As you know, I’ve been searching for the elusive 8L fit model for a while. With so much bra-fitting awareness out there (Hourglassy readers, Facebook groups, Bratabase and Reddit), I thought it’d be easier than it was seven years ago, but it’s actually been harder! I finally gave in and paid $45 for this craigslist ad in the art/media/design section after discovering how many of the free ads in the talent gigs section are actually for models without clothes.

I also crashed this FIT networking conference for models and stylists in hopes of finding one large-busted student who hasn’t given up her modeling dreams. She wasn’t there. All the models were as A to C cup as you would imagine. However, as they walked the runway in their mostly un-curve-friendly garments, this silver dress caught my eye.

bust friendly zhiming dress on runway 4-9-2016 2-18-34 PM

Afterwards, I found the designer, Zhiming Liu, and asked for a closer look. As I suspected, this dress is extremely bust friendly! Here’s a closeup of the bodice. (The rings at the shoulders wouldn’t hide our bra straps, but that’s easily remedied.)

bust friendly Zhiming dress front closeup 4-9-2016 4-37-51 PM

Beneath the drapey top layer is a fitted base with princess seams.

bust friendly Zhiming dress front princess seam details 4-9-2016 4-38-10 PM

The dress is out of a woven, non-stretch satin, so Zhiming uses darts for a fitted back.

bust friendly Zhiming dress back 4-9-2016 4-38-26 PM

In our few minutes to chat, I learned that Zhiming loves working with women’s curves. Later I sent her an email to find out why. You’ll find her answer as interesting as I did.

I was born and raised in Northeast China. My hometown is near Mongolia and Russia where most women are considered curvy compared to the rest of the country. My mom is very petite but she has two sisters are very curvy. When I was a child, I often see them alter their dresses on sewing machines because most of the clothes  in China are not made for the curvy women. They had to buy one, maybe two sizes bigger and alter the shoulder, waist or sometimes hem. I enjoyed to watching them do this, it was like a puzzle game to me. Now when I design any look for women with curves, I always think what would my aunts say about it. How would they look if they wear my garments.

I like to design for both slim women and curvy women. I like to design across both groups thinking would this look good for a less curvy woman or a more curvy woman? What should I change if I let a curvy woman wear a slim woman’s dress? What details should I add on or bring down when I design for curvy woman?  It’s like a mind game to me and I really enjoy thinking like this when it comes to design.

My understand of women with curves is that women who born with curves are born with a gift. They don’t have to do anything and look sexy. However, I think sexy is not the only word to describe women with curves. They can also be cool, intelligent and athletic. When people determine a woman with curves, they usually use the word “sexy” and I think it’s not very comprehensive. I don’t like hypersexualizing women with curves. I want to bring their other personality to those women. 

I was also curious about the inspiration for this dress.

This dress is part of my F/W collection [Zhiming graduated from FIT in December] and was inspired by the movie Tron Legacy. I imagined what the girl would wear in the real life other than the futuristic suit she wore in the movie. So I researched on militaristic uniform looks from comic books and movies, as well as looks from conceptual designers like Gareth Pugh. Then I try to bring the “crazy future look” down to earth.  I attempted to create a futuristic look but didn’t want to go too far. I imagined someone wearing the dress can go to a party, look classic and elegant but also be able to move her body, like dancing or running. She can match this dress with a pair of classic high heels for a classic look or she can wear funky boots to look more like trendy.


The Wall Street Journal recently wrote about versatile dresses that can be worn to multiple styles of weddings in a single summer, advising to “choose one that’s dress-code-flexible: a tea-length number that can morph ‘from black-tie formal to beach casual, depending on the shoes you wear‘”. I immediately pictured Zhiming’s dress. Here are all the ways that Zhiming would suggest wearing her dress for just a single wedding weekend.

She can wear the dress with pumps, adding a blazer and a brooch for the ceremony. At the reception and dinner party, she can wear the dress with her favorite jewelry and dress sandals. For the next day brunch, she can wear the dress with a bolero jacket, adding a scarf or a millinery hat.

I love the dress as an original on a single woman, but its versatility also makes me think it would be excellent for the variety of body types in a bridal party. Right now, that would have to be a bridal party where all the bridesmaids can be fitted in New York City.

If someone wanted to order the dress, it is possible but everything will have to be custom hand made. They can send me their measurements and schedule an appointment for alterations. They can contact me via email []. If someone across the country wanted to order the dress it would be very difficult since they will not be available for fittings and alterations. The dress will be made for their measurements but there would not be an alterations of the dress to make the dress fit perfectly to each person’s unique body.
I’m sorry to tease you with a dress that can’t be purchased in stores, but I have high hopes for Zhiming’s future. I didn’t find my H-cup model at FIT that Saturday afternoon, but I found a new designer who understands our curves and is happy designing for them.
Fit model update: Instead of using only one model, last week I was able to work with a composite of two women who helped me discover the smallest and largest bust measurements that can wear an 8L. I am ALWAYS looking for H cup models, however, so please let me know if you or an acquaintance has the measurements in my ad!