Chic Style and Quiet Luxury for Mid-Size and Plus Size Curvy Figures
"I had so much fun and felt so beautiful wearing your incredible pieces!" -- Michaela Leitz
We've put together this list of options and resources to get you started.
Why Is It So Hard to Find Quality Clothes for Larger Busts?
First, it helps to understand the fashion challenge, which starts with how clothes are made. Incredibly, most fashion brands still use the same shared Standard Sizes grading chart. Every size in this chart is cut for a proportionately smaller bust (usually a B cup). The clothing brands you know best, even the good quality ones and even the plus size ones, are using this chart. So virtually all mainstream brands design their clothes for smaller busts.
Designer brands are even more extreme, sizing their lines smaller and offering fewer sizes in their range. Many luxury brands still subscribe to the toxic "never too rich, never too thin" aesthetic and are by design unfriendly to fuller busts.
Bottom line, if you're among the 70+% of women who wear a DD cup or higher, no matter where you shop, you're probably having to size up to fit your chest. And that leaves you with extra fabric in the rest of the garment that hangs loosely down from your breasts, making you look shapeless and hiding your feminine curves.
Finding midsize and plus size options that are designed for fuller busts and made with premium quality fabric and fabrication is one of the toughest fashion assignments you can take on!
How to Find Better Options
If you want to feel great about the way you look and flatter your beautiful curves in the luxury and quality they deserve, start by ignoring generic fashion advice. It's not written for you. Don't believe the articles that encourage you to follow trends or that promote brands that aren't cut for your body. You'll end up where you started, feeling uncomfortable or tolerating ill-fitting or baggy clothes that just make you feel frustrated. Instead, start here:
Go for Minimalist Elegance
If you want to channel quiet luxury, seek out timeless classic silhouettes and elegant designs before you look at trends. As Vera Wang says, you want people to "see the dress but focus on the woman."
With this sleek foundation, you can dress your look up or down for different occasions and play with trends with different shoes, accessories, wraps, jackets and jewelry.
Look for High Quality Fabrics
One of the best ways to dress luxe is to insist on high quality fabrics and fabrication. With so many synthetics on the market, it can be hard to tell which ones are good quality. A good rule of thumb is to look for fabrics made of natural fibers like cotton, wool, or silk. Look for substantial weight (not too thin or lightweight). These fabrics will not only feel wonderful, luxurious, and comfortable, they will also be naturally odor-resistant and more durable.
More Seams Are Actually Better
We hear a lot of hype about "seamless comfort" these days, especially in the context of bras and anything worn close to the skin. Most people think seamless means more comfortable. But that's actually only because most seamed clothing is made cheaply, with low quality fabrics, rough threads, and poor fabrication and finishing. That's what results in pokey, itchy, and uncomfortable sensations.
If you have curves, understand that "seamless" often equals "shapeless" and that's not what you're going for if you want to look luxe.
For larger busts, seams are actually your best friend, and essential to clothes that fit, support, and flatter curves.
High quality fabrication makes all the difference in overall fit and comfort, so look for excellent workmanship. Check inside the garment for neat, consistent stitching, short stitch length, clean edges, covered or bound seams, and consistent and symmetrical construction. That way you will enjoy the best of both worlds, gorgeous design and optimal comfort.
Sophisticated style has always been about quality, not quantity. Neutral isn't a bad thing.
In fact, nothing says quiet luxury more than understated, monochromatic dressing.
If you follow French chic, minimalist stylists, the most elegant and rich way of dressing often starts with an understated foundational palette, with statement pieces added for color and panache. Good taste doesn't try too hard. So don't let the trendsetters make you feel bad about choosing black, ivory, or tan as your base. Embrace it and discover how freeing it can be.
Look to the Experts
Finally, find yourself a great curvy style icon to follow, who shares your body type and can show you how to pull it all together.
A great blogger/influencer/advocate you should know about is Size-Inclusive Luxury Stylist Michaela Leitz (pictured at the top of this article). A plus size luxury expert who has been interviewed in InStyle, she advocates for fashion inclusivity through her podcast and social media presence as well as her work on the Fashion Council of Germany. Find her at @aboutmichaela on Instagram and read her re-cap here.
Michaela wore the Embrago Bra-Free Fit & Flare for a city chic day-to-night ensemble at Berlin Fashion Week, staying cool and comfy during long days and lots of walking from show to show all over the city. She added the Liquid Bolero in Platinum to transition to an urban glam look for evening.
One of the best all around full-bust resources is Hourglassy, a blog devoted to "above average style for the above average bust." Created by a trio of fuller-busted bloggers, it's an excellent place to start for researching bras, bra alternatives, and the best clothing for big busts. Filled with thorough, objective reviews and lots of photographs, it's a no-nonsense, unbiased treasure trove of options and information.
Kendra Charisse Porter (pictured above), Claire Sulmers, and Melissa Chataigne are all smart, savvy, sophisticated full-bust fashion influencers. Each one has her own distinctive combination of fashion, image, and style. Their content is always gorgeous, inspiring and educational.
Style Coach and Author Judith Gaton is an insightful and compassionate guide who is dialed in to the fashion challenges of fuller busted career women who want to be taken seriously and seen as polished and put together. An advocate for high achievers who are in mid-career or transitioning to retirement, she offers an 8-week "style program for smart women." She also hosts a top-rated Style Masterclass podcast full of encouraging and helpful advice for a wide range of issues, including the psychological challenges we face and how to manage them.
Finally, Elizabeth of @doyouhavethatinmysize does an amazing job of pulling together all kinds of professional and versatile lifestyle outfits using high quality, neutral basics.
There's actually never been a better time to find great options for larger curves if you know where to look. Have fun finding new fashion sources and friends -- brands like Embrago who re-invent the size chart and design especially for larger busts. There's also a growing community of curvy and plus size bloggers and stylists who focus on your body type.
Together, we're creating a new fashion community, and we're here to help point you to the brands and styles that will make you feel gorgeous in the body you have.