The Potato-Sack Syndrome
When a busty woman tries on a dress, she often breathes a sigh of relief when it zips easily over her waist and her back. After all, we often need to go up a size to accommodate our widest measurement. Thus: the potato sack syndrome.
It's what happens when you finally find a dress size that lays properly over your boobs, but the rest no longer touches your body at all. It's unavoidable to fix without a tailor, but we say: Embrace it. The potato sack might not sound like the sexiest of silhouettes, but this kind of loose, hanging style is actually liberating, especially when you're no longer worrying about defining your waistline. For us, we especially love a "sack" with a slight, flared hem — something that will provide a bit more width at the bottom to balance your top.
Tory Burch Margarite Dress, $375 $225, available at Tory Burch.
Tory Burch Margarite Dress, $375, available at Tory Burch.
4 Is Not Better Than 2
We can't talk about dressing for a busty frame without addressing bras. We'll even argue that finding the right one — one that's comfortable, supportive, and never slumps down so it appears like you have four, not two, breasts — is half the battle. Invest in at least a few full-coverage options that will provide the most supportive base beneath all your outfits.
This 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). Thankfully, this doesn't require backpack-size straps and bland colors only. Brands like ThirdLove, Wacoal, and Chantelle offer super-pretty styles up to sizes G and H. If you're still unsure of your size, get thee to a specialist — either online or in person — stat.
Thirdlove Lace Full Coverage Bra, $68 $40, available at Thirdlove.
Not as funny as it sounds, the peek-a-boob refers to the instance when the buttons on your shirt can no longer stay closed, so they gape and reveal what's beneath. Chances are, this happens when you're speaking to a stranger. Or your boss. Or your grandparents.
As with the potato-sack syndrome, the answer might just be going up a size or two. Choosing a larger fit will give you more wiggle room, and because of the oxford's many styling possibilities — half-tucking into your waistband, tying up the bottom, folding up the sleeves, layering under dresses and sweaters, etc. — the extra space can be easily restyled on your frame, often without calling the tailor.
Equipment Margaux Cotton Shirt, $168, available at Equipment.
The Waist Case
Every woman with a shapely figure has probably received a recommendation that she should cinch her waist. It's a move that accents the bust and fakes a pinup-like, hourglass frame instantly. We're kind of tired of this advice, though; it feels overdone. So, we look to other, more subtle ways to create the same effect — namely, with color.
A dark shade can seem to diminish a body part's size, while light or bright hues draw attention to an area. Furthermore, colorful seaming and piping help shape the body. With that in mind, skip the buckles and think about shopping according to patterns. They can completely define your shape without any additional tools.
River Island Green Block Colour Column Dress, $90, available at River Island.
The Barely-Closed Blazer
Like the buttons on your oxford, the one across the chest of your blazer may not fasten securely. Joy. But, blazers can actually be incredibly flattering — minimizing, even — on a bigger chest. The trick is to look for the cleanest, longest lines. With a silhouette that lengthens your torso, the measurement of your bust won't seem quite as wide. Also, don't stress about keeping your buttons closed. In fact, avoid buttons along your bust altogether; stick only to ones that secure past your widest part.
Mango Textured Cotton Blazer, $79.99, available at Mango.
The Case For Cleavage
As full supporters of the "if you've got it, flaunt it" school of thought, we believe displaying a bit of your well-endowed cleavage is every busty girl's right. It's for this reason that the V-neck is forever a staple piece. Not only is a slight V-neck shape more effective at decreasing the appearance of your bust than a wide neck is (again, it creates a longer line down the front of the body), a deep V is also the most strategic shape for showing off skin. But, of course, you already knew that.
Zara Color Block Blouse, $59.90, available at Zara.
To Turtleneck Or Not To Turtleneck?
A busty frame and a turtleneck haven't always gone hand-in-hand — at least this writer has always been skeptical. Still, a silhouette as chic and effortless as the turtleneck is not one we're willing to give up on so easily.
The reason we assumed it wouldn't work is because the uninterrupted silhouette of a slim, high-necked top only further emphasizes a busty girl's largest measurement. That's not a bad thing, but it does leave our proportions looking a bit exaggerated. However, the true beauty of the turtleneck lies in its ability to be paired with other pieces deemed "impossible" to wear with big boobs. A sleek, black turtleneck is the optimal layering piece beneath a spaghetti-strap dress, a backless top, or a V-neck so deep it makes you blush even when it's on the hanger. If you're looking to wear a turtleneck alone, avoid ribbing or knitting that can show signs of stretch — look for thicker fabrics or an allover print that will even out your torso's proportions.
Wood Wood Blair Ribbed Turtleneck Sweater, $292 $175, available at Mytheresa.
The Outside-The-Boxy Silhouette
Tell a busty girl she can't wear something and she'll likely find a way around it. Case in point: the boxy top. It is perhaps the last few summers' most popular silhouette, but on a woman whose chest is the largest part of her frame, the shirt shape can lead to looking like a lollipop — a full, round top and slim limbs. There are, however, a few tricks to counter this dilemma.
A slouched shoulder shape takes away some of the bulk of a boxy top, and a bold pattern also helps to decrease volume — especially vertical stripes, such as the one seen here. While some may caution that playful illustrations like this one draw too much attention to your assets, we'll tell those people the same thing we told all those box-top naysayers.
Philip Lim 3.1 Top.
"I Don't Do Androgynous"
It can be frustrating if you're a busty girl whose style icons are Tilda Swinton and Marlene Dietrich. But, while an androgynous look might come easier for women with a straight-lined frame, it's hardly impossible for those with curves.
First, look for pant silhouettes that have built-in structure, like crisp pleats or stiff, straight legs. Then, using what you learned in the aforementioned tips, use color to minimize, embrace "sack" shapes that have definition, and look for jackets that won't call attention to their too-tight buttons. At the end of the day, these structural pieces may not have been exactly borrowed from the boys. but they can be an interpretation of androgyny that's much more unique.
Sandro Palma Trousers, $325, available at Sandro.