Best Breasts Forward ~ Giving All You’ve Got

I wanted this week’s column to be about what spring collection offerings were in my “hood”, but unfortunately I didn’t find anything worth mentioning.  I’m sure this is something that has happened to us busty ladies often as finding clothes off the rack isn’t easy for us.  I admit that I was frustrated,but after reading Darlene’s post from yesterday realize that there are those that have bigger things to worry about than what’s the latest warm weather wear for us.  There are those that have nothing that fits from last year or the year before.  So, instead of venting about what I didn’t find, I’ll be digging in my closet to find clothes and bras for those who are in need and am hoping that all Best Breasts Forward readers will do the same.  Let’s do our best to get these ladies into bras and clothes that make them look and feel as brave and strong as they are.

Full Cups with Full Hearts: Let’s Help Aging-Out Foster Teens in Florida

We all know (from experience!) how hard it is for a large-busted teenager to find a well-fitting bra, but at least the majority of us had parents to help with the cost once we found one. A full-busted teen that ages out of the foster care system in Florida, however, has an entirely different experience. In fact, for her 18th birthday, she receives notice that she’s no longer the state’s obligation.

When I turned 18, I thought I was the smartest girl in the world, but if my parents had turned me out on my own, I would have discovered right away how much I didn’t know. For instance, I knew how to drive a car, but I had no idea about insurance. I knew how to budget my allowance, but I’d never had to support myself. I knew how to make fried rice, popcorn and brownies, but I’d never had to plan for a week of meals.

There’s an organization in Sarasota, Florida, that understands the challenges of being 18 and on your own. Among other things, Joining Our Youth gives youth who are aging out of foster care:

  • bicycles and bus passes so that they can get to school and work;
  • a housekeeping starter kit with things like sheets, towels, tools and cleaning supplies;
  • free age-appropriate clothing through a store called Trendy Threads.

I’m writing about Joining Our Youth because Cheryl Burke, the owner of Sea Cup and Up who herself wears a 32G, is asking for new and gently used bras for the young women who shop at Trendy Threads. Right now her project is in its early stages. Trendy Threads is only open once a week, and it’s a challenge to coordinate schedules with every young woman who needs a bra. But from what I know of Cheryl’s passion to put women in the right bra, it’s only a matter of time before Cheryl is putting these aging-out girls into bras that make them feel like they can conquer the world. [3/27 update: Cheryl hopes to fit each girl with at least three new bras.]

The more bras we can donate through Sea Cup and Up, the sooner Cheryl’s vision becomes a reality. Right now, many of the donations are 36D’s because that’s the size Cheryl’s customers donate once Cheryl puts them in the correct size. We know all about being mis-sized in 36D, don’t we? And we know there are a lot of teenagers out there who are nowhere near a 36 . . . or a 34 . . . or a 32.

Why not spring clean your bra drawer this season? Then ship the bras that you love but don’t wear to a full-busted teen who will wear them? Mail your bras to this address, and include a little note mentioning that you heard about this project through Hourglassy:

Cheryl Burke
Sea Cup and Up
1810 S. Osprey Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34239

If the bra’s size is no longer visible, write that down for Cheryl as well. Finally, if you’re wondering whether your bras qualify as “gently used”, check out my post, Is Your Old Full Bust Bra a Lost Cause or Can It Go to a Good Cause?

If you don’t have any bras to donate, send a check instead. That way Cheryl can fill in any gaps in her donation inventory.


Here are two other non-profits that would also be happy to receive your donations:

Foster Care Support Foundation in Georgia

The Gathering Place in Colorado, via SOL Store of Lingerie


If Sea Cup and Up sounds familiar, here’s where I mentioned the store last year:

Bolero Beachwear

Physical Features in a Brick and Mortar Store that Make a Difference to Bra Shopping





32J with a Wedding on Sunday: WHAT TO WEAR?

A reader in NYC wears a 10/12 on the bottom and a 32J on top. She’s attending a formal (but not black tie) wedding on Sunday night and has nothing to wear. Can we relate? Unfortunately, yes! I’ve just sent around a Tweet asking for help, but I thought it’d be a good idea to check with you as well. Besides, my Yes to Dresses for D Cups and Up needs some updating for the 2014 wedding season! Did I already tell you that October is the most popular wedding month according to my own wedding photographer?

I sent her links to Holly’s amazing Shelli Segal gown from last year, proof that we MUST be willing to try things on because we just never know. If I were in her shoes (or bra!), I’d visit the dress departments of Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom, and I’d begin with David Meister and Tadashi by Shoji because they have great knits. My worse comes to worst solution would be a black knit dress with amazing accessories.

Here’s what others have suggested so far.

Sweets from SweetNothingsNYC: Bettie Page, on Bowery street. The “Alika” style is fantastic– hugs the waist, fits the boobs.

big bust dress for weddings

Leah: If she’s looking for pinup-style offerings (like Bettie Page), there’s also Enz’s on 2nd Ave and St. Mark’s and Slapback on Metropolitan Ave next to the BQE in Williamsburg.

@Tanya_Elena via Pinterest: Find a dressy shirt she already owns and go out and get a long ballgown style skirt to go with.

What last-minute dress options can you add? (And what would you suggest if she had weeks to find a dress?)

Why I Love Busty Dressing . . . Guidelines

I know that some of you bristle at being told what you can and cannot wear, but I love the structure that “rules” provide. Admittedly, they can be stifling, but have you considered their wardrobe-expanding nature as well?

Here’s an example. After learning that my underbust is narrower than my waist at the Knit to Flatter workshop, Amy Herzog told us that it can be extremely flattering to create a line at the narrowest part of our torso–with a belt, for instance. “But won’t that make me look like I have boobs on a tray?” I asked.

Don’t do it if it makes you feel uncomfortable,” she said immediately.

Guess what? When I’m considering a change from how I’ve always done things, the last thing I need to hear is, “Stay in your rut.” The logic of her idea had just opened my world, but when that happens, my first reaction is to look for a reason that the new idea won’t work for me. I need a little hand-holding and cheerleading, à la “Come on, try it! You’ll look amazing! You won’t look silly. You won’t look like you’re all boob!”

Amy didn’t give me that, but she did tell us about Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, a well-known knitter who described her own self-consciousness after finishing a sweater with a line running parallel to and directly beneath her bust. I love this post.

horizontal line beneath big bust can flatter narrowest part

What I’ve come to realize is that there is more than one way to create a horizontal line beneath my bust, and that one reason I’ve never done so with a sweater like Stephanie’s is that I could never find one to fit my large breasts. You know–it’s the old boob bifurcation problem. (By the way, I’m super excited to have just discovered that Stephanie is knitting the exact same sweater that I’m going to begin! And my yarn is supposed to arrive today. I can’t wait!)

The trick with rules is not to let them rule you–simply let them guide you. Figure out the logic behind them and how or if that logic applies to you. I was absolutely delighted with the comments to Monday’s post about sleeve length because, as much as I dream of being a big bust dressing expert who knows exactly what every busty woman should wear all the time, the reality is that I’m simply a busty woman who loves to try to figure things out and share what I learn as I go along.

Unfortunately, I can also be pretty rigid about some of the rules that I’ve learned. I realized this when I found Girl With Curves through Already Pretty last month and became mesmerized by Tanesha Awasthi’s outfit posts in her Girl With Curves gallery.  Although it isn’t obvious from every post, I’m pretty sure that Tanesha qualifies as full-busted.


full bust bra size on girl with curves

If you study her outfits, you will see that many of them follow the “rules”. There’s a lot of figure-hugging going on, together with a lot of wraps, scoops and V’s. But if she stuck with these looks alone, her blog would be pretty ho-hum.

big bust dressing rules and girl with curves

She also wears items I would automatically avoid in a store and creates outfits with them that I don’t particularly love (although I do like the rust ruffled top, the tan turtle neck with taffeta skirt and the loose, baggy sweater below).

bad busty dressing from girl with curves

My two least favorite elements in these outfits are (1) the “mountain of boobs” look that results from fabric going all the way up to the neck; and (2) bagginess. Does my opinion matter? No. She still looks amazing, doesn’t she?

Finally, she takes pieces that I consider off limits to women with large busts and comes up with looks that even I can get behind. Do you know why I think these work? Because they follow other rules!

how to break busty rules and get away with it by girl with curves

Clockwise from top left: (1) breast pockets on her denim shirt don’t matter when worn over her eye-catching dress; the stripes and color get all the attention while the shirt creates a vertical line; (2) it’s a high neck but the color makes her look so alive and the fitted bodice shows off her shape; (3) this fussy print is overwhelming, but notice the simplifying, eye-catching detail on the heels and bag (go here for a better look:; (4) the shirt hem coming out from beneath the hem of her jacket keeps it from looking too boxy; (5) amazing sheath dress that hugs her curves–who cares about anything else?; (6) high neck poplin could be all boobs, but the necklace and jacket share the limelight.