How To Dress For Summer When You've Got Big Boobs

a person in a dress
How To Dress For Summer When You've Got Big BoobsColin Dodgson / Courtesy of Marni

Summer is great. But dressing for summer is a more complex matter, not least when you're contending with clothing a bigger bust. Warm temperatures generally call for less fabric and then there's all the events that seem to have filled the diary that can each in turn cause all matter of conundrums, whether you're heading to the office or a church wedding. Even a trip to the park with friends can be tricky if you're not into your mammaries becoming the topic of conversation.

Somedays you might want to show a little cleavage, other days you want to momentarily pack them away; a trickier option when temperatures don't allow for an elegant cashmere jumper quickly placed over.


It's something I know all too well. As a fashion editor with over 15 years as a part of the bigger bust brigade, I've tried and tested every which way to dress in summer. And one thing is for certain, I've rarely let my boobs get in the way of what I want to wear. Of course, there have been dresses that have been written off even before a try-on because of uncompromising open backs or fit, but by and large I've found solutions for most, ranging from handy camouflaged vest tops to the perfect strapless bra (yes, I'm calling it perfect) and even some surprising beauty hacks that help along the way.

As with all points of style, it's personal. You might be someone who prefers to go braless and is confident in allowing your natural form fall free, but I'm not that person. I always feel better when I'm supported, either thanks to the fit of the dress or a little help from what I'm wearing underneath. And so it's a given that I'm always going to be underwired.

So, let me get a few points of advice off my chest...

The Best Day Dresses For A Bigger Bust

emily ratajkowski in a white summers dress in new york city
Jason Howard/Bauer-Griffin - Getty Images

A great day dress is the backbone of the summer wardrobe and in recent years options for bigger busts have abounded as the trend for smock dresses has dominated the market. If anyone is the cause of this then it's the brilliant Molly Goddard. My number one go-to designer for dresses, be it magnificent tulle or simple cotton dresses. Goddard's pieces tend to be cut generously which is great news for those needing to consider more room in the chest, and this applies to both her signature smock style and wider options. I wore a brilliant strapless dress last year and it proved perfect in accommodating my bust, but still falling flattering through the waist which can so often be a pre-tailoring decision of taking one over the other. Chopova Lowena is another female-led British brand that has a fashion-first approach to size-inclusivity that I especially adore.

On the high street, I find Marks & Spencer to be especially reliable here. Two colourways of its hero dress of the season have found their way into my wardrobe. Its tight-fit waist might have usually meant that I'd need to size up but I didn't. Hence why I then opted for the green ticking stripe too. If both weren't white cotton I'd probably go braless as they're structured enough but just a little transparent for that.

But whether you're shopping vintage, designer, or high street, a seamstress is your best friend for making a summer day dress work for you. Luckily, it's never been easier to have things tailored, be it Vestiaire Collective teaming up with the brilliant SOJO or other apps like The Seam.

The Best Special Occasion Dresses For A Bigger Bust

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Generally speaking, dresses for special occasions can be trickier for bigger busts as you might have to place more of a consideration on things like modesty and all-day comfort. For me, searching for a dress for weddings or parties that proves flattering to my bust, without being concealing or constricting, starts and ends with a square neckline. I find them to be unendingly flattering and they feel more modern than an often-prescribed V-neck or sweetheart line. They show a hint of cleavage and form without being overtly revealing. In short, they're great. I also love that there's a gentle nod to the court of Henry VIII in the cut.

I ordered 16Arlington's Vezile dress in black straight from the catwalk and have since loved seeing Greta Gerwig, Alva Claire (in the pages of ELLE, no less), Lena Dunham and Paloma Elsesser each trying on this neckline from the brand in different dress iterations.

On the topic of Elsesser - my big boob dressing icon of choice - the model's Marni collaboration is full of inclusive options but it is the collection's square-neck dress that gets my vote. Style with chunky sandals for day, dainty mules for more formal events.

What's best about a square neckline is that more often than not it affords you the option to wear a bra if you're still not sure about going without. Hide straps under wide-enough straps or simply go strapless (more on that follows.)

The Best Two-Piece Sets For A Bigger Bust

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Jason Howard/Bauer-Griffin

The ultimate sartorial solution for bigger busts in summer is separates, where you can pick and choose between sizes to make a total ensemble that works for your proportions. Make like Nicola Coughlan and flesh some midriff to break up the pieces or opt for a total full-look that deceives as a would-be dress. Here, you can be picky as brands are becoming increasingly aware of this approach to dressing and can choose between styles for one that fits you best.

The Best Bigger Bust Strapless Bras

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Dave Benett

Granted, underneath every great summer outfit worn by someone with anything over a D cup is an impressive feat of engineering. If you've long writ strapless bras out of your wardrobe then it's high time you give them another chance. Technology has improved and so too has the user experience, so to speak. My number one favourite is Wonderbra's Ultimate Strapless. I'm wearing it here:

I like how it offers up ample cleavage and support without feeling encasing or suppressing. On paper, they don't do up to my usual size but after much trial and error, I've found that choosing a bigger-than-usual back size to deal with the smaller cup actually proves extremely efficient. Though, when it comes to other strapless bras I size down in the back to find some additional support, a tip I learned from Ashley Graham, no less.

Disclosure: that's not to say things are perfect and you do have to have some level of resilience and anticipation of discomfort with them. I've found that applying Lush's Silky Underwear powder around my midriff helps stop any excessive rubbing. Thank me later.

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