Dressing The Busty Figure

A tailor becomes your best friend when your proportions are not in sync with the fashion industry. Finding a flattering fit can be a real challenge for us busty gals.



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When I try on a dress or a long top it always looks dowdy because I have to buy it to fit across my bust and then it is too big and boxy everywhere else. Equally frustrating are jackets that can never be closed and sleeves that are always too long. When I buy a tank top to fit my bust, the arm holes are way too big and it is too long.




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In the above two photos, I am showing you how I styled the same silver top from Chico’s. It has almost sheer layers and it is from a couple of years ago. I bought it for the soft silver gray color. It looks very boxy alone but if I layer carefully I can make it work for me.



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Proper fit makes us look neater and less voluminous. Almost every garment I put on looks tent-like, which is why I almost always wear separates. I look for tops and jackets that are more fitted or that have hemlines that are uneven such as the red jacket above. I have learned that trying to cover up just makes me look bigger all over. Proportion and fit are crucial if you want to look your best. Wearing a top that fits properly and ends at just below my natural waist looks much better with a longer jacket or open cardigan because it creates an illusion of longer legs and less volume on top.



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One trick is to wear a bold shorter necklace that stops above your bustline.


Some of the other tips I often use to dress my top heavy body are below:

1. Wear a darker color on top.
2. When I find a tank that fits well, I buy several. I stock up on the Peck and Peck tanks at Stein Mart every spring. I also love the way the black tank from my collection fits. The crepe fabric skims the body so that it doesn’t show every dimple and roll. It also ends just below the natural waistline which makes me look a little taller and thinner than if it were longer. I am wearing that tank in the photo above with the red jacket. Soft flowing fabric is much more forgiving than stiff fabrics with lots of texture. I would never wear a fisherman sweater!
3. Wear a belt or employ the half-tuck. When just a bit of the front of your longer button up top is tucked in, more of the leg shows making you look taller, and the waistline is more defined without showing your backside. It also eliminates that tent effect I get when I don’t tuck in at least part of my tops.
4. Wear a shorter more fitted top under jackets and cardigans. The proportions suggest a smaller body beneath them.
5. Tie a scarf so that the bulk of it is always above your bustline to frame your face and to add color and pattern.
6. Wear a short dramatic necklace that ends above your bustline. Long necklaces can be tricky but you can use them to create a V-neckline over a less flattering neckline. Just be careful not to wear a necklace that rest between your breasts.
7. The V-Neckline or a scoop neckline such as in the Covered Perfectly tops are the most forgiving. If I wear a turtleneck or any high neckline, I always try to create a V over it using a scarf or a long necklace.
8. Avoid the high round crew necklines such as the one’s you often find in a classic men’s style tee. Those are the least flattering tops for us.
9. Wrap or surplice style tops and dresses are often your best options. (A surplice neckline is shown in the photo below. This is the only style of dress I can wear straight off the rack.)
10.Try not to show any cleavage and always wear a properly fitted bra. The wrong bra can ruin your whole look. Showing cleavage makes your bust look even larger.



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What are your styling solutions for dressing a busty figure? Please share below in the comments. I created this site for us, so I love it when you share your comments and ask questions!


New items are being added to the shop almost every day.



50 Comments
  1. I find your site so useful,I am going on a retail therapy shopping day today,cloudy and rainy here in central Pa,I need to update some of my “tops”,I am busty as you so elegantly put it,now,I can go and shop till I drop,which shouldn’t take long,happily approaching 80 in December.

  2. You might try an obi belt with some of those tent-like tops. A three inch belt creates an illusion of a fuller behind and will camouflage a tummy bulge. I have your figure but, I am 5’2″ size 2/4 pant and size small/medium top.

  3. Thank you! This is my “biggest” issue (36 D) and these tips are very helpful. Love the idea regarding the necklace.

  4. Susan, you wear that red dress like a rock star, even though you don’t prefer dresses,it looks great. I am petite and one size smaller on bust than hips so fortunately I sew and make things to fit well on top and can add more ease on the bottom. It’s always something

  5. I’m not sure why you avoid dresses, you look beautiful in the red dress shown. I think as women we are always our worst critic. We shouldn’t focus quite so much on what we think our flaws are. I think a positive attitude and kind heart shine through and make you look beautiful. Then again maybe you just look fantastic in red and a surplice style. I always love your looks and appreciate your suggestions. You always look amazing.

  6. Translation: Susanna, in a red dress, you are the very charm!
    It is advantageous to look chest, good length dresses and three-quarter sleeves. And in the feast and in the world. Health to you and happy holidays. Victoria. St. Petersburg

  7. Susan, you say you don’t wear dresses because they aren’t your best look. But WOW! You rock the red dress. It is made for you and shows your beautiful figure and lovely legs to every advantage. Here’s to hoping you’ll become more confident and comfortable in dresses:)

  8. I totally agree! I am a size 8 bottom and a 12 top because of my DD girls! I find a boot cut Jean balances my proportions and is more flattering , a heel is great for me as well.

  9. Susan, you look terrific – as always. I don’t have a “busty” problem, I have a short, stubby problem. One thing I have discovered is that I cannot wear boot-leg or flared pants. The width of the pants just accentuates my stubbiness. Slim legged or leggings work best for me. We all have our challenges but you provide excellent information and tips.

    1. I also have short legs, so I like to wear the slim straight leg pants and at least a bit of a heel for the same reason. All that extra fabric in flared pants makes me appear larger than I am. (Extra fabric anywhere makes us look larger there.)

  10. I really can’t wear scarves because they make me look top heavy and I think that while pretty, scarves always add extra weight on top on most women. Thanks for the tips

  11. Can’t agree more with the idea that a good fitting bra is a MUST! Don’t assume you are a certain size just because you have always been a certain size. Never go by the number! Manufacturers change sizes and fit. It is more important to get the right fit, regardless of what number the band says. I thought I was a 36 DDD and I always looked huge and sloppy. Turns out I am a 34H! I was shocked and embarrassed to see that number but you know what? I have never looked better! Ladies- it IS what is IS- work with what you’ve got and start with a great foundation of a well fitted bra!

  12. Thank you for this post. It was especially timely for me. I have been having such a difficult time with “what to wear” as my bust line seems to have increased quite a bit since menopause. It is so frustrating to not be able to wear the clothes that I have worn for years. I appreciate your suggestions and advice. It doesn’t seem from your photos that you struggle with large bust issues. Thank you for sharing your secrets.
    Btw, you look awesome in that red dress!

  13. Oh my gosh Susan, I found myself agreeing with all these challenges listed when buying clothes! I think that is why I don’t like shopping but know its something I have to do.
    I will be re-reading this post for sure, so many great tips.
    I often wear a longer necklace thinking that is what I had to do. It probably does elongate my neck which was why I did it, but emphasized my bust which I don’t want to do…ever!
    Don’t know why you don’t wear dresses Susan. You look terrific in this red one! I’ve tried this style, but as always my eye goes directly to my bust so I don’t buy.
    Thanks for sharing all this information. I know you are helping many woman.

  14. Just wanted to mention that I wear a bodysuit under a button up blouse. I have a black one and a nude one. They are made to hold you in slightly and are very slimming. And I don’t have to worry if my blouse gaps in the front. I bought them at Nordstrom’s . Also good tip about scarves and necklaces. My scarves are often my third piece.

  15. I have the same problem and hardly ever wear a dress because if it fits on top it’s too big on bottom. I use the solutions you mentioned and also like vests for the same reason. I wear a lot of jackets and cardigans and leave open to create a longer vertical line.

  16. Great tips! I’m only 5’2″ and wear a 38F bra with tops being 1-2 sizes larger than my pants. Additionally, I have somewhat narrow, sloping shoulders. I add small shoulder pads to all of my tops which balances my proportions. Topstick (a double-sided tape for mens toupees/sold by Amazon) keeps those pads in until I remove them.

    I love the Covered Perfectly tops. Thanks so much for recommending them.

  17. I have two dark, longer knit vests that I wear over white slightly nubby knit shirts. With these, I wear shorter statement necklaces.

  18. I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your Blog. Thank you for all the useful tips you give us and for sharing your photos. As they say “a picture is worth a thousand words”. I look forward to your next post!

  19. May I make a little different suggestion. I don’t have a huge bust, but modern bras made me look big and rounded. I looked like my bust began just below my neck and didn’t stop until my waist! I found a bra that has made a difference in the way my bustline looks. It has no extra fabric in the cup and provides good support. It is the Flower Bali 0180. This is not an expensive bra to buy. As an added bonus it provides smoothing in the back too. It can be found at Kohl’s or J.C.Penney’s. You can also purchase online. Try it and see if you like the shaping better. I hope someone else will find this bra works for them.
    I also think the red dress is beautiful on you Susan. You always look elegant. You have achieved a signature style that identifies who you are. That is what I am hoping to achieve.

  20. One item I found that helps a large bust is a Cami Shaper with underwire. It fits like a tank top but has some shaping that firms my upper body. I almost always wear one of these…they are comfortable and show no bra bulge. They are not easy to find and I usually order from Amazon. Be prepared to reinforce the wire ends with additional stitching as mine have popped out occasionally. Hope this is helpful Susan.

  21. I too am a little bustier since menopause. I found
    the minimizer by Shapeez smooths and shapes my
    upper body and my clothes fit and look better. Susan, in one of your previous blogs you had mentioned “cankles” and you preferred not wearing
    dresses. Well now, that beautiful surplice dress is
    so flattering showing off beautiful legs and ankles.
    No “cankles” here.

  22. Like you…a fisherman’s sweater is not my friend, but they’re gorgeous! I only wear separates, but loved the wrap dress idea only I very skinny legs as well which I’m self conscious of. Nice blog. It’s nice to see something for us mature sexy sixties babes! Thanks

  23. These are tips that I’ve also used for years…the V neck is my favorite neckline, and love the long over short tops. It is so difficult to dress in a flattering, comfortable way when you are very short like I am (just slightly over 5′) and have a very busty figure and the thick “over 50” waistline. Love seeing your attractive outfits! One line I love is Eileen Fisher, more pricy but very nice, natural fabrics that are so pretty on; these are my favorite cardigans. Also, would love for you to share what bras work well on a busty figure, this is my all time most difficult item to purchase, because I don’t like to be “fitted”. Would love to know what brands you like, if you like minimizing styles, etc. Thanks for helping to keep us “fabulous”!

  24. Thank you for this post! I have the identical figure issues, so I appreciate your ideas. I am anxious to try the elastic alteration.

  25. Love your sight and your sense of style! I have battled with this problem for years (40DDD). I only wear darker solid colors on top to minimize the size – and always a minimizer bra.

  26. This was a very informative post! Thank you. I agree about getting the right bra. I am short waisted, and having the right fit lifts me up and helps give me a bit more waist. I would really recommend finding a small business that specializes in fitting ladies. I have not been pleased with department store ” fittings.” Your tips about necklaces and scarves is timely for me. I have been struggling with finding the right way to do my scarves lately, and will try your suggestion. You always look so nice!

  27. As always, your suggestions are encouraging and very useful! One thing I do is I almost always wear a pretty camisole under my shirt, in case the neckline shifts and reveals a bit more of the “girls” the cammie covers things nicely, and only a bit of lace is visible, not skin.

  28. Thank you for this post! I’m also top heavy and found all of your advice to be spot on. I also find that trapeze tops that are fitted up top and flare gently at the waist work well and balance my larger bustline. In pants, bootcut and flare look much better than skinny – again, to balance larger top half.

    Love your blog!

  29. Thanks for the suggestion of the V-necks from Covered Perfectly. Mine arrived over the weekend and they are GREAT! Perfect fit, long enough and really flattering. Also—shipping was really fast!

  30. I love these tips because being busty is my issue as well. The struggle is real! I’d love to wear button up shirts that are fitted, but the gap is always an issue. I also tend to avoid wearing scarves even though I love them on others. They just seem to add volume to my chest area and I try to avoid that if possible. Can you do a segment on the right way to wear scarves for those of us who are busty? Thanks and I really enjoy your website!

    1. I always try to keep the bulk of the scarf tie or wrap above my bustline. A trailing vertical line is not a problem but a tie adds bulk to the wrong area if you aren’t mindful of it.

  31. I am also busty with a fairly thin physique, but the large bust makes me look heavier than I really am. I have found that longer jackets and sweater coats are my friend, and create a vertical line which skims the bust area. I also prefer v-necks and silky blouses that also skim the body. I wear a lot of longer necklaces that bring the eye away from the bust area. As we age, many of us turn into apple shapes and it is imperative that we change our dressing habits as our body changes. I would never tuck my entire shirt into my skirt or pants because that also accentuates the largest part of my short waisted physique.

    Explore and embrace your new body and find what works for you, instead of becoming jaded with the changes that the years bring!

  32. I love all these looks. In particular, I have a question about the turquoise necklace you’re wearing in the outfit with the dark top and white pants. In another post, you were wearing a lovely pendant necklace with a tassel, which I also loved. I am guessing these are your own pieces and no longer available for purchase in stores? Thanks for the inspiration — I always enjoy your style tips!

    1. The turquoise necklace is vintage. I bought it in an antique store in Blowing Rock, NC. The silver tassel one is from Chico’s. They often have something similar. Thank you!

  33. How do you find a good bra fit? I am 5’2”, 100 lbs and wear a 34 D. As I age (71) my heavy breast sag and it had to keep them lifted! Help? Thank you….

    1. Try going to a store with a trained bra fitter to learn the best size and shape for your body. Not all breasts are the same shape. I went to Soma to get measured and then tried on no less than five different types of bras to find the right size and style for my shape. There should be no spillage from the cups and your breasts should not escape from beneath the bra when you lift your arms. The reason I wear the Shapeez long bras exclusively is that they smooth your back while shaping and supporting your front. They are the most comfortable bra I have ever worn.

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I blogged for five years as Fifty, not Frumpy. Now that I am in my sixties, I am sharing ideas and inspiration for using and loving what you already have.

Thank you!
Susan

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