Whether you're plus-sized or petite, finding the perfect dress that hugs your body in all the right places is difficult for any of us. If you have a large bust and smaller proportions on your bottom half, it can be frustrating to find the right fit in anything, but especially dresses.
When you have a larger bust, the number one goal of dress shopping is finding support, support, support. But it's easier said than found.
"I tend to face the problem of needing a larger cut on top despite being a smaller size on bottom. Luckily, more designers are starting to offer more versatile cuts and silhouettes that can fluctuate between sizing for those with different sized proportions," Los Angeles-based fashion stylist Audrey Brianne said.
To take some of the pain out of your search, Shop TODAY consulted style experts on what to look for (and avoid) in dresses for big busts. Plus, we rounded up several stunning picks based on their tips.
Features to look for in dresses for large busts
Shopping for clothing can feel discouraging when it takes a while to find the perfect fit, but Stitch Fix stylist Lauren Nelson offered some words of wisdom. "It’s important to remember that you should never force yourself to fit into clothes. Instead, seek out dresses that work for your body type and bust size," she said.
The neckline, style and material of a dress all matter while shopping for a big chest. But a few other details can also help ensure that you find the best fit.
- Spandex: "Look for materials with stretch in them to ensure dresses fit properly over the bust area. I recommend opting for styles that feature a spandex blend, which will comfortably fit over the bust while also highlighting your natural waistline," Nelson suggested, adding that pliable fabrics allow more versatility and comfort.
- Flowy fabrics: "Flowing fabrics styled on women with a bigger bust establish an optical balance to the chest," JLUXLABEL co-founder Teresa Printers told us.
- Dresses that hug your waist: "If the attention is more on your waist, your silhouette will appear more balanced. If you have stronger legs or wide hips, it is also an advantage if the focus is on the waist," Christina Boyd, co-founder of JLUXLABEL, said.
- Cinching under the bust: "To overcome challenges such as finding the perfect fit and flattering silhouette, consider where your natural waistline falls to create the ideal balance. Having the dress cinch underneath the bustline can help achieve your goal of visual symmetry," Nelson explained. If you're gravitating toward a boxier dress, she says adding a belt has the same effect.
Best dress styles for large busts
Sick of wasting precious time trying on way too many dresses and never finding the right fit? Here's a quick cheat sheet to help you hone in on the dress styles that work best for larger busts.
- Halter dresses: "This style is particularly good for those with large chests. It pulls up and together without overexaggerating the body. There’s versatility with halter tops in how they’re fastened that can aid in containing and slimming," Brianne said.
- Dresses with adjustable straps: "These help accommodate fluctuating fit. Avoid strapless and spaghetti straps as the former tends to read saggy and the latter can cause shoulder grooves and pesky indentations," Brianne said.
- V-neck, scoop, cowl or square neckline dresses: "I suggest reaching for dresses with necklines that elongate the torso and upper chest. When styling my clients, I like to recommend these particular styles, which all look great on women with larger busts," Nelson said.
- Wrap and A-line dresses: "These are standout silhouettes for busty clients, particularly for women who wear extended sizes," Nelson told us.
- Asymmetric cuts and drapes: "They help you reveal as much or as little as you prefer," Boyd said.
Dresses for large busts
This draped crew neck dress is made of a breezy polyester and spandex blend and has an approachable midi length. The sheath dress also has darling cap sleeves and is available in two neutral colors: black and white. Plus, you can't beat the price!
Wrap dresses are always pretty flattering, regardless of your figure, and they have a way of molding to suit your shape. This fun printed dress cinches at the waist and has a pretty tulip hem. It's also a pull-on style, so you won't have to worry about restrictive zippers!
Wrapped silhouettes are a classic style and this floral dream is only fueling our obsession. We're seriously crushing on the puffed shoulders and breezy print, and love that the darling dress is giving us major '70s vibes. Bonus: The $50 frock is 30% off right now!
Available in two colors (a gorgeous green and a sunny print), this all-season frock checks off several important boxes with its A-line silhouette, flattering waist and flowy fabric. It can easily pair with booties and tights on a cool day or flats and a cardigan at the office.
This halter dress leaves you with one less thing to worry about with its built-in bra. The comfy fabric, drawstring waist and pockets are also pretty rad.
Pretty in polka dots! We're suckers for this cheerful print and love that the dress can be worn two ways: on or off the shoulder. While we're on the subject of shoulders, how cute are those ruffled short sleeves?! The elegant midi dress has a fitted waist, square neckline and a lined skirt, making it both pretty and practical.
This vibrant satin wrap dress comes in a stunning fuchsia hue and has a sleek silhouette that caters to curves. For added convenience, it also comes with an accompanying belt. Plus, right now you can score 50% off one sale item, making this dress just $50.
Little details can make a big impact, and this otherwise simple fit and flare dress gets a major upgrade with the help of a ruffled hem. It's the perfect style to dance in, making it great for special events, and has a stretchy waistband that moves seamlessly with you. Plus, the square neckline is great for large busts.
Plus-size dresses for large busts
A scoop neckline and pleating at the waist make this skater dress a great option for anyone with a big bust, as does its lightweight, spandex fabric. The mini dress can easily be dressed up or down with the right accessories, and it's offered in sizes up to 4X.
Asymmetrical silhouettes can be particularly flattering for larger chests, and this eye-catching one-shoulder option from Nine West proves that. The one short puff sleeve dresses things up a bit, while the open shoulder reveals just enough skin to still be tasteful. In addition, the fit and flare silhouette and elastic waist are also major selling points.
"A wrapped silhouette complements every bust size and body type by hugging your curves and flattering the waist," Boyd explained. And that's exactly what this wrap dress does with its plunging neckline, sheer sleeves and fitted waist. There are several gorgeous color options — six in all — with standouts in green and a pink Jade Blossom print. It also comes with a removable gold belt!
If you love prints, you'll adore this flirty frock that comes in two patterns. The ruffled short sleeves are simply stunning, for starters, and the fit and flare silhouette will hug your curves in all the right ways.
Sassy and supportive? Talk about a perfect combo! There's plenty to love about this flirty frock, including its square neckline, smocked top, metallic detailing and pull-on design. The plaid print means you can go easy on the accessories and let the pattern really speak for itself.
Scoop neckline? Check. Cinched waist? Yep. This charming frock comes in 11 prints ranging from plaids to florals and animal prints. Its midi length makes it great for women of all ages and can work in a number of settings, meaning you'll want to clear out some closet space to add it to your collection.
When you find a dress that fits just right, you naturally want to get plenty of use out of it. Luckily, this versatile maxi dress can be worn in multiple seasons with the right accessories. The halter neckline could stand out on its own with heels and hoop earrings, or you could tone things down a bit with a denim jacket and boots. Either way, you'll feel comfy as can be in the stretchy fabric.
Talk about a double whammy! This twofer has a cowl and asymmetric neckline all in one. The one chain strap adds some extra edge to the otherwise elegant design and the pullover style has plenty of give to it. Perfect for a wedding, date night and everything in between!
More dress shopping tips for large busts
What to avoid
Silks, satins and 100 percent cotton. Brianne said silks and satins retain heat and 100 percent cotton can be too restrictive.
Be mindful of hardware
Even the hardware on a dress can make a difference in the way it fits. Brianne recommends choosing dresses with buttons instead of zippers because "buttons tend to be more forgiving [and] combat fit issues."
The right bra makes a world of difference
Flattering your figure doesn't stop at finding the perfect dress. "Like good primer is to makeup, a good bra is to fashion. Having support in all the right places can do wonders! Regardless of the type of dress you wear, the shape of the garment should hug your figure," Printers said.
"Remember to start with a solid foundation by wearing a supportive, properly-sized bra. Having the right bra will make it easier to discover the perfectly fitted dress you’re in search of and allow you to go out into the world confidently," Nelson echoed.
If you're shopping in store, try it on!
Dragging a whole bunch of garments into the dressing room can be a bit of a pain but trying things on in person can pay off. "Don’t avoid styles simply because of hanger appeal (mainly lack thereof). Always try on each product unit to gauge fit. Ask questions of the sales teams. All employees should be well versed and full of information," Brianne said.
Meet the style experts
- Audrey Brianne is a wardrobe stylist based out of Los Angeles. She has worked with companies such as Tommy Hilfiger, Betsey Johnson and People's Revolution.
- Lauren Nelson is a styling supervisor for Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service.
- Teresa Printers and Christina Boyd are the founders of JLUXLABEL, a women's clothing brand based on the belief that "high fashion should be attainable for every woman," according to their website.