Ask Eric: How to Wear the Maxi Dress Trend if Your Boobs Get in the Way

Becca's got DDs and mark my words, she'll be gallivanting about in a maxi dress this summer.
Publish date:
March 21, 2012
fashion, shopping, boobs, maxi dress, shoppable, ask eric, spring dresses

Often times, trying a trend can prove to be difficult – you feel drawn to it, yet you’re not exactly sure how to rock it, whether it’s how to create your look or if a problematic body part is standing between you and your new dream outfit. Ladies, worry not, I am here to help! Take reader Becca, for example. She recently wrote in asking the following:

Hi Eric,

Spring is coming soon and I really want to try the maxi dress trend. The thing is, I have DD+ sized boobs. There is a lot to choose from, so which type of maxi dress should I go for if I'm a size 8, measure 5'6 and am 21 years old? I tried on a few of those dresses last year and most couldn't fit over my bust properly, if at all. It's just really unflattering and frustrating! I've noticed there are a lot of different styles to choose from so before I head to a store, I wanted to know which kinds to look for.


Our girl even included a pic to make it easier for us!

Thanks for asking, Becca, we’re going to solve your problem today! Maxi dresses can definitely become your friend, especially because you are taller than the average woman. Often times, the maxi length can be less flattering on the vertically challenged, but standing at 5’6, this is not a problem for you. You can opt for a great print and not worry about it, whereas if you were shorter, I would recommend a solid to create elongation.

Let’s get to it. Obviously, having large boobs can be awesome for certain things and not so great for others, namely for finding a perfect fit in clothes. Sometimes, large bosoms can actually even make you look – there’s no way to say this delicately – larger than you actually are. So the key is to find things that don’t ACCENTUATE but that COMPLEMENT your, er, assets. This is a great rule of thumb: it’s all about proportion! You don’t want to expose your cleavage in such a way that people feel inclined to swipe their credit card in there, if you know what I mean. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing, which of course, there would be nothing wrong with – but I’m assuming you wouldn’t be asking me for fashion advice if that were the case.)

Becca mentions that all the dresses she’s tried on in the past just did not fit properly over her bust. A good solution to this may be as simple as getting a great fitting bra. It may sound silly, but the majority of women out there are actually wearing the wrong bra size and style, and a mere change in support system could actually make a huge difference, if only for the containment and control. Didn’t we all learn this lesson on Oprah a few years back?!

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s talk about the actual garment. We’ve experienced a serious maxi dress revival over the past few seasons, which means that there are all sorts of fits out there – bodycon, loose, ruffly, floaty, stretchy, contrived, strapless, long sleeve, you name it. You should always go for what you feel most comfortable in, but here are some important tips to remember:

- A defined waist goes a long way, especially if you have a big bust. As mentioned above, big boobs can sometimes make you look bigger than you are. By cinching the waist, you flaunt your curves and show that you have a great silhouette instead of simply getting lost in the material. You have a great body, so don’t hide it! Use a belt or look for empire waist styles.

- Look for styles that are conducive with bra-wearing. Unfortunately, you are not in a position to go braless – ever – even if you choose a tight, stretchy knit material. This also means no strapless options. Even if you gravitate toward that cut, it is to be avoided at all costs (unless it has a built-in corset!), especially if you’re looking to be comfortable and to wear it as a day look.

- Befriend layering – it could become your most precious ally. Allow me to elaborate: if you fall in love with a tank dress but are a little uncomfortable with the skin exposure, don’t hesitate to throw a neutral-color tank top or t-shirt underneath.

- There are certain shapes that look particularly great (and fit!) over large breasts, like slight v-necks (read: not plunging), wrap-arounds and flouncy button-downs. You want to stay away from styles that have darts, as they will most likely never fit. What you're looking for is billowy fabric that will leave room for your chest to breathe. Also keep in mind that a great pattern can distract the eye and downplay your chest.

- Take advantage of your beautiful complexion and skin tone by complementing them with another of this season’s big trends: bold colors. Use this to your advantage and kill two birds with one stone.

- Remain age-appropriate! 21 is prime time for experimentation and you can get away with a lot in your twenties. You want to choose something youthful and fun that translates your energy. There is just one thing to never, ever ignore: your gut. If something just doesn’t feel right or you’re just uncomfortable with wearing, it’s probably because it isn’t for you. If you FEEL good, you’ll LOOK good – confidence is key.

I can totally understand how finding the right fit must be frustrating at times, but whenever you get annoyed remember two things: 1) not all fits work for every body type – there is something out there for you – and 2) a lot of women shell out the big bucks to get what nature gave you for free!

I’ve rounded up some great dress options for you below, in a variety of prices. Don’t worry about the cost of some of these and use the styles as inspiration for what to look for next time you head to your favourite retailers. Happy shopping!


Eric's maxed out lots of things. Follow him on Twitter! @xoEricNicholson