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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
“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:
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.
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.
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.