Body-Type

Flat to Fabulous – 9 Ways to Dress a Small Bust

When your cup doesn’t exactly runneth over, it can be hard to feel feminine in our breast-obsessed world.

But bigger isn’t always better, and while there are challenges to dressing a small chest, there are advantages. Here are 9 tips on how to dress to look and feel feminine when you are flat-chested.

Sela Ward - cowl neck tops and plunging V necklines
cowl neck tops and plunging V necklines

1. Try an Interesting Neckline

Fortunately, there’s an upside to your lack of cleavage. It allows you to pull off cowl neck tops and to plunge V necklines. Both styles look quite elegant and are the best tops for small-busted women.

The cowl neck adds more volume, enhancing the appearance of your chest. The V-neck closely hugs the curve of your breasts, making “ the girls” look bigger than they really are.

Just be sure to wear a good bra. Push-up styles are the best bras for small-busted women who want to create cleavage.

kim cattral
Kim Cattrall may be small-busted, but she looks perfectly balanced and elegant, showing lots of skin in this plunging neckline.

Long necklaces that fall between your breasts create a fuller look by filling up space.  Shorter styles draw attention to your collarbone, creating a dainty, ladylike look.

2. Create Curves

Looking curvier instead of stick straight also helps you look chestier. The best kinds of clothes for small-busted women nip in at the waist, making your bust look fuller by contrast.

A  fitted jacket is a great example of this. Belting a shirt or top at your natural waist also helps emphasize what’s up top too.

3. Try Strapless Styles

Many gals over 40 prefer to steer clear of strapless. However, a small bustline means your breasts will stay in place effortlessly, and your dress will highlight one of your most feminine body parts – your collarbone.  Ensure the top of the shirt or dress hits high on the chest to avoid showing too much skin.

4.  Show Some Skin

Here’s a great trick. Distract the eye with a low back or backless dress for instant oomph.  This dressing tactic might feel risky after 40, but it can be demurely sexy when done right.  In fact, most older women have beautiful upper backs because this is not an area that is affected so much by age.

The key to keeping backless classy and not trashy is to make sure your neckline and hem are modest compared to your exposed back.

Nicole Kidman
Beading at the chest makes you look fuller than you are.

Another way to enhance your profile is to wear tops with lots of detail. For example, tops with lots of sequins, buttons, flap pockets, or ruffles covering your chest area visually add weight making your breasts look fuller.  This is a good trick to use when you want to go with a lighter bra because your heavy wire push-up is starting to make you feel like you are wearing a floatation device!

6. Wear Scarves

Take inspiration from Audrey Hepburn, who had a small bust but chose to play up other parts of her figure.

Audrey always looked classy- and no one missed the cleavage.  One of her favorite tricks? Wearing a boatneck top with a cute scarf to distract from her bust and draw all eyes to her shoulders, neck, and collarbone.

Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman in a halter dress- a good style for a small-busted woman.

Built-in cups, boning, or darts that you can’t fill out will make it look like you forgot your breasts at home! Stay away from details like this up top.

8. Enjoy Strappy Styles

Halter dresses and tops were designed for smaller chests. Thin straps also work.

One of the prettiest tops for a small bust is a camisole with fine, delicate straps worn under a blazer for a look that goes from work to dinner effortlessly.

No matter how small your chest, have confidence in your cup size. There are plenty of bras out there for small-busted women that create the illusion of more if that is what you want, and besides, think of Audrey…Beauty is being, not the bustline.

Do you know of any styles of clothes for small-busted women? What have you tried? Let me know or send a photo to myphoto@fabulousafter40.com, and I’ll post it.

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7 thoughts on “Flat to Fabulous – 9 Ways to Dress a Small Bust

  1. I’m a guy, so forgive me if it is creepy that I’m commenting on this. I just wanted to give a guy’s take.

    The thing about having a small or flat chest is that while excessive cleavage can come off as inelegant if done wrong, you basically don’t have to worry about this on a smaller bust. So you can do things like plunge necklines lower. This also goes great with short hairstyles. Carey Mulligan, Natalie Portman, and Daisy Ridley are great examples,

    Some of the language includes a bit of “Distract from” and “less feminine”. I’ve never found it less feminine (generally more), and I think is generally something to show off rather than distract from.

  2. all these tips do help small cheasted women but what about flat chested? Im not technically flat I think but as close can be and still be a women…. I have had 3 kids and I am only 26 I have went from 34B to 36C to 34A to C to A to C to now I am less then an A I believe nothing fits right unless I wear a bra that is either so padded I feel nothing thru or one that is a 34 A but looks like it is to big for me…. I want to rock out my natural breast size so that my 3 girls can learn from it…. what tips or retailer websites r there for flat chested womens fashion?

  3. Thanks – these are very helpful. I definitely agree with the tip for wearing interesting necklines. A cowl neck or draped neckline look great on my figure, so I wear those a lot.

    1. Interestingly enough, as a woman with the opposite problem, I find that necklines like v necks and cowl necks are the most flattering for me, along with making the most of my curves.

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