Ah, the hourglass, the supposed ideal feminine form. You'd think hourglass shaped gals would have an easy time shopping for clothes, and you'd be right...up to a point. After that point, clothes shopping becomes an infuriating hellscape where you end up screaming “WHY CAN’T YOU TAKE ALL OF ME” in dressing rooms a lot and then people stare at you and it’s just generally not a nice experience.
If it fits your waist, it requires space-age lubricant to get it over your ass, and laughs at you when you suggest it try corralling your tits. If it fits boobs and butt, it ends up a baggy mess around your waist and makes you look lumpy. Generally I feel that one thing most people strive for is to avoid looking lumpy, like you’re trying to smuggle potatoes past New Zealand’s extremely vigilant biosecurity.
Shopping when you’re shaped differently from the industry standard is always kind of a skill, and while a moderate hourglass is industry standard, if your proportions are on the more extreme end of the spectrum, finding clothes that fit gets tough. This is a skill I’ve honed through many years of trying on dresses that were too big and too small at the same time, and I’m hear today to tell you what I’ve figured out works.
However, I should warn you that I regard Morticia Addams, Lily Munster, and both Peggy and Kelly Bundy as fashion icons, and wear wedding gowns to the grocery store sometimes, so If you're looking for tips on A: work appropriate, B: vaguely normal or C: tasteful, I apologize because I will likely be utterly useless and I’m sorry.
1. For Some Reason Rockabilly Brands are Your Friend.
Rockabilly clothing companies make stuff that's very hourglass shaped. Some of my favourite pieces are from Pinup Girl Clothing, Sourpuss Clothing, Switchblade Stiletto, and RockSteady Clothing. I especially love the blessedly stretchy, figure-hugging pencil skirts, wiggle dresses and wasp-waisted blouses on offer at the aforementioned places. I also adore UK brand Hellbunny for halter-necked sun dresses that are my “I don’t wanna get dressed, or think or move” go-to.
2. Bras Need A British Invasion.
If you’re busty, you’re probably aware of how goddamned hard it is to find a bra that is comfortable, fits, and actually manages to contain your boobage. And also doesn’t look like a medical support garment. And also doesn’t cost more than your rent.
However, the UK’s got your back (or, well, technically your boobs -- in any case they support you). You might be thinking “But Madeira, shipping costs are astronomical! Even if Britain is truly a magnificent land (or technically group of islands which can be referred to as an archipelago if we want to be fancy) abounding with attractive brassieres in my size that are both comfortable and relatively affordable, surely the cost of shipping must negate any savings I might hope for.”
But there, my ducklings, you would be wrong, because as always Amazon has everything with free shipping and even if you wanted to escape them you couldn't.
My favourite brands are Curvy Kate, because their bras are pretty, and come in a huge range of sizes and also have I mentioned they’re pretty? Also some of them ship with Amazon Prime and I really like two-day shipping. Freya because they’re super comfy, super well made and again with the huge range of sizes and Prime eligible shipping (which I may actually like too much). Panache for all the same reasons I just said. And What Katie Did because they make bullet bras and you cannot tell me that’s not really cool. Also said bullet bras are super supportive with no underwire like some sort of magical fairy bra).
3. Go Victorian
The Victorians adored extreme hourglass figures (what do you think all that corsetry was about), and clothing styled after theirs tends to look fabulous on the buxom. Personally, I love Retroscope because most of their blouses lace up in the back which makes them an adjustable godsend. If you’re feeling fancy, there’s also Kambriel which makes everything custom so whatever you get fits like a beautiful spooky glove. If you’re into the Victoriana, but not so much the gothy, Victorian Trading Co. has you covered in terms of gorgeous romantic gowns.
4. Chop Up Big T-Shirts
Ideally the big T-shirt should belong to an ex for maximum catharsis, but any large T-shirt that’ll look cool with the bottom bit cut off will do, Open up the neckline, turn it into a crop top and you’ve got something comfortable and summery as it is sexy. It’s so easy you probably already did this and are rolling your eyes at me right now.
5. Follow the Strippers.
Now, I live in Providence RI, and I don’t mean to brag but we’re the sex trade capital of New England (look it up). And one thing I have found is that if you can find stores that cater to exotic dancers they’ll have really cute stuff that’s usually reasonably priced and will actually fit you right. Perfect for parties and nightlife type activities, or if you’re me, 10 a.m. on a Tuesday.
I haven't felt the emotion of shame since the time a guest found me wearing nothing but a fur stole and a petticoat, picking apart the carcass of a rotisserie chicken with my extremely long acrylic nails, 4 of which were broken, at 3 in the morning, like some Dr. Moreau cross between a raccoon and a celebutante… Which isn’t a true story at all. That never happened and you can’t prove that it did.
Well, that just about sums up what I know about dealing with the whole hips/boobs/waist issue in terms of finding things that actually fit you without having to go through the rigmarole of going to a tailor. (I know, I know they’re the best thing ever but you and I both know that that dress you bought to have altered is going to wait in the back of your closet for years for you to get around to actually going to a tailor). Oh, also stretchy tops, but you knew that already.