Fashion Magazine

7 Ways to Play Down Your Large Bust

By Imogenl @ImogenLamport

It’s funny how questions come in waves. I received two similar questions in my lucky dip of your colour and style questions.

My biggest battle issue is how to dress a large stomach and a bigger bust without looking sloppy. The rest of my body is fine but I’m five foot one so short, petite and look bigger than I really am because of these issues.

My biggest struggle is that I have a huge bust area it always makes me look super bulky. My limbs are quite thin compared to the center region. I do not have a bulging tummy, it’s just that the bust stands out too much and it doesn’t allow any piece of clothing to suit me and makes me feel self-conscious

Breasts! Do you want to play them up or down?   Providing comfortable support tends to be the biggest problem for those of us with larger busts, it can also be difficult to dress attractively without appearing overtly sexual, which is something in most workplaces you may not want.

How to Play Down Your Large Bust


Consider Garment Design

It’s very hard to shop when you have an outsized bust because you have to buy to fit your bust. It’s almost always easiest and least costly to buy the size that best fits your bust and take in the garment with some vertical darts below the bust (and on the back of the blouse) and also take in at the side seams below the bust to slim down the overall silhouette. You may also have excess fabric in the sleeve and a large armhole. A deeper, lower cut armhole adds fabric and bulk to your chest region so think about getting an alteration that narrows the sleeve creating a narrower and higher armhole and an overall slimmer profile. Trust me, the alterations will be worth it when you have tailored tops that skim your curves rather than loose and bulky. 

Be wary of things like shirts with buttons as they very rarely button up nicely. If you have to wear a button-up shirt, then get invisible snap closures sewn on between the buttons to reduce the potential for gape.

Look for sleeves that don’t end at the midpoint of your bust – they create a horizontal line adding a broadening effect to your bust. The same illusion occurs when a shirt has bust pockets so avoid those too.

Shoulder pads or any other shoulder detail such as can actually help to make your bust look a little bit smaller by providing a bit of balance to it.

Wear Lower Necklines

When you have a very large bust, think about are wearing lower necklines rather than higher necklines and they open up the upper body area.

The diagonal lines created by a v-shaped neckline creates the illusion of narrowing the waist and broadening the shoulders. It doesn’t have to be a deep plunging v-neck to have the either, somewhere around your first balance point is ideal. Combine a V-neck with a wrap style and you have one very flattering style for big busts and tummies!

Scoop, sweat heart and square necklines also work. The eye will focus on your exposed skin and not so much your breasts.

Choose Darker Clothing 

As a general rule of fashion thumb, darker colours are always more slimming and lighter colours the reverse. A darker coloured top will slim the look of your body as also minimize the impact of your breasts.  When I say darker – I mean darker than the bottom and your skin, doesn’t have to be really dark!

Go For Larger Scale Jewellry 

Scale can be a really important part of the style puzzle, particularly if you have a body variation that is outside of the “norm” that you want to either highlight or camouflage.

For outfits with lower necklines, wearing a larger scale necklace next to your large bust will give the illusion of the area being smaller.

Your jewellery will also create a focal point and will draw attention up to your face and distract from the size of your bust.

Pay Attention to Vertical Lines

7 Ways to Play Down Your Large Bust - look for vertical lines - such as an open jacket and use large scale jewellery to draw attention away7 Ways to Play Down Your Large Bust - look for vertical lines - such as an open jacket and use large scale jewellery to draw attention away

A jacket left open will create two vertical lines through your torso and then a large scale necklace worn above your bust will draw attention up and away from your bust.

Wear outfits that move the eye vertically. Lines moving up and down the body will lengthen the body and slim the torso, making the chest appear smaller. Wear a jacket or something over the top that creates vertical lines that actually slim down your torso. The same effect would be created with a long scarf or duster jacket. My post, E for Elongation has some more tips on creating the illusions of being taller and slimmer. 

Select Busy Patterns

If you want to wear patterns, consider busy patterns that are dense and non-repeating will distract the eye. Look for small to medium size patterns in a low to medium contrast for best effect. Patterns where there’s no start and stop such as leopard prints or delicate paisley are ideal. More tips on how to pick a slimming print here…

Be very wary with patterns that contain straight lines like stripes and checks as they will stretch over a large bust or a large tummy and look bent. These horizontal lines also create an illusion to broaden and add width so avoid horizontal lines over the midpoint of your bust.

Get the right support

Make sure you have the right bra that supports your bust rather than squishing it. Some minimizer bras compress your chest but make you look wider by moving your breast tissue sideways. A bra that projects your breast tissue forward can actually make your torso look a bit slimmer. I have more suggestions on choosing the best bra for your shape here….

Dressing a large bust can be challenging without putting your assets on display. I hope my suggestions make it easier for the busty women among us to feel and look their very best. 

If you have a hard time figuring out how to dress stylishly for your proportions, consider signing up for my 7 Steps to Style program where I give you my professional opinion on your body shape to assist you in discovering which styles work best for you.

7 Steps to Style is a colour and style consultation program and is ideal for you if want to nail down your body and colouring particulars, discover your style values, learn how to build and effective and stylish wardrobe for your lifestyle and needs, plus get tips to shop like a professional.

Further Reading

Your Guide to Tailoring and Alterations

How a Large Necklace Can Make Your Bust Look Smaller

Brilliant Tricks of the Clothing Magician – How to Highlight and Camouflage for Figure Flattery

How You Can Use Verticals To Look Taller and Slimmer

Understanding the Style Puzzle – 9 Keys to Unlocking Your Style

7 Ways to Play Down Your Large Bust7 Ways to Play Down Your Large Bust


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