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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Big Bust Cardigan Week: 2 Structured Options

Last week I shared the big-bust friendly dress alternative of combining a top and skirt in the same fabric, but the Liz Claiborne top that I featured had a high Look-At-My-Large-Chest quotient because of the cap sleeves. The easiest way to divert attention from our large breasts is to add a knit jacket or cardigan. This makes fall a great season for full bust dressing!

I’m especially interested in what’s out there because my current cardigans are feeling pretty worn out. I took these photos to show you the dangers of a frumpy-looking cardigan to an overall look, but I learned something by studying these images.

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FIT MATTERS MOST. I have always been obsessed with finding V-neck cardigans because I believe the rule that V-necks are best for big busts–but not when everything else is too big, it turns out. The cardigan in the center of this collage proves my point. It doesn’t have a V-neck, but it’s a size medium and simply works proportionally with the rest of my figure. The other sweaters are size large. They looked fine when I was larger, but now they’re more suitable for Hide Me dressing. [Read more…]

Off the Rack ~ Busty Dressing with Dolman Sleeves Part II

Like Darlene, I mostly avoid dolman sleeves. Sure, they mean there’s more room for boobs, but they usually have a weird boxy shape that completely swallows your figure. Even on rail-thin ladies, I am not a fan. Even with the gorgeous red cocktail dress from Saint Bustier that Darlene shared in her post, I just don’t understand the point. What’s the appeal of webbed armpits??

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I tried the same three dolman-sleeve tops that Darlene included in her post, and my opinion remains unchanged. Of course, Darlene and I have different proportions and heights, so what looks good on her naturally may not work on me, but I still had to laugh at how terrible I think these garments look on me compared to her.

First, the snuggly sweater:

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Look, Ma, no waist! This sweater is super soft, but I was super not-a-fan of the tighter hem hitting me at just the right spot so the folded over bits on the side blossomed out right at my waist—and turned it from my smallest part to my biggest. It was even worse if my arms weren’t glued to my sides:

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What is happening at my biceps??

It’s not as bad if I strike a sassier pose, but I certainly wouldn’t be standing around like this all day—and I still don’t like that webbed armpit!

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Next up is the Rock Cotton tunic, but again I wasn’t happy:

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This tunic was shockingly long. I thought maybe it just looked long on Darlene because she’s more petite, and that it might be true tunic-length on me, but it’s definitely long enough to be a dress. In fact, it would probably look cute with black tights and a pair of moto boots…that is, if it didn’t swallow my waist again.

Like the sweater, the fabric here is a dream. It’s really soft and stretchy, and I like the goth tie-dye look of the print. But it was very tight on my hips, which made te top half billow out even more, a look I did not appreciate. If the whole thing were loose, I could probably wear it with a wide belt, but as it is, the proportions just don’t work for me.

Once again, though, a crooked elbow and a cocked hip make all the difference:

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Finally, we have the cropped blazer, which I actually quite like!

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This one highlights my waist instead of hiding it: The bottom button hits right at my waist’s smallest point, the flared opening creates an arrow pointing right at my waist, and the sleeves stop at my waist. The jacket is conspiring to make me look thinner instead of boxier!

Something about the way the stiffer, tailored fabric lays in the armpit region also keeps it from bunching up on the front side of my armpit.

Still, I think a normal-sleeved cropped jacket with a peplum would be similar but slightly cuter.

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Like the Diva jacket from Heart of Haute—hello lovely!

So, conclusion: Big boobs don’t really affect how flattering a dolman top is…because they’re not very flattering on any shape, in my opinion! (Sorry, Darlene.)

 

Busty Dressing with Dolman Sleeves

Each of us has a personal set of cardinal rules for D+ dressing, and for many years mine has included “No dolman sleeves.” Dolman sleeves fit a large chest, but is the fit worth looking like a lollipop? I dismissed anything like the top below whenever I browsed store racks.

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Last year, however, a few dolmans slipped into my wardrobe. One was the purple jacket I included at the end of my fall roundup of busty blazers and coats; another was a super snuggly sweater that I found for super cheap on Black Friday; and the third was the Rock Cotton tunic that I lived in while on vacation.batwings for the bustyNO ONE has complimented the purple jacket or the snuggly sweater on me, leading me to believe that dolmans truly are off limits (I refuse to abandon my snuggly sweater, however). I wonder if it has something to do with my height or average-to-short torso? After all, Sarah over at Stackdd is quite a bit taller and longer, and she has written about her great success with dolman tops (also here) and sweaters. To test my theory, I shipped the items to Leah, who also has a long torso. She’s going to take pictures of herself in them and give us her take on dolman sleeves this Friday!

In studying these photos, I realize that all dolmans are not created equal. Here are my observations:

  1. Length matters. If a big balloon of fabric is going to hide the top half of a torso, don’t end things suddenly. Keep going. I look leaner in the sweater (it’s all relative!) and the tunic than I do in the blazer because the hems fall below my hips.
  2. Knits trump wovens. Drapey fabrics give a little definition where they skim the body. Stiff fabrics stand out from the body.
  3. Contrast helps. The dark sleeves in the tunic distinguish my arms from my waist.

My friend Renee Lowry of Braology added her own insight on the subject with the help of this handy napkin diagram.extreme batwingIn her experience, the most flattering dolman sleeve tops are ones where the sleeves don’t take over the waist completely (blue lines) but instead allow for some fit and structure (red lines).

A representative for Saint Bustie, also weighed in on the subject in a recent email exchange:

Dolman sleeves can look super stylish, but it’s wise to choose carefully. Most importantly, don’t wear them to try and hide anything. To wear them well–particularly but not exclusively with big boobs–avoid dolman sleeves with too much volume or draping. Be ultra careful if you have broad shoulders–big bust or no!–as they can make you look somewhat triangular.  At the end of the day though, it’s how you wear it that really counts. Accessorize well and wear with confidence, and you will look fabulous!

One of her favorite dolman sleeve dresses at the moment is the Lauren Dress, seen below in garnet red, which also comes in black, blue and ivory white.

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Finally, Angie at YouLookFab has a great overview on dolman sleeves, including this specific pointer for petite, full busted or strong shouldered women: keep the volume [under the arms] fairly subtle. And as one commenter pointed out, if you fall in love with a top that’s too voluminous, it can be a pretty simple alteration to narrow the sleeves and waist.

It looks like I won’t be snubbing every dolman sleeve top that I see in stores anymore! Instead, I’ll be experimenting with these new discoveries and looking for more.