Being petite and large-breasted sometimes makes me feel like I am the body-type equivalent of a unicorn. But petite women with large chests exist. We are not unicorns. And we need to get dressed, just like everybody else. The clothing and lingerie businesses tend to assume that a larger chest = a larger body, which can make shopping for our unique shape a challenge. But it can be done, and we can look damn good. Here's how to make life a little easier (and chicer):
Try Everything On
And I mean everything. Fit is the most important element when shopping for such a specific body type. Some tight dresses are incredible on me, while others create an unflattering 'bursting at the seams' effect that makes hiding under a giant sweater highly appealing. You never really know how something will look on you until you put it on. (Except those teensy bustier tops, you know exactly how they will look, and it won't be good).
Buy the Right Bra
Seriously. Wearing the correct size will save you a world of hurt, quite literally. Tons of women, large and small-chested alike, wear the wrong bra size. If you find that your breasts spilling out of the cups or the underwires digging uncomfortably into your skin, go and get a professional fitting. Nordstrom is a great place for this, since their lingerie department is a godsend. After you find your true size, make peace with the fact that you will never be able to spend $12 on a bra from Target (they don't make 30 FFs just yet) and invest in bras that give you proper support. Freya, Chantelle, and Wacol offer gorgeous styles for larger cup sizes.
Define Your Waist
My chest takes up almost my entire ribcage. If my dresses/shirts/jackets do not somehow show off the fact that I have a waist, it disappears entirely and I am left looking like a strange, top-heavy blob with chicken legs. Build a solid belt collection, learn the art of tucking in shirts, and develop a repertoire of waist-hugging dresses that make you feel like Sofia Vergara. I would generally recommend trying on any clothing item that you consider purchasing, since you never know exactly how it will hug your curves. However, there are ways to tell how certain things will fit when the item is still on the hanger. Look for anything with a super defined, waist-hugging shape. Wide straps and an unrestrictive bosom (i.e. lack of chest-area seaming) are also promising.
Choose Quality Fabrics
Cheap, thin fabrics are going to look even cheaper and thinner on those of us with larger chests since they stretch out over our breasts in a way that's less than flattering. If you can, try and go for higher quality, especially when it comes to thin T-shirts or knits. Nothing's worse than a bit of bra showing through your not-supposed-to-be-sheer shirt.
Skip High-Waisted Everything
'High-waisted' on those with short torsos and large chests is a disaster. You will end up looking like you have one giant shelf-boob. I implore you to please skip the high-waisted trend. It is not doing you any favors.
Find Flattering 'Baggy' Cuts
Flattering does not have to mean tight. I love an oversized sweater as much as the next self-respecting New York hipster, and I own plenty of them. Tiny girls can seriously rock the hell out of baggy shapes, and large-breasted tiny girls are no exception. Tucking in baggy shirts is one way to wear that look while still highlighting your waist. Make sure the fabric falls nicely on your body and isn't too bulky. And pair them with skinny jeans or those tiny cotton H&M minis that everyone owns, which will show off your leg line, thus creating the illusion of length.
Look for a Good Blazer
Blazers can be amazing layering tools, but sometimes they make me look like a mini linebacker if I'm not careful. Find blazers that don't add a lot of bulk to your frame, preferably in a fabric that moves a little. The Academy Blazer from the Gap is my absolute favorite.