Body Proportions Explained – The Effect of a Large Bust


I’ve had a couple of commenters who have wanted to know what to do with their large bust, given their body proportions.

Interestingly, even if you have a balanced waist, a large bust can give you the appearance of a short waist, as by the time the clothes go out over your bust and come back in at your waist it can visually shorten the area.
This is why having great undergarments make such a difference – keeping your bust up high will give you the illusion of a longer waist.
If you have a large bust and and shorter waist, belting at the waist is not a great option, it enlarges your bust and further defines the length of your torso.
Here I am – you can see with the thin belt (left) this is sitting on my natural waist – and it appears to be almost under my bust – and makes my upper body very boxy and wide.
In the middle picture I’ve got a wider belt on which is marginally better but still makes my body look short.
In the picture on the right I’m wearing a belt on my hips which elongates my torso and makes me look overall slimmer – so if I really want to belt, that is the way for me to go.
Instead dress your upper body as if it were shorter proportionally and use the tips I’ve written about to visually reduce your bust size.


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  • Wow, what a perfect visual aid, I really think I get it now. It's so hard to judge from oneself in the mirror but seeing those photos made all the difference. Thanks Imogen.

  • I like the look in picture 3, but while it visually lengthens the torso, won't the belt then draw attention to a large tum? Can we never win?

  • I have an interesting dilemma. Even though I have a short waist I have trouble with tops being long enough to cover my belly. Is this because of the size of my chest? I can't figure it out.

  • I had read somewhere about wearing belt lower on hip – I may try with a longer top and see if that works for me. Thanks for visuals!

  • Thank you for this post! I have shunned wearing belts on the outside for fear of wearing them in the wrong place. I am short (5') and very full busted (36E). I will try your suggestion.

  • Cybill – try taking photos of yourself (no one else ever needs to see them – you certainly don't have to post them on the web!)

    Sal – thanks

    Anon – Ideally as I don't have a waist I don't wear a belt – this was just to illustrate body proportions and cutting up the body with a horizontal line. Yes a belt will draw attention to a tum. I prefer to not belt at all!

    Anon – different brands do different length tops – where are you located in the world? I know in Australia some brands tops are much longer than others. Teen brands tend to be shorter, but not always. If you have a large bust that will take some of the length out of the top.

    Chris – when wearing a lower hip belt look for one that is angled rather than straight – this can create a much more flattering appearance

    Lynelle – give it a go – but you may find that you feel that it emphasises the size of your bust still given your height. It's not essential that we wear a belt – just because they're in fashion!

  • Thank you for your response to both of my questions…I think I will go sans belt, too. I live in Michigan (US), and I have the biggest problem with tank tops and tees being too short. I have one more question. When buying bottoms/skirts that go by waist measurements do I get them to fit my "natural waist measurement" (for me that is just below my bust), or the measurement just below the belly button where it will sit? The measurement around my lower torso is much larger than my natural waist. Is there a rule for short waisted, big busted women as far as where on the torso the waistband should sit?

  • Gosh thanks for your helpful tips. I now know I am long waisted (three hand lengths from my waist to my bust) and how to wear a belt when one is busty. Funny this is the subject today, three of my girlfriends and myself were talking about going to get a breast reduction. I'm doing it!

  • Wow, I guess I have a lot of questions today…I love turtlenecks, but I've always heard that turtlenecks a no-no for busty women…is this true?

  • Anon – yes – where you want to wear the waist is the measurement you're looking at for fitting clothes (so down at your belly button). Belly button height is a good place for waistbands – but as a big-busted short waisted woman, don't tuck in tops, have them ending around your hip bone or an inch or so longer.

    Ask around for places that make longer tops.

    And yes you can have a short waist and short legs -every permutation is possible!

    Linda H – I've thought about a breast reduction too – let me know how you go. Every woman I've met who has had a reduction says its the best thing she ever did.

    Anon- Turtlenecks- they make your bust appear to start under your chin and look very large – any sort of high neckline is not great for a busty woman! Sorry.

  • Imogen, you aren't busty enough to warrant an operation. I'm also bustier than you, and short – like Her Majesty (though 30 years younger!)

    There are benefits, but it can also reduce sensitivity of a key erogenous zone. Style is important, but so are other parts of life.

    A friend who was thinking of that opted instead for a visit to Rigby and Peller, and a few properly-fitted bras.

  • Lagatta – thanks – I am actually a G cup – which I think qualfies me as a reduction material! I just disguise them well, but they do give me back pain. For me it's less about style and more about comfort, if I were to go there.

  • Sorry… maybe you've mentioned this before, but what body "letter" are you, please? I think your body shape posts are fascinating but I am not yet very good at divining various people's (including my own) letters.

  • I have a different difficulty. I have a very small bust, an A cup, that is also quite low on my torso. Push-up bras won't really help here, there's not much to push up. There's just a lot of space between my chin and what little bust I do have. That combined with my wide shoulders makes for a lot of empty space, if that makes sense. I have a really hard time finding tops that don't look silly on me. Could you suggest some styles that might work?

  • This is a good illustration, Imogen. Thanks for the demonstration. I'm not sure that I can wear a low-slung hip belt, though – I think my hips are a good deal wider/higher than yours.

    I've been studying my "belted" pictures, and I actually most like the ones where I use a narrow belt at the natural waist, but I belt over a cardigan left open with a shirt in a contrasting color underneath. I wonder if it's the narrow vertical line created by the lower layer shirt that I like. Maybe I'm wrong and I still look stumpy, but I've received a lot of compliments when I belt that way too…

    Maybe this is just my stubborn/foolish streak kicking in, but I'm not 100% ready to abandon the idea of belts yet – though I acknowledge that they are tricky to wear.

  • Hi,

    The illustration is great but it is always the rule?

    I love the belted cardigan look and I've been pretty happy with it.

    for reference, I am large busted 12DD and an hourglass (X) shape and am conscious of ensuring balance!

    I too have a tummy issue and I don't quite like the low slung belt look.

    Also check out fab finds under 50's blog – she does belts quite well and she's quite a curvy gal.

    What do others think?

  • I keep referring people to this post but I wish it could just magically appear on all style-related blogs! You are wonderful for modeling the effects for us, but I think #3/the hip belt is the only one I can get behind.

    I mean, I get it, it's confusing…those lucky enough to have defined waists keep hearing they should belt them. And belts, especially wide ones, are "on trend."

    But yeah, I do think that 99% of the time large-busted, short-waisted women* — no matter what their body shape — look so blocky and top-heavy in belts that are 2.5" or wider. I say this as one of the above types, and one of them who has to blow off remarks by people who seem to think a belt is The One True Answer to every outfit, grrrrr.

    Wide belts that contrast with a top's color are even worse. They seriously make me think about stealth scissoring.

    * As you say even LB/average-waisted women can find that belts enstumpen!

  • Do you have any plans to do an entry on dressing for plus-sized Xs? I have a couple pairs of black cargo pants which I dearly like, but I'm not sure how to dress up top, now that my waist isn't so slim and my bust is even more of a bother than before.

  • I’m 5’4″, an L cup, AND incredibly short-waisted. The rise in regular jeans makes the waist hit about 4″ above my navel. Still reading….

    • Carrie – you have a difficult job there – never tuck, don’t make your waist the focus, but do have your clothes tailored to fit your waist and skim past. Don’t end tops any higher than your hip bone, but not too low either as it will make you look shorter. Push up sleeves or wear 3/4 sleeves to make your legs look longer. Lower necklines to your First Balance Point will work best, then put a large scale piece of jewellery on at your Second Balance point.

  • Imogen,

    In this illustration I can see the reasons for the lower belt as I have the same short torso and a 14D bust (recently lost 2 dress sizes 🙂
    Question is, if you are petite this can then lead to you having shorter legs. Is this remedied by having tops firm on the hip under the belt.
    I recently have begun wearing belts again and feel much better. Before that I always felt a bit ‘maternity’ and thought it was my lot because I have had 9 pregnancies. But a belt and a few dress sizes smaller I am looking petite, trimmer and excellent. But a longer line top does make my legs disappear or appear smaller.

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