Above average style for the above average bust. Whether or not you’re a “pure” hourglass, a lollipop, a pear, a square, an inverted triangle or a figure eight, if you’ve got big boobs, Hourglassy writers can help you
I reviewed the “Powder Puff” top from the brand Vixen by Micheline Pitt several years ago. Micheline has since released loads more designs under her Vixen line and her southern gothic-style La Femme en Noir label. But despite rave reviews, I haven’t really jumped on the Vixen train, as so far most of the styles either haven’t felt very “me” or show off waaaaaaay more cleavage than I’m comfortable with.
The Vixen “Wrap Top” in blue velvet—gorgeous color, but soooooo much boobage.
I did pick up the black and white striped “Dollface” dress and wore it several times, but ultimately decided the fit wasn’t right for me and sold it.
In size medium, the Dollface didn’t really have enough boob space and the torso wasn’t long enough. I have tall/high-set boobs, so even when I adjusted the straps as short as I could get them without digging into my shoulders and armpits, I still had a lot of breast tissue popping out above the neckline. But with minimal stretch, the neckline edge dug into my tissue and caused bad quad-boob. Pulling the bust up that high also placed the waistline too high for my long torso.
Such a shame the Dollface dress didn’t work for me because black & white is so easy to accessorize, and it had positively gigantic pockets.
All of this is leading up to the fact that I finally tried a second Vixen dress this week—and I love it!
When the “Vacation” dress was first announced, the description of the fabric is what really excited me: “wrinkle-free;” “travel-friendly;” and “featuring a new exclusive fabric that breathes like rayon and feels like silk that is completely wrinkle resistant.”
Once the reviews started rolling in, I was completely sold. There were reports that the fabric somehow felt cool to the touch at all times, once again the giant pockets were there, and ladies claimed to be comfortable wearing it even in the hottest of temperatures.
I was so eager to receive my dress that I had it shipped to my parents’ place in the countryside of central New York since I would be in town for 4th of July. Plus that means I got to take photos against a much nicer background than my apartment hallway!
This dress is size medium. I measure 38”-29”-43” and height 5’6”. Bra size is roughly UK 28GG/30G. In these photos, I’m wearing an Ewa Michalak PL bra in 30GG.
This dress is incredibly flattering and easy to wear for a big bust. The fabric has some stretch, yes, but really I think it’s the construction that deserves most of the credit. The under-bust seam is curved and actually stays under the bust. Yet the elastic all around the neckline means you could pull the bust down further if needed.
There’s also a vertical seam up the center of the bust, so that the ruching molds to the curve of your breasts rather than bubbling out in the middle (something I find common with this type of peasant-style top).
Finally, the scoop neckline is ever so flattering yet fully encapsulates all my cleavage. There’s just the tiniest bit of décolletage that you can basically only see at an angle. So I would definitely consider this work-friendly.
The neckline can be worn off-the-shoulder, but I prefer it up. And unlike the Powder Puff top, the shoulders are narrow enough to cover my bra straps without any extra wrangling.
As for the other details, the skirt has enough gathering to give it a full look, but isn’t so voluminous that it looks costume-y. The fabric feels soft and light with great draping. And the bishop sleeves are super comfy. As well, the elastic at the ends of the sleeves and along the neckline is bouncy and doesn’t dig in or feel at all binding.
With its high-quality, machine-washable, comfy fabric, the Vacation dress was the perfect choice for a sunny day visiting a farm brewery, a craft show, and wandering around my parents’ property in comfort without worrying about snagging or staining my dress.
Made some new friends at the brewery.Look at that flirty face!
The arrival of Bravissimo’s first state side store has caused much excitement for the Hourglassy team! For me personally, Bravissimo dresses are a main component of my wardrobe (half new/half eBay finds) that have increased my self-image considerably.
Bravissimo’s Oxford Circus Store (photo from Bravissimo)
Being a cusp size with a 36HH chest means that most dresses in misses sizing don’t fit. Before I started wearing Bravissimo my wardrobe revolved around sweaters with jeans (even in the summer), shirt dresses that belted and stretchy jersey dresses. These were my only options in a constant struggle to look professional in a business casual work space. Sundresses with smocking in the back (and a thin strapped Victoria’s Secret bra – obviously in the wrong size) or jeans and tees were my weekend look of choice.
Shopping this past Sunday with Darlene and the Hourglassy readers during our takeover of the new Bravissimo store was special to me. Since high school I have avoided shopping for clothing with friends. If I ended up shopping with friends I would make up excuses for not trying anything on or just try on jeans or going out party clothing. Finding dresses that are appropriate for Las Vegas nightclubs is one area that us large breasted women excel at. The sheer joy of trying on clothing that fits my body and then showing my friends in the dressing room cannot be overstated.
My First Bravissimo Dress from London
This past Sunday was my second visit to a Bravissimo store. I went to their Oxford Circus store in London in January 2018. While I only bought one dress that day, I was probably in the dressing room for 45 minutes. I couldn’t believe it. How was it possible that everything I tried on fit me? That I could wear clothing made of woven fabric? I broke down in tears in that London dressing room. This was the first time in decades that a dress made of woven fabric zipped up smoothly and fit both my chest, waist and hips. The last non-stretch dress I could zip up was in the fall of 1992 when I was in seventh grade. It was an off the shoulder black floral dress with a full skirt from the DEB Shop (a cheap teenage clothing store that went up to size 13/14 and is now an online shopping site for plus size fashions).
And my first Bravissimo dress was on sale!
This past week I’ve been wondering will a Bravissimo store within walking distance of my home (seriously it’s only .8 miles!) cause me to shop more or less? Only time will tell, but I am so looking forward to the ease of a quick trip to Bravissimo. My hope is that with this beautiful new flagship store in Manhattan that more and more women discover clothing made for fuller busts and that they also experience the joy of wearing clothing that fits properly and makes them feel good.
It doesn’t have much hanger appeal, and it doesn’t stand out on the website, but every time one of us put the Lissa dress on, everyone else said, “You look amazing!”
Camille is wearing the UK 10 RC/SC but would have preferred the UK 8 RC/SC if there’d been one in store.
I began with the UK 12 C/RC and found it way too plunge-y. The UK 12 RC/SC was just right.
The dress straps cut in where they attach to the bodice, so it may be necessary to use double-sided tape to hide bra straps in this dress. If you try this dress, let us know if it’s a win for you as well!
How amazing is it that two Hourglassy writers and three readers could meet up at the last minute for a full-bust shopping bonanza at Bravissimo on a holiday weekend?
Katie, Jen, Camille, Donna and me ready to shop!
Today’s post is a photo journal of our fun afternoon. Look for our measurements, clothing and bra sizes in a footnote* at the end.
Emily flies over from London just to supervise the new fitters. She’s been with Bravissimo since 2005.
Descending the stairs to the ten dressing rooms in the basement. There are three more on the ground floor for mobility-challenged customers.
One of the fitters wearing the adorable Ruffle Trim Shirt.
The Caitlin dress is SO Jen!
Jen, Donna and I liked the Button Front Sundress.
The fabric is on the thin side.
We kept Holly busy!
The Kimono Dress on Katie.
Katie is petite and needs to raise the neckline in most Bravissimo dresses. There seemed to be enough room in the armhole if she wanted to do so with this dress.
I’ve been eyeing this Denim Sundress on their website. The waist hit a little high, but I could see myself wearing this all summer.
On the other hand, everyone else thought the Iris dress looked better on me. The waist hits just right, and the pockets are wonderful.
The Alex Zip Front Dress fit Camille in all the right places! She’s waiting for it to come out in a different fabric before she buys it.
I brought Spanx with me to try under the Strappy Leila Dress, but I DIDN’T NEED IT. This fabric has a great weight AND lining to mask bulges. This dress is perfect for date night. Fortunately, this style is super popular so it will likely continue to be offered, although not necessarily in this color.
Red, white and blue.
One of the rare minutes that store manager Mila wasn’t running around fetching new sizes and styles for everyone.
The Emily Broderie Sleeve Top is a basic winner. Great neckline placement.
Cold Shoulder Top on Donna. Camille said this top looks skin tight on the models with their super flat abs, so if she hadn’t seen Donna wearing it, she would have assumed it was off limits.
I’m not usually a hi-lo fan, but I really like it on the Lyla Strapping Detail Dress. Jen, on the other hand, said that if she bought this dress, she’d level the hem and get rid of the decorative strapping. I agree about the strapping.
Doesn’t Jen have PRESENCE in the Cold Shoulder Maxi??
Initially I commented that she could easily find a black knit maxi anywhere, but she said, “Not that fits,” and pointed out that the bust darts are perfectly positioned on her.
I might even answer the doorbell in this chemise. I think this is a 34F, and it didn’t feel too loose.
There’s a J-hook to create a racerback. While I like the look of the racerback and it felt more supportive, I didn’t like the shoulder strain it caused.
A little prosecco in the cute sitting/waiting area to end our day!
You’ll find out what’s in Camille’s bag next week–as well as each of our favorite pieces that aren’t even included in this post. But wait–there’s more! Tomorrow you’ll see a blue dress that was a total win on everyone who tried it.
*Katie Bust 38.5; waist 28/29; hips 43. “I started out just trying UK 10 Curvy for wovens (the blue floral kimono dress) and Curvy/Really Curvy for knits, but once Holly started trying to fit me, we went to UK 8 Really Curvy for the coral kimono dress, and the white broderie sun top [in] . . . 8 SC when I couldn’t close it over the ribs for RC.
“I am a 28G in most brands/styles, as for measurements: 38.5-29-43, but probably good to add I have a short torso. 8 RC/C probably would have worked in most things except for my hips which may have worked with some good compression garments but I never wear them so that’s moot for me.”
Jen Bust 47.5; waist 38; hips 44.5. Bra size UK 36HH. Bravissimo clothing size UK 18 SC.
Camille (to come)
Donna (to come)
Darlene Bust 40.75; waist 32; hips 38. Bra size UK 32FF/G (wearing my Aubade Nudessence 3-part bra in these posts). Bravissimo clothing size mostly UK 12 Curvy (except I’m a UK 12 Super Curvy in the dress I’m posting tomorrow!).
Hello dear readers, I am out of the fog of newborn baby land and have a review for you! It has been difficult for me to think about and write nursing bra reviews, as no bra actually works that great for me, and I haven’t wanted to share my angst/negative energy. Every busty woman knows the pain of looking into her lingerie drawer and debating which is the lesser of the evils therein. Hourglassy is here to show you that life doesn’t need to be that way! I have hope that I will find some solutions for my particular size of lactating breasts soon. In the meantime I want to bring hope to those of you who don’t need to worry about my particular H-cup ceiling and itty bitty ribcage combo. There really are some amazing options out there, that I wish worked better for me!
Disclosure: I purchased this bra myself, all opinions are my own.
When I saw this photo on the product page I thought, hey! Maybe this could actually hold my boobs up, too!
The Sugar Candy line from Cake Lingerie encompasses 3 different bra styles and one built-in bra tank. Each of the 4 items in the Sugar Candy collection has both a nursing version or a lounge version (for those of you who don’t need the convenience of whipping out a boob multiple times a day )
I decided to try the Sugar Candy seamless bra even though I am technically outside of the cup size range, because I thought the stretchy fabric might be able to accommodate a slightly larger bust. And it does!
Truthfully, I was planning to send this back after trying it on, because the fit is not perfect. Times became desperate out here in the desert of nursing bras for giant boobs, and I ended up taking off the tags and wearing it before I mailed it back. I’m not mad about it. The Sugar Candy hasn’t been my daily or my “go to” bra, but it has been a nice one to have in the rotation, especially when options in my size are scarce. I’ll first discuss the sizing, show photos of the support, and then give you my personal pros and cons.
My postpartum measurements were 30-31″ underbust and 44″ overbust. Cake recommends a 32 band for under bust measurements of 28-30″ – so according to their sizing system I measured a 32L (US) or 32HH (UK). I was skeptical of the larger band size, but went ahead and ordered as recommended because I was not confident that a smaller band size would have the volume in the cups to accommodate my breast tissue postpartum. I tend to err on the size of larger bras while breastfeeding anyway, I learned the hard way with my first baby that tight bras = mastitis! So painful.
The Sugar Candy Bra comes in XS/S/M/L/XL/XXL sizing, designed to fit a range of cup sizes within a given band size. I ordered a Medium – specified to fit UK sizes 32 GG/H and 34 F/FF/G.
With my current measurements of 29″ under bust, 41-42″ over bust, Cake’s charts place me in a 32 G/GG (UK sizing), right between a Small and Medium in the Sugar Candy bra. I don’t feel confident that a Small would accommodate all of my breast tissue, as the Medium already has some side spillage and quad-boob as it is. A Small might fit better after stretching out, though…more for me to think about! Just telling you as an FYI, I am speaking as someone who went with the bigger size when straddling two sizes. Take that for what it’s worth.
When it arrived I was most excited about the construction! Check out the internal support!!! Slings on the side AND across the bottom!
Internal support slings – immediately after purchase
Internal support slings – after months of wear and slightly stretched out
Those slings really do their job! Even now that the bra is “old” and doesn’t retain its shape as nicely, I like the level of support it gives. I am comfortable enough with this level of support to wear it out and about – but that is just my personal preference. There is a fair amount of “bounce” and the shape is not the best you’ll ever get. But you definitely don’t look like you’re going braless! I took these photos last month:
You can really tell that my left side is bigger than my right in this photo…and I think I had just nursed my baby on the right side so that really emphasizes the difference. Haha! I never usually notice in real life.
Now that you know how sizing works and have seen it in action, here are my personal pros and cons:
Super stretchy fabric. It is so comfy and breathable, and it can accommodate a slightly larger bust without much spillage. I don’t get significant “quad boob” from this bra.
Machine washable and dryable, and shipped with a lingerie bag. Especially in the early days of nursing a new baby, nursing bras are often doused in breastmilk/spitup and need to be washed frequently. I loved being able to throw this one in the wash with the daily baby laundry!!
The support slings! Best lift I’ve ever gotten from a non-wired bra.
Nursing clips are easy to undo and re-clip one-handed.
Extra columns of hooks in the back (6 columns total) make it excellent for an expanding ribcage during pregnancy!
Super stretchy fabric. It stretches out within 1-2 days of wear and needs to be washed again to “bounce back” to its usual size.
The band does this weird thing where it rides up and causes the internal elastic to fold over on itself after I’ve worn it for a few hours. This makes the band bulky and less supportive.
The band is too big/wide for my taste. It rides up and causes the straps to dig into my shoulders after less than an hour of wear. Some days I choose to deal with it anyway, but I usually end up only wearing this bra for a couple of hours at a time. It is more comfortable under my bust and around my armpits than other bras, so sometimes the shoulder tradeoff is worth it.
The straps! They are narrow and they are made of a very stretchy elastic. There is NO support there.
The nursing clips are so easily unclipped that they frequently unclip while I am putting the bra on. This is more of a minor annoyance and not a major issue, but I thought it was worth mentioning!
Taken after 30 minutes of wear. On this particular day, I went and changed to a different bra shortly after taking this photo.
I highly recommend trying this bra if you fall within the cup size range. It is a very generous range – up to a UK H cup on all band sizes! However, due to the stretch in the band, I also highly recommend ignoring their band sizing suggestions and would calculate your bra size based on your ribcage measurement alone. They have so many extra columns of hooks that there is little risk you’ll end up with something that won’t even close. With my current measurements of 29″ under bust and 41-42″ over bust, I would order a 30 H/HH (UK sizing), or a size Small in the Sugar Candy bra. However, unless they change the straps to something less flimsy, I don’t think I will be ordering this bra again.
How fun that we’re celebrating a big-boobed British invasion in time for the 4th of July. Yesterday Bravissimo, the pioneering brand for busty women, opened its doors to shoppers in Manhattan for the very first time, and this morning I was waiting outside when they opened them for the second time.
Frankly, my heart leapt a little bit when I rounded the corner and saw their banner.
I know their website says they might not have everything in their physical store that’s in their catalog, but the good news is that they have most of it. Frankly, I was worried they were going to focus on lingerie to the exclusion of outerwear, but it’s almost all there! According to store manager Mila—who has been with Bravissimo for 13 years and has tons of institutional knowledge –there are only a few items of limited stock that they decided not to bring over.
I was super happy to meet Mila because I wanted to give her a heads up that we’re invading her store this Sunday afternoon, July 7, at 2:30. Are you in New York City that day?? Come join me, Jen, Camille (you met her yesterday), Donna (you’ve met her many times, most recently here) and Katie (you met her in 2014). We are going to try on everything and take tons of pictures. If you can’t make it (we’ll miss you, Leah, Marit & Rosalind!!!), I’m sure we’ll be doing this again.
I’m not actually going to try everything on because this morning I scouted the racks for my favorite full-bust tops and dresses that I’ll be taking into the dressing room with me on Sunday.
The store team is super focused on getting everything right for their American debut, and from what I can tell they have nothing to worry about. Women who wear D cups and up are accustomed to boutiques overlooking them–especially in Soho–and Bravissimo is going all out with a “candy store” mentality for American women with big boobs. Holly, who has been working towards the opening since November, told me they’re all about “the power of choice”. A woman who wears a J cup no longer has to ask, “What do you have in my size?” Instead, Bravissimo simply asks, “What bra would you like to try?”
A selfie with Holly
P.S. If you’ve always dreamed of working for this dream company, they’re still hiring!
It was only because I saw a customer carrying a shopping bag from them that I even discovered Petite Studio, and as soon as I could get my dear friend Camille to join me, we headed over. I was pinning all my hopes on the Lola dress because of its smocked back.
Camille’s experience with the Lola dress was much better than mine, so I’ll begin with that. The size M she purchased is still hanging in her closet and she’s wearing it this summer! Camille is 5’1″, wears sizes 2/4 in pants, and wears around a 28/30 G/H in British bra sizing.
There is so much that I love about this dress: 1. the adjustable straps 2. the dip in the neckline vs. straight across 3. pockets! 4. functional buttons in front 5. matching the lines of the gingham print across the seams 6. the high-quality seam finishing (see below)
The size large almost fit me–to the point that I actually purchased it and was willing to pin it. However, once I tried it over a padded strapless, there was simply too much volume for it to contain. Even if the safety pins didn’t show, you could tell it was too tight because the gingham lines were no longer straight. At the time of these photos, I was around a 33″ waist and 41″ bust. I wore my 32F Empreinte Erin to the store. I’m wearing the 34H Wacoal Red Carpet strapless (affiliate link) in the outside photos.
When I returned it, I asked the saleswoman (who remembered me! so nice!) if Petite Studio would ever consider adding more room to the bust area of its garments. She said that in-person fittings since their brick and mortar store opened last November have definitely put this issue on their radar.
If your frame is small like Camille’s, it’s definitely worth exploring Petite Studio. Here’s the other dress she scored, this time in size L. It’s a stretch velvet that was steeply discounted because it was the very last one in stock.
Here’s what it looked like on me. If Camille hadn’t wanted it, I would have purchased it and made it work with Brassybra.
Here are the rest of the pieces that we tried that we thought looked particularly bust-friendly.
Since Montelle also owns the Fleur’t label, I was thrilled when their rep generously included the Fleur’t Belle Epoque Lace T-Back Chemise in her shipment to me. (All opinions are my own. Clicking on the link in this post may result in payments to Hourglassy.)
You know I’m partial to chemises, and I’m especially partial to the Bell Epoque. I’ve longingly handled its super soft fabric ( 94% Micromodal/6% Spandex) in multiple lingerie stores, but I’ve always been too unsure of its compatibility with a fuller bust to commit. If you’ve ever wondered whether Fleur’t will work for your large chest, read on.
First hooray: front and centered boobs vs. east-west splay! Second hooray: the beautiful lace cups have a knit fabric base that prevents any show through. I’d almost answer the doorbell in this! Third hooray: I don’t spill out of the cups when I’m sleeping.
There are full-bust-friendly princess seams down the lace of each cup. However, the knit fabric itself doesn’t have princess seams, which may explain the fit that I describe below.
I love how the lace continues over my shoulders to the back.
The firm stretch lace in back probably helps with the support in front.
Another detail that I appreciate: the empire seam stays parallel to the ground from front to back rather than dipping in front from the weight of my big chest.
I currently wear 32FF/G bras, and this chemise is a size large. The cups aren’t as deep as the Montelle full support chemise–borrowing from sports bra terminology, the Montelle encapsulates and the Fleur’t compresses. When I first tried the Belle Epoque, it felt very boob-smashing, but the more I’ve worn it, the more it’s stretched and accommodated my large breasts. However, I think I’m at the maximum cup allowance for a 32 band in this chemise. While I don’t spill out of it in bed, after sitting and working on my couch for an hour and standing up, I notice that the elastic “band” has crept an inch up my breasts. This is easily remedied by readjusting everything, and the compression holds me back in.
Boob weight is another reason that I think I’m at the high end of the spectrum for fitting this chemise. Basically, there’s a trade off for gorgeous stretchy lace straps without a wide bra band, and that trade off is support. Without a firm band, I’m very aware that most of the support comes from the straps because of the pressure on my shoulders. It’s not painful, but it’s there. Is it enough to stop me wearing it? NO!!!! But if I had larger, heavier breasts, it may be.
Montelle Chemises offer amazing support for all cup sizes!
Through a happy coincidence, I met a Montelle rep a few weeks later. When I told her that I wanted to update my recent roundup to include Montelle, she offered to send me a review sample. All opinions in this post are my own.
I told her that I wear a UK32G, my waist measures 33″ and my bust 40.5″. The Montelle sizing experts recommended a size L in the Lace-Trim Full Support Chemise (style #9394). It comes in 18 colors, and I love the “pearly sea” they sent me. The fabric is a super soft 85% nylon and 15% spandex.
This isn’t a chemise I would answer the doorbell in–the cleavage is generous and some areola can be visible through the lace. When I first slept in it, I was sure my large breasts would escape their allocated space, so it was a complete surprise when I got up the next morning and did NOT have to scoop myself back in!!! Yes, there’s some shifting when I lie on my side, but there’s no shifting out of the nightgown. As soon as I sat up, everything went back to its place.
LIFT, SHAPE & SUPPORT
Basically there is no lift–because there’s no underwire. But what I love is that there is no east-west splaying either! The double panel of fabric around the back and in the cup area, plus the layer of stretch mesh beneath the lace, helps keep everything centered. Although it’s called a “full support chemise”, support is relative when it comes to sleepwear. If I run down the stairs, I’m going to bounce in it, but not as much as if I run down the stairs braless under a sleep shirt.
The yellow line traces the seam down the side of the bodice. I’m impressed that it isn’t buckling forward! (We’ve all had this happen in tee shirts and dresses that weren’t made with big boobs in mind.)
I was a little skeptical when they put me in a size L, but I’m happy to report that sizing up to fit my 32G bust doesn’t cause it to be baggy everywhere else. The L really feels right on me. However, Lion’s Lair owner Kim Berger wears a 32GG and size 10 pants and feels completely comfortable in a size M.
This closeup shows that the top of the band beneath my bust just barely creeps into bust territory. I’m very happy with the complete lack of boob bifurcation. How refreshing to have enough room for a large chest!
If you’re looking for a pretty little nightgown with a lot of room for a large chest, I recommend the Montelle full support chemise. Lion’s Lair currently carries it in Black, Aruba, Santorini, and Dragonfruit, and you’ll get $10 off your order when you use code #Hourglassy!