[Exclusively Kristen generously provided this shirt for review. I was not compensated for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Exclusively Kristen is a new, New York-based clothing brand offering a selection of classic clothing styles designed especially for fuller busts, all manufactured in the US. I had the pleasure of meeting founder Kristen at the new Brooklyn lingerie boutique The Rack Shack (go visit! It’s great!) and got to see some of Exclusively Kristen’s designs in person, and she generously offered me the chance to try a style for myself. I know button-down shirts are a perennial issue for full-bust folks, and with a new season and a new school year kicking off right now, the timing felt right to review this classic, work-and-school-appropriate style.
The Classic Short Sleeved Shirt is made of a high-quality cotton and features a Peter Pan collar, princess seams for shaping, a nipped-in waist, and short sleeves with armholes that adjust with buttons to accommodate different arm sizes. It’s also available in black as well as a retro-inspired black pin dot with contrasting collar, cuffs, and buttons. While as with any white shirt you’ll most likely want to wear a bra (or cami) in a color that’s close to your skin tone, the cotton material feels really nice– not too thin, transparent, or flimsy. This shirt feels very polished, and the fabric is crisp and comfortable.
I’m very glad I tried on the shirt in person at the Rack Shack before choosing a size, as I found mine runs a bit small. My measurements put me between a 10 and 12 on the Exclusively Kristen size chart, but in the Classic Short Sleeved Shirt I took a 14 to get a comfortable fit over my lower belly. Because of this, I’d recommend taking your usual dress size you’d choose to fit your bust, or reaching out to Exclusively Kristen directly for fit questions. [UPDATE: I’ve heard from Kristen since publishing this review, and she reassures me that current production runs match the size chart better than my review sample does, so you should be good to go. I would take a 12 in the current production run.] Since clothes designed for fuller busts tend to have a closer, narrower fit, I’m usually on the lookout for stretch fabrics to leave room for my broad shoulders, but happily there’s no issue here– the back and shoulders fit me comfortably with no straining or pulling. The sleeves are generous and will accommodate a wide range of arm sizes; I’m wearing mine fastened on the tightest set of buttons, and there’s still plenty of room.
The only element I’d planned to critique fit-wise is no longer an issue. On my review sample the buttons are placed a bit too far apart to prevent gaping, so if I’m moving around freely there’s a risk that someone looking at me from the side can see straight through to my bra, but that issue has been corrected in subsequent production runs. The buttons are now spaced more closely together and are better positioned to eliminate gaping at the fullest part of the bust.
I really value natural fabrics in my wardrobe. I’ve become increasingly sensitive to artificial fibers as I’ve gotten older, and when I find clothes with breathable fibers like cotton and silk then I’m a very happy camper. Clothes that fit my body well will always feel more comfortable and easy to wear than clothes that “kind of” fit, and this shirt is no exception. It’s also a great layering pieces, since it hugs the lines of my body, so I look forward to layering it under sweaters and camis as the temperatures continue to cool.
I have to admit this one has been a little tough to style with my current wardrobe, and I’m not quite sure why. I think the Peter Pan collar might be part of it, along with the short, somewhat full sleeves, because many of the outfits I’ve put together have made me look like I’m wearing a girl scout uniform or a school uniform. The shirt reads oddly young on me, rather than sweetly vintage-inspired, and I think I’d prefer a three-quarter sleeve and more traditional, pointed collar. If you’re someone who wears pinup and vintage-inspired clothes every day, I think this shirt will be a great addition to your wardrobe, but apart from trying to dress it up/age it up with pencil skirts, I’ve had a bit of a tough time creating outfits that match my style (I know my blog photos contradict this, but I rarely wear pinup or vintage reproduction in real life).
It’s lovely to get to know another US-based brand focused on creating clothing for fuller busts (for another US full bust brand, see my review of dresses from Bolero). Clothes that are ethically manufactured in this country tend to be on the pricier side of things, but I like knowing that I’m supporting small business owners and safe manufacturing practices, and that I’m getting a fit that’s designed precisely for my body. Exclusively Kristen is still growing, and I’ve enjoyed seeing them add both new styles and new sizes. I look forward to seeing where the brand will go next!
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Shirt: Classic Short-Sleeved Shirt by Exclusively Kristen (c/o). $99.95, available in sizes 4-16 (US sizes), also in Black and Polka Dot.
Skirt: Ann Taylor LOFT (old).
Photos: Studio Rezin