Clothing your Curves: Suggestions for the Full-Bust Shopper

Shopping can be painful at times for a full-bust woman.  For some reason it boggles the mind of clothing manufacturers that just because our busts are full, our bellies and backs may not be correspondingly so.  Popular stores like H&M, Zara, Urban Outfitters, and J. Crew are particularly unfriendly to curvy chests.  Button-down shirts and blazers are a nightmare.  Stylish, high-quality dresses are in short supply.  The whole experience can complicate our feelings about our boobs and ourselves, and it can leave us feeling a bit left out of the fashion scene.  So what’s a girl to do?

Here are some of the online resources I’ve either shopped or heard good things about.  Where possible I’ll try to link to reviews so you can see how clothes fit on several different women.

Pepperberry

I mention Pepperberry because they’re part of Bravissimo (did you know I like Bravissimo?  I’ve only said it 793 times), but I mention them with pretty severe reservations.  Of the maybe 12 orders I’ve placed, I’ve kept a single dress.

My dress. Currently on sale, if you are less long of leg than I.

It’s cute, it’s cotton, it’s polka-dotted, and the straps are adjustable.  It’s also CRAZY SHORT, so now I have a dress I can’t wear to work, and the fabric feels flimsy, like lining fabric.  These are kind of indicative of my major gripes with Pepperberry: they make consistently weird design choices (bizarre length, strange hemlines where an outer lace layer extends six inches below the lining, ugly prints and stripes that aren’t matched at the seams, sparkles and rhinestones on a wool work dress, etc.), they really cheap out on the fabrics (one dress I returned in spite of its near perfection because it was lined in acetate, which felt beautiful for five minutes, but would have made me want to die at a Virginia wedding in August), their prices are high (understandable since they have to produce so many different sizes, but a PITA considering the quality), and their sizing is wildly inconsistent.

LOL wut? Sorry, that was snarky, but seriously, this is hideous. Dated, dated, dated. Not chic. Polyester. Awful print. No.

Lots of customers have reported being sized out of the Super Curvy sizes, which is just heartbreaking.  We already struggle to find good fit, and now the store that’s supposed to cater to us doesn’t anymore?  Lame.  The probability of having to return items to the UK (I cringe when I think of how much I’ve paid in shipping & returns) is so great that I’m not sure it’s worth the risk at this point.

Pin Up Girl

Some of the clothes here are pretty specific to the rockabilly/pin-up aesthetic, but there are also lots of options that say “vintage-inspired” instead.  I really like that their product shots showcase models that deviate from the typical catalogue-model look, and the size charts for each garment are very clear.  They carry their own in-house lines as well as labels like Trashy Diva (more in a minute).  Prices range from pretty-darned reasonable to moderately pricey.  I placed an order with free shipping on a Thursday night and received it the following Wednesday, and faster delivery is available for a price (make sure to sign up for an account before you order to simplify the return process.  I learned this the hard way– it’s do-able without an account, but much more of a pain).  I have to say that trying on the three dresses I ordered was an incredibly pleasant experience, especially in light of my recent string of shopping failures.  One dress I’m keeping is by Trashy Diva (see below), the other by Pin Up Couture, one of their in-house brands.

Dee Dee Dress in Black by Pin Up Couture

The Dee Dee Dress in Black by Pin Up Couture. I found that this fit my bust so well the waist was actually a bit low. I’m short-waisted, but my boobs generally take up the extra room in the bodice of other clothes. Make of that what you will. Also, that skirt is not messing around. It is FULL, which will be great for women with fuller hips and rears as well as full busts.  I kind of want to buy a petticoat now. And that model must be a million feet tall, because mine is significantly longer on me than it is on her, and I’m 5’10”. I’m hesitating on whether or not to keep it for two reasons: 1) it feels just a little bit costume-y for my office, and 2) it is black, and Terrible Cat is white. Disaster will inevitably ensue.

I was between sizes on the size charts and ordered up, which turned out to be a wise decision.  Both dresses fit my bust, my shoulders, and my waist beautifully, the necklines are work-appropriate without being dowdy, and on both dresses the skirts fall below my knees, which again is so nice for the office.  I’m returning the third dress because it just didn’t suit me, but the size was good and the knit material was thick and generous.  I was tickled to find a cute pink mesh shopping bag with the PUG logo on it and a set of five business cards to share with friends included in my delivery!

Naturally Terrible Cat needs to get fur on the new things IMMEDIATELY.

I don’t know if they do this every time or just for new customers, but you better believe I just found my new pole dancing tote.  Georgina is a big champion of Pin-Up Girl; see her reviews here and here.

Trashy Diva

Trashy Diva is based out of New Orleans, and I hate the name so, so, so much, but I love, love, love the clothes.  They’re pricey, but the construction is lovely.  I ordered and returned a dress that just wasn’t the right look for me earlier this year, but I can say that it was silk, beautifully made, and very classic/vintage looking.  Many of their clothes accommodate both straighter figures and busty figures equally well (see Brittany’s review here), especially the knit dresses.  I went for the short-sleeved Jenny Dress in my order from Pin Up Girl, and I’m in love.  I twirled.  Twirled, I tell you!

Ugh. I love this dress so hard. I’m hoping it will be a great year-round dress, and I can add a sweater or blazer (assuming I find one that fits, blerg) as the temperature drops.

The size charts are accurate, but if you think you may be between sizes I’d recommend ordering up.  They stock tons of dresses, several jackets, skirts, and coats, bridal and bridesmaid options, and a selection of lingerie, shoes, and accessories.  Sizes range from 2-18, with a few dresses in sizes 2-24.

Lady V London

Black-and-White Hepburn Dress by Lady V London. Lovely, classic, versatile, and comes in multiple prints and colors.

Lady V London has popped up on a bunch of blogs lately, and I can see why.  If you’re looking for girly, vintage-inspired dresses, this is the place.  There are several different styles incorporating different necklines, skirt styles, and hem lengths, and each style comes in multiple adorable prints.  The prices are reasonable, but the worldwide shipping is brutal, and I imagine returns are a pain too.  Sizes range from a UK 8-32, or US 4-28, so there could be a little something for everyone.  See Georgina’s, MissKathryn’s, and the Curvy Kitten’s reviews for some in-real-life looks.

Biu Biu

I like this. I like this very, very much. Great for work, church, after-work drinks, multi-seasonal, easily accessorized . . . Lovely.

Biu Biu is really buzzing on UK and US lingerie blogs.  Like Pepperberry, the clothes are designed to fit a “standard” waist size, and then there are different curviness levels to accommodate different bust sizes.  Unlike Pepperberry, however, I think Biu Biu is doing a good job of making smaller, more affordable collections of mostly classic pieces with a few wacky prints thrown in.  I’ll admit that some of the clothes are a bit more mumsy than I’d like for myself, but if I needed a button-down shirt or a solid dress, I’d go for these.  See reviews at Sophia Jenner, Bras I Hate, A Sophisticated Pair, Fuller Figure Fuller Bust (here and here), and Thin and Curvy (here and here).  They’re based in Poland, but there is an English version of the website (priced in pounds sterling), and I’ve heard that if you email the company with sizing questions you’ll get very prompt and helpful customer service.

eShakti

A selection of dresses from eShakti (some styles no longer available).

eShakti got a shout-out on the Hairpin a while back, and then I totally forgot about them until A Sophisticated Pair mentioned them on Facebook.  I clicked through and was very, very impressed by what I found.  There’s a HUGE range of styles, lengths, cuts, necklines, sleeves, embellishments, etc. etc., all dresses, skirts, and tops are available in sizes 0-26W, and eShakti offers customization to fit your specific measurements.  Some dresses are available in multiple colors and would make great budget bridesmaids’ dresses.  I clicked on a few dresses, and many of them give specific sizing advice such as “Those with a curvy figure/large bust may wish to customize.”  Customization costs $7.50, and since most of the dresses are $70 or under, it’s a pretty good deal (although as I have never ordered from them, I can’t vouch for quality or consistency, and while the Customization feature is nice, the few measurements they request will never replace a tailor-made garment).  You can even return a customized garment if the fit isn’t right (although you may need to pay your own return shipping).  If you’re looking for an Anthropologie aesthetic, this place looks like it could be your salvation.

Finally, the Full-Figured Chest regularly features full-bust friendly clothing finds, and Brittany has a whole page of suggestions, as does Braless in Brasil.

Whew.  So, I think the takeaway is that Europe and the UK are well ahead of the US in terms of full-bust-friendly apparel, at least right now.  Also, most of these styles are professional/corporate, overtly retro/vintage/feminine, or pin-up.  That leaves full-bust customers who are interested in more streamlined, modern cuts, androgynous styles, or something with a little oomph (like biker wear or rocker chic or goth girl or what have you) out in the cold.

Anyone have any reliable full-bust-friendly clothing resources they’d like to share?  We’d all love as many options as possible!

11 Comments on Clothing your Curves: Suggestions for the Full-Bust Shopper

  1. Mary
    July 12, 2012 at 9:03 am (7 years ago)

    I wouldn’t say I have “reliable” choices, but in terms of standard stores, I’ve had occasional good luck with Ann Taylor and Loft. It is a big problem, though. Some major pattern companies have started offering patterns that cover cup sizes A-D, which they tout as a Big Deal, since sewing patterns, like most commercial clothes, use cup size B as their standard–but that’s still a pretty narrow range.

    I’ve found, like most full-bust people, probably, that it works best for me to gravitate toward certain fabrics and materials–basically knit/stretchy fabrics and dresses with belts. This is also an area where learning a little bit of sewing can go a long way. I alter a fair amount of my commercially-produced clothing, either by hand or on the machine, usually by buying a dress/shirt/sweater that fits my bust but not my waist and just taking in some material on the sides.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 12, 2012 at 9:23 am (7 years ago)

      Yay! I was hoping you would comment, oh Sewing Goddess. Yes, if you are gifted sewing-wise (or know someone who is), buying to fit your bust/hips and altering to fit your waist is the way to go . And I second you on the knit fabrics: standard store knits tend to work (especially recently as I’ve been having fit issues) much more forgivingly and flatteringly than non-stretchy fabrics.

      Reply
  2. Anne F.
    July 12, 2012 at 9:47 am (7 years ago)

    LOVE LOVE LOVE. Thank you. I often rail against the injustice of having to buy clothes too big in order to be appropriate for teaching. As a full-busted lady, it is very hard to find clothes that are conservative without being dowdy. And button-downs ARE a nightmare.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 12, 2012 at 9:50 am (7 years ago)

      You’re welcome! The button-down shirts from Biu Biu are supposedly godsends. You’d think for such an important wardrobe staple they’d be more readily available, but alas… Hope you find some things you like!

      Reply
  3. bybabysrules
    July 12, 2012 at 11:58 am (7 years ago)

    Urkye is another new one on the scene. There is a lot of comparison between them and Biu Biu. Boosaurus has reviews of a few and she links in one of her posts to Bras I Hate and her review of the same item.
    http://boosaurusbras.blogspot.com/2012/07/urkye-review-groszki-latte-and-kontrast.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Boosaurusbras+%28Boosaurus!%29

    I have my first order from Biu Biu coming any day now. I ordered just one top hoping it could be suitable for maternity as well. The price is pretty good for what I saw online, so I’m very excited to get it.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 12, 2012 at 12:04 pm (7 years ago)

      Ooh, thanks for the recommendation, and thanks for linking to that review! This looks very, very nice; I want to keep my eye on them. I hope your Biu Biu top works out well for you; it’s such a nice feeling to find clothes that fit and flatter.

      Reply
  4. Phoenix
    July 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm (7 years ago)

    Thanks for the recommendations! I plan on visiting some of these sites soon. For shopping in regular stores, though, I’ve found that looking for more structured clothing works better for me. No shape and few seams are usually disasters in my case.

    Also, on an unrelated note to today’s blog entry, I just got my first bra/knicker set from Freya and it fits perfectly! I was really skeptical about ordering online and worried that they wouldn’t fit true to size, but they did! You should really get a commission from them, Sweets.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 12, 2012 at 4:02 pm (7 years ago)

      Oh my gosh! Oh that’s great to hear! I’m really glad you like it. I absolutely agree that when you have curves, structure is your friend. Big loose drapey things are a disaster. Blouson anything is the worst.

      Reply
  5. lea
    March 3, 2015 at 9:40 am (5 years ago)

    I would caution anyone who is plus size away from Pepperberry. I went to one of their stores in London just to try on clothing and their sizes just are not generous enough. When I wrote to the store (which was actually one of my favorite bra stores before this event) to ask if they had plans to extend their clothing line, I got a very rude response back from them stating that many people misunderstand, but theirs is not a plus size store, but rather for women with a larger chest and that they had even had trouble making anything in a 16-18 (which is a US 12-14) look good, because of the size.

    Reply

2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Clothing your Curves: Suggestions for the Full-Bust Shopper

  1. […] also direct you back to Pin Up Girl Clothing, which I first mentioned in the full-bust shopping post.  Very often the model’s measurements are listed as well as the dress’s, so you can […]

  2. […] The last time I talked about Pepperberry on Sweet Nothings, I wasn’t very positive.  I wanted to be!  I love Bravissimo and everything they stand for, and I was so excited to hear about the launch of Pepperberry, Bravissimo’s sister brand offering a full range of clothing for full-bust figures.  As the first few seasons came and went, however, very few of the options really wowed me.  On one level, I didn’t love a lot of the designs.  I liked some of them, sure, but I’m a very, very picky shopper, and I wanted to find something I loved that also happened to fit me well.  Pepperberry is in a bit of bind because their customer base is “full-bust women who ordinarily wear Misses-sized clothing but who need more room in the bust.”  Those women might be older, younger, students, professionals, teachers, stay-at-home mothers, artists, engineers, writers, chefs . . . you see where I’m going.  In trying to offer something to please everyone, there were a few collections that felt too staid or safe, even dull.  There were also some patterning, supply, quality, and consistency issues that took a few seasons to work out and that didn’t begin to justify the prices.  So while I tried a few things every year or so, the dread of having to pay return postage eventually put me off. […]

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