Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Help Meg's Mom!

A few days ago I went shopping with my mom to help her find some fall clothes. We have similar body types- tall, small waist, large shoulders and hips, with one (quite large) difference. To my sister's and my dismay, the "busty" gene skipped a generation. While Ellie and I sometimes have a hard time finding tops, shirts and dresses that we can fill out, my mom is desperate for clothes that hold her in and still show off her shape. Empire waist tops and dresses cut her off mid-boob, while blouses that otherwise fit perfectly won't stay buttoned at her bust and wrap dresses lack coverage in one crucial area.

We left the mall empty-handed (something I never do) and I vowed I'd help my mom find some great new clothes for fall. Google searches failed me and my friends didn't have many suggestions, so I thought I'd throw the question out to you guys.

Does anyone have suggestions for brands or stores that carry tops, shirts and dresses that accommodate large-busted (but not plus size) women? Should my mom resign herself to a life of tailoring everything? If you've got any tips to share, please leave 'em in the comments!


julie said...

I have a similar problem! Though I'm shortish (5'4"), I'm a 34E and a size 8-10. I shop a lot at Ann Taylor Loft, The Gap and, surprisingly, Target. Target's wrap dresses fit me well, and Ann Taylor Loft's just about everything fits me well.

Anonymous said...

I definitely have the same problem. I'm also on the shorter side, so it pains me that most of the only shirts that fit my bust are quite too big for me in every other aspect.

One tip is to find a good plain white tank top. It helps hold me in quite well and I feel pretty comfortable pairing it with just about anything else. It allows me to leave some buttons undone that otherwise would be stretched to cover myself up

Cate said...

express button down shirts are tailored for the curvier women, and i find that their sweaters fit well, too.

Meg said...

As a formerly huge breasted woman (40DDD+) and still an amply sized one (36D or so), I do have a few tips.

Don't fear wraps. They are a large-busted woman's best friend. Just stick a cute cami underneath.

Look for hook-up shirts instead of button ups, they're more reliable. A cami underneath is also a good idea with either. If a button-up shirt is a must, get it large enough to go around the chest, then have the waist taken in.

Also, thank goodness for knits!

Anonymous said...

Busty or not, let everyone not forget the value of a good tailor, and the magic they can work on any article of clothing.

As a size 4/6 with a 32 FF chest, I feel your mom's pain. :) I have relegated myself to the fact that if I want to wear anything with buttons, I'm going to need to buy it several sizes larger, and plan on taking it to the tailor. It's a little more of a hassel, but in the end, I wind up with pieces that don't cause me to fear a button shooting off and blinding someone. :)

Good luck to her!

Anonymous said...

My mom has the same exact problem - she's about an 8-10, yet wears a 32DD. She's actually had a surprising amount of luck with BCBG clothes - the tops and a lot of the dresses are actually to fit those of us who are slightly more blessed in the chest region than others. I know their stuff can be very expensive, however if you catch the stuff on the clearance racks you're golden. My local Lord & Taylor BCBG department regularly has racks at 50 tp 70% off. It's definitely worth checking out.

Anonymous said...

Alas, I've relied on the skills of my tailor (I'm 5'4", 32D, size 8).

Camisole/tank tops, wraps, or vests over dress shirts are what I've been wearing. Finding a button-able shirt that doesn't require tailoring is a perpetual mission for me.



Anonymous said...

I know how your mom feels! I've spent the last 15 years figuring out how to dress around my 34E chest.

My advice:

1) Tank tops/camisoles, especially cotton/lycra blends. They are very versatile and smoothing, so you can wear bras with seams (for better support!) even under clingy knits

2) Make friends with the bra specialists, at a REAL bra shop. In my experience, it's not just the right SIZE of bra, but the right STYLE that influences what you can wear. I personally hate minimizers, but I know that I have shirts and dresses that fit differently with a seamless vs. a balconette vs. a plunge bra

3) If your mom feels like treating herself (or going to the UK), a company called Bravissimo is wonderful. They have great bras and swimwear, but their clothing is especially brilliant. They size the garments either by bra size (!) or with a dress size and the qualifiers "curvy," "really curvy," and "super curvy." They explain how the sizing works on the website. Their products are not cheap, but they work!

EthidiumBromide said...

Aaah, a quest I know well.
My first line of defense against popping out is, like many other commenters, to always wear a tank top under what I am wearing. I usually find the kind with the shelf bra build in -- it adds a little extra support, and holds me in tighter than just a bra alone.
I find that shirts from Ann Taylor are roomy enough for my chest, and their strapless dresses are fabulous -- they have an shelf bra built in, but it is adjustable, so you can tighten it as much as you need to for support.
Surprising though it may seem, Victoria's Secret clothing line fits me fantastically. While 90% of their clothes are not work appropriate, you can find some classy, sophisticated shirts in the mix, and they are more generously cut in the chest area than others. It might take some digging around the low cut, strapless, backless shirts, but there are certainly some appropriate clothes to be found.

Alexandra said...

I have the same problem as your mom and, unfortunately, no recommendation other than finding a good taylor. I get all my button-down shirts custom-made by Maxwell clothiers ( They-re fantastic- and I'm very small-waisted and big-boobed and short as well, so buying anything off the rack where the buttons all buttoned and sat flat across my chest while the shirt did not look like a parachute at waist level was simply impossible. Depending on where your Mom is and if she wears a lot of button-down shirts, that might be an option for her.

dana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dana said...

Go to Eileen Fisher. She has a rep for being stodgy but her designs the last few seasons have been modern and amazing, shaped to flatter a woman's body, and her fabrics are luxurious. They are a bit spendy but the pieces last and last and are absolutely timeless. I wear them all the time and am neither a big woman, nor an older woman, nor in the least frumpy. Trust me and check her out!!

Kai Jones said...

I've heard/read good things about

They have normal-size tops with bra-cup sizing, so you're not just buying a plus-size top that you swim in to get bust coverage.

keri said...

It's so difficult! I learned to be a very good seamstress so I could tailor things around my chest. Best for me: wrap dresses are fantastic. Layering has been an awesome trend: camis and deep v neck knits. JCPenney has a nice knit collection in their a.n.a. brand; all of the tees from them have fit my chest flatteringly well. Their jeans...not so. Buy shirts a bit bigger then tailor them down everywhere but the bust. I have given up men's tees forever: boxy and awful.

Ruby said...

I second the Ann Taylor rec; I'm a 4/6 with a 32ddd chest, and while not all their tops fit me, many more do than anywhere else I've tried. =)

Anonymous said...

I just recently found Foxcroft shirts
at Nordstroms. They come in petite sizes, terrific no-iron fabrics and fit just right for my short waisted relatively bosomy build. As other posters have noted, I find the tank/shirt or loose top combo both comfortable and flattering.

Angelicque said...

I to would like to vouch for the shirts from Bravissimo, they come in 3 differant chest sizes, so they fit even the most ample women, they also sell vests with proper bras built in, must say though as they are a British company, I do,nt know if they ship to the US.

Laura V said...

Bravissimo does ship to the US; I'm a 32H with several of their tops. The quality is OK-Not-Great; I don't like to buy their tops full-price because of it. But they do fit wonderfully!

Some Ann Taylor tops work for me, but some don't -- I've had problems with gapping in the V-necks.

Anonymous said...

Living in the southwest I've found some women's western wear shirts work well. They have more shape to them so I can get ones that fit across the shoulders and look slimming while still working at the bustline.

Halle said...

i have the same problem!!! i have to echo what other people have said: knits are your friend, and i have a large collection of tank tops to wear with tops that would otherwise not button all the way up or be way too revealing. i especially like the look and fit of v-necks with a cute camisole underneath. layering in general is a good thing, just make sure everything is light, formfitting, and in coordinating colors, though i'm sure you don't have to be told that.

also, to bypass the whole fit issue she can wear a cute billowy top made from some nice material with tight pants and kiler heels or sleek flats.

there isn't any store that i can reccomend, you just really have to search & try everything on & know what styles you can pull off. my mom & i both agree gap, express,& bananna republic are great places to start. i also personally like bebe, even though everything looks very small the fit is surprising good for those with an hourglass figure. in some of their party dresses my 34dd-e girls fit well without having to suffer taking in the bottom half of the dress as i usually do.

if your mom plans on doing alot of alterations in order to get exactly what she wants i suggest getting a sewing machine &learning how to use it, some alterations are actually really simple and will save sooooooo much $.

the comment about the different styles of bras giving a different fit to the clothes was also dead-on! good bras in large sizes are expensive so i go to nordstrom rack and off 5th (the saks 5th avenue outlet)you can find great bras from $5-$30. try on a bunch in different sizes for each fit, remember size is just a number!

but if anyone finds a good store especially for us busty gals make sure to tell us!

great post!

melinda hale said...

I find New York and Company makes the only button up dress shirts that fit me off the rack. Sz 10 36D. Pair it with one of NY&COs BodyShapers, and you are good to go!

Anonymous said...

My roommate has the same problem, gorgeous figure and small waist but wears a 34DD+. Camisoles and tank tops with built in bras work really well under almost all somewhat low cut shirts, and if you don't want the extra bulk around the waist, you can find half camisoles that are like bras with a straight edge across the top. They add a lot of support and add a nice touch of color or lace.