I’ll be honest and say this has never been my problem. I’ve always had a small chest… that is until I got pregnant with my first child. My just barely Bs turned into Ds and I had no idea what to do about it! The super deep V necks I always loved were great for breastfeeding, but they definitely had a totally different look now that my cleavage was spilling out of them! Those super low cut tops without cleavage looked sexy, but elegant. Now, they looked overtly sexy. In your face, if you will. I’m not super shy about fashion or my body so it was mostly just fun for me to have the boobs I’d always dreamed of, and it didn’t last. Once my babies were weaned, those boobs went right back down (and then some!) I do design a fair number of pieces that really work for broad shoulders and small boobs (that’s me!) but I’ve had occasion to dress many large-breasted women over the years. Here are some tips I’ve gained from my experience altering my pieces and creating custom wedding gowns for large-breasted women.

 

Choosing blouses

 

Button-down blouses can be tough for large chests. They pull and gape, buttons come undone… it’s a mess. I designed my Bella blouse with that in mind. Looser fit blouses that are sewn closed down the front rather than buttoned are an easier fit on bustier women. The Bella is cut loose, giving you lots of space to accommodate the girls.

Stephanie wears the Bella blouse in saffron yellow rayon/linen blend with camo cotton Jill pants

Look for bias cut tops and dresses

 

Stretchy knit fabrics will always be easier to fit over a larger bust than woven fabric, but bias cut fabric (fabric cut diagonally to the grainline) has stretch without the need for spandex. Cutting a piece on a bias gives the clothing a soft drapability and allows for easier fit on different bodies. Case in point: this bias-cut Flutter top is a size small. Here it is modelled by two women with very different body types and sizes. Florence (left) tends to wear about a L-XL and Judy (right) wears an XS-S. 

Flutter top in coral linen

Florence and Judy wear the same coral linen Flutter top

Layering for the larger bust

 

Having the vertical line of a cardigan or shrug can distract the eye from a wider bust so aside from being a great choice for covering your arms when it’s cool, they can look particularly good on large-busted women. If a cardi or shrug isn’t cut loose enough to accommodate your bust, choose one without closures in front so that it doesn’t have the effect of looking too small or straining across your chest. The Pippa Shrug is a good choice to draw the eye away from the bust. The Helluva sweater can work for you too since it has only a tie at the waist for closure and a flowy collar. Beware a wide flat collar across your breast though - that’ll really highlight the area.

Pippa shrug in black bamboo french terry and Helluva jacket in black bamboo fleece

Emma wears the Pippa shrug in black bamboo French terry, while I wear the Helluva Sweater in black bamboo fleece (I promise to find a photo of a bustier model in this - it looks good I swear 😉

Creating an Hourglass Shape

 

Create a balance between your bust and your hip by cinching your clothing at the waist with a belt or wearing a fuller skirt. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I love a good retro look. The 50s silhouette can be flattering if you have a smaller waist than bust. Try a skirt like the Oma Vera or the Vere Lindon to give your waist definition and some fullness to your hips. 

White lace Oma Vera skirt with Grace Kelly bodysuit, Think Tank with Vere Lindon skirt and Poppy tnk with denim Oma Vera skirt

Stay Away From These Looks

 

  • Straight cut dresses: Avoid anything that will flow straight down from your bust. To make a straight cut dress work for you, try belting it. Judy belted her Lisbeth dress here to flatter her shape better. 
  • Boxy crop tops: A boxy crop top like the RG Crop top is not for you for the same reason, but with the added problem of likely being hiked up to an ultra cropped length by your boobs. If you really want a boxy crop top, do choose a lace or sheer one so that your shape shows through and wear or over a cami or pretty bra. V necks are always best. You will likely have to have one custom made to accommodate your bust. I’ve made custom versions of this top before, adding inches to the front hem for more coverage.

Lisbeth dresses shon belted and loose in plum and saffron yellow

The Importance of Fit

 

When you search “dressing a large bust,” you’ll often find lots of rules and things to avoid. I’ve talked about some of those things here too. Those rules are helpful when you’re buying off the rack and want something to look good as is, but if you really love a look that doesn’t work for you because of your bust, consider having it altered or made custom just for you. Yes, it can be an added expense, but if it will look amazing on you and help you feel great, it’s worth it! The Liz T dress below is not a great look for busty women because the V is quite wide and it’s not made to accommodate a large bust and smaller waist or hip. However, getting a dress like this custom made to fit properly and cover the perfect amount of cleavage could be a great look! 

Liz T dress in black double weave

Laura wears the Liz T dress. It would look just as great on a bustier woman if custom made for her.

Don't let your bust keep you from having fun with fashion!

 

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Stephanie Davis Designs

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada