When I’m in Milwaukee next week, I’ll get to meet Karen, the guest author behind the DIY nursing bra and Mother’s Week posts that you enjoyed last spring.  Based on those posts, you know you’re in for a major treat with today’s piece about her search for a dress to wear to a wedding last weekend.  A married mother of two (two years and nine months), Karen’s story is proof that all the hard work that it takes to look our best is entirely worth it.  You won’t believe how many dresses she tried before she found The One.

I’ve had a ridiculous time in finding clothing that fits my body. I’ve discussed this with Darlene before, as I actually started following her blog in my efforts to dress to flatter my body, instead of settling on something, anything, that covered it. I’m a very small woman, perhaps not in height at 5’4”, but definitely in body shape as a size 2. But, I’ve got these, um, mountains on my chest, and I wear a 28G bra, which is, thankfully down 3 cup sizes from 9 months ago! There’s really not much out there that’s made to fit my body type, and it can be really demoralizing to shop. So, when Darlene saw me tweet that I finally found the perfect dress for a wedding I was invited to, she asked me to share what worked and didn’t work for me.

It’s hot and humid here in Wisconsin. I’m turning towards skirts and dresses as a way to stay cool. And with the perfect dress, you can be cool, look put together, and be sexy and comfortable, too! My perfect dress has to meet at least 2 criteria besides being figure flattering: be breastfeeding friendly as I’m nursing my baby pretty regularly during the day still, and have shoulders wide enough to cover my bra straps (sorry, no strapless nursing bras!!).

The winner?? This amazingly slinky maxi dress. It’s a beautiful paisley patterned dress with brown, white, green, turquoise, and purple colors.

  • It has a v-neck that helps reduce the size of my breasts by taking away the extra fabric, but also allows me to create the perfect amount of cleavage with a plunge bra (I’m wearing the Panache Tango plunge in nude). 
  • The surplice neckline allows easy access to each side for nursing my baby, and since the fabric has spandex in it, I don’t have to worry about stretching it out. 
  • The empire waist brings the eye to the narrowest part of my body, which happens to be right under my breasts. 
  • And the pattern of the dress keeps the eye moving enough that the length isn’t too much on me.

And check out the back! Now, if I were wearing the wrong size bra, this back wouldn’t work because the V point sits right at the top of my bra clasps.

No jewelry for me, ladies. My kids love to pick at anything on my body that they can, so sometimes it has to be practicality before vanity. I did, however, finish the outfit off with a little bling on my sandals. 🙂

Now, I didn’t just grab this dress, knowing that it would fit me. In fact, when I placed it in my virtual shopping cart, I was praying it would be the one I was looking for, but my reality is that very few off-the-rack clothing fits “right.” It took me 21 other dresses to find this one absolute winner. I found a few that I’ll likely keep for other uses, and here are just 7 of those dresses.

Dress #2: This dress is in a size 4. It buttons down the front and there’s no gapping, only because it’s a little large on my frame. I could make do with it by adding a belt to the waist . . . if you ignore the pockets. Who out there really thinks that an appropriate place to put baggy pockets is on a woman’s hips? Not me.

Dress #3: This one, I immediately put on and said, “No way.” It’s just not meant for a busty lady. The empire waist doesn’t lay flat under the breasts, and the little flower that hangs from the band brings attention to that. It was also tight in the armpits, a sure signal that too much fabric is being pulled forward to cover the breasts.

Dress #4: This next one may be a keeper. It’s a true wrap style dress, which allows for a better customizable fit. Typically, I find that wrap dresses make one breast look larger by cutting across it, but in this case, there’s a ruffle across the smaller looking breast which helps balance things out. It wasn’t what I was looking for in regards to the wedding, but it will work for church or other dress needs.

Dress #5: I felt the very solid color of this dress brought too much attention to the breasts and didn’t do a good enough job of balancing their size out with my hips to give that perfect hourglass figure. It was also a little big in the armpits so it showed more bra than I could deal with.

Dress #6: This dress is a keeper. It does amazing things for my figure and the wrap front doesn’t detract or put emphasis on anything. The ruching along my left side brings in the waist nicely. It has slightly padded shoulders to give them shape. Perhaps I should wear it with black shoes instead. 🙂 Do you agree, though, that my winner was a better choice than this dress?

Dress: #7: Sometimes you try something on, and before you even look in the mirror, you know it isn’t going to work for you. That was the case with this dress. The breasts pulled too much fabric forward, and the neckline was so tight against them that it dug in to create the muffin top effect. The empire waistline didn’t sit exactly below my breasts, which made my waist look larger than it is and destroying the hourglass effect I love.

Dress #8: This last dress was debatable. In the end it lost because of the printing process used on the fabric. It’s a sublimation print, which means that they sew the dress, and then put the print on. This can create a cool effect as the folds in the fabric are left the plain, original color. However, when your breasts fill out the entire bodice and stretch those folds wide open, it’s glaringly obvious that it wasn’t made for you.

Do you agree with me? Was dress #1 my best choice for the wedding?