When you have a small frame, a larger bust can easily look disproportionate. It can be difficult for larger busted petite women to find good quality, well-fitting clothes that are both flattering and stylish. But the good news is the fashion industry is slowly waking up to our needs.
Breast size as a whole has increased significantly in both the UK and the US since the 1960s; the average height of a woman in the UK is now just over 5’4″, with a bust size 36DD, so we know there are many of us out there that fall into the petite and busty category. We want all petite women to love their bodies, feel confident in their outfit choices and not have to compromise on the latest stylish trends. If you feel slightly lost when it comes to dressing for your shape, looking to women of a similar stature is a fantastic idea – it serves as both visual inspiration when shopping, and a practical guide to showing you what suits a larger busted petite body shape. Plus, these A-list ladies are forever on the red carpet, which means they’re wearing many, many more outfits than you and I ever would, so there’s an abundance of style inspo to draw from.
1. Make the bottom half a statement
Scarlett Johansson is a regular on the best dressed lists and hardly ever puts a sartorial foot wrong. We can learn a lot from the 5’2″ actress, who styles her D cup chest perfectly. To balance out a larger bust, follow Scarlett’s lead and try wearing a bold colour on your bottom half. We love Scarlett’s trendy mixing of khaki and fuchsia here. By sporting a bright colour on your bottom half, the eye will instantly be drawn to that area, balancing out your bust. The fact that the trousers are a slimming tailored style, the shirt is tucked in, and a belt draws in the waist are all petite friendly, flattering styling tricks you should utilise when building an outfit.
2. V-necks and vertical stripes
More than any other body shape, a neckline that shows some skin is the key to flattering a larger chest. Look out for tops or dressed with plunging, V, boat or square necklines to break up the body and slim your petite frame. Scarlett works both in her red carpet get up – the vertical stripes visually lengthening her small frame. This is the perfect example of the best way to style a large bust, without sacrificing on style.
3. Styling tricks make all the difference
Don’t be put off by something you think ‘won’t suit you’, as garments can be dramatically changed depending on how they’re styled. In both instances here, in a dressy red carpet and an off duty look, Scarlett utilises styling to make the most of her outfits. The suited look is already broken up by the slight V-neck, but is made further flattering to a large bust with the addition of a waist belt, defining and drawing the eye in to a smaller area. Off duty, Scarlett rolls up the hems of her high-waisted jeans, heightening her by showing a hint of ankle. A shirt that may have otherwise draped over her chest, waist and arms (wearing larger, baggier items isn’t always the most flattering) is left open slightly to create a V-neck, rolled up at the sleeves and tied at her smallest point (the waist.)
4. The legs/bust rule
Whilst we’ve discussed the merits of a V-neck, if your outfit does cover up your top half, make like Salma and show off your legs. The ¾ sleeves and darker colour of 5’1″ Salma’s dress, plus the addition of coordinating heels balance out her ample chest and have a slimming effect.
5. All over pattern
An all over pattern leads the eye over the entire body, often ‘skimming over’ larger areas, like the chest. Here, a square neckline breaks up the pattern, and Salma’s legs are lengthened by the pattern on the ‘trouser’ section of her jumpsuit continuing upwards, rather than being cut off at the hip.
6. The devil’s in the details
The panel details at the waist of this black and pink dress elongate Salma’s frame, lookout for clever elements of design like this on tops and dresses when shopping. For larger busted petites like Salma, never forget the importance of a well-fitting bra, to keep your chest supported and in place. On the red carpet, the floral details again emphasize Salma’s smallest part and just enough cleavage is on show – balanced out by keeping the arms covered.
Dame Helen Mirren
7. Consider fabric textures
When shopping, really look at the fabric of the item. Anything textured, ruched or bias cut (fabric cut diagonally across the grain so it flows as it hangs) will slim the figure, skimming your body rather than clinging to it. Although this green dress is hugging her body, the slight ruching and cross of fabric at the waist flatters Helen’s 5’2″ frame. Even the smallest peak of flesh can flatter a larger bust.
8. Outerwear made easy
Even when it comes to tricky outerwear, Miss Mirren knows to opt for an unfussy, midi length tailored style to accentuate and flatter her figure. Opting for a style that can be tied or cinched at the waist (be that a trench, pea or belted car coat) will slim your body. We love the button detail on Helen’s coat, again it pulls in her waist which in turn flatters her bust and creates beautiful curves.
9. Fuller skirts and illusion necklines
Balancing out your top half with a fuller skirt means a 50s style dress, like Helen’s floral number, is perfect for you. If you can show some skin below your neckline like this dress does, even better. Always opt for clothing specific to petites to get that perfect fit. In another of Helen’s winning looks, the devil’s in the details yet again. This white dress, whilst a tricky colour to pull off, is made flattering by the slip under the dress’s bust line being lowered, leaving a beautiful illusion of lace so it’s age appropriate and elegant. If you’re short with a large bust, look out for illusion necklines if you want to flatter your frame without showing too much cleavage.
Dame Judi Dench
10. Black & layering = a winning combo
83 year old Dame Judi is looking no less stylish than ever; she knows how to perfect dressing her 5’1″ frame. Like so many women, Judi knows that black is oh-so complimentary to any and every body shape. Layering black, as Judi has here, gives a three dimensional feel to an outfit rather than just wearing say, a plain black dress. Layering also draws the eye to different elements of the outfit – the figure balancing wide leg trousers and elongated panel at the neckline created by the open jacket and round necked top underneath. These are all elements you can emulate in an outfit that will perfectly suit a larger busted petite.
11. The power of a Maxi
As a petite with a larger chest, it’s important to buy well-fitting garments. A dress that’s too tight won’t flatter your curves, as it gives an ill-fitting look, whilst being uncomfortable to wear. Judi’s colour dress perfectly demonstrates the importance of fit. Here, the square neckline is not too tight or too loose, and accentuates the chest area without looking to OTT or garish. This allows the rest of the garment to look effortless – the maxi style adding a look of height to the body.
12. Chic cover ups
No one does cover ups like Dame Judi; often outwear can be an afterthought but it needn’t be. It should be an equally stylish element to your perfect petite outfit, and you need look no further than this 5’1″ Oscar winner to show you how. By opting for long-length styles, inches are added to your natural stature. Larger busted ladies like Judi suit unfussy styles – avoid ruffles around the chest as this will add inches and bulk where it’s not needed. Instead, refined minimal, tailored styles are the height of fashion and functionality. Consider an open maxi style like Judi’s, the long panel created by the opens runs upwards in the middle of your frame, offering a slimming element and lengthening element.