Figure Flattery Guide: What to Wear to Flatter a Large Bust

July 3rd, 2008

How do you best dress to flatter your bustline?  Elongate your upper body, both your torso and your neck, while subtly showing your curves.  You can help balance a large bustline by wearing wide trousers or skirts that flare at the hem.  To tastefully show off your curves while elongating your torso, look for open neck tops, soft styles that drape over your curves, and tops with subtle vertical lines.  Here’s what to look for to flatter your bustline:

Single Button BlazerJackets & Coats

Single breasted styles
Semifitted styles
Styles that button right under the bustline
Jackets without pocket detailing
Single breasted boxy jackets

The boxiness of this single breasted blazer adds to the tailored feel, while the low stance complements a large bust.
Pictured: Single Button Jacket | $42.99 (sale) at Gap

Slub Cotton Tunic TopTops
Styles that subtly reveal cleavage
Simple styles without much embellishment
Open-neck tops, such as v-necklines and scoop necklines, and sweetheart necklines.
Wrap styles
Long sleeves that flare below the elbow
Long, vertical, and narrow collars

This tunic features an open neckline, vertical detailing, and sleeves–all flattering for women with a large bust.
Pictured: Slub Cotton Tunic Top | $50 at J Crew.

Silk Wrap DressSkirts & Dresses
Semifitted styles with open necklines
Wrap dresses
Dropped waist dresses
Narrow skirts that flare at the hem

The open neckline subtly shows off your curves, while the silk drapes over your body.  The flared skirt helps to counterbalance your upper body.
Pictured: Silk Wrap Dress | $130 at Banana Republic.

Entry Filed under: Features,Figure Flattery Guide,Figure Flattery Guide,Women

27 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jeannine  |  July 3rd, 2008 at 6:34 am

    Unfortunately, NONE of these models have large breasts. It’s easy to make suggestions when using models without the figure challenge you’re trying to flatter!

  • 2. PJ  |  July 3rd, 2008 at 7:14 am

    I agree with all of the above regarding what to wear if you have a large bust BUT you should use models that HAVE a large bust. Thank you.


    PJ who is by the way a size G

  • 3. Trisha  |  July 3rd, 2008 at 8:37 am

    Agreed–it is difficult to actually see the figure flattery tips in action on models that don’t have this particular figure challenge. We have a good list of stores for plus size fashion, but we’re looking for more suggestions for stores for large busted women. As always, suggestions please!

  • 4. Mimi  |  July 3rd, 2008 at 11:43 am

    What’s your opinion on the definition of “low cut” when it comes to shirts? Is the white Slub Cotton Tunic Top considered low? I just don’t know what’s appropriate these days– it seems that I’m either way too modest, or cleavage on display is perfectly acceptable. Are we trying to find ways to cover the girls, or show them off?

  • 5. Chloe  |  July 3rd, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    I’d say that slub cotton top was really low cut, you can see the model’s bra (or bikini top.) There’s no way I could wear that anywhere near work, especially with my chest, and probably wouldn’t even feel comfortable going to dinner in something that revealing without a tank top underneath to cut down on the boobs on display look.

  • 6. Trisha  |  July 4th, 2008 at 1:27 am

    Great question, Mimi!

    I’m with Chloe in that the slub cotton top is very low cut. In the picture, you see it on the J Crew model over a bikini top. In reality, however, you would definitely want to wear a tank or tee underneath. Open necklines are great, but you also want to dress appropriately for the situation. And unless you’re headed to the beach, that model’s outfit isn’t quite right.

  • 7. Jessica  |  July 6th, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    I’m large-chested and I found all these suggestions to be the type of clothes I look for and find flattering. But the real problem that I find as a large-chested gal is that since I am proportionally large (size 4, d-cup) it is difficuly to find anything button-up that will fit, and most clothing is cut for a much different proportion of waist to bust. Of course there is tailoring, but it can be a hassle.

    For those who commented about the necklines being too low, I usually use low necklines with tank tops to visually break up the look without putting it all on display. You don’t have to show the cleavage to get the effect you are going for.

  • 8. Dawn  |  July 8th, 2008 at 2:28 am

    Its not easy to dress with a large bust, especialy as fashion really doesn’t take large breasted woman into account. Most of your advice is great advice – I would add a tank top under the very low necklines… and the effect would be achieved all the same.
    no only that, but the tank top can be a way to add patterned fabric in a way that is still flattering.

  • 9. Theodora  |  July 9th, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Sorry but for a large busted lady, these styles shown are all wrong !!
    -The first, cropped jacket is too short and would stick out to the front, making it even look shorter with a large bust.-The second, this is an empire tunic. Anyone with a large bust would look like a house in this, besides receiving questions how far along she is.-The third, This is a surplice style dress. A surplice neckline makes a large bust even look bigger !!!
    If anyone wants real style tips, go to

  • 10. Trisha  |  July 9th, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Hi Theodora,

    What styles would you consider to work for large busted women?


  • 11. J-Lu  |  July 10th, 2008 at 6:54 am

    hm, i tend to agree with theodora. minimizing involves concealing, supporting and drawing the eye to other areas instead.

  • 12. Beverley  |  July 14th, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    If you want to suggest that particular clothing styles suit large-busted women, then you need honest photos of the garments you’re showing, ie. on large-busted women. Otherwise, you are not supporting your claim and therefore, it is not credible. Are those garments even available in large bust sizes? And if they are, are they in fact just large everywhere, not just in the bust?

    Also, you advise short boxy jackets for big-busted women. The standard modern boxy single-breasted jacket is cut on a virtual square, without darts or any other shaping in the jacket front. That kind of a jacket falls straight down from the nipples and so this style gives huge girth to the midriff and waist as well, commensurate with its bust size. If this jacket was balanced by a swingy back, or if it were made of a flexible, light and soft knit fabric rather than an inflexible woven fabric, it might just work. In any event, you have not shown a boxy jacket although you recommend this shape for large-busted women.

    As regards V-necks with camis, every local newspaper’s column in North America has at one time or another advised V-necks as a ‘solution’ over the past 4 years. This is such an ubiquitous style that no one needs more of it.

    The trouble with formulaic rules is that they are in conflict with the uniqueness of each person’s body and so are completely unreliable. Better to do as the Europeans do – dress from your heart and your increasing knowledge over time about fabrics, colour tones, textures and drape (how a fabric hangs). Find the styles that suit you by trying on everything until you know what principles – not rules – apply to your unique shape. Listen to your dreams. Do you like this garment or do you just want it? (Our brains separate ‘want’ and ‘like’.) Stay knowlegeable about what’s in and out of fashion. Try it on. Insist on a 3-way mirror in stores. Visualise it for days before buying it if you are shopping online, and ask for the garment’s actual measurements – some online companies now do this for you if you ask. Make sure that the garment has sufficient bust coverage if your’re large there. Get really philosophical about in your process of garment selection because looking beautiful in a garment must start in your heart, not in your bust size. Does this garment reflect your soul, what you want to express in your appearance about yourself and your view of the world? Dressing well is always about the whole self, and your whole appearance from head to toe. Make some mistakes, but not more than you can afford. Always, always, ask yourself how you can tweak this garment by what you wear with it. If you want flow, go for flow. If you want structure, opt for that because that is in your heart. Same thing with textures. Don’t settle for an orangey-red when your heart says you love bluish-reds.

    Extenal rules of what large busted women can wear ignore individual variances such as one’s shoulders, posture, degree of upper back musculature, the tone of one’s arms, the distance from midriff to waist; and, everything else that you’ll be wearing along with your top. There are no rules, only principles to discover through trial, error and work – if you don’t want to look boring.

  • 13. Trisha  |  July 14th, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    “Better to do as the Europeans do – dress from your heart and your increasing knowledge over time about fabrics, colour tones, textures and drape (how a fabric hangs). Find the styles that suit you by trying on everything until you know what principles – not rules – apply to your unique shape.”

    Thanks for sharing, Beverley. Yes, you’re right that these “rules” are really just guidelines. We didn’t mean for these guidelines to be taken as law, since every person has a unique body. Furthermore, it’s best to dress based on your holistic body type, instead of merely concentrating on one part of your body (e.g. large bust, short legs, etc).

    Only by trying a bunch of stuff on (trial and error) do you find out what really works for you–for silhouettes, for fabrics, for colors.

    Cheers to dressing from your heart!


  • 14. Diana  |  July 20th, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Great advice Beverly!

    It does take experimentation; some brand work better than others and I would be curious to hear from others what stores/brands they have had luck with. I love J.Crew but they tend to be small in the bust area so I know I usually have to order a 6petite or 8 petite instead of a four.

  • 15. Ria  |  July 29th, 2008 at 8:08 am

    I do not agree with Theodora, I looked at the website she suggested and the models are still way thinner than I am, so there is still the same problem of getting a picture of what the clothing would look like on me. (And I’m not trying to look skinnier.)

    I am a size 15 and proud of it. I do agree that trying on clothes is a good way to find out what works, but I’m right in the middle between most regular size and plus size clothing stores, so I can get quite frustrated finding something I like, that fits well, is age appropriate, etc. (I’m 30 but people often think I’m 20, so I don’t want to dress too young.)

    I also struggle with how much cleavage to show and in the summer layering a tank under another shirt can be too hot. I don’t want to look boxy but I also don’t want something cleavage popping. My biggest complaint to retailers is that I’ve got large arms so sometimes even if something would fit everywhere else it’s too tight around the arms.

    I also find it really hard to find bras that fit. I think I’m a 38DD. Any suggestions? I live in Canada.

    I’m skipping around the topic a bit but I think it’s good to offer suggestions of retailers who are offering a wide range of sizes. Thanks Omiru!

  • 16. Ria  |  July 29th, 2008 at 9:57 am

    If you are into inline shopping or just want to check out a blog for curvy women, I came across this one:

    She’s just started blogging and she has a great list of clothing websites with curvy models and she reviews the sites for age appropriateness. As in: this site is good if you are in your twenties, these clothes are more mature looking, that sort of thing.

  • 17. MsKatieKat  |  August 20th, 2008 at 7:59 am

    Ria: Where in Canada are you? If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area, I suggest swinging by Secrets from Your Sisters for a professional bra fitting. I’ve had a few acquaintances who are larger-busted who were very satisfied with their service. I get fitted twice a year myself. The bras are pricey but they are a good investment.

    As for the rest of the comments:
    I know how you all feel about model accuracy! I would really love to see larger-chested women modelling clothes that are supposedly appropriate. While I truly DO agree with most of Omiru’s choices for larger-busted women, I do think that their point of displaying the pictures in the article is to only give a visual representation of the CLOTHES. Although yes – I do still agree that a much more accurate visual representation would be best. Perhaps sending them a list of websites would help?

    The V-neck rule:
    Excellent advice, Beverly! What people do need to take into account is their overall silhouette – not focus on just one area. You may be large busted but do you have a long or short torso? do you have narrow or broad shoulders? What to wear will change significantly when you take these into account. The trick is to achieve a “balanced” silhouette and then incorporating your personal style into it.

  • 18. yoyo  |  January 22nd, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    ugh.. its is soo annoying all these websites that try to help women with large breasts all either have pics of models that have NO boobs whatsoever or really tall girls or girls that are like 300 lbs and up. what about the large breasted, shorter 180 lb girl?

  • 19. MAJ  |  February 21st, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Thanks for trying, but it might help to have models with large chests. I’m a DD, and I know how hard it is to find things that fit, especially since my OLDER sister has B. It’s frusterating.

  • 20. B.  |  September 16th, 2009 at 5:28 am

    Wow, this was no helpful at all, nor were any of the suggestions good for women who actually have large breast, and all these models are barely a B cup.

  • 21. Pachee  |  January 1st, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    I agree! None of this is any help. None of the ladies have big boobs.

  • 22. Joan  |  August 28th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Beverly, your answer was one of the most intelligent ones I read here. Thanks for that. As a woman who was born small breasted or as some above so rudely put it “no boobs at all”, it is not so easy for us to find styles that are flattering. God gave you what he gave you so you do the best you can to work with it. I don’t think insulting others will do much to help your situation either. 😮

  • 23. Breastfully Endowed  |  December 13th, 2010 at 5:59 am

    I guess this is just a style guide peice, as teh women in these pics are not big busted.

  • 24. Ritika  |  April 23rd, 2011 at 12:33 am

    I have recently decided to overhaul my entire wardrobe and concurrently with this I have started to browse the internet for ideas on how to find a style (or, range of styles) that work for me. Through doing this, I came across this site which is generally really useful and good fun too. I also love the comments people leave – often full of helpful hints and tips – and they also provide a handy return to reality.

    I have a very large bust – G cup – and large tummy and found the generic, same-old, same-old tips in this post really unhelpful. I appreciate that everyone has different bodies but churning out this sort of information and using stick-thin models really doesn’t help people like me who are trying to learn about clothes and what will and won’t suit their bodyshapes. Instead, we go out, try these things and find, unsurprisingly with hindsight, that they just don’t work. In the end, we are left even more demoralised than we were before.

    I found the comments far more helpful than the article and especially, it has to be said, Beverley’s.

  • 25. Barb M  |  May 13th, 2011 at 10:27 am

    The article is not believable without photos of real, large-busted women modeling the styles mentioned. I agree with the other comments. The best thing you could do is to remove this article and replace it with a better one.

  • 26. Kim  |  September 3rd, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    In a world where more and more women are having boob jobs why is it always so difficult to find bra’s, clothes that flatter but don’t make us look like tarts! I’m 5’1″, size 6 with 30G (natural) chest I seem to spend my life buying clothes three sizes too big and having to have them all altered. It’s costing me a small fortune!!

  • 27. Sarah  |  December 2nd, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Hi all,
    I’m a fourteen year old girl for starters so there really is very very litttle out there for me in the line of clothing! I’m a 36EE, 5ft 9″, and roughly as US size 8….I’m probably finished growing though thank god!

    The V neck thing I’ve been told a hundred times.I find dresses with a sweetheart neckline halterneck with a sash around the waist can be flattering. Also avoid small patterns or ruffles around the chest. I would complain of high street stores (especially ones aimed at teens) don’t really cater for my size and even when they do its XXL and is baggy and loose everywhere except the chest.

    This probably didn’t help but if anyone wants to suggest something I’d love to read it :)


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