10 Workwear Style Tips for Busty Women

busty women style tips for work2018 Update:  We still stand by these busty women style tips, but if you’re a busty professional, you may want to check out some of our other content, including our most recent roundup of the best lingerie to buy at Nordstrom.

One of our top posts of all time is one a friend suggested I write, back in the early days of the blog: how to dress professionally if you’re busty. We haven’t offered busty women style tips in a while, so I thought we’d discuss. But let me be clear at the outset: there’s nothing inherently unprofessional about being busty — women come in all shapes and sizes.  I’m not about to suggest you go buy a minimizer and try to pretend that you’re a 34B.  But: dressing well while busty can be a challenge because so many clothes are made with other body shapes in mind — and for work it can be particularly trying since so many conservative styles are rooted in menswear. Furthermore, if you wear something that obviously does not fit or has fit issues (gaping, pulling) it reflects a judgement call. So — here are some new tips and guidelines on how to dress for work if you’re busty, from someone who’s been everything from a 30F to a 38G over the years…

(Pictured: If you’re petite and busty this is yet another reason to watch Crazy Ex Girlfriend — her work outfits are mostly hits for me. The video this screenshot is from is hilarious (“Heavy Boobs”), but it is probably NSFW.)

Finding the Right Bra is Half the Battle

If you're a busty woman looking for style tips for work and beyond, check out this post -- it's an update of one of our oldest, most popular posts, Ten Things about Dressing Professionally If You're Busty. While there's nothing inherently unprofessional about having large breasts, Kat's own DD+ boobs have taught her that there's definitely some finesse needed in dressing professionally if your have large breasts or are busty. So these are her top ten tips - please check the full post for more details and busty style tips.

 

  1. Invest in a great bra that fits you. The right bra will lift you up and support you. It will not give you quadboob. It may have an odd size that you’ve never even heard of before (28FF, for example).  The right bra will not make you worry about falling out of it when you bend over. It will not cut into your shoulders (that’s a sign your band size is too big) or fall off your shoulders. (Note that your straps can be shortened at the tailor — and that you can check out lingerie brands just for petites, like The Little Bra Company, Lula Lu, or even the Bare Necessities special section for petites). A good bra will take work to find and may cost you some money, but it will be worth it in spades. I highly recommend going to a bra shop and getting fitted — think Nordstrom, not Victoria’s Secret (link goes to to one woman’s fitting experience at VS with lots of pictures; probably NSFW). In NYC I’ve used Bratenders over the years and La Petite Coquette — I’ve also heard great things about Linda’s Bra Shop — and in London I’ve been fitted at Rigby & Peller. Ladies who have a favorite shop in your city, please shout it out in the comments. Once you know your size you can watch for sales; I tend to get new bras at Nordstrom’s sales, Bare Necessities sales, or even sometimes Amazon.

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Suiting Brands for Women: Plus Size Suits, Petite Suits, Tall Suits and More

plus size suits2018 Update: We still think this is a nice roundup of plus size suits and more, and links have been updated below — but you can also check out our updated post on where to find stylish plus-size suits for work (as well as where to find the best women’s suits of 2018). Looking for petites? Check out our roundup for where to find stylish petite suits for women.

In case you missed it, we did a major round up of the best suiting brands for women a few weeks ago, from the budget brands to the boss brands. As promised, we’re back with a focus on specialty suiting brands for women — if you’re looking for plus size suits, petite suits, tall suits, or even suits from independent/specialty boutiques, this round-up is for you.

Ladies, if you’re on the hunt for one of these types of suits, which are your favorite brands and styles? Where do you shop the most, and what kind of sales have you found? 

The Best Plus Size Suits For Women

(Links have been updated as of 2018 — you can also see our latest roundup of where to find stylish plus-size suits for work!)

plus size suits

  • Amazon – Jessica London, Kasper, Le Suit, Tahari
  • Bloomingdale’s – City Chic, Lafayette 148 New York, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Marina Rinaldi, Nic+Zoe, and Vince Camuto
  • Dillards – Calvin Klein, Investments, Kasper, Lauren Ralph Lauren – Pictured
  • Eloquii – Lots of fun suits for work, with a few 9-to-5 Essential” options
  • Full Beauty – Nice collection of brands including ellos, Jessica London, Roaman’s, and Ulla Popken
  • Jessica London*
  • JCPenney – Evan-Piccone, Liz Claiborne, and Worthington
  • Kohl’s – Alfred Dunner, Apt. 9, Simply Vera
  • H&M*
  • Lands End (particularly their washable wool suiting)
  • Lane Bryant*
  • Last Call – Good selection of Lafayette 148 New York on sale, including suiting
  • Lord & Taylor – Calvin Klein, Nipon Boutique, Tahari – (also check out Gravitas dresses at L&T) – Pictured
  • Macy’s – Alfani, Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, Kasper, Nine West, and Tahari
  • Moi Même – Bespoke/custom sizes
  • Navabi – Lots of blazers in their own house line, as well as foreign brands such as Adia, Elvi, Frapp, Hermann Lange, Jo & Julia, Manon Baptiste, Nör, and Zizzi (free shipping over $399)
  • Nordstrom Lafayette 148 New York, Louben, Sejour, Vicky Vi, Vince Camuto,
  • Off Fifth – Basler, Calvin Klein, Lafayette 148 New York, Max Mara
  • Simply Be – A few more traditional suiting options like this or this
  • Sumissura – Bespoke/custom suiting
  • Talbots (particularly their seasonless wool suiting
  • Saks Fifth Avenue* – Lafayette 148 New York, Marina Rinaldi, Nic + Zoe, Stizzoli – Pictured
  • Finally: If you are interested in plus size workwear, please sign up for CorporettePlus, our newsletter! Signing up helps us gauge interest in the project, and we promise not to blast your email more than once a week at most. (Right now it’s more like once a month.) In keeping with our Privacy Policy, we’ll never sell your email address.

Awesome Options for Tall Suits for Women

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Clothes for the Curvy Professional

Workwear Brands for the Curvy Professional | CorporetteAre there any workwear brands that cater to the professional curvy woman? Reader V wonders…

I’m not plus size – but I am curvy. As in, I hate most clothing stores as I actually can’t fit one size across my boobs but look matronly the next size up. I live in the UK and have recently discovered Pepperberry as a revelation (extra size options for boobs!), but the stuff does veer on the casual side (and the fabrics aren’t always the best). Any other brands catering for the professional curvy girl or is it just getting tailoring?

Interesting question, V! As someone who’s always been large of chest, we’ve talked a lot about workwear for the curvy woman — from curve-friendly blazers to bespoke dresses to blouses for the busty.  We haven’t done a roundup recently, though, so let’s take a look.  (And Reader V, consider yourself lucky to be in the UK — I’ve always found there to be a ton of great options there!) Pictured: an eShakti dress with tons of customizable options; it starts at $69.95. 

Some great brands and online shops to note:

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Slim But Too Tall for Petites: When Are Alterations Worth It?

 

slim but too tall for petites2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on how to dress when you’re slim but too tall for petites — you may also want to check out our recent roundup of where to find petite-friendly clothing for work, or our work fashion tips for petite women

If you’re slim with a small frame, but too tall for petite sizes, where do you shop? If your clothes don’t fit you well, when is it worth it to pay for them to be tailored — and when is it time to look for better-fitting replacements instead? We kind of got into this in our post on how to find suits for short women, but we haven’t discussed in a while. Reader K wonders…When Are Alterations Worth It? | Corporette

I’m interested in learning more about when alterations are worth it. I’m very thin and having a harder and harder time finding clothes off the rack that fit me — even a 00 from J. Crew is frequently too big, I can’t shop in the petite section because I’m too tall. I also have a hard time with dresses and some structured pieces because even though most of my measurements are a 00 or smaller, my natural waist is often closer to a 2. I have a bunch of work pieces that I really like — or would really like if I was not swimming in them and constantly ending up with my skirt on backwards after my walk from the subway. Am I better off getting my existing wardrobe altered or trying to sell my better stuff on consignment to fund replacement pieces? I can’t afford a full wardrobe from Theory or another designer that actually makes small clothes for women who are not 5’4″ or shorter.

Great question! We’ve talked about the most common alterationshow to tailor a suit, and the perfect pants fit, but we haven’t discussed tailoring in a while. A few things come to mind:

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Busty Blazers

busty blazers

2018 Update: We still stand by this advice on where to find busty blazers, but if you’re a busty professional, you may want to check out some of our other content, including our most recent roundup of the best lingerie to buy at Nordstrom.

Which are the best blazers if you’re small and busty?  Reader K wonders:

One of my biggest obstacles when it comes to finding business appropriate clothes are my breasts. I feel like it’s impossible to find a jacket or blouse that won’t either pull or else drown me. Either my jacket is so big that I can’t find my arms (and definitely not my waist) or I can’t close it over the girls. I’m a 32G (by nature, not by choice) and a size two everywhere except my chest. I would like to look both professional and not like a child wearing her mom’s jacket. I work in banking, so jackets are a must. (And yet, I’m young enough that I don’t have the kind of funds to have tailor made clothes.) Am I all alone in the world? Is there anyone out there who makes professional clothes for small women with large breasts?

Interesting.  We’ve talked about whether jackets must button to “fit”, how to dress professionally with curves, where to get blouses for the busty, and even how to find such clothes on a budget — but not how to find blazers that fit an hourglass frame. In our last thread on the best suits for small women, Theory seemed to be the winner, which you may want to try — but I’ve never found the brand to be particularly curve-friendly. (If you’re petite as well as small-statured, here was our more recent thread on the best workwear for petites.) I’m curious to hear what the readers say, but here are some thoughts:

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Must a Blazer BUTTON to Fit?

can't button blazer

2017 Update: We still think this is a fascinating discussion of how to deal when you can’t button your blazer, but you may also want to check out our more recent roundup of busty blazers.

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s reader question about feeling frumpy in a suit, I was thinking about Drop Dead Diva. I stopped watching the show a while ago (her guardian angel was still the guy from Mad Men back when I watched), but I’d always wanted to do a 360 review on the lead character, lawyer Jane Bingum, and her fashions, if only because she’s one of the most stylish and plus-sized TV characters I can think of. I have some problems with her fashions, though — the ridiculously high heels, the overdone makeup, etc, etc. My BIGGEST problem, though, has always been that the vast majority of her blazers couldn’t be buttoned (not even kinda-sorta) — the picture at left demonstrates the problem.

But then, as I was falling asleep last night, I started wondering: maybe I’m the one who’s been wrong to think that a blazer must button all these years.  Maybe the trick for a busty girl (or an overweight girl) — short of massive and expensive tailoring — is to buy jackets that fit in your arms and back only, but not worry about it fitting across the bust.  This flies in the face of everything I know about suits — but when I think about it, Jane definitely does not look frumpy. I might say this is one of those times that your fashion sense speaks to your judgement — were this a 360 review, I might say as either an underling or a boss I would wonder why she didn’t buy suits that fit — but again, I’m rethinking this now. [Read more…]