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5 Classic Dress Shapes for a Full Bust

1. Sheath/Wiggle

[caption id="attachment_213" align="aligncenter" width="107" caption="H&M (2011), size 8"][/caption]

This style never appealed to me until I saw Christina Hendricks in Mad Men and decided sheath/wiggle dresses were the only thing I wanted to wear for the rest of my life. I realize that sheath and wiggle dresses are slightly different, as the wiggle style nips at the knees more dramatically. However, I'm going to lump them together indiscriminately as dresses that do a superb job of clinging to your curves.

The dress above is a little bit sexier than some of the other ones I've seen. This style flatters because the cut mirrors my hourglass proportions perfectly while the just-thick-enough material conceals lumps and bumps. This particular dress has a lovely sweetheart neckline to frame my chest. Meanwhile, the dainty cap sleeves balance my Gs and the waistband focuses the eye to my tiniest part. For my hips, the bottom is completely plain so the eye isn't distracted away from the top. With a more modest neckline, this is a great style for professional environments.  Sheaths make me feel sexy, pulled together, and feminine, in a distinctly retro way. Thanks, Joan Holloway.
2. Wrap or Fake-Out Wrap

[caption id="attachment_212" align="aligncenter" width="114" caption="Loft (2011), size 8"][/caption]

I thought wrap dresses made me look old. I'm an idiot. Wrap dresses -- or fake-out wrap dresses -- are the best thing to happen to full busted women since the invention of underwire bras! To make wrap dresses work for you, the ties should hit at your smallest part/natural waist. The cut should have ample space up top and an A-line vibe to smooth on the bottom. A subtle V-neck, rather than the plunging V-neck, is key here as well. My dress is a miracle because it has so much going on, yet still makes me feel like a million bucks. The muted tones of the polka dot print flatter the shade of my skin while the ruffles add a flirtatious quality.  It's a little large around my waist, but the 6 would never have gotten over my hips. Additionally, the space around my middle doesn't matter since I can clinch it up tight with the ties. Side note: I wore this to my interview at Bra and Girl.
3. Sweater

[caption id="attachment_210" align="aligncenter" width="117" caption="Free People, Church St. Trading Co. (Great Barrington, MA - 2006?), size M"][/caption]

If you live in a cold climate and don't own a sweater dress, there's something wrong with you. In New England, where winter can last from October to May, sweater dresses are a must. I love them, but they don't always love me back. On full bust or hourglass profiles, it's important to find the right knit. In my post about dresses that aren't ideal for an hourglass shape, you can check out a truly terrible knit which is laughably bulky on me. The knit above is relatively thin.  If you can find a sweater dress with a hint of puffy sleeves and some sort of detail and/or dip around the neck, you're golden. I cheated with this photo by adding a belt. This had to be done; sweater dresses are so damn tricky. As you'll find with the sheath and faux wrap dresses, the style is plain on the bottom to trick you into forgetting about my hips.
4. Circle/Fit n' Flare

[caption id="attachment_204" align="aligncenter" width="125" caption="Topshop (2008?), UK size 12"][/caption]

You know it's gonna be a party when I've got my circle dress on! Much like the sheath dress, the circle and fit n' flare styles harken us back to a period when hourglass and full bust profiles dominated the fashion world. Circle and fit-n-flare dresses contain minor differences. The circle has pronounced volume on the bottom whereas the fit-n-flare looks a teensy bit more modern with a gentle glide away from the body. I believe they work equally well. It just depends on how retro you want to go; circle dresses can get costume-y real fast.  These dresses work because the excess fabric on the bottom conceals voluptuous hips and balances the bust. The smooth structure on top creates a sophisticated and feminine shape. Although these dresses were created with a small waist/large bust body in mind, I've tried on this style before and found there to be insufficient space for the girls and too much space for my tummy. That is the (only!!) problem with the dress below; lately it seems a little large in the waist for me.
5. Cowl Neck & Tie Waist

[caption id="attachment_206" align="aligncenter" width="116" caption="Bird on Wire, Sweet Lady Jane (Burlington, VT - 2010), size M"][/caption]

After seeing the dress, you might ask yourself, "Where did her boobs go?". Unlike the circles/fit-n-flares above, the draping on this dress is all on the top which conceals the gals. Notice the crazy shoulder biznatch. The ruffles, modest cowl neck, and sweet off-the-shoulder come together to make me look like a C cup. The shoulders are droopy rather than defined, but this functions just as well since it's all about drawing attention away from the breasts. With a tie reinforcing my waist and the usual skimming over my hips, this is a knockout style. Be aware of the location of the tie/defined waist. I've seen this style in stores before and thought it would work just as well as the dress above, only to find that the ties were several inches lower than my natural waist. When the ties are located on my hips, my smallest part is lost in no man's land.

Since these dresses were purchased a year ago or more, I wanted to find budget versions of these styles that would be available to purchase. Keep in mind that I haven't tried these items on so I can't guarantee the boob-room. These are only suggestions, but they'd be the ones I'd try:

Professional sheath dresses abound at the online retailer, Shabby Apple, while the sexier wiggle can be found at Pin Up Girl Clothing in the brightest colors.

Head to your local Kohl's for crazy cheap faux wraps.

Even though I despise their horribly limited bra stock, the seemingly curve-friendly sweater dresses at Victoria's Secret have grabbed my attention.

Circle and fit-n-flare dresses are always available at Modcloth in a bunch of playful prints.

Tie/defined waist and cowl neck dresses were difficult to hunt, but this one at Nordstrom's seems promising.


  1. [...] embarrassed. Stacy and Clinton would throw this out in a heartbeat if I was on What Not to Wear. I believe sweater dresses can work for DD+ if the dress contains a thin knit, a form fitting cut, and a little space left open around the [...]

  2. [...] and classy. If you’re familiar with the blog, you might recognize the dress from my Dress Series post. I’ve actually worn this exact outfit before, to work and then to my boyfriend’s [...]

  3. [...] which clenches everything in. Again, the draping is divine.  In my dress series, I wrote that I love sheath styles for curvy girls and this dress brings the va-va-voom effect, without being too revealing. My favorite? The ruching [...]


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