I have a somewhat big chest for someone my height (I’m around 5’0″ to 5’2″) and my measurements are approximately 38-30-39 in inches. I was looking at your advice for girls with bigger busts and I see that you really recommend wearing fitted clothing. I don’t like to show my body at all, as I’m not comfortable with my figure. Being short and having the chest size that I do, I can’t exactly dress how I want to (I like the oversize style) because it doesn’t suit me. I still want to look nice, however! Is there any way to wear loose clothing with a body type like this?
Dearest Alicia, yes, I do advise wearing fitted clothing. I’m not a fan of oversized clothes and this is something I’ve been saying in this column for years. Sure it’s comfortable but I don’t think it really does anyone – regardless of body type – any favors.
The thing is, you actually have very nice proportions, practically an hourglass shape so I don’t really understand why you don’t wish to wear something that flatters your figure better. You should also consider your other body dimensions. Do you have broad shoulders (or as my other readers describe it, “man shoulders“)? Are you short- or long-waisted? These things are also important!
Fabric and Cut
From observation and experience, oversized tops have a tendency to bulge and become shorter in front simply depending on one’s chest size, thereby making it drape awkwardly. This is where cut and fabric come into play.
Tops that have the right kind of cut and made in the right fabric will suit your shape, no matter how big or small you are. Heavier fabrics like knits and wool, and synthetic fabrics with some stretch tend to be clingy while cotton, linen, and silk are more lightweight and therefore, more skimming.
On a figure like yours, a shirt with princess seams or darts draws attention to your waistline – not your bust, if you’re scared about that. Team it with a nice knee-length denim A-line skirt, a really swanky leather belt and mid-calf boots, plus some eye-catching yet minimally tasteful accessories like chandelier earrings. I guarantee that you will be amazed by how gorgeous you are.
Make Both Work: Oversized + Fitted
If you’re really into oversized clothes, then how about a compromise instead? Always wear them with fitted bottoms such as skinny jeans, leggings or slim-leg pants to create volume contrast. Never pair oversized tops with equally oversized bottoms such as seriously big sweatpants. You are really asking for it.
A slouchy knit sweater looks great with patterned leggings and boots. You can elevate that into something more upscale-looking (for occasions like a party) by going for a sweater dress instead, a patent belt around the waist and heeled boots or pumps. The belt is important because you need shape.
While layering can be done regardless of season, it really works best for fall and winter. This is where the fitted-and-oversized combo also works. You can wear a fitted plaid shirt underneath a loose-fit sweater or an open-front cardigan – the plaid pattern and the knit texture create a classic seasonal look – and team with bootcut jeans, for example. Heels are important since you’re petite, and the bootcut denims will help you look taller and slimmer.
If you don’t wish to draw attention to your chest, ensure your layers are shades of the same color, e.g., black, charcoal, off-white, so the impact is minimized. Another technique is to go for lighter bottoms (if you’re more confident about your lower half), and wear darker colors on the upper body. Draw the attention downward by wearing gorgeous shoes, belts or a cool bag, while also making sure your face and makeup are equally compelling.
Adopt the attitude of making clothes work for you, and not you accommodating the clothes, even though they can be unflattering. I encourage you to embrace your body, Alicia. It’s the only one you have, and appreciating its uniqueness will make you feel better about yourself.
P.S. If you’re sending a question, please don’t forget to include any helpful information about your body, your tastes or personality. You can include a photo (link only please) of yourself or your clothes (which we won’t publish without your written approval). Thank you!