will get distracted by my computer while still in this robe in the morning and then spend the entire day in it. Other days, Ive changed into sweats and a tee shirt, but no bra, and called myself “dressed”.  Then I’ve wondered why I’ve felt so unmotivated.

I began to suspect my dress code had something to do with it when I made it to 5:00 p.m. without a bra a few weeks ago. “Why bother putting one on now?” I argued to myself. “The day’s almost over.” For some reason, I didn’t listen to myself and put one on anyways. What a difference. I immediately felt sharper, more energized and more engaged.

When Tina visited New York, one of the many topics we discussed during our shopping trip on November 4 was the effect of dress in the workplace on our perception of ourselves and on others’ perceptions of us. Having been a middle and high school English teacher, I knew all the arguments for good dress codes amongst students, and I had always subscribed to them.  On a personal level, it was never an issue for me because I loved to dress up for work as a teacher and later as an attorney.

It became a big issue for me, however, when I began working from home in 2009. None of the old dress codes applied anymore–not even Casual Friday! It was a long process, but somewhere in 2011, I finally became comfortable with my new identity as a blogger and small business owner. My closet is beginning to catch up. It’s taken several purges, but the items hanging there now are much closer to expressing who I am today than who I was four years ago.

Now the challenge is to wear these clothes daily, whether or not I have any commitments outside my home office. That’s easier said than done for me. I tend to need a lot of external prompts. Just as I work better with a deadline staring me in the face, I tend to dress better with an appointment looming minutes ahead of me.

So since November 5, I’ve been keeping an appointment with my camera every week day. I don’t have any co-workers to see what I wear each day, but I have you! You may or may not be interested, but I’ve created a Pinterest page called Darlene’s November OOTD Challenge to hold me accountable. Every week day for the rest of this month, I will wear something that I could walk out of the house in, including shoes.  If I fail on any day, you’ll see a photo of my snuggly robe.

So far I’ve been keeping up pretty well, and I’m learning some new things to put into practice and to keep me on my toes with blogging. If this month’s challenge turns out to be a success, it’d be fun to set up challenges for you to participate in as well. Is there anything you’d like to be held accountable for in the month of December . . . or the New Year?

Corporate Curves Report: Strength from Beneath

Welcome to the sixth Corporate Curves Report – the very first one discussing lingerie (strapless, plunges, integral bras)! I’m focusing on how lingerie makes me feel, how I choose which set to wear and why some bras are just my absolute favorites. I only discovered my true bra size about four years ago – I tried to go bra shopping in Helsinki and ventured into a store called Change where a very nice fitting lady ended up telling me they don’t carry my size although we had figured out my most likely size. Then she was kind enough to point me into the only store in Helsinki where she said I’d for sure find something – FunkyLady on Fredrinkikatu Street. I headed there, but unfortunately the customer service was so poor that I didn’t want to go there again, although I did manage to find two bras that fit – quite boring ones but at least I knew my size.  I think I went at least two back sizes down and three cup sizes up!

Then I wondered, “Hmm . . . OK, now I know my bra size, but surely there must be nice looking bras available, too.” I googled “32G bras” and found Bravissimo – the UK lingerie store for bigger busted ladies. Soon after, BraStop also became familiar to me. So those are mainly the places I shop for my bras. I don’t really follow trends but just buy what I like.

First I heard of the Deco bra by Freya which is said to almost give you a new pair of boobies – it sure did, too! The shape and the uplift of this staple plunge bra is unparalleled – though as breasts come in all sizes and shapes, it isn’t ideal for everyone but for most it is! And what a joyful day it was for well endowed ladies when the Freya Deco strapless came out. I got it and could not believe the support.  I jumped around and bounced up and down and it stayed in place. It kept  the shape, allbeit not as round as the regular Decos but pretty darn amazing! Here are my basic Decos and strapless worn with a Pepperberry dress to a wedding.

Pepperberry dress 16RC, Decos.

Pepperberry dress 16RC, Decos I own are 34GG. Bras not worn by me here.

These bras give me comfort, a nice shape, uplift and a great deep plunge if needed. They are excellent t-shirt bras, smooth and round. But there’s no extra oomph in them. If I’m feeling rather fun, happy and playful I tend to gravitate towards patterns. I’m not so keen on flowers or lace but luckily there is so much variety these days. My most fun dress is seen below, and if I go out for an evening in this, I’ll make sure my undies are as fun or sassy, too, to complete the feeling even while I’m putting on my makeup before putting the dress on!

Pepperberry Fire Print Dress, Cleo, Freya

Pepperberry Fire Print Dres 16RC, Cleo Zia bra – this color exclusive to Bravissimo, and Freya Crystal – same shape as the Decos. My number one fave bra! Again, bras not worn by me here.

When it comes to office clothes,  I often need to tone down my natural smiley and happy nature, so I dress the part on the outside but quite often not under. It’s almost like a silent inside joke you can giggle to inside your head all day at work, something to make you happy. Sometimes I even try to guess what type of underwear sets other people are wearing under their tidy office attire. Wouldn’t it be fun to know! It would reveal so much of everyone’s personalities. 🙂

KrisLine, Freya, Masquerade, Pepperberry

Freya Hatty set, me wearing a Pepperberry dress 14SC with NewLook boots, KrisLine Barbara bra, Flirtelle Rose bra in red, under it KrisLine Taboo bra in black/velvet, and bottom right is the new Masquerade Rhea set which I own in purple and in powder colors. Bras on me about 34GG, some are H. Bras not worn by me in this photo.

But as much comfort, attitude, fun and most of all support these favorite bras of mine do give, what to do when lounging on a work trip in the hotel room, perhaps while finishing up some work or just reading a book or watching telly in a language I often don’t understand? I find bras a bit too uncomfortable for that so I’m a big fan of Bravissimo racer back PJ tops. They have wire free integral support with bra back fastening. It’s not as uplifting as a bra but gives great support and is very comfortable to wear. I have worn them with jeans as well for a casual look. And I simply love the strapless tops with halterneck support Bravissimo make. They have the, same integral bra system minus the straps!

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Bravissimo integral bra on their pj tops.

Bravissimo intergral bra tops

Bravissimo racer back PJ top in brown 32GG/H and their bandeau strappy top in 34G. Worn with a Pepperberry shrug size 14.

Bras used to be my enemy for so long but not anymore. They are a source of joy and something I love to shop online for (still limited selections in Finland unfortunately). They are an everyday accessory with a real purpose that affects my health, but I’m no longer bound by restrictions on what I can or can’t wear! I was sure I’d never be able to wear a strapless dress or a top, but as seen here, I should not have been so sure 🙂 Now I and my ever growing collection of bras are living a happy life together 🙂