Yet if I were to compile a list of all of the "rules" that I have heard for tops for busty women, it would go something like this:
- No patterns
- No lace
- No ruffles
- No high necklines
- No low necklines
- No bright colors
- No empire waists
- Nothing tight
- Nothing clingy
- Nothing loose
- No spaghetti straps
- No bust/neckline detailing
Phew, what an exhausting list. Based on this, it's little wonder that so many busty women feel confused, and turn to basic, solid-colored, v-neck t-shirts as the only shirt option available to them. Now, I love V-neck tees, and I actually think that they can be a nice, flattering, basic style for most women- not just the large-busted. But, I think that if that's all we wear, we're missing out on a lot of opportunity for creativity in our wardrobes. Too many women hide under these styles, and while I think they can be great and have no intent to diss them entirely, I think that a wardrobe full of them can be quite boring. Not to mention that said t-shirt isn't appropriate attire for every single occasion.
Now, obviously, most women don’t follow all of those “rules” exactly, especially seeing as some of them are downright contradictory. But I do see a lot of busty women limiting themselves unnecessarily, and I find that sad.
I’m not actually sure that these tips are even the most flattering! I have actually found that certain types of detailing can be quite nice. While I don’t want an emblem, slogan, or ruffle directly over my chest, I love details like soft cowl necks, draping, ruching, shoulder details and cutouts, any sort of gathering or draping, asymmetrical hems, flowing sleeves, etc. I also don’t see why busty women should have to stick to solid colors- patterns and textures such as lace can be lovely, especially if they cover the whole top and aren’t just focused on the bust area. I have actually found that such detailing is often much *more* flattering on a curvy figure, and it doesn’t scream, “hide me!” Frequently, when you work hard to draw attention away from your bust, you're also drawing attention away from what's right above it- your beautiful face.
I actually feel that compelling women to follow such an extensive list of "rules" is overly restrictive, possibly sexist, and certainly an example of prejudice against big breasts. Lots of women have big boobs, they’re not really such an unusual feature to have, so I don't see why a large chest has to be something that causes "fashion experts" to throw up their hands in despair and tell us to just cover them up in boring solid tee-shirts. Taken to its logical extreme, what they are really suggesting is that our breasts are so shocking, and so mutant, and so inherently, overtly sexual, that we need to draw as little attention to them, and to ourselves, as humanly possible.
In my opinion, a flattering garment doesn’t just hide, or “slim” you. It also has to highlight the parts of yourself that you love, and it has to feel right for your personality and style. If V-neck tees (or whatever you are told you “need” to wear) aren’t your thing, you should feel free not to wear them, and to wear what makes you feel good about your body. I’m not saying to totally abandon flattering your figure, and wear whatever you want even if it’s hideous on you. That is only another method of hiding your body. Flattering your figure involves both celebrating it and working in harmony with it, not hiding it. Dressing big busts needn’t be nearly as restrictive as some people make it out to be. In my experience, I find that as long as my clothes fit well, and show the shape of my waist, I have a lot of freedom in terms of what I can wear well.
Unfortunately, companies that make clothes for busty women tend to assume that we want to follow these rules too strictly, assuming that they are what is most flattering on the busty figure. And the fact that so many women believe it creates a self-reinforcing cycle. But we can still request other styles, and when shopping at “normal” stores look for things that fall outside of these rules, even if you need to get them altered or choose things with a lot of stretch.
My advice? Experiment and decide for yourself what you like. You might be surprised by what works. It is your right to have a personal style. The size of your chest should absolutely not change that.