Best Breasts Forward ~ Holidays at H&M

Well I finally made it to H&M to check out their holiday selections. Let me start off by saying that all H&M stores are not equal. I live in Harlem so I regularly go to the location there. This time I decided to go to the H&M on the upper east side of Manhattan, a much larger store with a wider selection.

I have found that H&M is good for thin sweaters, and their holiday selection is large. Unfortunately, most of the sweaters I saw were quite thick and far too bulky for this busty gal to look like anything other than a fluffy box.

I decided to focus on dress up clothes. I tried on a strapless jumpsuit and paired it with a jacket. I thought I might have a chance of being able to zip it all the way because it had a large elastic panel in the back.

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I was wrong. I do think that it would fit up to an F cup though.

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The jacket was beautiful on the hanger but the lapels couldn’t even see each other let alone meet! It was worth a try.

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I also tried on a maxi dress that almost worked. I just thought the front was far too revealing. t also made me look rectangular from the front.image

I did think it was flattering . . . from the side.

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The look that I found most interesting actually would look great on busty ladies with more of an hourglass figure. It’s close to being a crop top, but a fancy one paired with a very long skirt. My photos don’t really do this look justice. I think my camera was too confused by the sparkle.image

Please excuse my pigtails. It was cold and I needed a hairdo that would survive trying on a bunch of clothes so I threw on a baseball cap and was out the door!

Mammogram Monday

My friend Carrie had a lumpectomy today, and I just received word that everything went smoothly.  How fitting that her day for surgery coincided with my annual mammogram and ultrasound. When she told me she was having her lump removed on December 8, there was no way I was cancelling my appointment for the same day!

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Carrie found her lump because she followed her doctor’s instructions to have another mammogram in six months. They’d seen something earlier this year, but it didn’t look serious enough for a biopsy at that point. For the past month, however, she’s been congratulated by every new doctor she meets because she followed up. It turns out that not every patient does.

Our family knows this from experience. My husband’s sister found a lump this past spring, and the doctor wanted to operate immediately. She refused. Instead, she started drinking “green drinks” (kale, spinach, etc.). Supposedly, the lump has disappeared. If I were in her shoes, I’d be pounding down the door for an ultrasound every month!

You’ll notice I said ultrasound. That’s because, as I discovered and shared with you last year, mammograms are almost useless for women with dense breasts. Today’s appointment confirmed this. My mammogram showed nothing. My ultrasound, on the other hand, showed a few almond-shaped places that they’re going to compare against last year’s ultrasound. After the comparison, they’ll either tell me to come in for a biopsy, suggest I return in six months, or tell me there’s nothing to be concerned about. If they tell me to return in six months, you can bet I’ll be there!

Our health is nothing to fool around with, ladies, and as I prepared for today’s post, I found an important reminder in this post that I published five years ago. I highly recommend reading it again for the inspiring lesson to trust your instincts and appreciate your value.

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As an aside, here’s something interesting that I learned about breast density at this morning’s appointment. Since my breasts are a lot less full on top after losing weight, I wondered if my tissue was less dense. Not so. I still have dense breasts. Evidently weight doesn’t have a lot to do with breast tissue density. Also, it turns out that although women’s breasts become less dense with age, the change is usually only slight rather than dramatic.

Off the Rack ~ Reviewing The Natural “Plus Size Sexy Plunge Bra”

I recently found a weird super-low plunge on Zulily from the brand “The Natural.” I’d never heard of the brand, but the bra looked pretty interesting:

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Now that is a low gore! I was mildly impressed with the size range too. The “plus” version has bands from 30–44 (impressive!) and cups D–G (US), so the equivalent of a UK FF (not so impressive). I usually wear 30FF with strapless bras, so for $20 I figured it’d be worth a try. As usual, before buying I scoured the internet for reviews. Everything said it ran super tight in the band, and one review on Bratabase noted that it required two extenders when the buyer got it in her usual size. Yikes! It seems this is one bra with which you should use the plus-4 method. Bearing that in mind, I decided to order a 34 band. Reviews indicated that the cups ran more or less true to size so I went with 34DDD (UK 34E), which sister sizes to 32F to 30FF.

When it arrived, I immediately measured the band, and found that it stretches from 24.5” to 31” if I pull it really hard. It’s pretty much perfect for my 29” ribcage.

The bra came with a pair of matching fabric straps and one long clear strap to use as a halter (though the fabric straps are long enough for halter use on me too). It has three rows of hooks and eyes.

The construction is pretty innovative, with very strong underwire in the little U at the gore, but no wire under each cup. Instead, there’s a heavy seam. On each side, there is another heavy seam, with internal boning inside it reaching about halfway up. The cups are molded but not too stiff, and the band on front is soft foam. The rest of the band is your usual microfiber fabric lined with power mesh.

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As for fit and usefulness, I’m actually rather impressed. I thought for sure it would be a disaster, but it actually gives surprisingly decent support when worn with normal straps.

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The band is only slightly lower than a regular strapless bra. I’ll stick with my Le Mystere Soiree Bustier for low-backed garments.

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The cups aren’t quite perfect, of course. With my full-on-bottom boobs, there is a little gaping at the inner base, where the breast is pushing it away from my body.

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It basically goes away if I push the top of the wire U back against my skin. I wonder if there’s a way to alter the bra so it stays this way more? Maybe cut up that clear halter strap and attach a piece to both sides of the U so it can’t spread apart at all.

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Unfortunately, using the straps as a racerback or halter exacerbates this gaping issue because now the top of the cups are being pulled further inward.

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Luckily, the few dresses I have that require a super plunge gore actually all have sleeves or wide straps, so it’s not much of an issue. I also wonder what would happen if I bought a cup size down. I know technically it would be too small, but it’s possible that would ameliorate the excess cup being pushed away, right?

Anyhow, here the bra under a Tatyana (formerly Bettie Page Clothing) dress:

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And from the side. With this dress, fully lined and made of thick jersey fabric, you really can’t see the bit of bra being pushed away at the base of the cup:

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And a really plunging dress I have:

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The issue with this dress (and a couple others I own) is that a regular plunge bra is technically covered, but the stupid gore bow is always visible and sometimes even twists around and sticks out. Plus someone taller than me can see the bra if they look down at me or if I slouch. It’s so annoying! This super plunge is the perfect solution (and my cleavage still looks good!).

However, it must be noted that with this loose and thin jersey fabric, you can see the edge of the inner cup:

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I’ve gotta find a way to fix that!

I think this bra could work really well for someone less full-on-bottom than me, and the price I paid was definitely right (it ordinarily retails for $56). This model is the “plus” version (style number 2307). The “regular” one has a pair of thin straps around the back instead of a solid band. It’s a little hard to find the full range of sizes in the plus version. Several websites only list band sizes from 38–44, but Amazon and Brayola have the full range.

Not Like the Others: Danielle’s Stand Out Tips

Our final post in our series on how to deal with standing out. I hope Danielle’s post inspires and encourages you as much as it did me!

I was a theatre kid growing up, and feel very much in my element in front of a crowd. As long as I’m being true to myself, I’m happy to stand out and be the center of attention. I’m also generally pretty good about accepting constructive criticism – as long as it’s focused on my actions. Criticism about my appearance, on the other hand, tends to cut me to the core.

Several years ago, I had a co-worker tell me that I needed to cover up my chest because my breasts disgusted her and “showing them off” was inappropriate. I had always done my best on a limited budget to find wrap tops and v-necks that I could pair with camis to cover my chest and flatter my figure. Nothing that I wore was ever inappropriate. In fact, I usually showed less skin than this straight-figured co-worker who was so repulsed by my decolletage. Can you say double standard? I have struggled with my weight and accepting my curvy body for years, and so these body shaming comments played perfectly into my old insecurities. Rather than realize that this was just the latest tactic in an ongoing bullying campaign, I was suddenly back to elementary school when I started developing before most of the other girls, and to high school when I was told that it was inappropriate for me to wear the tank tops that the other girls were wearing. I gave way too much mental energy to the whole situation. Then I went out and bought baggy crew neck shirts so I could just blend in and avoid further unwanted comments. I spent a season wearing frumpy clothing that did not flatter my shape and did not reflect my tastes or personality before realizing that something had to change. I hated hiding, and refused to do it any longer.

And so, I started researching clothing options for women with hourglass figures, and stumbled into the wonderful world of big-bust-friendly clothing and bra blogs. Wearing clothing that actually fits properly and is therefore comfortable and flattering is a major confidence boost. Rather than tugging on my clothes and doing constant cleavage checks, I can walk into a room with my shoulders back, head held high, and feel comfortable that my clothing is a positive reflection of myself. It has been so much fun discovering new companies and checking out the growing variety of options that are available to curvy women in this expanding global niche market. And it has been a revelation to connect with other women who have struggled with similar issues and are developing a positive online community where we all can vent, celebrate, learn, and be ourselves. I even have some friends who are jealous that I can order clothes online and have them fit like a glove straight out of the box. I certainly never would have predicted that 5 years ago!

During this time of growth and empowerment, I also worked on learning to love my unique, curvy body. One of my biggest revelations came during a group exercise class. Before each class began, I used to scrutinize myself in the mirror – making sure my underarm flab was tucked properly under my tank top straps, seeing if my tummy, hips, and triceps looked any skinnier than they were a few days earlier, and so on. On this particular day, I was not pleased with what I saw. Mid-way through the class, I glanced around the packed room. I saw women of all shapes and sizes and skin tones. And every single one of these women was beautiful. It didn’t matter that we were all coated with sweat and that half of us were flushed. All of these “regular” women each had a completely unique shape, and each was beautiful. I would never dream of disparaging any of their bodies, so why was I being so critical of my own? I’m still working on loving myself as I am – it’s especially difficult when I see photos taken from a particularly unflattering angle. And I still do the occasional pre-workout figure check. But now I make a point of stopping negative self-talk as soon as I notice it happening, appreciating what my body does for me as I move through the day, and working towards becoming stronger and healthier.

One thing that has always given me confidence when I worry about how I will come across to others is understanding that most people are so worried about themselves: how they look, what they should say, whether or not others are judging them, and so on, that they don’t have much mental energy left to judge me (or you, or anyone). So why not wear whatever I feel like wearing and do what I want to do (within obvious ethical and legal bounds)? Chances are no one will pay me any particular attention anyway. And frankly, as long as I’m happy, comfortable, and doing things that I enjoy and am proud of, then it doesn’t really matter what others think. The times that I have been judged by others, especially about my appearance, it spoke more to the insecurities of the person judging me than it did to my appearance. And it’s certainly not a reflection of my value. If someone judges me, then it’s on them. If someone likes the way I stand out, then all the better! I’m making a point of focusing on developing my potential and being the best version of myself that I can be. And let’s be honest, the kick-ass woman that I strive to become is bound to stand out in a crowd!