Bending the Rules, Part 1

Guess what unexpected bonus I found while I was looking for a fit model? Another writer!  Kimberly is a recent college graduate looking to begin a career in social media.  When we met, she was wearing an old Target bra and had never heard of any of the large bust friendly clothing brands that we love on this blog.  We immediately got her enrolled in Ali Cudby’s one-hour bra course and set up a fitting with the famous Freddy from Eveden. Now she’s ready to write for Hourglassy. Some day she’ll tell you all about her fitting experiences, but you’re going to love the topic she’s decided to begin with.

Hi, readers! My name is Kimberly, and I’m thrilled to announce my guest series on Hourglassy. With Bending The Rules, I’ll attempt to dissect the various “rules” that have been sartorially imposed on big-busted women. I’ll also try to provide examples of ways to stick to the rules — or break them, if you’re so inclined.

Because I’ve been considered “busty” for over ten years (I was a 34C in the seventh grade and my boobs never looked back), I’ve had plenty of time to figure out the ways society dictates that busty women should dress. Along the way, I’ve thrown caution to the wind and gone against the rules when I felt like it, but I’ve also gone along with them at my own discretion. I’ve been reprimanded for showing “too much” cleavage and praised for being able to “hide” my boobs well. Basically, my closet is full of busty dos and don’ts, and this is my chance to share that with you.

One thing I tend to hold conflicting opinions about is showing my bra straps — it seems like one of those things that’s taboo, ugly, or tacky for no particular reason, and I’ve always resented that. Friends have pointedly told me that my bra was “out” when straps were showing, as if I hadn’t noticed. Family members have shaken their heads at the sight of a bra peeking out the side of my dress. Just because you never see bra straps on the red carpet, people have treated them as something to be hidden.

Living through countless New York summers has presented me with many opportunities to be jealous of the smaller-busted women who can seemingly wear whatever they want, especially in the sweltering heat. They don’t have to wear bras with those halter crop tops or flowing strapless blouses or backless dresses. They can even wear cute, underwire-free bralettes under them if they want to, and since those are lacy and delicate, they’re not considered a fashion don’t. Meanwhile, I’m stuck with huge, sweat-inducing bras, and according to the rules, I have to make sure to cover. those. straps.

It’s a bit ridiculous. If I need to show those straps in order to wear a cute outfit, who cares? I don’t really ever have the luxury of going braless, and plus, if I pay so much money for these special bras, why not show them off?

I do try to buy clothes that cover my bra and its straps, but sometimes that means giving up on a beautiful dress or cute summer shirt. If I want to wear a crop top, I’ll get one in more of a t-shirt style, like this black one:

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(shirt by Bershka)

Plenty of the (numerous) dresses in my closet have thicker straps and fuller coverage, in order to pander to the “no straps” rule and hide the bra. These are more for the occasions when playing by the rules is necessary, like in professional environments. I got this pink dress to wear to a work event:

(dress by Ann Taylor Loft)

(dress by Ann Taylor Loft)

But then there are times when I just don’t care about the scandal my visible bra straps will apparently cause, and I buy a tank top like this because I want to be able to wear what other people wear during the summer, even if my boobs are fully out, along with my bra. If someone with a 32A bra size can wear the tank top without any hypersexualized commentary and opinions, I can too:

(tank top by Project Social T)

(tank top by Project Social T)

Or backless dresses like this:

(dress by Kimchi Blue)

(dress by Kimchi Blue)

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And I deal with whatever negative comments I get. Bra straps may be considered unsightly to some, but they support me so that I’m able to wear those cute outfits in the first place.

On that note, if I know I’m going to wear an outfit where my bra straps or band will be visible, I try to match my bra in some way. I once wore the green dress pictured above with a neon purple and pink bra, and my mother (rightfully) told me how ridiculous I looked. Also, I wore it to work earlier that day— not my best choice, but thankfully, no one said anything. I bought this light-blue Claudette Dessous bra specifically to wear under a grey dress, and ended up loving it! The straps are delicately detailed, and the bra is supportive without any extra padding — perfect for summer.

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The straps on lots of Simone Perele bras like the Amour are also pretty enough to show, and in a color like black, they go with a lot of different outfits:

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So go forth and wear whatever you want, readers. If you need a bra, wear one. If you need to show that bra in some way in order to wear something you like wearing, don’t think twice. Anyone who will criticize you over the sight of a strap obviously doesn’t understand the heavy lifting you have to do on a daily basis, and for that — you are strong.

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For more on visible bra straps, see Leah’s post from our hot September last year.

Off the Rack ~ Styling Visible Bra Straps for Hot Summer Days

It’s been just disgustingly hot in New York this week. With my freelance work, I spend two days every week going around Manhattan and Brooklyn running errands, stopping at various clients’ houses, etc. There are subways and buses, but I still end up walking a lot (and the underground subway platforms are usually hotter than it is outside thanks to a complete lack of air conditioning, fans, or even the least bit of ventilation in some cases), which means I need to dress as cool and comfortable as possible.

Ironically, the last thing I want to be wearing on a 90+ (Fahrenheit) day is a strapless bra. The ones I own (Freya Deco, Le Mystere Soiree Bustier) are molded and slightly padded, and thus quite warm. Further, once I start sweating, they basically turn into sponges that hold a lot of sweat against my body. Ugh, not pleasant at all.

Rather, the bras I find most cool are all-over sheer mesh, like the Ewa Michalak BM style or the Claudette Dessous. Of course, these bras also have brightly colored straps that are difficult to hide. But this week I was inspired by one of my colleagues and a random girl I spotted (in the subway, no less!). Both were wearing a colored bra with visible straps, but both of them chose a bra that set off their strappy top in such a way that it looked intentional and did not look at all sloppy.

So here are my suggestions for ways to wear visible bra straps in the summer. Of course, this requires a bra collection that matches your wardrobe to a certain extent. I prefer to avoid white, black, or nude straps because, well, I think they’re just plain ugly! And there’s really no hiding the fact that those are bras. I just don’t think it’s possible to have these strap colors sticking out and still look intentional or fashionable.

For an example of how to do it right, here’s my sneaky shot of the subway girl:

Apologies for the blurriness; we were both walking quickly when I snapped this.

Apologies for the blurriness; we were both walking quickly when I snapped this.

As you can see, her bra, dress, and accessories are all earth-toned. The dress was a warm ivory and the bra a beige-y army green shade. I think it really helps that the bra band fits properly and is not riding up. Further, it had a thin band and thin straps that perfectly lined up with the dress straps. Finally, the horizontal string across the dress runs perfectly parallel to the bra band. I have no idea if this girl planned it so specifically, but to me this looks edgy and cool.

Since most of us probably don’t own skimpy bras that so perfectly pair with our clothing, I’d say the next best thing is to pair your bra with a top or dress that just matches in color, such as this pink-trimmed tank with a bra that has hot pink straps in almost the same shade:

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Unless you’re looking really closely, I think the bra and the shirt blend into each other and just look like a shirt.

If you don’t have a bra that matches so closely, I think you can still get away with one in a similar color family. Here, for example, is a bra with neon lime straps with a tank that has minty green straps:

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I try to avoid having any part of the bra other than the straps stick out.

As for my colleague, I don’t have a photo, but she was wearing a strappy racerback tank with a strappy racerback bra, only the two backs didn’t line up. However, they were both different shades of orange, so they were complementary, and the two sets of straps looked sporty and modern. Here’s my attempt at a similar look. I’m wearing the Passionata Starlight, which actually does stay hidden under every racerback tank I own, so I just paired it with the same pink and purple top as above:

Two sets of straps in the front.

Two sets of straps in the front.

Interesting shapes in the back.

Interesting shapes in the back.

Finally, what if you have colorful bras but no shirts to match? This requires a little more bravery, but in that case I’d recommend going all out with the bra! Pick a basic and neutral solid-colored top and the brightest bra you own. I’m even on board with letting some of the cups stick out if they’re colorful too. Here’s a black tank with my neon lime straps sticking out, and the camouflage print of this Dessous bra making a little appearance too:

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I think the only way to “pull off” visible bra straps is to make it seem intentional. There’s no way I could have accidentally chosen such a bright bra to wear with this black shirt. But if I was wearing a beige bra, it would seem like I was trying to hide the bra against my skin (and failing). Black would seem like I was trying to get it to blend in with my top (again failing). And white…well no one wants to see our dirty, discolored white bra straps (you know they never stay white for long!).

 

Time to Make a DD+ Jump into a Jumpsuit?

This Vince Camuto Wide-Leg Animal Print Jumpsuit surprised me in the dress department at Macy’s tonight.

Vince Camuto jumpsuit on a 34G

Jumpsuits have been at the back of my mind since reading “8 Rules for Dressing a Large Bust You Should Seriously Never Follow“.

8. The rule: Jumpsuits are never going to fit properly and will make you look top-heavy. 

The reality: Rompers (and jumpsuits) are one of the most flattering and easy-to-wear silhouettes for women with large chests — they are a little blousy on top without looking sloppy, and the slight looseness on the bottom is great for balancing out the larger top. Color-blocking on top with a cropped jacket in a contrasting color, worn open, also helps make a larger chest appear smaller, the same way dark panels on the sides of a dress can make your waist appear narrower.

With this in mind, I do like the blousy-ness on top, and I think the trouser split is a nice change from all the fabric at the bottom of a maxi dress. Here’s what else I like about this Vince Camuto jumpsuit:

  • colors that could be matched with a variety of jackets, cardigans and wraps
  • the print helps to disguise the strum-strum factor (where the arrow is pointing in the photo on the right)
  • princess seams (the purple lines in the photo on the right), together with a knit fabric, make enough room for a large bust
  • it has pockets!

The only bad thing? The fit on the bottom. This is a size small, and I could easily hem it, but the crotch is drooping halfway down my thigh. A medium would probably fit better on top, but then where would the crotch be?

If you are tall and/or have a long rise, then you should definitely look into jersey jumpsuits.  I’m finding them with a variety of tops that look very promising for busty figures. For instance, I love this sleek blue surplice-topped jumpsuit, also from Vince Camuto, even though it would probably require a cami to keep you from looking like Amy Adams in American Hustle.

vince camuto vneck jumpsuitThere’s also this flutter-sleeve cowl neck on Overstock, although I think this is almost–but not quite–too much fabric. My theory is that for jumpsuits to work with full busts, we have to be careful that they don’t overwhelm us.

 

grace flutter sleeve jumpsuit

If you’re short and/or have a short rise, like me, then it’s going to be more challenging to find a jumpsuit that fits. If I find one, I’ll let you know.

How about you? Have you tried a jumpsuit recently?

Corporate Curves Report: In the Navy

On my recent work trip to the US, my shopping went all naval–almost everything I bought was at least partially navy blue! Ok, there was an idea behind it as well, although I did not have any particular color in my mind. My recent wardrobe overhaul left me with work clothes and sports gear. Then came summer, and my holiday started, and I realized I’ve nothing to wear.

For me it’s also symbolically important not to wear the same outfits during my holiday than I do at work. Work style puts me in work mode–vacation style puts me in a vacation mood! However, I didn’t buy all leisure clothes, as I wanted to be able to incorporate most items with my work outfits. This is one example of a leisure/ hot weather work combination.

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Gap shorts, Tommy Hilfiger top – shoes vintage. For a leisure look I’d just wear ballerinas or sandals!

Tahari jacket and a handmade leather satchel from Zatchels. (not that shiny in real life, it's the flash :) )

Tahari jacket and a handmade leather satchel from Zatchels (not that shiny in real life, it’s the flash).

 

Jacket detail and top detail - sleeves are a bit long but otherwise a very decent high street fit. I only buy jackets that button under the bust to avoid fit issues.

Jacket detail and top detail – sleeves are a bit long but otherwise a very decent high street fit. I only buy jackets that button under the bust to avoid fit issues.

There are quite a few more navy clothing items, and even a Michael Kors laptop bag in navy that I got, but it’s been great. I can just quickly put together an outfit. I used to do that a lot with black like a lot of bigger women do, but I’m now getting really excited over different shades of blue, especially bright clear blues. They seem to light up my skin in a way black just doesn’t. This is the discovery from my journeys into the world of color analysis. I used to think more about the message the color I wear sends out, but I’m now combining that with how that color makes me look. And I can’t help looking at people on the street with this idea in mind, seeing how colors work on different people. 🙂 I’m very new with this stuff still–I’m just widening my horizon currently.

Next week my vacation takes me deep into the Portuguese countryside, which I’ll be exploring on horseback, so talk about sports bras and riding wear can be expected in the coming weeks.