Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reader Request: Professional clothing for big busts/ Blazers and Suits

Reader Melinda wrote me asking this in an email a while back:

Hi there!
I really enjoy reading your blog - I'm a 32F and 5'11", and clothing is hard for me to find. I'm sure it's even tougher for you! Thanks for providing some tips.
I wondered if you had ever come across blazers or suiting that works well for you? All the suit jackets I try on either gape funnily, or make me look huge. And I haven't found sites like BiuBiu or Bravissimo that sell more professional-looking jackets.
Any advice would be appreciated!

Well, for me personally, I don't need to wear suits or extremely "professional" clothing. In fact as an art student I am already frequently overdressed, if anything! ;-) However, I know that this must be an issue for a lot of you.

Melinda's question actually got me thinking- there are TONS of companies that sell button down shirts for women on my curvy clothes list. Carissa Rose, Campbell and Kate, Biubiu, and Bravissimo/Pepperberry and more all sell button downs for curvy women and nearly all started with the intention of solving the gaping button problems and providing solutions for professional women. And yet, while they have solved the button down problem... well, what about the rest of the ensemble???

Melinda has the additional fit problem of being tall. But most of us have secondary fit problems. My best suggestion, therefore, is to look into custom suits. There may be a place in your area that offers custom suits. Do a Google search or check out this website: Custom Tailors and Designers Association to find a good one in your area. However if there is not somebody good nearby, you can purchase made-to-measure suits and blazers online. When I did a Google search for "custom women's suits" there were tons of results. A few noteworthy ones: (I have NOT tried any of these!)

Moi-Meme Focuses on women's professional attire and specifically mention being able to handle tall sizing as well as a "full chest." They also have great spot-on advice for busty ladies which shows they really 'get it.' They definitely look like a really great option to me and would be the first place I would recommend.

April Marin offers a few suit options for quite reasonable prices.

Tom James has some nice looking things.

Blue Suits Online- There is a blog post explaining about them here.

Silk Suit Store

Anne Spang

Also check out Etsy. A few sellers that look especially good:




I'm lusting after this corset style linen blazer from seller One Avian Daemon, though it might not be professional enough for some workplaces- I'll let you be the judge.

It might be a bit more expensive to get a suit, blazer, or other work clothes custom made, but don't let that turn you off. A custom suit will undoubtedly be higher quality, the best fit possible, and ought to be considered a worthy investment. It also might not be as expensive as you think, so at least do some shopping around before ruling it out.

Also check out the blog Hourglassy if you haven't already- as a former corporate attorney, she is more familiar with professional clothing than I am and has some great suggestions for busty ladies.

I hope that helps! Has anyone found a good suit and blazer solution that works? Or have you tried any of the places I suggested? Let me know in the comments!

Image from Moi-Meme.


  1. Great post. I have same type of fitting problems. I am DD and 6 foot tall. I am working on a custome fit jacket and the amount of alterations are crazy.

  2. Thanks for the link to Hourglassy, Tiffany. I'm looking forward to hearing what jackets others have found as well. Rebecca & Drew also makes custom jackets. And your reader should also see what she thinks about the jackets from your favorite dressmaker--Trashy Diva!

    Here's the challenge--if I'm going to invest in a custom jacket, it's going to have to be classic so that I can wear it for a long time. But I don't always want to be classic. Sometimes I only want a jacket to add some structure or color but not to be too serious. I don't think it's impossible to find something like this that won't deplete my savings, but it's definitely difficult. A lot of times I give up and go w/ cardigans, but with cardigans, you have to be very careful to avoid the grandmother or secretary look.

    By the way, here's my dream solution: Next time I have a spare $800 lying around . . . .

  3. I don't recommend moi-meme because they do not offer curvy enough sizes for most full-busted women. I am also a 32F and not tall but petite. I have about a 27.5" waist. The smallest waist size that moi-meme offers is a 27.5" waist and the biggest bust measurement, their "curvy" size is 35.5. My bust measures between 38 and 39 inches around so clearly the shirt that fits my waist would be too small in the bust. I could go up a size but then what's the point? I may as well buy a shirt anywhere and pay less than the prices moi-meme charges for their "custom fit" shirts. Maybe they could work for a D or DD cup but certainly not for anything above that.
    I have the Courtney Jacket from Trashy Diva and it's a really great jacket, fitting both the bust and waist in a very flattering cut, though I would recommend going up a size from your usual trashy diva dress size if you are going to layer it. I bought my usual trashy diva dress size in the jacket and it's great to wear on its own as a blouse but too tight to layer as a jacket.

  4. I really recommend trenches/jackets from Wayne Cooper as a "works with everything" solution for curvy girls on the taller side. I bought mine about two months ago and I wear it with everything. It's the perfect solution for tall curvy types. They're pricey full price, but you can often get them half off online.

  5. I'd suggest to send lots and lots of emails to Bravissimo and BiuBiu to convince them of offering at least two basic sets of formal jackets/trousers/skirts in blue, grey, black. Bravissimo had stuff like that before and sometimes sth pops up in the sales category that I've never seen online before, so I guess there's lots of clothes they only sell in their stores.

    If you really have too look respectable and are a supercurvy/superdupercurvy size then, in my opinion, there is no way around investing your money into a custom jacket/suit.

    And don't trust bust measurements!
    I once tried a jacket by rockabella brand collectif which was a catastrophic fit. The bust measurement was the same as mine but I had too much breast volume to squeeze it into the jacket. Everything ended up in the wrong place; the waist just below my bust. It looked dreadful.
    Unfortunately this happens a lot with clothes that do not take larger cup sizes into account. I've also seen some not very convincing examples of cheap fitted clothes ordered online. Although you could enter a lot of measurements when ordering it, it obviously was not considered that womens' measurements are not the same as mens': Sometimes the bust measurement was spread equally over front and back of the shirt leading to lots of excessive material in the back!

    A little off topic:
    It really makes me angry that no one, not even Bravissimo/Pepperberry, seems to think about job dress codes when offering clothes but instead goes for lots of dresses. It's 2011. Women do work. They have to dress accordingly.

    So, back again to the spam-attack. ;)

  6. I'm a 32F, and I have a nice blazer from BCBG, which seem to fit well (I got it when I still thought I was a 34C). The brand in general makes clothes that are great for my hour-glass figure (5'7", 125 lb for reference). What they currently have is not classic enough (too fashion forward) but sometimes have better basics.

    Off topic since it is not work wear: I own two BCBG evening dresses and one of them fits so well in the bust/back that I do not need a bra and still feel supported. I tried some other dresses recently and the bust was too wide for my narrow back even in the smallest size, but it was still a lot better than some other brands. The clothes are quite pricy, but all my things from them are from the outlet mall, and they have frequent sales.

    P.S.I agree with George's comment above that lately the "work wear" dresses tend not to be work appropriate, they are mostly way too short or dressy.

  7. I really enjoy reading your blog - I'm a 32F and 5'11", and clothing is hard for me to find. I'm sure it's even tougher for you! Thanks for providing some tips Big and tall dress shirts

    1. You should probably lay off the soy, Richard. 32F really is impressive for manboobs.


I always love to hear your thoughts! Please remember to be respectful. I may not publish comments that are rude, hateful, personal attacks, racist, sexist, or otherwise inappropriate. Dissenting opinions are fine, as long as they are respectful. Thanks!