Starting a Large Bust Wardrobe Over by Trial & Error: Three Bust Friendly Dresses Under $50

Ever since Holly of The Full Figured Chest began this series with her little black dress find, I know you’ve been wondering what she’d try next. I’m happy to see that it’s more dresses to fit both top and bottom!

While I normally thrift most of my clothes, I’ve spent this month checking out what dress options are like on some of the major online clothing websites. I love looking put together but I also hate spending tons of money on clothes that I won’t fit in the future! For me, $50 is about where I stop being interested in a dress. Luckily, it turns out there are lots of great options out there for bustier women if you know where to look. Two of my favorites are ASOS and Modcloth. ASOS has lots of great sales and carries a huge size range, and Modcloth has tons of cute low cost dresses in stretchy fabrics. While I love the vintage inspired clothing companies that cater to fuller busted women like Pinup Girl Clothing and Stop Staring, I don’t want to go full vintage all of the time. They also tend to emphasize cleavage, which doesn’t really work when you’re presenting an ad campaign to a bunch of CEOs. My look tends to be more eclectic anyway: I start with plain colored dresses in classic cuts and then add crazier tights or hair clips on top of them to make a full look.


Work With Me Dress from Modcloth:
This dress is definitely 40’s inspired but still has that nice sleek look. I love the peplum and how it draws attention away from my bust. Peter Pan collars are traditionally a no go for bustier women, but I love how it adds a subtle shape to this dress. The fabric is very stretchy in real life, which makes the dress incredibly comfortable while giving your waist lots of definition. I bought this in black first, and I loved it so much that I immediately picked up another one in this gorgeous mint color. Modcloth also has it in stock in this great coral color, but even I think that buying the same dress in three colors is a little nuts. This dress feels very nice (especially for the low price tag) and I suspect it will hold up beautifully. It’s certainly going to get lots of wear. I’m wearing a size XL in the picture.


The Coach Tour Dress in Tangerine from Modcloth:

This dress reminds me of something Audrey Hepburn would wear as she runs from criminals in Charade and seduces Cary Grant. The chic button details really make this dress for me. Lots of the reviews on Modcloth say it comes up short, but the length was fine on me. I’m only 5’4″ though, so taller women may want to be more wary about this one. As you can see, the color in reality is very different from the color on the website. I like both, so this didn’t upset me. This is another one that Modcloth has in six or seven different colors. You could do tons with this dress by changing out your stockings and some jewelry and the color will also be great for the fall and winter.

This dress is made out of a soft thick fabric that I think will hold up really well. The only downside is that the label says handwash and hang dry, so if you hate handwashing things this may not be your dream dress. This dress looks great as long as I wear a bra with tons of lift, like my Ewa Michalak plunges or my Kris Line bras. I tried it in my Curvy Kates and it looked much dumpier on me. It also has pockets, which gives me a convenient place to stash my phone when I’m on the go in it. This dress is also a size XL.


ASOS Peter Pan Collar Dress With Puffed Shoulders:

I bought this in my usual ASOS size of 14 (to fit my chest measurement) and while it fit my chest it was baggy in lots of other places. Hopefully this means my weight loss plan is working! It’s on the verge of being too baggy in the waist and hips, so I’m going to wait a little while and then have my seamstress take it in some. That said, right now a belt fixes all of those issues easily.

This is another Peter Pan collar dress, but the lower cut neckline makes it work. It’s very work friendly, but I’ve also dressed it up a few times for a Friday night dinner and it transitioned very nicely.  You can go fancy with gold jewelry or make it funkier with comic book inspired accessories. My new favorite work outfit is this dress combined with my Wonder Woman themed hair clips.

What online retailers do you buy bust friendly clothing from?

The Kind of Mother a Big Bust Daughter Would Love to Go Shopping With

As you might suspect, I’ve come to live in a sort of “boob bubble” where I rarely encounter women who don’t know their bra size. This explains my astonishment when the first woman I met at the Campbell & Kate and Dirty Dolls trunk show last month was horrified that her DDD cup size was the equivalent of an F cup. “I’m a 34H,” I said, hoping to demonstrate that an F cup isn’t that big, and that non-porn stars can wear an H cup. Her wide eyes and silence as she hurried away left me feeling out of sorts. “It’s going to be a long night,” I thought.

Then I met Charlene. Oh how I wish you could have joined our conversation. I couldn’t write down her words of wisdom fast enough, and today’s post barely touches the surface of her fabulous attitude. She’s a 42G with three lucky daughters aged 6 months, 10 years and 16 years, which makes her the perfect subject for today’s Mother’s Day post.

First off, Charlene considers herself “a full figure plush woman,” and she believes that breasts should be “separate, lifted and appreciated.” She shops for bras at Lane Bryant, Avenue, Ashley Stewart and Fashion to Figure. I was going to recommend Elomi to her until I realized that Lane Bryant’s Cacique line offers way cuter styles like these:

(I was also ready to gush about the Curvy Kate Showgirl line to Charlene because she’s a total Showgirl type of woman, but I was sad to realize that their bands end at 38.)

Charlene’s fitting advice for women in general:

When you see that the bra you are wearing leaves you with four boobs instead of two, then you need to go get measured at a GOOD bra store. If you know that you are a woman with a little extra, you need not be shopping at Victoria Secret ’cause she’s not keeping your secrets. A cheap man always pays twice.

How she approaches her teen:

I teach my teen that a young lady should always have different bras for different outfits: occasion and “just because.” Especially she should always have a black bra. That’s why whenever we go shopping for undergarments, we have that conversation on how it should fit, look and feel. If you put it on and jump in it and all of your girls are falling out, go a size up.

My 16-year-old has a very mature and positive attitude about her body, especially since she wears an 34 C/D bra. She said she gets it from me! Whenever I take her shopping for bras, she gets really happy since she feels that my money is her money–aka nature’s credit card.

When it comes to her picking out bras, she looks for colors. I look for shape, support and comfort. We have our disagreements, but when I explain to her what I am getting at, she smiles. I will say things to her like, “When you’re choosing what bra to wear, make sure that the straps are comfortable and that you have that full coverage, i.e., all of your breast is tucked into the cup, including your sides.”  When it comes to colors, shape and style, she likes a lot of strapless bras, which is cool with me as long as it’s teen-appropriate. I allow her to buy bright, loud-colored bras because at the end of the day, I don’t want anything to show through her bra. Howeve,r she loves color. She has bras that have stripes, hearts, and polka dots.

Regarding her almost-tween:

My 10-year-old loves to go bra shopping since she wears training bras. We usually go to Cookies department store (a kid’s store). She loves  to get the matching bra and panty set with different designs and styles on them. Sometime she will say things like, “Mommy, these can’t fit you. What size are you?”

Her answer to the question, ” What would your advice be to a 13-year-old who has a larger bust than the rest of her classmates, especially if the 13-year-old were your daughter?”*

Well I don’t recall ever having small breasts. I was in the fifth and sixth grade wearing a DD cup, so I was that girl in school with the big ones–or as my friends would call them, “miniature people”. To be honest, I loved it. I think as a parent, first and foremost you have to have that talk with her teaching her to embrace what she has and letting her know it’s ok. Also teach them how to wear the appropriate bras so that they won’t have future back problems. Luckily in this generation the kids are growing bigger and faster than the kids years ago, so they have plenty of options on where to buy their bras. I know Fashion Bug and Lane Bryant have “Minimizers” that make your breasts look smaller than what they are.

Finally, more on her own experience growing up:

In my family having big breasts skips a generation. I can remember my mother taking me to Sterns Department Store in the city for my bras. She gave me some advice. However, I learned a lot on my own when I went shopping for myself. As I stated before, I was in middle school wearing a DD cup, in high school I was a DDD cup, and now as an adult currently I am a 42G, and I love it.


Recently someone asked the Busty Girl Comics artist,  “Is 36C considered large for a 13-year-old?” She answered, “She may want to wear a sports bra until all her peers catch up.”

Starting a Large Bust Wardrobe Over by Trial and Error: Holly Jackson’s Little Black Dress Find

I’ve been following Holly Jackson from her debut as a columnist on The Lingerie Addict (I’ll include the link once I find it) through the development of her own great blog for full-busted women, The Full Figured Chest. If you’ve spent any time on her blog, you’ve probably developed a giant wish list from the gorgeous lingerie options that she finds for us.  In her latest post, “What Lingerie Has Done for Me“, Holly writes, “I still can’t claim to have a fantastic sense of fashion when it comes to my outerwear choices, but I’m hoping one day it will catch up with my underwear choices.” Today she documents her first steps toward making that happen.

A few weeks ago, I threw out all of my jeans. My last three pairs didn’t fit well and finally ripped, and I was faced with the horrifying prospect of going out and finding jeans all over again. I decided to start my wardrobe over, with a focus on flattering clothes that fit me and emphasized my curves. I’ve always been a jeans and t-shirt kind of person, but jeans generally just make me look short, fat, and dumpy.

Since this is going to be a series, let’s start with the basics. I’m 5’4″, a size 12/14, and I’m currently hovering somewhere around 175 pounds. I’d love to lose another 40 to 50 pounds over the next year or so, and I’ve been experimenting (read: trying to curb my cheese addiction and to exercise more) with ways to do so that work for me. I’m currently a 32HH/J in most bra brands. I know lots of women choose to wait until the end of weight loss to buy new clothes, but I’ve decided to learn how to dress myself better now instead of waiting for a goal that still seems very far away in my mind.

Lots of women out there are built like me, and there isn’t a lot of information out there on how to dress yourself. It’s easy to either dress yourself in t-shirts or tents, but there are tons of clothes out there that will work with our figures. As I’m finding out, it’s just a matter of trial and error. I do most of my shopping from consignment and vintage shops, since my neighborhood is chock full of them. I like supporting local places when I can, and I love finding unique stuff.

This outfit that I wore to a cocktail party recently is a good example of that. The dress is by Norma Kamali, and I picked it up for about ten dollars in a consignment shop. It still had the tags on, and it was a size large. This was a dress that looked awful on the hanger, but has a totally different effect on a real person. I love how it cinches my waist without a belt, and I love how classic it is. It reminds me of Audrey Hepburn’s outfits in Charade, which is one of my favorite fashion movies.

My jewelry is all 60’s era runway pieces from my favorite local antique shop, and the purse is also vintage.

My stockings are by Erica M, which is a new line that has absolutely amazing designs. I managed to rip them with my heel when someone bumped into me at the party, and I’m really feeling the loss still. When I do put serious money into things, it tends to be accessories and stockings.

I feel like the first photo shows lots of progress but still has some glaring weaknesses. I have no idea what to do with my hair. I’d like to start doing more with it, but I’ve never learned anything about it. I’m pretty lost beyond putting it up in a ponytail. I’m wearing lipstick here (another new addition in the past few weeks) but I’d like a redder red that works with pale skin.

What are your tips for dressing in figure flattering ways?

D Cups and Up Have a Friend in AJ Rumina

In 2010, I reviewed my great AJ Rumina shirt here, and I told you about the alterations that made it even better here.  Owning a shirt from AJ Rumina satisfied my curiosity about the company’s product and made me happy to include them on my Clothing for Us page, but I still wanted to know more about its founders–the website’s about page has always raised more questions than it answered. I reached out to Rebecca Yates, the company’s president, and asked if I could interview her for Hourglassy. Her answers to my questions make me want to support AJ Rumina even more. I hope you feel the same.

Darlene:  I understand you started the company because of your own clothing needs. Can you share a story about searching for clothing before you started AJ  Rumina? Also, your “about us” page mentions partners–how did you meet? How do you complement each other?

Rebecca:  One of my worst clothing nightmares was shopping for formal dresses. My mother and I would spend days searching through stores to find a dress that would cover my bust, wasn’t too low, and didn’t end up looking like a muu-muu! Eventually we would give up and my mom would just make me a dress, with a modified pattern. I was the only one in the school wearing a homemade prom dress and, despite how beautiful it was, I was mortified. My partners are: (1) my best friend from the age of 9 and (2) my mother. My friend, Michelle, has always followed the fashion industry and does the bulk of our designing. My mother can sew anything and does our pattern making and fulfillment. I run the business, network, do customer service and all of the miscellaneous things that come up in business. Between the three of us, we had everything we needed to make this happen.

Darlene:  What needs and preferences influenced some of the design features in your clothing?

Rebecca:  I was working in a professional office one day when my boss came in. He stood over my chair, looking down at me, and then said, “Do you think that shirt is entirely appropriate?” I was flabbergasted. I was wearing the EXACT same shirt as the other young lady in the office. He then proceeded to tell me I shouldn’t dress like that here. I laughed. It seemed that no matter what I wore, my buttons were either gaping, my shirt was too low, or it would pull up and show my stomach. It’s very difficult to keep everyone focused when I’m having a clothing malfunction in my meetings!

Darlene:  What was the biggest challenge of starting your business? What is the biggest challenge as you continue it?

Rebecca:  Our biggest challenge to start was our complete lack of knowledge about this industry. In any business you start out with ideas of how it will go and it NEVER goes that way. We thought we could just start sewing, but we really struggled to find ways to get the fabric, create the patterns (we were given quotes of over $100,000 to create patterns. For three single moms, that was IMPOSSIBLE!), and get the word out. We honestly thought we would do most of our sales from local shows and home parties. They haven’t been succesful at all, and all of our sales are online now. The biggest challenge we face now is finding the time to make it happen! Michelle has remarried and now has five kids. I have just had a baby and now run two other businesses, and my mom watches my kids. Making sure that everyone gets what they need, when they need, can be hard!

Darlene:  What was/is the biggest surprise for you?

Rebecca:  The biggest surprise was the support we received from the bloggers. I had no idea how powerful this could be, and honestly I’m not sure we would still be in business without them spreading the word!

Darlene:  Where does the name “AJRumina” come from?

Rebecca:  AJ is a play on maternal last names from Michelle and me. Rumina is actually the Italian goddess of breast feeding and nourishment. She was the one who put the two babies to suckle on the wolf.

Darlene:  What else would you like Hourglassy readers to know about you?

Rebecca:  We strive to bring the best product possible at a reasonable price. We are very particular about what fabric we use so that the pieces our customers purchase from us last. The concept was to bring in pieces that were staples for the closet and that customers would be able to wear for a long time. Our long term vision is to grow so that we can begin to add lines that cover other clothing issues such as A cup sizes, long arms,  short arms, etc.


If you have any more questions for Rebecca and her team after reading this interview, please ask them in the comments!