dresses after weight gain/ body proportion change
September 2, 2020 9:39 AM   Subscribe

What is flattering for me now

I've gained about 20 pounds due to a medication. I am now a lot heavier in the bust. I'm short and short waisted and finding it hard to find flattering DRESSES. The dresses I used to wear makes me look sloppy now. The standard advice of wearing a belt to define my waist looks ridiculous on me because it just makes me look huge in the bust and anyway my waist isn't that great and it looks like I'm trying too hard. But wearing loose things makes me look very matronly. High necks really look bad on me now.
Wrap dresses are OK but I don't only want wrap dresses.
Looking for personal advice, blogs or websites that shows good looks for shorter women with heavier busts.
posted by Tim Bucktooth to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm top heavy and I like shirt dresses. Easy to dress up or down, you can wear them loose or use a belt. I like thin belts worn to just barely define the waist, or a sash in the same material as the dress. I like them so much I have about 8 of them - I don't really wear any other kind of dress.
posted by cilantro at 10:03 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]

You sound a bit like me -- I'm 5'2", around 160, and fairly hourglass with a big bust. Here are some dresses that work well for me: CowCow if you like crazy-ass prints, and Fensace if you want solid colors with actual pockets. A-line, fit-and-flare, and skater dress are usually the terms I look for.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:29 AM on September 2 [7 favorites]

You might find these indices helpful - fashion bloggers on instagram sorted by their measurements. Separated by petite, midsize, and plus size. I find inspiration and confidence from looking at similar sized folks.
posted by mcgsa at 10:35 AM on September 2 [13 favorites]

Fit-and-flare and skater dress styles are fitted in the bust and the skirt begins to flare out from there to skim the rest of the torso in a flattering way. You might also find some empire waist styles to be similarly flattering.

Princess seams also tend to work well for me. The shape of the seams running down the front of the dress give the illusion that your bust is fuller than your waist.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:52 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]

These are all great! Cilantro can you tell where you find good shirt dresses? It's overwhelming to look online at everything.
posted by Tim Bucktooth at 10:59 AM on September 2

I can't handle a shirt dress because the row of buttons looks odd as it flows over my breasts and then gaps in the middle where the dress is tightest. I'm also very short waisted so any dress with a fixed waistline won't work because the the waistline hits my the top of hips where I'm starting to curve out again.

My best solution is find nice stretch knit tops (I like Serengeti) worn pulled out over a comfortable skirt.
posted by metahawk at 11:06 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]

I have a similar body type/shape and was also going to suggest looking for things with "princess seams" that cut follows the line of your body and creates a nice hourglass silhouette. Other search terms to use would be - empire waist, surplice and a-line.

I also steer clear of knit dresses as they hug the wrong things and go more for woven fabrics with a bit of stretch. Bust darts are great and will make sure you don't look boxy or look like you are wearing a tent. Dresses with some tailoring are good. I find pleats and gathers less flattering than a smooth skirt front. Button down fronts are nice.

E-Shakti has lots of shirt dresses and other style and can do made to measure. I don't find a lot that works for my body type there, but do have a few pieces I really like.
posted by brookeb at 11:10 AM on September 2 [5 favorites]

Seconding tshirt dresses.
posted by Grandysaur at 11:16 AM on September 2 [1 favorite]

Eshakti lets you narrowly define your dress criteria and cuts to your height for no extra charge.
Lots of dresses come with pockets, or you can add them to anything.

I am 9 mo postpartum and despair of wearing my before clothes.
Watching with interest!
posted by natasha_k at 11:41 AM on September 2 [2 favorites]

One suggestion is to try Gwynnie Bee, which is a subscription clothing service. I am a school librarian, and I found a ton of great dresses from them, and what I then did was to look for the brand on other sites. I found Effie's Heart and Leota through the site- both of which sell dresses made out of stretchy material. I am contradicting the advice of another poster, but as a plus sized person with a large chest, I prefer clothing made from knits. I find that as long as they are the right size they are both a lot more comfortable, and I look better in them.
posted by momochan at 11:42 AM on September 2 [3 favorites]

Wrap dresses, faux-wrap dresses, shirt dresses (make sure it fits your bust!), and anything with a v-neck or scoop neck is good. Avoid anything shapeless or without structure. I'd also say to avoid things with complicated shoulders or extra material on the sleeves or upper arms. Both wrap dresses and shirt dresses are in style now. Where do you usually shop? Here are some Gap shirt dresses, for example.

I don't know what the world of bra-fitting is like these days, but getting a few good new bras can make a world of difference for you in appearance and comfort.

A warning with empire waist dresses: they might not be big enough for your bust.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:09 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]

I'm a large-busted, 5'4", size 12-14 person. I used to wear cute skater dresses in college but I've gained a couple dozen pounds since then. I don't like shirt dresses with buttons because of the boob button gap mentioned by metahawk above.

What works for me now are good quality, heavier knits. There's such a difference between the knit dresses from Target and Forever 21, and those from more practical and like... "adult woman" clothing lines. I also find that there has to be some definition to the waist, like a wide waistband situation in the dress, otherwise I get the unfortunate knit dress thing where you just see my underwear waistline. I shop from:

* L.L. Bean (one, two)
* Eddie Bauer (one, two)
* Loft (one, two) and their woven dresses are so nice too (one, two)

Don't be scared by the price points you see here, BTW! Almost all my dresses come from me doing eBay searches for 'loft dress large' or 'bauer dress large' and they're $15-30 a pop secondhand.
posted by wintersonata9 at 3:36 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]

Tuesday of California is the fave dress maker of one of my shorter, ample-chested friends. All of the clothing made by Tuesday of California is made in LA and often of dead-stock fabric, which also makes it an ethical choice. I've seen the Rodeo dress on and it's very flattering.
posted by quince at 3:46 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]

I gained and then lost 20ish pounds, and have a similar body type to yours, and my constant companion has been the Old Navy jersey swing dress. I have it in three colors, and the long-sleeved version in two. It tapers at the waist but doesn't have any kind of waist seam or gather, the latter of which I found very unflattering after I gained weight.
posted by capricorn at 3:51 PM on September 2 [3 favorites]

I came here to recommend the same dresses as capricorn. The Old Navy jersey knit dresses fit me well, and they're not constricting. Gap sometimes has dresses in a similar shape/knit, but they don't currently have any available.
posted by hydra77 at 5:00 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]

I'm 4'11, about 20 lbs overweight atm, and very top-heavy. I swear by skater dresses. Some interesting styles to try include:

- The subtle no-belt belt, brought to you by the magic of the skater cut.

- Classic v-neck with a waist-creating pattern

- Formal wear can be skater dress!

- different-toned arms which I love because of how they make my shoulders look wider and my bust look manageable.

- preppy and structured

- delicate and lacy

- And BY GOD if I could find a decent fucking strapless bra I would love to wear specifically off-shoulder skater dresses all the time.

- But in the absence of such luxury, I do happily settle for halter-neck skater dresses -- similar to off-shoulder necklines, the halter neck also minimizes my bust and highlights my shoulders.

The best part is skater dresses easily accommodate POCKETSESSSSS.
posted by MiraK at 6:09 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]

I am short-waisted and have a big belly and medium bust, which means my narrowest torso measurement is actually my under-bust. By far the most flattering dresses on me are high-waisted with a full or at least A-line skirt and a relatively low neck (not necessarily super sexy-low but scoop, V, or square neck that hits a couple inches below my collarbone.) Halter necks are really flattering on me but the bra issue can be kind of a pain.

I tend to look for:
-Empire waist or "baby doll" dresses
-A-line, fit and flare, etc that does not have a hard waistband (so princess seams, wrap dresses, or dresses with a waist seam but not a lot of waist structure).
-Heavier-weight knits are more forgiving than wovens if i'm doing a more fitted bodice
-embellishment at the neckline or other emphasis at the bust area helps to make my garments more visually balanced
-Skater dresses can be lovely and comfortable depending on the cut. (princess seams in a loose A-line, high-waist.)
-"trapeze" dresses (very full from the shoulder) can be really comfortable to wear but I tend to think they're a little TOO shapeless for me. YMMV though.

Button-down or shirt dresses actually tend to really not work on me because they either become a giant box or they are tailored to proportions I don't have and are either too tight at the belly or vastly too big in the bust.
posted by oblique red at 1:40 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]

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