Fashion doesn't look kindly on the ample bosom. It's not just the edgy catwalk designers who are in denial about plus C-cups. Many high street brands don't seem to get that women can be small everywhere except the bust, or big all over - including the bust.
Work wear in particular often demands your boobs are flattened, or that you buy a shirt that fits the bust but drowns you elsewhere. With an ample bosom you're constantly navigating between too covered up (matronly) and too exposed (trashy). Here's how to get it right.
You'll have heard this a thousand times, especially if you've always had big boobs, but investing in good bras is crucial. Try Rigby & Peller, Triumph or Bravissimo, especially if your back is proportionally small to your cup size. The right bra should make your bust look higher, smaller and tidier.
The underwire won't cut into the breast, and the back should sit halfway between your elbow and shoulder. Get fitted whenever you buy a new bra, as fit varies with different styles. See the hefty price tag as an investment, because wearing the right bra as early as possible will stop sagging later. Sadly the need for supportive bras may rule out backless and strapless styles, but think of the hourglass looks you can pull off that the less well endowed can't attempt.
[ Useful: How to get your bra fitted properly]
Fit and silhouette
You're aiming to enhance your bust, not hide it (other women would love to have your curves, remember). So go for well-tailored cuts, rather than skintight or shapeless silhouettes. Empire line dresses may be flattering elsewhere but by hiding your waist they tend to make you look larger all over.
Emphasise your waist a little, but avoid cinching belts if you have very big boobs as you can end up looking a bit Jessica Rabbit. Fine cardies over a camisole are an ideal big bust solution, as they allow you to hide your bra straps but still show some decolletage.
Showing some of your chest, without flashing loads of cleavage, helps to balance your proportions. If you have a long neck and slim shoulders then boat necks work really well. If not, go for V-necks and wrap tops - but steer clear of buttoned-up blouses, polo necks and round necks.
All of the above make your bust simultaneously look larger but frumpier. Remember also that a big bust makes your body look shorter, so by wearing a longer top that finishes on the hips you can create a more willowy silhouette. That said, if you have legs up to your armpits go ahead and show that off.
Colour, print and texture
Clever use of colour can help balance a top heavy figure. If you have smaller bottom half, try wearing a bright colour there with a darker colour on top. Printed skirts or coloured jeans with a black or charcoal top are both good combinations. There's no reason to avoid bold colours on top if the cut is flattering, but be aware that bright shades are bosom magnifiers.
With prints, a big pattern is going to draw attention to your bust, whereas a small geometric print in a dark colour will minimise. You're also best off avoiding metallic or fluffy textures on top too, so go for fine knit merino wool sweaters rather than cashmere.
Finally, play around with accessories. A bold statement necklace that sits an inch or so above your bust is a great way to detract unwanted attention from your bosom, as are stunning earrings. And don't forget fine summer scarves. Over an evening dress or plain V-neck these are the best way to decorate your cleavage, without feeling like you're putting it on a plate.