On Saturday I finally got together with the big boobie newbie who thought she was a 38DD. As I suspected, she measured only 34″ around her underbust and 42″ around her apex. I sent her home with my old Prima Donna Satin in 34H, a few of my 34FF UK bras, and my old Enell sports bra in size 2. She looked amazing in a 16RC Pepperberry jacket leftover from the last Big Bust Clothing Swap, so of course she had to take that home as well.
She told me how much she hates to shop because nothing fits her larger size, and recently she chose to attend an event in an old dress that she hated rather than subject herself to another demoralizing session in a dressing room. Her frustration felt foreign to me! I used to be able to relate to her, but I’ve known about our full bust clothing options for so long that I now take them for granted.
I marched her to my computer and showed her my top five busty clothing site recommendations. She had never even considered shopping online for her figure type before. Right then I vowed to update our Clothing for Big Busts page this week.
I’ve just finished, and it’s been quite an eye opener. First, I know of only one new arrival on the American scene, a small Brooklyn startup called Exclusively Kristen. There is also the growing line of DD Cup and Up dresses from Bolero. Otherwise, large bust clothing manufacturing appears to be contracting in the United States. The ecommerce platforms for Carissa Rose and Jailyn Apparel are currently inactive, and all InStyle Essentials shirts have just gone on final sale for $15! The websites for AJRumina and Campbell & Kate have been the same for years–AJRumina because the founders are balancing full-time jobs and families, and Campbell & Kate because I’m still trying to fix my pattern and production issues.
Things are more encouraging overseas. The “Top Five” appear to be going strong: Pepperberry, BiuBiu, Urkye, DD Atelier and Saint Bustier regularly offer new styles. Bitter Lollipop looks like a promising newcomer for dresses, Marks & Spencer has a well-reviewed “no peep” line of blouses, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Cast is still in the game. It looks like there’s even a Japanese line of bust-friendly blouses!
The international sphere isn’t without its hiccups. DBusted, the spunky Australian precursor to Saint Bustier, has been winding down its business for over a year now, and you can still find steeply discounted items in many sizes. In the northern hemisphere, there are rumors that the Made in Preston website may shut down.
There were a few other minor discoveries as I proofed the links on the Clothing for Big Busts page. For instance, Figleaves no longer calls its house brand sleepwear “Midnight Grace”. They’ve reserved that name for its swimwear and lounge-y dresses. And the Bettie Page boutique on New York City’s Lower East Side is now Tatyana–same store, different name (and I really want to get over there to try their Snuggle Jacket soon).
The final version of the Clothing for Big Busts page surprised me–I thought we had more possibilities! Then I remembered how scant our options were when I began this blog in 2008; and for someone like my visitor on Saturday–who thought we had zero options–the current landscape must look like heaven.
How do you feel about where things are, and what do you predict for the future of big bust-friendly clothing?
The Made in Preston situation is really sad. Before there was Made in Preston they had a 2 sites which sold bras in 26-28 bands. First they sold Ewa Michalak, but apparently they had trouble with orders arriving in time from Poland to the UK, so then they had their own brand 2wenty8 (still have pictures in my tumblr http://cadavre5exquis.tumblr.com/tagged/2wenty8) it didn’t seem to go well so they shut down and created Made in Preston. I can only imagine the frustration of 3 failed business endeavors. I actually really like 2 of their dresses, but having read less than stellar reviews about their quality and given the price I never tried them. I might give them a chance in one of their sales, but that thread about bad customer service left me a bit shaky, if I do I’ll use PayPal so I can get my money back 😛
I must admit to not buying big bust clothing in spite of really liking some pieces, being a student the cost sets me back, and since I’m a fairly small size (26/28 F/FF/G) I can get away fairly well in regular shops with minor alterations when needed (I mostly buy things made in stretchy fabrics). Fortunately I do not need business attire, that would be a different story and probably would make me invest in busty brands.
I’m so interested to hear that you’re also able to find things to wear in regular stores with your size since that’s what I’m discovering as a 32FF. I suspect you may even be able to find business attire, although it could be more challenging.
I’ve been following Nikki since her first launch and I admire her tenacity. She recognized a real need in the market. Unfortunately, as other fellow niche size entrepreneurs have confirmed to me recently, production can be a GIANT obstacle for startup clothing manufacturers. The entire process seems like it should be so simple, but it isn’t.
The most difficult part is finding things that fit my waist, so with non-stretch dresses and skirts I usually have them fixed by the seamstress. Given my budget I usually shop H&M and Mango (the last one mostly during sales).
I normally forgo anything with buttons at the bust and was really pleased with a knit dress from Mango’s last season, it fit in the bust and waist (picture: http://41.media.tumblr.com/f3728041f471c1dc204c8404827ca8a2/tumblr_nilapvIDvj1r1ukdbo4_1280.jpg). Mango also has an outlet website which can be nice for those on a budget.
H&M has a specific cut of dress that fits me really well, it is usually in stores in the summer with varied patterns of non-stretch (cheap) fabric and usually costs around €14, the quality is what one can expect for the price, but the fit is so great that I still bought one and that was probably my most worn piece last summer until one strap started to get unstitched, I’m considering taking it to seamstress to see if she can take it’s pattern and make one with better fabric (seamstresses fees are not very expensive around here).
I find that with regular clothing it’s mostly hit and miss, there are pieces that are salvageable, others that actually fit and the ones that don’t work at all (one store that almost never works for me in non-stretch garments is Zara, their cuts just don’t work for hourglass shapes), so when I see something I like I make sure I try it on.
Given that most big fashion chain stores have websites in which one can buy and pick up at the store without fees for shipping or returns, I find it hard to justify the extra expense of buying clothes from abroad. Customs fees have risen a lot lately and so have shipping costs, I used to buy a lot from British sites and 2 years ago to return a package would cost me €3-7, depending on weight and size, last return I made 3 weeks ago was €12. While it’s still cheaper to order full bust bras and nightwear from abroad (being that the last category doesn’t even exist in the shops here), for clothing I’m not so sure the extra expense is justified. Nowadays I would probably only buy clothes from abroad if it was something I really wanted, a specific item that is hard to find or something I knew would fit thus eliminating the need for returns.
I follow Kiss Me Deadly and see their struggles with manufacturers (and your own with Campbell & Kate), it seems really hard to keep the costs down for small businesses which increases the price of their garments. On top of that Made in Preston also seems to be directed at a younger customer that might not have a great/regular source of income; given the popularity of stores like Primark in the UK it might be hard for them to captivate their target audience. Also for younger generations social media seems to be a big player (Curvy Kate is great example on that front) so Made in Preston’s online presence would probably need to be worked on to make it succeed.
Ana, I want to email you for specific details about the H&M cut that works for you, and I’d love to hear more if you decide to have it copied by a seamstress. I’ll add your Mango suggestion to our clothes page as soon as I’m back in front of my computer.
Thanks for your sympathy for small company factory woes! I probably only purchase from overseas for the same reasons you listed, which is why I REALLY wish we could get things going over here in the US.
Sure, can you see the e-mail I use to comment or should I leave my contact?
Guess in some aspects, when compared to the UK, the US has the disadvantage of brafitting being very recent and unknown to most, I find search for busty clothes is probably related to finding a well fitting bras and in that front the UK has been ahead on the race.
I can see your email, so I’ll write you. Good point about the U.S. being behind in bra fitting also causing it to be behind in bust clothes. Sometimes I’ve tried to separate the two, but they’re very related.
I’ll be waiting for your e-mail then. 🙂
Hi, Darlene! Just a quick note to let you know you mistyped the URL for your big bust clothing listing (you entered https://hourglassy.com/clothing-big-busts/, which generates a 404). However, your overall site nav is so well designed that readers can easily find the page you meant (https://hourglassy.com/clothing-for-big-busts/). You still may want to fix your entry though. 😉
THANKS, Sioushi! I fixed it right away.
Thanks for the tip about the InStyle Triofit tops! I was stalking them earlier and am very happy to pick them up at such a low price.
Hooray! I’m going to alert Bottomless Closet to the sale, too.
I like that there are full bust clothing options but none of them are designed for petite bodies. I have never tried them because I can only shop in the petites section of most stores (except H&M and sometimes Modcloth) and if I bought something from BiuBiu or Urkye, I’d have to alter the length and proportions anyway, so it would be a lost cause.
I’m sure you’re much more petite than I am–I consider myself petite because I’m 5’3″, and I do find petite shirt and jacket proportions to be much more flattering on me if they’ll fit my bust–but that’s exactly why I wouldn’t order Bravissimo dresses when they first came out (pre-Pepperberry). I’ve since had a chance to try them and they’re great; I’d only need to hem them. But a busty petite line would be a dream come true.
I feel like sort of a broken record about this, but Trashy Diva has a ton of full bust friendly clothing options. Since they’re local now, I’m buying most of my dresses there (and they have awesome sales occasionally). The quality is great too.
Holly, I just fixed the link on our Clothing for Big Busts page so that it goes directly to the Trashy Diva site, but I should really add links to all your fabulous reviews. You look amazing in the Trashy Diva dresses you model. I wish they offered more jackets.
Thanks for the mention! As a business owner, I think your story reflects the very problem a lot of brands have had and why some have failed. Most women aren’t aware that there are brands out there for different body shapes so they don’t even try to look for them and just accept that clothing will never fit them right. Awareness is definitely a big issue for us small business owners. That’s why we need more bloggers like you to spread the word!
It is also very costly to manufacture especially when you have 2 to 3 times as many sizes as a normal clothing brand. Small brands simply can’t afford to produce on a large scale, so prices are higher for the consumer. I totally understand the frustration of customers who don’t want to have to pay more just because they aren’t a “standard” size, but unfortunately that’s the only way small brands can survive.
I think there is some hope though, as we’re seeing more plus-size brands and models in the media. Big brands are taking notice and realising that they need to change what they’re offering to appeal to more people. Hopefully this will lead to more awareness for us bigger busted ladies!
The need for awareness is a main reason I began Hourglassy. As I started my own line, I realized there were no reliable media sources for information about full-busted resources. Where could a busty woman go for updates and honest reviews about what was available to her? Since then, blogs and online forums and groups have burgeoned. I had begun to think that Hourglassy was no longer as necessary. But when I look at where things are, I realize it’s still important to be a mouthpiece. Not many blogs have stayed active, and only a subset of the larger busty world participates in specialty forums and groups. If anything, it’s important that Hourglassy become a BETTER mouthpiece to reach more women.
Best of luck to your business, Bitter Lollipop! Hopefully we’ll be able to review one of your dresses on Hourglassy soon. We have to use our own funds to purchase the items we review, so it sometimes takes us a while to get to new brands–we have to need something in our own closets and have the budget for them. I’m hoping to change this by bringing in revenue from ads and other sources in 2015.
I read about bust-friendly Elie Tahari on hourglassy and was pleasantly surprised to find this brand in El Corte Ingles. Now I own three pieces, and they fit my EU65G frame.
I guess Elie Tahari can be added to the list, as I did not find it there at a first glance
Thanks for the reminder, Olga!
Are you sure that InStyle Essentials is putting things on final sale because they’re shuttering? There’s no evidence of that on the site (they’ve said it’s a sale – though I agree it’s a ridiculous sale). It seems that that operation would be very well-funded. Just surprised that they’d stop after only a year and a half.
Not sure at all–that’s why I phrased it as “appears to be contracting in the United States” . . . even Carissa Rose and Jailyn haven’t announced that they’re leaving the market, and there may be things happening behind the scene that we’re not yet aware of. It would be great if InStyle were figuring out a way to stay active in this area, but I felt nervous when I saw them on Zulily a little while ago and then later with this giant markdown. Even though they’re likely well-funded, it’s not as if this is familiar ground for a magazine to be operating in.