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

July 30, 2012

Maxi Dresses for the Racktacularly Blessed

Filed under: How To Wear It,Maxi Dresses — Miss Plumcake @ 10:32 am

It’s gotta be hard out there for the spectacularly busty, those quasi-blessed girls whose sweater puppies are sweater mastiffs.

I mean sure there are some benefits, my BFF can balance a bowl of cereal on hers with neither froot nor loop crashing to the ground, and I’m pretty sure she’s never had a traffic ticket in her life, even though I’ve ridden shotgun as she’s driven the wrong way up a one-way road, singing Blondie at the top of our 19 year-old lungs.

I’m not going to bore you with stuff you already know. I mean honestly, how many of my readers need to be told that those little center halter things or smocked tube tops are not the way to go? With that in mind, here are some styling tips on maxi dresses for the emphatically bosomed.

Spread the Love

And by love I mean visual interest.

If you’ve got big breasts, you already know how much attention they get.

I mean, if my humble starter set has made people walk into walls, I can only imagine what your deluxe editions do. You can’t make someone ignore them, but you can trick ’em into looking somewhere else, too.

With maxi dresses, try something with a seriously eye-catching graphic close to the hem.

Anything that spreads out the attention over your body is going to make you look more proportionate.

This colorblocked maxi from JC Penney is a good example. With the slender model all the attention goes to the bottom of the dress, but on a busty girl, the boom boom on the bottom is going to be balanced with your natural top-heavy pow. Leave the giraffe wedges at home.

Go Big or Go Home

Strong structural elements like a major kimono sleeve or a well-draped asymmetrical shoulder can work to your advantage while little fripperies and those ubiquitous flaccid ruffles never do.

This dramatic black number would be best served on the confidently statuesque (the long necklace is a smart piece of accessorizing when it comes to a monochromatic maxi as it creates length and balances out the potentially overwhelming swaths of fabric) while the Charlize maxi from Kiyonna –honestly the best all-around example of the maxi I’ve found for pure wearability and glamor– would work  on any frame.

Remember, when you’ve got a serious sleeve and a plunging neckline, it’s perfectly fine to wear a cami. The weight of the sleeve will balance the look. A good sleeve is a busty girl’s best friend when it comes to proportionate dressing as it balances out the cleave even as it’s enhancing it.


Adjust the Volume

While not technically a maxi per se, the tiered prairie dress is close enough to count for our purposes. Many of us are taught not to wear anything that’s going to add volume because our bodies are big (and loud) enough.  Nonsense. Volume is just another tool. Learn to use it well it will serve you well in return.

Although I encourage you to judge prairie dresses on a case by case basis –the wrong tier placement for your body can be the difference between lovely and Laura Ingalls Staypuft– when done correctly, the tiered dress paired with a simply cut bodice can be an excellent choice for those who don’t fall on the Eva Gabor side of the Green Acres equation.

Adding volume at the bottom of the dress balances out any top heavy tendencies, just be sure to keep the frills up top to a minimum.

You want something clean and substantial with broad enough straps to give some structure and, of course, hide your intimate architecture. Look for something where the outer corners of the straps are set wider than your chest and a neatly-shirred bust to ensure your cups won’t spilleth over.

This tall tiered maxi from Simply Be (offered in three lengths) is a strong example. It’s not bust minimizing, but the overall proportion will look right.

Baffle ‘Em with Brilliance

You’re just going to have to trust me on this one, it’s the voice of experience over reason.

A family emergency called Hot Latin Boy and I out of town last week and while HLB was in the hospital attending to his equally hot younger brother (he’s fine –and I mean fine— now) I availed myself of a little retail therapy to sooth the savage breast and, in my exhausted state, tried on a maxi with a small, riotously busy all-over print reminiscent of the fabric my grandmother brought back from her time in South East Asia in the 60’s and 70’s.

Whenever I hit a dressing room, I make sure there’s at least one thing I’m just not even remotely sure will work. Usually I’m right and it goes back to the racks, but sometimes, as in the case of this psychedelic paisley in shades of orange and pink it’s a surprise home run.

While this dress from Macy’s might be problematic for the busty as it’s not especially bra friendly, it is a decent example of the sort of pattern I mean.

The print is so busy it could be one of those Magic Eye things, but it baffles the eye so thoroughly that the effect is to say “lalalanothingtoseehere” over nooks and crannies that might otherwise be accentuated. It made me look taller and more slender than I am and although I can’t find an example I like online, keep the print tight and the cut simple and you’ll be amazed how well it works.





  1. Hooray, Plummy! Thank you for heeding our anguished cries!

    Comment by SarahDances — July 30, 2012 @ 11:55 am

  2. Two surprising suggestions, Plummy! I would have never thought about a peasant dress… and the small print is brilliant. Thanks for some wonderful insight.

    Also… kimono sleeves… how I adore thee. I wish I had an occasion to pair that Charlize maxi with a Turban other than forcing my friends to recreate an Auntie Mame party.

    … I think I just came up with the best party idea….

    Comment by Leah — July 30, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

  3. Here is my problem with the prairie dress, and any dress that has that waist-defining band around the middle: unless the top area is generously cut, that band is going to hit me at half to three-quarter boob. Not a sexy look. I will spend the day tugging my dress down, which then exposes enough cleavage to lose a spelunking team in. Even plus sized stores let me down on boob allowance in their dresses. I have much better luck with the first type of dress you showed – will have to hit JCP’s this weekend, I guess!

    Comment by Evilsciencechick — July 30, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

  4. love the JCP dress!

    Comment by Just_My_2_Cents — July 30, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  5. I love dramatic sleeves; they really do seem to balance out the visual weight of enormous lady lumps. Thanks for the helpful post!

    Comment by Missie Sue — July 30, 2012 @ 5:41 pm

  6. Thanks; as pretty darn racktastic that’s actually really helpful. I really like that dress from Kiyonna, and I think it might work well for me. Plus: fun!

    Comment by barbara — July 30, 2012 @ 9:06 pm

  7. I’m not going to bore you with stuff you already know. I mean honestly, how many of my readers need to be told that those little center halter things or smocked tube tops are not the way to go? With that in mind, here are some styling tips on maxi dresses for the emphatically bosomed.

    I really could’ve used that info about two weeks ago. For some reason I really thought I could pull off the smocked tube thing. My breasts were still hugo, but now they were a flatted uniboob. Not pretty at all. Oh yeah…it even came with the little center halter thing. LOL. Live and learn.

    Comment by Tovah — July 31, 2012 @ 12:54 am

  8. “Emphatically bosomed” is, hands down, the BEST term I’ve heard for the girls EVER. Thak you!

    Comment by Wicked — July 31, 2012 @ 7:11 am

  9. “sweater mastiffs” love it.

    i have been blessed with bust. when I talked about the girls, one of my friends said to me “i have girls. you have grown ass women”

    Comment by Dawn — July 31, 2012 @ 9:14 am

  10. Personally, I always liked the French phrase, “beaucoup de monde au balcon” – a lot of people in the balcony.

    Comment by SarahDances — July 31, 2012 @ 10:16 am

  11. Man I love the prairie dresses. Not so much the maxi length, but in my mind you can’t get better than the sundresses, about knee length. I have one in white I picked up for like $10 from Ross and it’s about the closest thing to no clothes in the hot Texas summer you can wear decently.

    Mine’s got a smocked waist, which I prefer since the empire waist thing does not work at all for me. I get compliments EVERY SINGLE TIME I wear it. It might have singlehandedly converted me to dress-wearing.

    Comment by Siobhan — July 31, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  12. @SarahDances–What a wonderful phrase! Now if only I could pronounce French words :)

    Comment by Missie Sue — July 31, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

  13. Evilsciencechick has the hang of it. I love it if I can find a dress with a snug band under my breasts but most dresses even in Plus Size have to little material above. There is simply no room for the girls, ever.
    If I do find a dress that has enough room the dress rocks and I look wonderful :) Pity that happens once in a blue moon.
    I love the blue kimono dress. I will have to try that style, I’ve avoided it because I thought it would make me look even more top heavy but it seems balance can be achieved.
    Thank you Plumcake!

    Comment by Ravna — August 1, 2012 @ 1:33 am

  14. @Evilsciencechick – thank you for so perfectly articulating what is wrong with so many dresses, and why I lean toward separate. Insufficient breast space. Not only do dresses with insufficient breast space and high waistbands ride too high on my actual breasts, they tend to rub the nipple line and create – um, headlights.

    And this 5’3″ person would totally rock the black caftan because it has a natural waistline which is not too high and would create a column effect. Tho I might open up the neckline slightly to divert a burka effect and let the milk white orbs out for a stroll

    Comment by Thea — August 1, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

  15. Now that you’ve thoroughly covered caftans, how about some help on the hair front? Do you have any go-to stylish cuts for the big-of-face? My head, it is HOT, and I want short hair, but I have a big round face and I need to look professional and feminine at the same time.

    Comment by Jezebella — August 2, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

  16. Ha ha, SarahDances, “’beaucoup de monde au balcon’ – a lot of people in the balcony,” brings to mind a slightly different picture. But maybe that’s just me. It’s a great phase, though. Love it.

    Comment by Leigh Ann — August 6, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  17. I LOVE the maxi dresses with sleeves. This is like a revelation for me! I can get SLEEVES with this style? The Charlize maxi might be making it’s way into my wardrobe soon. I also love the print on the last dress but I agree not bra-friendly :(

    Comment by Chantal H — August 6, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

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