Have you given up on button-down shirts because they pull and pucker across your ample bust, creating peep-show-like gaps between the buttons? Or do you drown in certain dresses because your small set doesn’t fill in all of the material at the top? If so, you know how frustrating it can be to dress your chest.
Finding the proper fit, rather than being a slave to trends or copying what your fashionable best friend wears, is the key to looking your best. “The wrong fit can make you look bigger than you actually are,” says Bryn Taylor, a personal stylist and founder of The Re-Stylist. “Dressing appropriately for your chest—whether it’s large or small—lifts your confidence, improves your posture and makes you look better.”
Follow these expert tips to find the most flattering fit:
If you want to show off a large chest tastefully…
There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your “girls.” But if you’d like to put them on display, avoid tops that dip too low and reveal more than a hint cleavage. “It tends to cheapen your look,” explains Taylor. “I’m more a fan of finding form-fitting tops that will show off your shape than your actual cleavage. It creates a beautiful silhouette.” Try tops and dresses that aren’t too clingy and have subtly sexy necklines such as v-necks (but not a deep “v”), deep scoop necks, strapless and sweetheart necklines, which show just enough skin to be sexy. “Wrap dresses are great for women with large busts,” says Chelsea Tyler, a personal fashion and wardrobe stylist. “You can show off a tiny bit of cleavage and it cinches your waist.”
Pictured: Diane Von Furstenberg New Jeanne Wrap Dress in Sun Dial Large, $325, at DVF.com
If you want to minimize a large chest…
Wearing dark colors on top is the easiest way to downplay a full bust. Also, try flattering necklines that don’t reveal cleavage, such as scoop necks, square necks and halter tops, which draw the eye up and away from the parts that you don’t want to show off. And remember that bigger isn’t better when it comes to choosing tops and dresses to minimize your bust. “Some women think that buying bigger rather than form-fitting clothes will hide their chest when in reality they accentuate it and hide your smaller waist,” says Taylor. “You lose your shape completely.” Also, steer clear of high necklines, such as turtlenecks and crew necks, which aren’t as flattering on a large chest.
Pictured: Vena Cava Innsbruk Halter Mini Dress, $450, at Saksfifthavenue.com
If you want to make a small chest appear larger…
Turn up the volume. Tops and dresses with ruffles, tiers or embellishments create the illusion of fullness at the bustline. “It’s a trick of the eye that makes your chest look bigger,” says Taylor. Or take advantage of color blocking by wearing dresses that are lighter on top, which makes you look fuller in the chest, and darker on the bottom.
Pictured: Ralph Lauren Black Label Cotton Helena Blouse, $298, at Saksfifthavenue.com
If you’re small-chested and want to take advantage of not needing a bra…
You’re able to sport sexy styles that would never work with a bra, such a slinky sundresses, plunging necklines and backless dresses. “Take advantage of the corset-style dresses, which are tight on the top and then on the bottom have an A-line shape,” suggests Tyler. “You don’t have to wear a bra because you’ll have a bit of a boost in the top.”
Pictured: Alice + Olivia Alameda Printed Pleat Dress, $368, at Saksfifthavenue.com
If you want to flatter a medium-size chest…
“You’re the luckiest of the bunch,” says Taylor. “There are no rules you have to abide by.” You can wear anything from strapless and one-shoulder tops to turtlenecks and v-necks. Since you don’t have a large bust, but aren’t small chested either, you’ll look hottest in clothing styles that give you some support and show off your balanced chest size, such as empire waist dresses and tops, suggests Tyler.
Pictured: Suzi Chin Dress, Silk Chiffon Empire Waist, $158, at New Yorker's Apparel
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