Full-chested ladies, here’s your guide on how to dress a large bust. I’m writing this post on request from a budget fashionista who sent in this note:
Hi, I just read your post on how to dress if you have bigger thighs or hips. I was wondering if you could write a similar article geared toward those of us with large breasts and possibly wide shoulders? A lot of the advice in the post applied to women who can get away with adding bulk to their upper body. But with a chest proportionate to the hips, it’s hard to know what to emphasize without winding up looking out-of-proportion. ~Megan P.
Megan touches on a goal shared by many women: using clothes to provide visual balance. Because, let’s face it, most women’s bodies aren’t naturally balanced. We have large busts, small busts, big hips, short legs, or long torsos, etc. And clothing makers aren’t great at accommodating our perfectly imperfect shapes.
But our issue for today is how to dress a large bust and wide shoulders (and so I refrain from raging against the garment industry machine). Let’s get into the styling strategies that can deliver whole body proportion when you have a larger top half.
9 strategies to dress a large bust
1. Wear the right bra
The wrong bra can draw the eye to your top half — and not in a good way. If you’ve never had a bra fitting before, get one. Your fitter will provide a professional, objective opinion and recommend styles and brands that suit you best.
Know that you may need to increase your bra budget, since good bras for large chests can be expensive. The good news is that the right bra should make it possible to wear a wider variety of tops. That gives you more freedom to spend less on clothes.
You may also want to see our guide on bathing suits for large-chested women.
2. Emphasize your waist
Emphasizing your waist can make your bust look larger, but it also prevents you from looking big all over. As an example, a baggy sweatshirt adds bulk from your hips to your shoulders. Compare that look to a tucked-in button-down with a belt. This combo defines your waist and turns your curvy top-half into an asset by creating an enviable hourglass shape.
Waist highlighting strategies include:
- Belts. Generally, narrow belts will be more flattering than wide belts.
- High-waisted bottoms. Pants and shorts that rise to your natural waist emphasize that part of you.
- Wrap tops and dresses. The wrap-style top or dress drapes over your chest and hugs your waistline. This creates a balanced v-shape from your shoulder to your midsection.
- Cropped jackets. The cropped jacket works like a high-waisted bottom, but from the opposite direction. The eye goes to where the hemline ends, which, on a cropped jacket, is your waist.
- Peplum tops. Peplum tops that cinch in gently at the waist can be very flattering. You may want to avoid peplums with big ruffles below the waistline, though — particularly if you’re also managing large hips and thighs.
- Tucked-in tops. Experiment with a full tuck or half tuck, aka the French tuck. Either can draw the eye to your waistline.
3. Balance your lower half
Your next styling strategy is to balance your lower half. How you do this depends on whether your top half is larger or smaller visually than your hips and thighs.
- If you have large hips and thighs, you’ll want to streamline your lower half. Think pencil skirts and straight-leg trousers.
- If your hips and thighs look small compared to your chest, wide-legged pants and A-line shapes are your bread and butter.
4. Experiment with different necklines
Showing more skin around your neck draws the eye up and away from your bust. Less skin showing makes your bust look bigger.
The takeaway here is to avoid turtlenecks and lean into v-neck and scoop neck styles.
There is a caveat, though. Go too far and this strategy can backfire. Basically, you don’t want to display miles of cleavage. Know that you may need to experiment to identify the ideal neckline depth for your body. Take a friend to the mall with you and try on a bunch of styles to see which looks best.
5. Layer structure atop form-fitting
A tried-and-true style for large-busted women is the fitted top underneath a structured, cropped blazer. The combo keeps bulk to a minimum for a lean silhouette that also emphasizes the waistline.
To get that structure, opt for stiffer fabrics for the outer layer. Denim, faux leather, and weighty cotton blends work better than knits.
Also, you might like the look of a cropped bomber-style jacket with elastic at the waist.
- Fabric has non stretch
- Bomber jacket, zipper up, long…
- Occasion: Fit for work out,…
- Machine wash cold gentle, with like…
- Please refer to Size Chart in…
6. Try vertical stripes
A top with vertical stripes can elongate your upper half and de-emphasize your bust. This isn’t a universally effective solution, however. The wrong striped top — say, one that has very wide stripes or bold colors — can draw attention instead.
Opt for subtle striped tops in dark or muted colors and without tons of contrast.
7. Skip the ruffles up top
Ruffles and bold visual embellishments add volume and draw the attention straight to your chest. Avoid those details near your bust and neck. Instead, keep your tops lean and simple. The ideal garment for your topside will follow your shape without clinging to it.
8. Use color and patterns strategically
Remember these rules:
- Black and other dark colors de-emphasize.
- Bright colors and big patterns draw attention.
To de-emphasize a large bust and large hips, for example, you might choose an all-black silhouette with a narrow red belt. Or, if you’re more focused on downplaying your chest, wear a black or charcoal top and a brighter colored, wide-legged pant plus a belt of the same color.
9. Get a tailor
Spend enough time in dressing rooms and you will find pieces that flatter your shape. Bring those pieces home and analyze them. What about them is different from less flattering garments? It might be the hemline, darts, or a perfectly balanced A-line shape, for example.
Whatever the difference-making feature is, a good tailor may help you modify other pieces to mimic the look.
Dressing your large bust in style
Learning how to dress a large bust isn’t a closed-end process. Keep experimenting to refine your understanding of what flatters your shape. Whether it’s wearing the right bra, emphasizing your waist, balancing your lower half, or experimenting with different necklines, these strategies offer a roadmap to showcasing your figure in the most flattering way.
And remember, fashion rules are just guides. Your body is fully your own. What’s important is that you wear garments that make you feel good. So, take these tips, tailor them to your preferences, and embrace your personal style. Your fashion journey should be about self-expression and feeling good in your own skin. Confidence is always the best thing you can wear.