A large bust can be both a blessing and a curse. Yes, your girls may have some of your besties envious and there’s no denying they do turn heads, but finding the line between sartorially stylish and trashy can at times be tricky.
Regardless whether you want to hide of flaunt them, there are many ways to be busty, elegant, and fabulous, all at the same time.
Top row: Kim Kardashian, Scarlett Johansson, Kat Dennings
Bottom Row: Christina Hendricks, Sofia Vergara, Salma Hayek
Support, Fit, Define
While wearing a bra can be a pain the benefits out weight the disadvantages. A well-fitted bra will:
- prevent peek-a-boo nipples,
- lift and define your bustline. Slimming and elongating your torso and presenting a more youthful appearance.
- inhibit excessive movement when walking fast or exercising
- delay sagging
So before anything else invest in a few great bras, no matter what your bust size. If you are large busted, you need a bra built with extra support. It’s all too tempting to cheap-out and buy an inexpensive bra but by doing so you do yourself a great injustice.
If you’re tempted to go bra-less take a few moments to read Gabrielle’s feature: My Week Of Living Bra-lessly in New York City
Strategize the Lines
If your desire is to down-play your chest size the next thing to do after purchasing a good bra is to be mindful of the style of necklines and collars you wear.
- ⋁ rather than ⋀
⋁ shaped necklines and collars pull attention up and outward away from the bust toward the shoulders.
⋀ necklines, i.e., halternecks and collars pull the eye onto the bust and create width.
Even wearing the right bra can visually reverse the lines – see Lift, Support and Define image (above). A good bra places the emphasis on the shoulders while a sagging bust has the emphasis at the base of the breasts.
- Low trumps high.
High necklines cause a large bust to be engulfed and exaggerated.
- Narrow verses wide.
The importance of this depends on your size and how you feel about your breasts and upper body. The wider a neckline or collar, the wider your chest will appear.
- Angular verses curved
Angular design lines have the power to counteract curves. Use them if you feel you’d like to play down the fullness of your breasts.
Round necklines will emphasize your voluminousness.
- Vertical over horizontal.
Another clever technique to elongate and slim your upper torso is to incorporate vertical design features or accessories. From button-front tops, pinstripes to open jackets and accessories like oblong scarves this can be a real winner.
Selecting a statement accessory is all about scale. Picking dainty jewelry or finishing off a look with a small bag can look unbalanced with your bust. Medium to large statement necklaces or details that sit above your bust line are among your best options. You can also try long line necklaces and pendants as long as they don’t bounce as your walk or fall within the cleft of your bustline. Alternatively try some dazzling chandelier earrings. Dramatic pieces will draw the eye up, and away from your bust line.
As for purse options, a major leather carryall is not only functional, it’s also the best option to minimize and balance a large bust. Bags that are narrow in depth from back to front will also not add extra width to your torso if carried under your arm. For the evening, try a trendy over-sized clutch instead of a small minaudiere.
Accessories are not the only embellishments worth noting. Garment embellishments such as frills, motifs and texture will add extra bulk to your chest so keep these minimal.
Get it Together
When it comes to tailored blouses, dresses, and a perfect fit, darts should be given much of the credit. When positioned right (pointing and ending near the nipple) the results can be spectacular. Darts allow for ample room while providing torso shape – always a good thing when you want to highlight a small waist.
Buttonhole position and direction likewise can have a significant impact. The perfect place for center front buttons is where one sits midway between your breasts where they are fullest. Alternatively close set rather than wide set button also work well – both allows the blouse to close without gaping. Buttons often sit above and below this point and are a major cause of unsightly blouse gap.
Another smart technique used in higher end garments or by designers who truly care about fit is a horizontally cut buttonhole located where the garment is likely to experience most strain. For women, this can be between the breasts and at the hipline while for men it’s at the stomach. Horizontal buttonholes allow for more lateral movement and, as a result, the garment will gap and strain less
When it comes to enhancing or minimizing the apparent size of your bust your sleeves are the power players. Where they end creates a strong horizontal line across your body add to or deflecting attention away from your bust.
To minimize your size wear a half to full length fitted or slender sleeves. To accentuate your size end you sleeves at the widest point of your breasts.
A curvy body and/or a voluminous bust are assets to be proud of, not hidden so don’t hide your curves undergarments that swamp your body.
Semi-fitted to very fitted (depending on your weight and how much you love your girls) is the way to go. As a second option softly flowing tops and dresses will also work.
A nipped in garment from just under your bust to your waistline will create desirable curves while also cleverly concealing a large bust if that is your desire. Avoid narrow lapels in favor of medium to medium-large versions as well are streamlined, non-fussy styles and embellishments as well as jackets that button under the bust.
Rarely will off the rack garments fit you perfectly. A good alteration service can make a just-so garment look made for you and is worth the investment in yourself and your image – hands down.
To complete my ramblings here are some final thoughts on large bust fails.
A: Too much horizontal width across where Jill is already large. Half length sleeves also widen upper torso: 3/3 sleeves would have been better.
B: Blousing makes Christina’s breast look like they are sagging below her waist.
C: Shapeless: when you have a sultry figure don’t hide it .
D: Heavy, wide lower sleeves drag Christina’s shoulders down, narrowing then and making them appear more sloped as well as making her bustline appear lower.
Here are some great how-to features from bloggers who intimately know large bust issues.
- Big Bust Support: heaps of excellent how-to tips.
- Large Bust: written by Imogen Lamport, a friend and talented image consultant
I loved this blog and all your suggestions! Off to find a better bra and then tailor.
Thank you Jeannie!
nice sweater suggestions
thank you for your article. I really enjoyed this. I never considered button holes and button placement! I was wondering if you had any advice for busty girls with narrow shoulders? The shoulder seams in my shirts are always creeping towards my elbow, but smaller sizes don’t leave enough room for the girls.
Thank you JB!