Full-Bust Wishlist: Dresses Edition

I had a much harder time writing this post than I did the Full-Bust Wishlist for lingerie.  Our wardrobes vary SO MUCH depending on climate, lifestyle, age, personal style, coloring, income . . . I could go on and on.  If I say “a plunge bra” or “a longline bra” we’ll generally think of similar things, but if I say “a maxi dress” or “a sundress” or even “a suit” the choices, cuts, colors, fabrics, trims, shapes and styles expand exponentially.  I started to make this a general all-clothing wishlist, but it got a little more personal in that some things that affect my shopping (my height, my broad shoulders, my unabashed love for all things dresses) may not affect other full-bust women.  I’d love to hear what’s on other ladies’ wishlists!

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Right now I’m feeling particularly cranky about clothes, especially as I have a few events coming up this summer for which I know I’ll want to be well-dressed.  Yes, I know, I’m a giant.  My shoulders and back have broadened a bit from pole dancing, and they weren’t exactly delicate to begin with.  I cannot buy hats or gloves in most stores.  Finding pants that are long enough and shoes that are big enough in a brick-and-mortar store, instead of just online, is a never-ending-probably-fruitless quest (and the fact remains that I’m only 5’10”.  There are plenty of taller women out there, so I know my struggles could be worse).  I’ll try to forbear complaining about everything, and focus on my most pressing wishes:

Trixie Playsuit by Trashy Diva.  Super cute, and super close.  It probably WILL work for lots of full-busted women, but between my full-bust and my taller/broader frame, there just isn't enough room in the bust for a good, comfortable fit.

Trixie Playsuit by Trashy Diva. Super cute, and super close to working. It probably WILL work for lots of full-bust women, but between my full-bust and my taller/broader frame, there just isn’t enough room for a good, comfortable fit.

I just want a motherfreaking sundress.  This has been my rallying cry every summer for years now.  YEARS.  It gets hot and humid in Virginia, it gets hot and humid (and smelly) in New York.  I want a cotton, breathable, non-linen (who wants to iron on a 97-degree day? Seriously) sleeveless sundress that I can wear a bra (strapless or otherwise) with.  If you add a synthetic lining, or actually, ANY lining other than more cotton, to an otherwise breezy dress I will smack you across the face, because you have just ruined it.

Scratch that, I just want ALL the motherfreaking sundresses.  I want casual sundresses for beach days, maxi dresses for fashion-y/I-didn’t-feel-like-shaving/boozy brunch days, formal dresses for summer weddings, and breathable work dresses that don’t make my commute a sweltering hell.  Pepperberry just released a button-front cotton sundress, which I confess is adorable (minus the print– all-over floral can be really tough), but I got burned so badly on return shipping with my last order that I’m hesitant to order it.

Chroma Shadow Sheath by Anthropologie.  Flattering and youthful sweetheart neckline, a knee-length that is actually knee-length, sassy cobalt-blue back, work-and-wedding-appropriate.  Zipped everywhere except my boobs, made me cry.

Chroma Shadow Sheath by Anthropologie. This is lined in acetate, not cotton, but it is otherwise so great.  Flattering and youthful sweetheart neckline, surprisingly chic floral print, length the same on the model as it is on me, sassy cobalt-blue back, work-and-wedding-appropriate. Zipped everywhere except my boobs, made me cry.

I also wouldn’t mind some shoulder-baring dresses that are constructed to fit my boobs in conjunction with a strapless or convertible bra (see: weddings, above).  In my imagination I see one in cute nautical stripes with a sweetheart neckline, appropriate for beaches, picnics, and summer parties, but frankly I’d take any that fit well (and was neither beige nor yellow).

Orange Repartee Sweetheart Dress from Anthropologie (now sold out, but they release pretty much the same dress every few months).  Cute solo, cute paired with a cardigan or blazer, cotton lining, cute cute cute.  Elastic back?  NO, GAH.  Even on the beautiful, quite slim model you can see that it's bunching.  I want a strapless dress that's constructed to FIT, not to make do.

Orange Repartee Sweetheart Dress from Anthropologie (now sold out, but they release pretty much the same dress every few months). Cute solo, can be paired with a cardigan or blazer, cotton lining, cute cute cute. Elastic back? NO, GAH. Even on the beautiful, quite slim model you can see that it’s bunching and drooping. I want a strapless dress that’s constructed to FIT, not to make do.

I adore the dresses from Trashy Diva like the Trixie dress (similar to the playsuit above), but even though they are in general curve-friendly, the bust is still not deep, full, or contoured enough to contain the apparent majesty of my boobs.  I used to get annoyed at the ubiquity of strapless dresses, but they really can be so pretty, flattering, and cool and I WANTS ONE.

"Akebono" Halter Dress by Girls From Savoy, via Anthropologie (sold out)

“Akebono” Halter Dress by Girls From Savoy, via Anthropologie (sold out)

“Sincerely Paris” Halter Dress by Girls From Savoy, via Anthropologie (also sold out). It’s covered in POSTAGE STAMPS, y’all. It’s so twee and adorable and kinda dumb and I still love it

First I’d need a longline strapless bra that smooths to wear under them (as I mentioned in my lingerie Wishlist), and then I want a gorgeous strapless, halter or cross-back dress, cut straight through the back and curvy at the front.  I don’t want to size up and up and up just to fit my boobs, and then wind up with weird gapping and bunching around the back and waist and too much length in the torso.  I want something that FITS my body, not just something that covers it.

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 Let’s move on from sundresses to . . . more dresses!  Sorry, I’m gonna be a one-note song here.  I love dresses, and I live in them.  I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, in terms of either their personal or their professional style, but I have never been a white-button-down-shirt-and-trousers kind of lady.  Even when I find button-down shirts that fit, I’m just not drawn to them.  Dresses suit my personal look, my professional dress code, and my occasional early-morning laziness (ugh, who has time to put an outfit together?).  With a dress, I only have to worry about finding one garment that fits my goofy body; with a layered outfit built from multiple pieces I have to worry about finding 3-5 pieces that fit.  I’d love to have a classic, easy shirtdress with an A-line skirt and non-capped sleeves that isn’t mumsy or frumpy.  Some of the full-bust lines have designed some very nice shirt-dresses, but they tend to have an aggressively retro/pin-up feel (think Pin Up Girl) or a very straight-laced and severe finish (think Pepperberry).  I don’t mind a vintage look, but I want one that’s a little more relaxed.

Pocket Tie-Waist Shirtdress by Gap

Pocket Tie-Waist Shirtdress by Gap. Put in a real waistband and get rid of the boob pockets (whyyyy boob pockets noooo), and I’d take one in every color.

“Effortlessness” can feel tricky to come by if you’re dressing a full bust; I, for example, don’t feel comfortable just throwing on any old slouchy, relaxed top.  I’m frustrated that when it comes to a comfy dress, it feels like my only choice is of the pin-up persuasion.  It’s a style I love on other women, but I don’t love it on me: I feel like I’m wearing a costume, and between my height and the style I tend to feel very, very self-conscious and conspicuous.  A shirtdress can be a relaxed and put-together one-stop outfit, dressed up with heels or wedges and dressed down with sandals or sneakers.  It’s the sort of thing I wear in my imaginary life where I frequent farmers’ markets and run into cute boys at used bookstores and ride bikes with baguettes and bottles of wine in the front basket.  In reality I have ridden a bike once in NYC and am in no way inclined to do it again.

This next wishlist item is admittedly more personal-to-Sweets rather than to the full-bust community at large, but bear with me:

Cross Front Maxi Dress by Pepperberry.  138 cm just isn't long enough.

Cross Front Maxi Dress by Pepperberry. 138 cm just isn’t long enough.  It bugs the heck out of me to see a dress that hits the model an inch or two below her knee, only to have it arrive in the USA and hit me three inches over the knee.

Dear designers: People can hem things.  We can’t magically grow them.  I know that getting things hemmed and altered is a pain for a lot of folks, believe me.  If I had to worry constantly about getting everything hemmed, waists raised, sleeves shortened, etc., it would get unbearably old.  But I can’t miraculously add four-to-six inches to make skirts and sleeves long enough.  I can’t buy a too-short dress or a miniature blazer and think “ugh, annoying, but that’s what my tailor’s for.”  The only time this has ever worked was when I was a bridesmaid and J. Crew special-ordered a damaged dress to send me with my proper one, so that my seamstress-friend and I could use the damaged one for extra fabric.  I’m not saying you need to make everything Sweets-proportioned, but some varying skirt lengths would be amazing.

I just collapsed and died of apoplexy in the middle of the Grand Central post office last week because I had to return the entirety of a Pepperberry order and it cost me 60 freaking dollars to mail back to the UK.

Mock Wrap Jersey Dress by Pepperberry.  Yeah, this dress is not REMOTELY this long.

Mock Wrap Jersey Dress by Pepperberry. Yeah, this dress is not REMOTELY this long.  I have no doubt that Pepperberry’s models are in the 5’8″ to 5’11” neighborhood, which is my hood as well.  How come they get the special extra-long ones? (Sigh, I know why, because they’re modeling what it will look like on a woman of more average height, but still)

I hadn’t placed this order willy-nilly.  I had very, very carefully analyzed my current wardrobe, evaluated the available pieces on the website, looked at what had worked well for me in the past, and ordered judiciously.  I was deeply disappointed with almost everything.  I was hesitating on keeping some pieces anyway because of ongoing quality inconsistencies (the buttons on the red blazer– yikes), but the shortness of sleeves and skirts did me in (as did the fact that I ordered the same sizes as last time and everything was much smaller this time and Pepperberry you’re killing me with the quality control, come on).  Pepperberry just released their lovely black maxi dress (above), and I would have ordered and worn the hell out of it during a NYC summer, except it’s phenomenally, hilariously too short.  I might order it anyway and have an awkwardly mid-calf dress, but . . . GRUMBLE.

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So what can we do, if we don’t find clothes to suit our tastes, needs, and budgets?  Well, first of all, leave reviews.  Send messages.  Tell designers and stores what you’d like to see.  Second of all, try, try, and try again.  Give custom-measurement sites like eShakti a whirl.  I ordered a bunch of custom-made clothes from eShakti before going to Bangkok and returned them all, not for issues of quality, which was excellent, but because there was no measurement requested to account for torso length, so all of the clothes were far too long-waisted for me.  If I place another order, I plan on emailing first to see if I can provide additional measurements to correct this issue. Try styles, stores, sizes, and shapes you might never have thought of.  Every once in a while the elusive, magical item of full-bust friendly clothing you never thought you’d find turns up in your size and color, and you clutch it to your (magnificent) bosom and shower its upturned face with burning kisses.

Final wish: I want pretty much everything the Duchess of Cambridge has ever worn, just designed for my boobs.  Especially the gowns.  All of the gowns.  You know, for my life, where I go to gown-appropriate events constantly.  I’d also like her hair on my head, but I don’t expect miracles here, people.

22 Comments on Full-Bust Wishlist: Dresses Edition

  1. thelingerielesbian
    March 27, 2013 at 10:16 am (8 years ago)

    Have you had any experience with actual custom dresses? I know it’s not a cheap option, but I didn’t know if that might have worked better for you.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      March 27, 2013 at 10:28 am (8 years ago)

      It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about more and more lately. I had lots of costumes made for me when I was an actor (largely of the corst-bustle-gown variety, which was obviously okay by me), and I remember being dumbfounded by what it was like to have clothes that fit my body. I have some costume/dressmaker friends who still live in the city, so I’ve been tossing around the idea of asking them about their rates, especially for the shirtdress, as that is probably the most finicky fit. I considered getting bespoke clothes while I was in Bangkok, but there was no way I’d have had enough time. Hmmmm, now that I’ve written this out I kind of want to do it! It would at least make a good blog post 😉

      Reply
  2. sophie
    March 27, 2013 at 10:56 am (8 years ago)

    I get super frustrated too while trying on dresses on high street. The worst place to try on dresses is definitely h&m cause they have these super short torsos and practically no room whatsoever for boobs. I wear 28ff and that’s not even a really big size in my opinion.. Luckily I have found one good place for dress hunting and it’s Oasis. They have only this one flaw and it’s too long hems which is fortunately totally fixable.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      March 27, 2013 at 11:06 am (8 years ago)

      Oh that’s great! Thanks for the recommendation; I’ll have to check out Oasis. H&M is a really, really tricky fit. I read a post recently, I think maybe on Hourglassy?, about how many mainstream manufacturers like the Gap, H&M, and similar stores have adjusted their patterns so that the garments look better when they’re on display in the store. In other words, they’re built to fold up and hang neatly, without a lot of thought about how they fit on the body. Which is, you know, not terribly helpful 🙂

      Reply
  3. bralessinbrasil
    March 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm (8 years ago)

    Have you tried Ureshii Designs? You can even send in a picture of yourself and explain any extra considerations.

    I find Urkye clothes better for a long torsos (BiuBiu seems to be cut a bit shorter) and I find their dresses come up even on the longish side for me (at 5’6″)

    Reply
    • Sweets
      March 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm (8 years ago)

      Thank you! I haven’t tried Ureshii Designs, but that sounds like a great resource! I’m going to check them out– have you ordered from them before?

      Reply
      • bralessinbrasil
        March 28, 2013 at 10:04 am (8 years ago)

        I keep meaning too. I have heard only positive reviews (from commentors on my blog) and I definitely plan to get a dress once my size stabilizes post-partum. I thought about ordering a maternity dress from them but then was able to find enough clothes to at least get me buy in the meantime (so I thought it would be better to order post-partum since I know my bust is going to be even larger and hard to fit).

        Reply
  4. Marie
    March 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm (8 years ago)

    If you are looking for bust-friendly dresses, I recommend Lirola on Etsy. Their selection is somewhat limited, basically variations on a wrap dress, but they make it based off of your measurements. They are not cheap, but still cost less than most of the dresses at Anthropologie. I ordered the wrap dress in green and it’s very flattering.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      March 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm (8 years ago)

      Oooh, lovely, thanks Marie! I’ll have to check them out. I, too, use Anthropologie prices as my is-this-expensive standard 🙂

      Reply
  5. nothingeverfits
    March 27, 2013 at 2:06 pm (8 years ago)

    Actually I can say that silk is usually even better than cotton for summer. And I’m not a spoiled heiress, last 100% silk dress I’ve ordered for $69 (BTW it’s Lucy In Disguise and I highly recommend it) and I’m planning to wear it a lot during 2 or 3 summers! it’s not THAT expensive!

    Reply
    • Sweets
      March 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm (8 years ago)

      Oh that’s a good point– silk and other natural fibers are indeed usually very comfy in the summer. My personal preference is cotton, but silk is fab, especially for the special occasion dresses.

      Reply
  6. Anoyomous
    March 27, 2013 at 9:31 pm (8 years ago)

    Hi Sweets – Have you tried Ann Taylor or Loft (same company) and New York and Company? I’m a 34HH, usually getting a size 14 (and yes, some of the v’s I have to wear a camisole underneath, but I can get those from those three companies). They usually have lots of dresses and I have had very few issues with them. Of course, since my waist and hips are two sizes smaller, I have learned to tailor my clothes, but those companies work well for me.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      March 27, 2013 at 9:46 pm (8 years ago)

      Hi, thanks for stopping by! Loft and Ann Taylor are both fantastic recommendations, and I’ve worn (and can still wear some of) their clothes, but unfortunately my overall stature already has me at the end of their size range, even before the boobs. I still make sure to stop by when I can 🙂 Glad to hear they work well for you!

      Reply
      • Anoyomous
        March 27, 2013 at 9:58 pm (8 years ago)

        I’m close to topping out in their regular range, and have to take in and hem everything (which is why I learned to do it myself or I would never be able to afford clothes), but they do have nice sales and nice clothes! NY&Co’s clothes are almost always machine washable and I have found fantastic coats, but they only seem to have tall in pants, jackets, and denim, so maybe not the best for you. Since I’m 5′ nothing, all pants/dress/skirts have to be hemmed, usually by 2-4 inches! :S Good luck with the dress shopping!

        Reply
    • Anoyomous
      March 27, 2013 at 9:47 pm (8 years ago)

      And I forgot to mention – Ann Taylor and Loft have tall sizes (online only) in pants, dresses, and jackets.

      Reply
      • Sweets
        March 27, 2013 at 9:48 pm (8 years ago)

        I do LOVE them for their Tall skirts and pants 🙂

        Reply
    • Anoyomous
      March 27, 2013 at 10:04 pm (8 years ago)

      Last thing – the reason I mention NY&Co – they have a few shirtdresses at the moment, at 38 to 38 1/2 inches long (and on sale). But, I have no idea if that would fit or not. Might be worth stopping by the store (if you have one near you) to try on. Or, it could just be more disappointment!

      Reply
      • Sweets
        March 27, 2013 at 10:20 pm (8 years ago)

        Ha, thanks! I appreciate it, and I’ll check it out!

        Reply
  7. Erica of A Sophisticated Pair
    March 28, 2013 at 3:53 pm (8 years ago)

    Love your wish list! I too would love to get a standard sun dress, but they are so hard to find. I do have one from J. Crew, but that sucker mashes the boobage something fierce. Like to the point that I have cleavage up to my collarbone (all covered by the neckline), but I wear it anyway because it’s so comfy and breathable. Also, what’s up with so many of the floaty sundresses being rather sheer? I’ve seen this a lot lately, and wearing a slip or extra layer underneath for modesty sort of defeats the purpose of a sundress.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      March 28, 2013 at 3:57 pm (8 years ago)

      Ha, yes! Oh silly clothing manufacturers, why do you want me to layer when it’s already hot outside?

      Reply
  8. Tina
    April 16, 2013 at 11:13 am (7 years ago)

    Hi sweets, I haven’t been reading your blog long enough to know what kind of sizing you need in the bust, but as a taller woman (I’m 6′ and wear a size 16), I shop very frequently at http://www.longtallsally.com. I’m fortunate to have a bricks and mortar location in my town, so I can try things on, but I’ve also been very happy with their online services. I’m just an F cup, so I can comment about fit for larger cups, but having a reliable source for shoes in a size 12, pants with a 36″ inseam, and tops with sleeves that are long enough is so great. I know they ship to the US, and I’m pretty sure they some retail locations there as well.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      April 16, 2013 at 11:17 am (7 years ago)

      Um, wow, so that store is amazing! Thank you so much for sending me the link, and thank you for reading! Shoes, here I come 🙂

      Reply

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