Manolo for the Big Girl Fashion, Lifestyle, and Humor for the Plus Sized Woman.

December 20, 2007

A letter to the well-endowed, teenage, poor girl

Filed under: Racktastic,You Asked For It — Francesca @ 8:10 am

A dear internet friend writes:

Dear Francesca and Plumcake,
I am not what one would call the big girl, I am fourteen and a size zero or two. I have a dreadful time trying to find clothes that are within the price range that my mother would deem acceptable for someone who is still growing and fit properly. My problem is I have a rather large bust. I am a DD and while this might not seem that large it is on someone of my size (I am five foot two). I know this isn’t exactly your area of expertise but having read the letter from Tracy I thought you might be able to help.
Anna Beth

Dear Anna Beth,

Ayyyy! To be fourteen years old, and 5’2″, and have the DD bust, it is not easy! And to have a mother with a budget! Ayyyy!

Francesca says: You must work together with your mother on this, as a team.

On one hand, is your family’s financial needs. On the other is your understandable desire to look attractive. Francesca trusts that you are not trying to tell your mother to buy only the latest, designer, name-brand clothing, but rather that you want normal, pretty blouses (of any brand) which do not look like tents on you, and that the prices at large-chest specialty stores, such as Bravissimo, are out of your budget.

If this is the case, then sit down with your mamman and explain that you are happy to buy clothing that is on sale, or less quality than your taste (perhaps you have very advanced standards for your age, but at 14 you can get away with less quality; your mother is correct about this), but that the reality of having a large chest (which perhaps you inherited from her? Or from your beloved grandmother?) is that, one way or another, one pays more for the clothes. For example, if you are going to a regular clothing store and buying clothes off the rack on sale, then you must buy a bigger size, so that it will fit at the chest — and then you MUST bring it to a seamstress to have other areas, such as your size 2 waist, “taken in.” There is also the matter that the sleeves may need to be shortened.

It is a choice of either spending more on the clothes to begin with, or of spending more on the seamstress (which might be the cheaper option). At the very least, you will need a budget for pretty camis, as our readers have discussed in the comments to Tracy’s question.

If your mother balks at this, Francesca’s suggestion is to become crafty, literally. Francesca herself greatly wishes that she had taken a sewing class at your age, so that she could create or alter clothing to her own specifications, without need of the seamstress. Taking a sewing class now, when you are young, will allow you to develop your talents as you grow up, so that by the time you go to college you are creating one-of-a-kind clothing that makes your new college friends say “wow, where did you get that?”

Another option is for your mamman to give you an exact number of dollars per year that she is willing to spend on your clothes, and for the Anna Beth to step up the babysitting or dog-walking or newspaper route jobs in order to supplement the amount.

Using your own resources to get what you want, rather than relying on your parents, is what we call “building character.” Francesca, too, worked hard every summer during her teenage years and used the monies to purchase things that her parents could not afford, and look, now she is the woman of a fabulous career who wears superfantastic clothing and even is asked fashion advice from people around the world! So you see, there is much hope for the Anna Beth!



  1. One more bit of advice for miss Anna: if you have money to spend, spend it on bras that fit properly. Got a hundred bucks? Spend eighty on a bra and the other twenty on everything else. This is especially important as your breasts are still maturing–poorly-fitted bras can be uncomfortable, bruise, and leave dents in your shoulders to last a lifetime.

    Comment by Jo — December 20, 2007 @ 8:33 am

  2. I’m with you on getting sewing classes – good ones — AnnaBeth needs the classes that will not only teach her to lay out, mark, cut, and sew parts together, but to actually get fitted. With boobalicious figures, the name of the game is “The front half is never the same size as the back half” and adjustments must be made accordingly. AnnaBeth’s best (breast?) friend will be the “FBA” (front bust adjustment). Something useful for her to do is to find a friend who is also craftily inclined to take the course with her and they will help to fit and adjust one another. It will be the best investment in time and money that she can make at this point because she can make superfabulous things that fit and that she will love. She can build beauty and value into them and will thereby have things much more beautiful than she could possibly afford to purchase, no matter how much money she has at her disposal.

    Comment by Toby Wollin — December 20, 2007 @ 9:18 am

  3. If the Miss Anna Beth is a user of Livejournal, she may find welcome and much good advice at , for women with small band sizes and large cups. You may discover you are not even a 34DD but in fact a 30F or something of the sort upon proper measurements.

    Knits and wrap blouses are more flexible choices than button-ups or stiff fabrics. Big belts can be used to tame the extra fabric. But yes, learning to sew at a young age would be a very wise choice indeed.

    Comment by Tk — December 20, 2007 @ 11:28 am

  4. Augh. This was not a concern for me when growing up, but I had friends and relatives with your particular figure type (small frame, large bust).

    I’m with Jo on spending money on bras that fit properly. Brands like Playtex make pretty brassieres with excellent support for reasonable prices. The best time is to wait for a sale at a local department store. The cute wispy bras for $10 or less are for people with small busts. Even when I was younger and still a B cup (I’m a C cup now) I couldn’t wear those–uncomfortable and not enough support. A few tips on buying a bra:
    – Make sure the chest band fits–that is where your support should come from, not the straps. Buy the chest band so that it fits when on the innermost hooks, as it will stretch out with wear.
    – Make sure the cups fit. You should not be bulging out of the sides or top, nor when you look at yourself in side view, should your girls be drooping at all. I prefer underwire bras to side-stay bras, but that is personal choice.
    – Make sure it is comfortable. You will be wearing it several hours a day. If it feels like it itches or cuts anywhere, put that bra aside and try another brand or model within the same brand.
    Shopping for a properly-fitting bra takes some time, but is worth it. I replace my bras every 3-4 years.

    I would like to suggest that you make sure your bust is truly a DD. You can check your measurements against the guidelines on the site below.

    I ask this because a friend of my with a beautiful hourglass figure had been stuffing herselff into DD cup bras because that was the top cup size available in most stores. When she was properly fitted for a bra for the first time in her life, it turns out she was an “F” cup. If that is true for you, there are places you can buy from online for reasonable prices. I think stores like Victoria’s Secret also carry the larger cup sizes.

    Finally, I recommend with the others learning to sew. I didn’t take classes, but taught myself from books. How you learn depends on your comfort level and how adventurous you are. Like you, when I was growing up there was little money for me to have clothes, so I learned to sew and alter clothing. Also, thrift stores can be your best friend. Find good blouses that fit in the bust, then take in the waist and shorten the arms, if necessary. Even after I started working summers and buying my own clothes (about age 15-16) I didn’t go wild. I learned one is much thriftier when spending one’s own money.

    Good luck. You will find as you get older that you will take pride in developing your creativity when it comes to hunting for good-quality second-hand clothing and adapting it to you or making your own.

    Comment by Geogrrl — December 20, 2007 @ 1:10 pm

  5. Oops, sorry. The chest band of a bra, when new, should be comfortably tight on the OUTERMOST hooks. That way, as it stretches, you can change to hooks further in on the band.

    Comment by Geogrrl — December 20, 2007 @ 1:11 pm

  6. Also, if you learn to sew, Simplicity patterns now sometimes include different cup sizes. They can usually be found on sale for about $.99 per pattern.

    Comment by Leslie — December 20, 2007 @ 2:16 pm

  7. Another place to try is Fredericks of Hollywood. They do carry a couple 32DD & F “full figured” styles. See if they have a retail location near you so you can try them on & see if any work. Then just wait for one of their online sales.

    Comment by Rach — December 20, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

  8. Stay away from ALL front button blouses. Trust me on this. Nothing is quite as embarrassing as being a growing girl with a large bust, buying a button up shirt and taking a deep breath in the middle of your math class and a button richochets across the room. You could shoot someone’s eye out. (Happened to me. Had to staple my shirt closed for the rest of the day.) Even if the buttons stays on, the shirt pops open.

    Anyway, the others are right. Remember good bras. (I have never found a good bra at Victoria’s Secret. Over priced and back pain after a day or so. I no longer even try them. Fredericks has some good ones though.) I would just forget about ‘pretty bras’.

    I was a 34DD in mid and High School. I went for the $30 granny bras that you get from boxes at JC Penny’s. Try a good fitted posture bra. You are probably already having occassional back pain. Those things are made out of stiff fabric and a full top on your back and cover the entire boob so they badly show with tons of tank tops and shirts. But I could even RUN in those suckers. Hardly any bounce, hardly any pain.

    Then just compensate for your undergarments’ non-pretty with pretty tops.

    Comment by E Walton — December 20, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

  9. Story of my adolescence! I can’t sing the praises of Wacoal bras and Ann Taylor Loft Petite sizes enough. Ann Taylor’s petite knit tops are great for a girl with your frame, and the clothes are very affordable — especially during the post-Christmas sale.

    Comment by Anon — December 20, 2007 @ 6:20 pm

  10. Perhaps she could go with a tunic top or a cute dress and put a cute belt around it. Belted tops are in right now and it would accentuate her waist.

    I really don’t have any other advice to give. Having clothes tailored can get expensive.

    Comment by Angel — December 20, 2007 @ 11:11 pm

  11. the Megaera is herself a tiny little girl with the big bazoombas. The Megaeara lays claim to a bra size of 32 H, and has grown for her entire life. Except for her breasts, megaera stopped growing at 13 (’tis true) at which point she had more or less the same size as Anna Beth. It might be worth Ms. Anna Beth’s checking with her doctor to see if she’s truly going to grow more, or if she has, as Megaera did, attained her full height/waist/etc. early. If Ms. Anna Beth has the tiny feet and hands, then perhaps she is not growing that much any more. If only Bravissimo had existed at the time of Megara’s (painful) adolescence. Buy the bras, and perhaps one shirt of perfect fit, from them. As for button down shirts: wear a cute camisole, or, alternatively, find a button down shirt that fits your chest (chest, not waist) and then buy either a few cheap (but sturdy) brooches or one brooch that speaks to your soul forever (the megaera found several such brooches in her grandmother’s jewelry). Use the brooch at the back of the shirt to fit it to your waist. Voila! a fitted shirt with no sewing. Also, the checking, nay, scouring of the discount chains such as Ross may be in order; frequently the clothes they have from other stores are irregular sizes. One of those irregularities may fit Ms. Anna Beth’s irregular body. :)

    Comment by megaera — December 21, 2007 @ 2:00 am

  12. oh yes, and the Megaera cannot recommend enough the upper body and back exercises; they will not increase Ms. Anna Beth’s breast size but rather help prevent back pain and sagging. Megaera herself has done push ups and sundry exercises for years and despite her chest size has never had back pain.

    Comment by megaera — December 21, 2007 @ 2:03 am

  13. yes, buy yourself some good bras. if you can swing it go for a fitting at a department store. the ladies can teach you what to look for in fit and how to make them last. – don’t wear the same one two days in a row and gentle washing. a good bra will keep you comfortable and help the fit of your clothing. i love wacoal but they are $60 so i also check Nordstrom rack, they’re about $20 there and ebay.

    I think people are right about sewing. learning to sew would help you a ton and open up many more options. I had a friend who altered everything and looked great because of it without spending a ton of money. with your shape and height it you’re probably going to need things altered a lot so it will be worth it in the long run.

    Do a lot of shopping research – go out and try things on at stores and figure out what brands fit you best. also ask about sales and how often they bring in new things. You can even find out if there’s a regular day that items get moved to sale racks. check out all kinds of stores and get to know what is available in your area. Check out even discount stores and check for listings of thrift stores. You can get a feel for which branches of stores have better sale racks or better merchandise. the best dressed person i know would buy her clothes everywhere – thrift and discount stores to fancy department stores. Once you figure out what styles work for you it matters less where you get them

    I don’t know what your style is like but thrift, vintage and second hand stores have been a good source of clothing. They can be inexpensive and a lot of older clothing is cut shorter. I’m 5′ and can sometimes find thing with sleeves that fit. if nothing else you can buy inexpensive blouses to try you hand at alterations. other stores where i can get away with things include Eddie Bauers (sale and clearance items can be reasonable priced. Also the petites are short enough for me but you might be too small for their size range).

    good luck

    Comment by m — December 21, 2007 @ 2:20 am

  14. Shirts: I just wanted to reiterate megaera’s advice regarding the button down shirts. Definitely buy tailored button downs, just invest in some cute camis to put under. Button the shirts at the waist, under the bust (it’s a sort of sexy look, without being too revealing). It doesn’t matter if you can’t do them up at your bust, you’ve got the cami underneath.

    Colour: I prefer black shirts (I know, I know!) because I really do look smaller in them.

    Bras: it’s definitely possible to find decent bras (I’ve found some Playtex underwire bras which give me a nice shape — I personally like Playtex Secrets Signature Florals model 4422 — I’m giving away my secrets, here!) for a reasonable price. At 14, you really don’t need to spend a ton of money to find a decent bra.

    I also think it’s important to point out that minimisers really aren’t our friends. They might make you look smaller from the side (from profile), but they just squish you up in front, and make you look massive.

    For gym class: wear 2 strong bras if you need to do any jumping/running, etc.

    Best of luck to you!

    Comment by Jennifer — December 22, 2007 @ 3:07 pm

  15. Some lower-cost suggestions!

    For clothes:
    – Old Navy’s plain camis. They aren’t pretty, but they’re inexpensive and can be worn under clothes with formality levels up to “dressy casual” until they start to fade.
    – A lot of Old Navy tops come in longer lengths, which can be helpful when some of the length is taken up by the bosom.
    – Shop sales generally. Look for stretchy fabrics — knits, jersey, etc. so that you can buy close to your regular size but still accommodate the chest. Bravissimo often has good sales, if you want to try some of their bust-sized clothing.

    For bras:
    – Shop the sales at Bravissimo and Figleaves. I am a 32H(ish) and have sometimes managed to get a bra in the sale section for $30 or so. Yes, even pretty ones! I am particularly fond of Freya and Fantasie brands, but others may work better for you.
    – For sports bras, I don’t know of any way to skimp on price. I highly recommend the Shock Absorber Level 4 bra; I do NOT have to double-layer this bra to get adequate support when running or playing rugby. (I often DO, because I am paranoid, but I don’t need to.) I would talk to your mother seriously about this, particularly if you are an athlete at all; you can do serious damage without proper support, and it’s all preventable.

    Comment by Laura JV — December 24, 2007 @ 1:31 am

  16. Coming from a size 0, 30E (though I’m 5’8), I can relate. First, a it has been said, get a good fitting. Not just at a store like Victoria’s secret or a department store, but at two or three stores, preferably specialised in bras. You can’t trust most girls at stores like VS. I was measured by them once as a 28D, a 32b another (I’ve never been able to fit in a b up since my early teens, I was laughing so much!) and I got 32D, 32DD most of the times. Anyway, they were wrong and they don’t carry a lot of sizes. Don’t try to fit in a larger band size than you should: it’s uncomfortable and unflattering.

    Avoid stuff that’s extremely loose (like boxy shirts), your pretty hourglass shape will be lost. Find good pants and skirts that fit, and pay heed to avoid a huge gap at your waist if you crouch or sit (it’s very common for hourglass-shaped women). For tops and sweaters, I suggest you do like me and go for fitted, body-conscious tops, that will hug your curves, without swallowing your figure. Pick stretchy, so that they’ll fit your but while showing off your small waist. Get your tops at the seamstress to have the waist taken in if needed (always fit the larger part of your body). And remember: many would kill for a nice hourglass shape like ours lol!

    Comment by E — December 24, 2007 @ 2:08 am

  17. I’ll second the sewing class suggestion Anna Beth. I learned to sew when I was about your age, and 30 years later I’m still at it. The alteration you need is known amongst sewists as an FBA (Full Bust Adjustment) – it’s easy to learn and once you learn how to do it for your own particular shape you can make this adjustment to any pattern from t-shirts to evening gowns.

    And Francesca – girlfriend what you are waiting for? You can learn to sew at any age!

    Comment by Phyllis — December 25, 2007 @ 11:32 am

  18. I can say that often has better sales than anyone else, and actually for “only” a DD, also tends to have fantastic sales at that size.

    Which I am totally jealous of b/c I’m carrying around a nursing set of J cups right now.


    Comment by Dawn — December 25, 2007 @ 11:19 pm

  19. Sewing lessons are a great idea – even if you turn out to be a sewing klutz, like moi, you learn a great deal about fit, form, and style with them, plus I made a bunch of great friends in my high school fabric & design class who became my ace bunch of op-shop and garage sale-stalking crew.

    And second (third?) the button-up warning – gaping is for apes. (Other style lessons from my adolescence include ‘DIY blue lipstick is a mistake’ and ‘marabou feathers attached to the wrists of an outfit is solely the fashion domain of circus acrobats and cage dancers’).

    Comment by Margo — December 27, 2007 @ 3:09 pm

  20. Another vote for sewing!

    I learned to sew in high school after inheriting an old singer, and it meant that nothing was off limits to me – if I saw something in a magazine, and the stores in my rural area didn’t have it in my size (which was pretty much guaranteed) I could find a way to make it, or alter something. I’m sure this resulted in some outlandish outfits, and probably some fashion faux pas, but it taught me an entirely different way of looking at clothing and at myself. It’s the most satisfying hobby I’ve ever had.

    PLUS, there are such good beginner- and consumer-level sewing books now! I wish I were learning now instead of in the 70s, when I mostly ‘flew by the seat of my pants’, as it were.

    Comment by betsy — December 30, 2007 @ 10:22 pm

  21. Here’s a blog post from “Shapely Prose” on getting a bra that fits right. Very good advice.

    Comment by Geogrrl — December 31, 2007 @ 3:26 pm

  22. I came here by accident, but like it

    Comment by Jessica — January 9, 2008 @ 10:08 pm

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