BUSTY AND BAFFLED: Style Tips for Big Boobs
Blessed in the boob department? Chances are you’ll be aware of the typical advice for us booby girls, but I’m so over all the big-bust-style-advice which tells you to cinch in your waist or use minimizer bras. 8 out of 10 ladies with big busts these days are no longer the natural hourglass figure, they’re more apple shapes, and so cinching in of a waist that doesn’t exist is just non-advice! And some of those reading the advice won’t actually want to wear a minimizer, they want to celebrate their bosoms – and rightly so!
However, having a big bust shouldn’t mean a compromise in confidence or style. If you’re reading this because you’re busty and baffled, then bear with me and read on. I can’t say I have every solution, but I have seen enough to help me create my own set of rules and regulations which help optimise my ‘girls’ instead of them getting in fashion’s way.
Full disclosure: I totally love my boobs in the bedroom (or bathroom, or wherever I am naked) as they are pretty nice and pert it has to be said, but I have to admit that I don’t love them when I am choosing fashion. Big boobs and most fashion – in my opinion – are not great bedfellows. I mean, even in the 90s when boobs were what asses are today (thanks to the Kardashians), the only thing boobs really suited in high fashion was the original Hervé Leger bandage dress and the odd crop top with ultra low rise boot cut jeans – but these styles also required taut tummies, something which I, for one, no longer possess.
So I’m coming from a place of not really embracing my boobs if we’re honest, and I know that when I try to ‘hide’ my boobs, they look their worst – (peek-a-boob from a cool shirt or blouse anyone?) and so do the clothes I’m trying to use as camouflage tools; however I also know LOADS of ladies who are generously proportioned in the chest area, who embrace their boobies and dress them with pride and joy, so I will try to recognise the gripes & boasts of both types of big boob dresser in my TOP TEN TIPS for big boob dressing. Enjoy!
1. BRA-VO FOR THE RIGHT BRA!
Let’s go back to basics and acknowledge that we can’t talk about dressing for a busty frame without addressing bras. But finding the right one — one that’s comfortable, supportive, and flattering — is half the battle. I mostly live in plain black or nude T shirt bras with NO EXTRA PADDING (why do so many brands ADD PADDING to bras for big boobs?!) It’s not like we NEED any more!
A good bra should be one that covers the whole breast and gives your chest shape without giving it an additional boost (unless that's your preference). It’s important to invest in at least a few full-coverage options that will provide the most supportive base beneath all your outfits. Even if you are certain what size you are, it’s always a good idea to get measured by a fitting expert every time you purchase a new bra.
Thankfully, this doesn't require backpack-size straps and bland colours only. I got measured up at Boux Avenue in Victoria Square and went from wearing a 34DD to a 34F(!) after being measured properly.
2. V NECKS GOOD, ROUND NECKS BAD – BUT NOT ALWAYS!
One of the original rules for busty girls was always ‘V neck good, round neck bad’. But whilst V necks are super flattering on larger busts, (because of the triangulation from shoulders and the elongated line down towards the waist), I refute the claims that round necks are all bad. If you hove toned arms à la Michelle Obama and a slim enough waist line/obliques silhouette, then a fitted, round neck t shirt can be perfect, especially if you have big hips as well and you’re choosing to go wide or baggy on your skirt or trouser silhouette.
That said, we’re all for ‘if you’ve got it, FLAUNT it’ here at the F Words (FLAUNT does begin with an F after all) so we believe that displaying a bit of your well-endowed cleavage is every busty girl's right – and V necks definitely do it better. But if you think a V neck is too severe, go for a scoop neckline, which is always flattering when it hits your chest at just the right places.
The same can be said of turtle necks and polo necks. If you’re busty with an hour glass figure, a polo neck over big boobs with a high waisted trouser or pencil skirt is classic and cool.
In eveningwear, a sweetheart, off-the-shoulder neckline a la Susan Sarandon creates the ultimate time to shine while swimwear in a plunge cut to suit your shape and size is also flattering.
3. WRAP IT UP!
Whether in the form of a dress or jacket, a wrap silhouette complements every body type and bust size, and the natural V created from the wrapping is always super flattering, plus the tie belt goes just under your bust, usually the slimmest part of your upper waist. (Thanks, Diane Von Furstenburg!) Again, I’d suggest that you think of your overall figure before choosing the skirt shape in a wrap dress. If you’re short and apple shaped, I wouldn’t advise an A line or full skirted wrap dress, go for something straighter but a little bit shorter in the hem line and in the arm, to show off those slim limbs.
Double breasted jackets fall most definitely OUTSIDE of this rule and can look really frumpy on busty figures as they tend to cross over right across the bust and not under it like a well fitted wrap dress. Plus, they move funnily when you and/or your boobs move to articulate your speech - or raise hands for any gesture. (Sleeveless tuxedo jackets are a good alternative if you want to feel suit-y).
4. PUSSY GALORE – Try a Pussy Bow Blouse
A high-neck pussy bow blouse makes for a flattering cut to style with high-waisted pants or a skirt—especially for those moments you want to hide your cleavage. Because of the elongated neck and the focus up there, this is an occasion when you can afford to go bulbuous on the blouse shape and not look pregnant, even if you drop your skirt/trouser waistline a little. I would also suggest shorter sleeves on the blouse, above the watch & bracelet line, to show off slim wrists & bring the focus to nice jewellery. (Don’t be afraid to use your local tailor or amendments shop to do this – sleeve length can make such a difference and I am forever asking my guys at The Zipyard to alter everything!)
On the subject of necklines, be careful to steer clear of too much detail – especially frills and ruffles - because they can make the bust look even bigger. It’s better to stick with simple colour combinations and clean lines.
5. CINCH IT! – DON’T WASTE YOUR WAIST, USE IT!
If you have a waist, or the semblance of one, then take note from Ashley Graham and cinch your look at the waist with a corset, kimono wrap belt or a wide buckled belt. Instant hourglass! Every woman with a shapely figure has probably received a recommendation to cinch her waist as it accents the bust and creates a pinup-worthy frame instantly. I’m kind of tired of this advice, though; it feels overdone, plus a significant proportion of the female population is more likely to be apple shape these days, so cinching in a waist which doesn’t exist will create muffin tops – not hourglass shapes!
6. USING YOUR WAIST #2 - Have A Bare Midriff Moment
Much like a corset belt, a hint of a bare midriff helps to create that hourglass figure—and draws attention to your waist if you have a slim enough one to bare it. I only discovered this trick in my forties and a cropped top which is cut just below the bust but above the slimmest part of the waist will create a trompe d’oeil – drawing attention to the waist and away from the bust. I don’t actually expose any flesh personally (not intentionally anyway!) but I team a cropped top with a high waisted pencil skirt to very good effect.
7. DON’T GET SHIRTY WITH YOUR BIG GIRL’S BLOUSE…
The Peek-A-Boob is real. Yes, that occasion when your button-boob combo fails you and your shirt buttons gape (or pop out entirely) to reveal your boobs and/or bra (not always your prettiest). Of course with Sod’s Law, it’s usually when you’re speaking to a stranger. Or presenting at work. Or out with a new date. Often we’re told to go up a size in the blouse to avoid this, but that just creates extra fabric elsewhere and adds to a silhouette which (on me anyway) doesn’t need extra inches added by loose fabric. If I do have to do that, I end up getting the blouse altered. But here’s my advice – get the blouse that fits and take it to your local alterations store (I use The Zipyard) and ask them to add in a couple of strategic popper buttons between the regular ones. IT WORKS! It takes a bit of a pull to pop the popper buttons and they reinforce your own buttons, however pretty or practical they are.
8. COLOUR & PRINT
A more subtle way to create a similar effect is to use dark colours as belt equivalents. A dark shade across the torso will give the impression of diminishing a body part's size, while light or bright hues draw attention to an area. Colour blocking is a clever way to balance out proportions. With a black top half and colour block hem, a two-tone dress will minimize a larger chest and draw attention to your bottom half. Colourful seaming and piping can also help, so remember that colours and wide stripe prints can completely define your shape without any additional buckles and belts. But on that note – another tip is to learn to STRIPE RIGHT: Wearing vertical stripes on your top half will lengthen your upper body and slim your torso therefore making your chest appear smaller.
Prints are by no means out of bounds - opt for smaller style patterns or, if you want to go bold, a black background to florals, polka dots etc will stop you looking heavier up top. Use a strategic placement formula here too – if you want to distract from your chest, wear them on the bottom, if you want to flaunt your bust, vice versa.
9. THE DRESS VS THE SEPARATES
If you’re boobie, you’ll know that changing room feeling of trying on a dress and experiencing relief when the zip glides up past your waist AND bust without a struggle. Stretchy fabrics can be flattering because they fit a greater range of body shapes, but if you don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard, or you’re an extra at a hen party in Vegas, so choose fabrics and sleeves/necklines to suit too.
We often need to go up a size to accommodate our widest measurement which can create a bit of a potato sack syndrome where the dress is tight at the bust and hanging loose and smock-like all over. Unless I’m pre-menstrual and bloated or going for an eight-course tasting menu and need the extra room, I dislike this shape. But on those few occasions, this kind of loose, hanging style is actually liberating and, if you choose the right fabric/shape, you can totally rock an androgynous look, (a look which usually looks much better on women with a straight-lined frame) especially when you’re no longer worrying about defining your waistline.
Choosing to choose separates over a dress allows you to accommodate different sizes on top and bottom. It also allows you to play with print and pattern. (see Point * above). A nifty trick is to create the illusion of a dress with co-ordinated block colour tops and bottoms. When choosing tops for a big bust, make sure they’re sufficiently long, as having a big bust can shorten the length, and pop any buttons. And if you’re a T shirt kinda gal, I hear ya! Anyone with big boobs knows that T-shirts are hard — the slightest V-neck can give you cleavage overload, and anything baggy looks like you're wearing a tent. But the solution is all about what you pair it with — a loose, crew-neck T-shirt still looks cool when it's tucked into a slim skirt. Remember length and fit is important too, so crop it or knot it if you have to/want to!
One of my go-to dresses for work in summer is the shirtdress, which will nip you in at the waist before flaring out to balance out your bust, but I often get extra buttons added (see point 7 above). Unbuttoning it as low as you can go is another option. As is adding a statement belt. Just remember, it’s important to highlight your waist, more so if you are petite.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to play with playsuits and jumpsuits. I have found that they are one of the most flattering and easy-to-wear silhouettes for me and my boobs - but not every style, so it pays to play with shapes and styles here too.
10. THE JACKET DILEMMA
Biker style jackets are brilliant for big busts because the lapel design ensures the jacket actually lies over your boobs when open instead of just falling off to either side. This cleverly makes your chest area appear smaller. And don’t worry about being able to zip it up - we guarantee you’ll rarely want to wear it that way. Also, the cropped length of most motorbike jackets helps make your top half look smaller and more proportional, especially when you're not super tall. The same ‘wear it open’ rule applies to blazers – don't worry about buttoning up. Wear them open with crop tops and high waisted bottoms or wear wide belts over clean-line tops underneath for best effect. In short, when it comes to most jacket styles for big boobs, remember one thing: single breasted and slightly open is your friend.