is it unprofessional to show accidental cleavage at work?

A reader writes:

What do you think about unintentional workplace cleavage? Unprofessional or innocuous?

For context, I work at a tech company with a fairly casual culture, in a large, non-conservative city. I happen to be the only woman who works from this office (though we share space with our sister company, which has a number of women on site). My male colleagues and superiors are wonderful, respectful, and mature individuals; I don’t experience the sexism which is sadly quite typical in tech (though I have at past jobs).

But I could use some perspective when it comes to cleavage in the office. I happen to be large-chested, which is not a problem in my personal life, but something I worry about constantly at work. I am a short, relatively slim woman who just turned 30 (not that age and weight should affect this, but sadly I know people tend to judge young/thin people more favorably than those who are older/heavier). And since this is anonymous … if it helps paint a picture, my bra size is 32DDDD (no, I’m not joking; yes, it’s insanely difficult to find bras; and yes, I have back problems).

As other large-chested folks know, big boobs laugh in the face of shirts that would be modest on someone of average endowment. They defy undershirts and layering tanks. I don’t have any low-cut work shirts or dresses, and I’m not intending to show cleavage at the office, but it inevitably happens – my coworkers are all taller than me, so they have a more compromised vantage point; any time I have to lean over a table or desk, there will be cleavage trying to make an appearance; and God forbid if I need to pick up something off the floor. I conduct presentations and participate in meetings every day, meaning I am constantly tugging my shirts up or holding the front against my chest if I bend forward for any reason. I try to be discreet, but worry I am drawing even more attention to the issue with these maneuvers.

Do you think I need to spend so much time worrying about this? Do colleagues even care? Do you think the workplace has finally arrived in an era where we can handle the occasional glimpse of situational cleavage without clutching our pearls?

And if not… can you recommend a line of turtlenecks I should invest in?

It sounds like you’re talking about the kind of cleavage that results from certain types of movement or vantage points, not shirts that are cut in a way that displays cleavage all the time. That kind of accidental/incidental cleavage is mostly a non-issue in most fields and most offices. (There are some exceptions, like if you’re teaching high schoolers or you’re in a very conservative field.)

Based on your description of your office, I think you’re free to not take up brain space thinking about it any further. Your boobs are big. Sometimes they will make themselves known. Such is the reality of clothes, and of boobs.

It’s a different thing, though, when it comes to shirts with necklines that are cut low enough that cleavage is pretty much always visible (like lower-cut v-necks and scoop necks, for example). That’s still generally considered a no-go for most offices with business formal dress codes and many with business casual dress codes — although as with anything dress code related, there are always exceptions. That can be frustrating for people who aren’t setting out to show cleavage, but who find that pretty much any v-neck is going to show some. That’s where you get into “well, maybe a hint of it is fine” … and at that point I don’t know that there’s a referee to decide exactly where exposed cleavage crosses over from a hint into actual defined breasts (the horror!).

Anyway, I think you’re fine.

{ 447 comments… read them below }

  1. Fortitude Jones*

    Ha! It’s hilarious that this is a letter today because I’m currently sitting in my business casual office with a low v-neck casual dress on (J. Crew), and my boobs are practically bursting out, lol. Normally, I would have put a cami on underneath, but it’s going to be 80 something degrees where I am today, and it’s my last week at this particular company, so I don’t really care anymore.

  2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Completely agree with Alison. If someone is going to leer skeevily at your chest, they’re going to do it regardless of your size, and whether they’re covered or not. Of course you won’t want to put them on display intentionally (which you’re not) since that’s generally not professional in an office, but I don’t think you need to worry about it.

    1. Grace*

      I have a large-chested friend who unfortunately developed quite early, and she was getting leered at by grown men while she walked home in her uniform – which, for the record, was an over-sized polo shirt, an over-sized navy jumper/sweater, and baggy navy trousers.

      Creeps are gonna creep, no matter what you wear, and it sucks.

      1. Stuff*

        Yep. My nickname in jr high was Chester. I have long since developed blinders on if people look. I just go about my day. Do what you can OP and don’t stress about it. As Grace said creepers are going to look even if you are in a burlap sack and decent guys, well they may take a look but won’t judge you for it. You said you are in a casual environment so that makes it a bit easier since there isn’t a dress code. That said a tailor can be a great thing if you do want some more professional clothes that fit without exposing.

        1. Kuododi*

          Speaking as one of “God’s more gifted angels…”. ;) I wanted to second your recommendation for developing a relationship with a good tailor. If OP hasn’t already, it might be worth the time to get a really good bra fitting. I discovered after my fitting I had been wearing the darn bra approx 2 cup size too small. Once my actual size was established, it was much easier to get good quality bras which actually were comfortable, and met my needs greatly reducing inadvertent cleavage concerns. I did have a minor problem a few years ago when I was on contract to our local Army base. My onsite supervisor pulled me aside and had a very polite conversation with me about the neckline on my shirts and dresses. (Civilian contractors were supposed to stick with business casual. ) I’d always did my best to purchase clothing which was appropriate to the circumstances yet didn’t give me concern about showing too much of “the girls.”. Apparently even what I was wearing was a bit much on a military base. Needless to say, I had everything tailored I felt were the most servicible in my closet. Those which I didn’t tailor for various reasons stayed in the closet during work hours. I also bought a couple of light cardigan sweaters to throw on top of certain outfits to help with camoflage. Best regards.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Likewise…and I don’t even have large boobs. They are a solid C but at 11 they *might* have been a B…maybe. Creepers gonna creep.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          13, a man in a car tried to follow me home. I *still* don’t have large boobs. I’ve always been an A cup.
          At 13 I didn’t have a figure at all.

    2. Sleepytime Tea*

      I determined it was not my responsibility to try and prevent a skeev from leering at me, and that my responsibility was to dress appropriately for my office and my body. If someone is going to be gross and make comments or gawk at my chest when they are standing above me or when I have to pick something up I’ve dropped on the floor, that is 100% on them.

      I really hate high necklines (I feel like I’m choking, it’s a weird issue of mine) and I love a wrap dress, but I also am a fan of fashion tape (aka double sided tape) or safety pins to handle those outfits where maybe at home I’m comfortable with the level of cleavage but wouldn’t be at work.

      1. Olivia Mansfield (formerly Mallory Janis Ian)*

        I hate high necklines, too. I can’t stand anything that goes above my collar bone, so I’m usually in v-necks or scoop-necks — nothing too terribly low, but there is usually a hint of cleavage because I’m built that way. And high necklines aren’t flattering on a large chest, in my opinion; it looks like a vast expanse of fabric all the way from the boobs to the neck. To me, that makes me more self-conscious about my large boobs than just wearing a modest scoop neck.

        1. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

          I 100% agree with you on the high necklines. I avoid them to the extent possible for the exact same reason.

        2. Gir*

          Same. I feel like if I wear a high neckline shirt, it draws more attention to the (large) size of my chest than a hint of cleavage would.

          1. whingedrinking*

            I went shopping for clothes a couple months ago and felt like having a go at the imaginary personification of the fashion industry in my head.
            “What are these?”
            “Skinny pants with a high waist! So cool, right?”
            “They are incredibly uncomfortable and too tight for me to wear to work. They both draw attention to my butt *and* make it look flat and saggy.”
            “Not to worry! You wear one of *these* over it!”
            “What’s that?”
            “A sweater!”
            “I could swear it was some sort of knitted sack.”
            “Flowy! And it’ll cover your butt.”
            “And turn my hourglass figure into a blob. …is that a crew neck? I don’t even get a *neckline* that’s flattering on me?!”
            And that’s when I killed him, Your Honour.

            1. Jennifer Juniper*

              I concluded long ago that the fashion industry was run by colorblind acidheads.

        3. AnnaBananna*

          I’m the opposite. I absosultely loathe having my upper chest visible. Why no, I don’t wear tank tops in the summer outside the house. I’m the girl wearing crew neck height tops and probably a scarf year round. *shudder* It just feels too….breezy (?) for my taste. Like if I can feel a breeze on my chest I suddenly feel like I’m naked and vulnerable.

          I have clothing issues. And maybe just issues. It does make shopping for work clothes much easier AND I never have to worry about creepers. Win!

        4. Liz*

          I personally like high necklines — the current fashion in shirts is so unflattering to me that I’ve taken Elizabeth Holmes as my extremely dubious role model, and I’m wearing black turtlenecks until the end of winter — but they’re definitely not chest-minimising.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        Its not weird. I feel like that too. I will not wear high necklines, short/choker necklaces, etc.

      3. Topcat*

        I’m a very amateur sewer, but a hook and eye can discreetly make many wrap dresses and tops, and probably other styles of blouses, totally wearable.

  3. Em from CT*

    OP, just for the record–maybe you know this already, but just in case you haven’t explored European bra brands, you can get bras in your size much more easily from them! I’m a similar size (34G/34DDDD) and now swear by Chantelle, Simone Perele, and Freya.

    If you’re in a major metro area, there are often bra shops that’ll check your size for you–I went to Journelle, in NYC. And once you’re sure of your size in these brands, you can often find bras much cheaper online. I have found new-with-tags bras in my size by these brands on EBay for $30-$40, which has been a lifesaver.

      1. anon42*

        Thirded! I’m a 32F-G and love Freya and Panache. Plus Amazon does regular sales of those brands – I managed to snag one for $15!

        1. Thirding this!*

          Yes! Also, lots of sellers will sell them New With Tags on Ebay – big fan of Freya as a 32GG over here, but can’t afford Nordstrom’s $80+/each prices.

          1. Hermione at Heart*

            Nordstrom Rack also gets the brands Nordstrom carries at a deep discount (usually $30 for a $70 bra), and sometimes it can be easier to find unusual sizes on sale, although the color range is a bit more limited.

        2. Choux*

          Panache is bae. I’m a 34G and they’re one of the few brands that look pretty and do their job!

          1. Marika*

            Also, go to somewhere like Nordstrom’s and get PROPERLY fitted – sometimes on a petite rib cage, the band/cup size ratio gets mucked with. Then, once you have a size in a particular brand (they all fit a little differently), you can get what you need on-line. I’m a fan of Bare Necessities, although they’re not cheap; their sales are good value and they do the size conversions for you. Having worked my way from a 36D to a 36H when I was breastfeeding, and now back to a 34F/FF (depending on brand), I feel you, OP… Unintentional cleavage sucks!

            1. Jane*

              Nordstrom’s id much more likely to get it right than somewhere like Victoria’s Secret or Macy’s, but I’ve still occasionally had people try to tell me my size was something it really wasn’t. If you’re in the SF Bay Area, Revelation in Fit is spectacular. -32J

            2. TGOTAL*

              The fitter I once visited at Nordstrom did a terrible job on me. She mismeasured my band and only eyeballed my cup size, and it was years before I realized how far off my correct size I’d been wearing.

              Once I followed the measurement instructions and used the calculator from the subreddit ABraThatFits (also at a .org website by the same name), I went down two band sizes and up 2-3 cup sizes!

              And I now make a point of visiting a Bravissimo store every time I go to London. (Their U.S. website prices are higher than the exchange rate equivalent, but they often have good sale deals.)

          2. Aussie*

            Figleaves is a fantastic website once you know your size too! Their specials are amazing, and I picked up 3 bras the other week, with express shipping to Australia for $64AUD.. such a good deal (I’m a 30GG BTW)

        3. Blue*

          Yes! I’m the same size, and all my bras are Freya or Wacoal. And I have a bunch saved on an amazon wishlist, which I check occasionally for price cuts. I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $35 for one, and Wacoal actually has some pretty options.

    1. Cassandra*

      You are my hero. For the office I invest in expensive bras to keep my boobs tamed. I’m always going to have cleavage, but wearing the right bra fit makes it so much easier to find clothes that don’t bare cleavage.

      What do you do for blouses?

      1. Minocho*

        I have large enough breasts that button up shirts usually either have to be tents on me, or I have to do the “wear a camisole and leave the straining buttons unbuttoned strategy.

        Some brands are now adding extra hidden buttons in the breast area to make button up shirts less of an issue for those who are more well endowed than others, that can be helpful as well.

          1. Kelsi*

            This!!! I had done this for a burlesque costume (so it was easy to remove) and then realized I could wear the shirt regularly with the snaps and the buttons done…and it wouldn’t gap….AMAZING.

          2. Lepidoptera*

            I do this as well. It’s time-consuming, but the “good” brands that fit cost at least $80 a pop. I just can’t afford to spend that kind of money on work clothes, considering how often I ruin them.

          3. ket*

            I got a button-front dress from Boden that ALREADY HAD THE EXTRA BUTTONS STITCHED! Nothing else I’ve bought from them has ever fit or worked for me, but that dress — yes. 32DD, petite.

          4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I used to do this with vertical safety pins on the inside of the shirt between the buttons. Works pretty well.

            1. Sups*

              I do the same. Pins between the buttons to close the gap. I also often end up wearing a cami under white/ light coloured clothes to be on the safe side. Or because I’m in India and I’m in Indian business attire (best option for our hot Indian summers), I wear a long scarf (which we call a dupatta) to cover up the flimsiness or purported gaps

        1. JustaTech*

          This probably isn’t going to be “work appropriate” outside of Portland/Seattle, but the Duluth Trading company has two hidden buttons on their women’s flannel shirts to prevent straining.

          1. Rectilinear Propagation*

            Lane Bryant sold shirts like this for half a second but my problem is that the extra buttons weren’t where they were needed to prevent gaping.

            I’m actually not sure how they messed that one up. If it was a company that did both straight and plus sizes I’d get them not adjusting the extra button placement to account for the wearing being both big and busty but all LB does is plus size.

            1. Indigo a la mode*

              I’m not too busty, but the Duluth ones seem to be well made and the two secret buttons well placed (there’s maybe an inch? less? between each exterior button and its relative inner button). I love their flannels.

      2. VictorianCowgirl*

        When I was in college I ran a tailoring business that was 80% fitting blouses for busty women. They would buy a blouse that closed properly and I would tailor it so it wouldn’t be a tent through the waist and arms. My fee was $10 and it took 15 min. This may be an option for some.

          1. VictorianCowgirl*

            Me too, actually, because while I can do it ok, it’s hard to tailor for yourself!

          2. Kat in VA*

            Seconded. I love the way my suits look with a button down, but inevitably the shirt is bunching at the waist because I have to get them big enough to fit the chest. (34DDD/E/G depending on the brand)

      3. Em from CT*

        I wish I had a better solution, but generally I just opt for blouses without buttons: slightly boxy tops to wear under blazers (I love MMLaFleur), or stretchy stops like merino sweaters with a teeshirt underneath.

      4. Practical Criticism*

        Bravissimo (UK brand but I think they ship overseas?) make special clothing to accommodate boobs. I’ve only bought a couple of things as the good ol’ safety pin between buttons works for me.

        1. That Californian*

          +1 for Bravissimo! As far as I know, they are only mail order in the US, but they are a fantastic company. They carry Freya, Panache, Chantelle, and their own brand, so they’ve got the brands covered, and they have very reasonable return policies.
          As some have already mentioned, be sure to get yourself properly fitted in person first (if you haven’t already). Nordstrom changed my life, and my back health, the first time I went there.

          1. Pippa*

            I feel like I’m always showing up here to cheer for Bravissimo, but I do love them! And just fyi, although they have both a US and a UK website, if you’re ordering from the US, it’s worth checking the prices on the UK site. For a while now, the exchange rate has made it cheaper to order from the UK and pay in £. And their shipping is fast and customer service outstanding.

            If you’re in the UK, their bra fittings have worked better for me than any at department stores. Finally getting the right size (a size I would never have predicted) was amazing.

            1. That Californian*

              Lol, every time I go to the UK I pop into a Bravissimo shop, to the point that last time I met a friend for coffee and she was like, “Have you Bravissimo’d yet? If not, there’s a shop around the corner.” I replied, “Thank you so much but I am already lifted and separated!” and we cheers-ed each other with our coffees. Good bras just make life better.

              1. Kuododi*

                I told DH not long ago that my life is truly simple. A comfortable bra (emphasis on comfort) which is additionally the correct size, absolutely brightens my life. Throw in a steady supply of chocolate and things are just about perfect!!!

      5. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Good brands: Pepperberry, Bravissimo, Campbell and Kate, eShakti, ASOS Design fuller bust line.

        1. virago*

          All great suggestions! Note: “Pepperberry” as a brand name for Bravissimo’s line of clothing is now defunct; they sell clothes as well as bras and swimwear under the Bravissimo name.

          I would also recommend the button-up shirts made by the company Urkye. If you have any questions about which size to order, they’re very quick to respond to your email. The orders arrive quickly, too; I was pleasantly surprised, given that I’m in the U.S. and they’re in Poland.

      6. Emma*

        Eshakti sell button up shirts and blouses, as well as dresses, all of which can be tailored to your measurements for $10 extra, and you can also alter sleeve lengths, necklines, skirt/trouser lengths etc.

        They’re pricey, but more than worth it! Even from brands like Bravissimo and Bounteous, I never had a shirt that fits me *comfortably* until eshakti. I have a pretty small work wardrobe, so I don’t mind occasionally paying $40-$60 for a tailored shirt that I’ll wear once a week for years – and they have regular sales, too.

        Also, all the dresses have pockets!

        1. Bobbin Ufgood*

          I love, love , love eshakti for this exact reason! Otherwise, I just don’t wear things with buttons

        2. Risha*

          And by ‘regular sales’, make sure to get on their email list. There is usually a sale of some sort on, typically two days long, 7 days a week for months on end. Just follow the ups and downs and wait them out, and they’ll pretty much always come back around to 40% or more off within a two week cycle.

          1. Chinookwind*

            I my or may not have discovered that, if you buy a lot through them, you can get a free “premium” membership that means you always have some type of sale available to you that involves shipping or customizing discounts or freebies.

            And forget the pockets (which are wonderful), the most amazing detail for me is the bra keeps!

          2. SarahTheEntwife*

            Yes! And styles cycle through really frequently. Sometimes I’ll look and there will just be nothing that really grabs me, and then two weeks later it will be filled with awesomeness.

            The only downside is that if you rip or outgrow an item and want a replacement, it may be gone forever.

        3. Blue*

          I love that you can get the necklines altered. Like OP, I always stressed about accidentally showing a hint of cleavage, and I eventually decided it was just easier to get higher necks on my work clothes. I’ve changed a couple eShakti styles I liked to a boatneck, which is a flattering style on me and means I don’t waste mental energy paying attention to my top all day. Also worth noting that they have the occasional free-customization event (perhaps just for repeat customers?) – I’m too cheap to pay the extra $10 but have taken advantage of that special a couple of times.

        4. Not Who I Think I Am*

          I just went on the eShakti website. Their models have boobs! And butts! So refreshing to be able to see how something will look on a real, human body!

    2. Sneep Snoop*

      I used to wear OP’s size exactly (I had breast reduction surgery, no regrets) and my favorite brand was Primadonna. High recommendation from me.

      I still wear them even though I don’t exactly need such high-end bras anymore. But comfort like that is hard to come back from!

    3. Tree*

      I’m also 34G or H … Freya and Panache are awesome! I’m so lucky to have a not-overly-expensive D+ bra store a 20 min walk from my house & they also sell buttoned blouses that are tailored for the D+ crowd. First blouse I’ve ever worn that neither strains the buttons nor fits like a tent.

    4. Princess prissypants*

      Me too. Nordy’s FTW for all sizes and actual fitters who know what they’re doing.

    5. Iris Eyes*

      Nordstrom Rack is a great place to find them in the US for reasonable prices. For example I found my first bra ever in my current true size (30F, not that big at all just a “weirdly” small ribcage) from Simone Perele for under $15! Shop during their “clear the rack” clearance sales for the best of the best deals!

    6. Master Bean Counter*

      Big Chantelle fan here, size 36 H. Keeps them strapped securely in place.

    7. Lepidoptera*

      There is an excellent subr3ddit called ABraThatFits with detailed instructions on measuring yourself. I had no idea how wrongly I was doing it! (Also; getting fitted at Victoria’s Secret doesn’t count. They will convert you into something in their size range, no matter what your true fit. Sister sizes are usually no bueno.)

      1. Princess prissypants*

        This is true, yall.

        Most “fitters” will “tell you what they can sell you.”

        Get thee to ABTF, and a Nordy’s if you have one – pronto (especially if you think you are a 32A-38DDD – the matrix is WRONG)

        1. Princess prissypants*

          More importantly, a true-fitted correct size will generally eliminate the massive crack type cleavage that LW seems to be dealing with. A well fitted bra lifts and separates – it’s doesn’t smoosh.

      2. TexanInExile*

        Ha yes re Victoria’s Secret. I was there this weekend seeking the ever elusive 36A. The saleswoman suggested I get a 34B instead because apparently, they are interchangeable.

        (She also used her Outdoor Voice to talk on her walkie-talkie to her co-worker across the store to ask ARE THERE ANY 36As BY YOU? which of course there are not because there is not a single 36A in. the. entire. store.)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Victoria’s Secret long ago lost my business because of a snotty salesclerk. Dare I say sales *GIRL* because she was possibly high school age. I sure got the mean-girl vibe from her attitude saying “We don’t carry your size”. She didn’t measure, just eyeballed and about rolled her eyes. I’d had a baby and was so VERY glad to be back down in size and wanted something new to make me feel good…instead I felt like she thought I belonged at Omar the Tentmaker’s place out back.
          It took a chance shopping outing with a friend who works with theatrical costumes to get my new bra size.
          VS carries it. But I’m damned if I’m going back because I’m not rewarding that attitude.

          1. Kat in VA*

            I’ll do you one better. VS has a very few bras that fit properly in “my” size (in their store) of 34DDD. I was hunting for one in a particular color, and made the mistake of asking where I could find it (in a drawer? on a hanger? mystery) .

            The salesGIRL eyed my 40+something chest and said haughtily, “Um, no, we don’t carry *your* size at Victoria’s Secret.”

            I never wanted to whip off my shirt in my whole life more than right then, because I was actually wearing one of their bras in the size I was looking for.

            *cue daydream of standing topless in a VS store full of horrified college-aged girls yelling DO YOU SEE THIS TAG, WHAT BRAND AND SIZE IS IT, YEP, THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT, MISSY*

            I went home and ordered it online. The fact that I’m an Angel Forever black card holder, have a hella high credit line for a retail store, and buy bras and underwear for not only myself but my daughters who love their atrocious PINK line would likely have been a losing argument.

        2. Environmental Compliance*

          I once had a VS worker measure me. She refused to let me remove my sweatshirt (I had a t-shirt under! I was cold!), and measured very loosely over it. Then told me, a normally 30E, that I was a 38A.

          I prefer ThirdLove, because I have yet to find another brand that fits a very narrow chested me. The others I’ve tried manage to stab me in the armpits.

      3. straws*

        YES. I’m in the facebook group and used their calculator. It was a lifesaver. I’m a 34M and it’s helped my back immensely to be in a properly fitting bra now.

      4. De-Archivist*

        Yes, I used to do bra fits very frequently. I had a customer come in who had been fitted into a 44DDD, the largest the original store that fitted her carried. She stated that it didn’t look right and that she kept slipping out of the underside of the cup. We also couldn’t fit her, but I sent her to brands that could.

        She measured at 31″ in the band and 43″. For our brand measurements, a 32K. She was right. That was the most uncomfortable, ill-fitting mess I had ever seen. I was horrified someone could be so stupid and unethical as to sell that bra to that young woman.

        1. De-Archivist*

          *43″ in the bust

          Can’t believe I’m making that edit, but really needed for clarity.

          1. Princess prissypants*

            It is sad that this happens. It’s also unfortunate that so many women have fallen into the trap of thinking DDDDDDDDD….. (and on..) is as large as one can get so if that doesn’t work right, they just keep banding up until it’s someone like your customer in a terribly wrong size, when really they just need to band down and cup up. It’s all too common.

            1. Kat in VA*

              The sales clerk (Victoria’s Secret) tried very hard to convince my poor daughter, shopping with mom’s card, that she was a 38A. Um, no. Number One Daughter is a 32C, try again.

        2. Janie*

          I worked in a standard mall bra store that shall not be named and if I fitted someone out of our size range I sent them to nordstroms with a pep talk. It sucks to go into a store hoping to buy and to leave empty handed.

      5. ket*

        Yes. Post-breastfeeding I worked through their whole fit worksheet & all the brand suggestions, waited for a sale at Bare Necessities, ordered three styles, and found two that were great.

    8. Atlanta*

      Oh I feel this. Sometimes you can get measured and be a whole different size than you think you are. Be aware that cup size differs in Europe vs. US (in my experience US cups will be a higher letter than in Europe, for example an English F can be a US G)

      If you can find one good manufacturer (in England (and maybe also Canada), M&S which is Marks and Spencer (also available online), and in NYC, any of the specialty bra stores), maybe Freya, Chantelle, Fantasie and Wacoal (and there are less expensive alternatives too) then once you’ve found a brand or style that works for you, get them online–Amazon can be a good source even for the M&S brands.

      1. Koala dreams*

        Bra sizes differ between European countries too. The latest bra I bought from an European brand has the following sizes on the tag:
        80/36/95 E
        for EUR, UK and FR respectively.

        1. Tiny Soprano*

          Even between brands. Bratabase is a really good site for comparing the fits of different brands to find what’s going to be your most likely bet, and for eliminating EU/FR/UK/US size weirdness.

    9. Thuja*

      I have gotten a lot of bras from a UK website: and they are very reasonably priced and surprisingly fast shipping considering the distance. You do have to figure out your European size, and returns aren’t easy, but once you get your size figured out, the sizing is much more standard across brands. I am a big fan of Curvy Kate, although I’ve also had good luck with Freya.

        1. HQetc*

          Also Figleaves. Another UK company, but they have a US website and distribution center, so shipping is pretty quick and they do the size conversions for you, I think.

          1. Blue*

            Unrelated to OP’s question, but I’ll plug Figleaves’ line of swimsuits while we’re on subject. I’m the same bra size as OP and have a hard time finding swimsuits that I’m comfortable in for that reason. I recently bought one of Figleaves’ swimsuits that come in bra sizes, and it’s both flattering and supportive. I’m really happy with it.

    10. Lizr*

      Fifth! I am a D, which is not huge but enough that I need a bra to fit super well and I have been wearing Chantelle for years because they fit sooooo much better. I don’t even mind the price because I feel like it’s a worthwhile investment in my comfort.

      Also, you might consider keeping a couple of scarves in your desk. I am short and things that would never be cleavage-y on other people can be a bit much on me. I try to watch out, but sometimes something ends up being more drapey than I realized at home and scarves are a good way to cover up a bit if I need to. I work in high tech so there are always lots of guys around who want to see if they can see down my shirt.

      Ultimately, you can’t control other people’s skeeviness.

    11. LPUK*

      I want to put a vote in for a French brand called Empreinte which is my go to for beautifully made and comfortable bras. They are not cheap, but they are gorgeous with really lovely lace and designs and they wash well and seem to last forever ( I am still wearing bras I bought about 12 years ago) so they are worth the money! My favourite style is Thalia which gives you a really good shape, lifting your boobs up to show your narrower rib cage/waist, and making boobs more defined without looking unnatural. Good for me as I am otherwise small and slim, so lots of other bras make me look dumpy rather than professional. Other that that, I have an impressive set of camisoles in every colour under the sun ( Scandinavian brand called Rosamunde do lovely ribbed silk ones in at least 15 different shades every season)

    12. Anastasia Beaverhousen*


      My first trip to Britain, I was delighted to find you can pick up an F-cup bra in just, like, the mall in the UK. No specialty stores needed, most bra stores offer fittings to make sure it’s the right size, and it’s not even any more expensive than normal bras in the US.

      I have concluded that bra stores in the US have misled people about what ‘big boobs’ are, size-wise; mine are not actually particularly large, but the proper-fitting size is a DD.

      1. Princess prissypants*

        Correct. DD is not especially large. This is because there is no such thing as “a DD”. The cup size is relative to band size. a 30G is five cup sizes smaller than a 40G, for example.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

          Yes, but the point is, it’s hard to even find a DD cup back home! I had great difficulty finding bras in my correct size in the US, none whatsoever in Europe. While obviously a trip to Europe to buy bras is not really an option for most people, it’s definitely worth looking at European brands – and if even in Europe for unrelated reasons, it’s probably worth it to swing by a bra store.

      2. CommanderBanana*

        Apparently Britain has the largest average bra sizes in the world, which would make sense that a lot of what we think of ‘specialty’ sizes are regularly available there!

    13. Sorrel*

      I use Bravissimo – they also do shirts for different sizes. so no more gaping buttons!

    14. Aunt Vixen*

      Hundredthing this. Also, it used to be that Bravissimo (should be googlable) had tops and dresses in a range of sizes for “curvy” through “super curvy” or something like that depending on boob:waist ratio. I can’t check on my work computer now if that is still true, but not having to get tops altered would be worth a mint in my (check)book.

    15. Amy the Rev*

      Also, Fantasie is a great british brand available to ship to the US (I used to be 30FF before my reduction surgery, and very close-set; Fantasie was my go-to brand)

      1. C!*

        Fantasie is the BEST. 32F here. I haven’t found a better bra than their t-shirt bra.

        1. Pippa*

          Agree! This is my go-to daily bra. I’ve bought fancier ones but I keep coming back to these; they’re the ones I actually want to wear.

    16. so many resumes, so little time*

      also in NYC, Rigby & Peller carries up to size K in-store. my daughter shops at Journelle, I shop at Rigby & Peller, & luckily enough, each store has a branch within walking distance of my office. Both have websites as well. I’ve never been as happy with bras as I am with the ones I get at Rigby & Peller, which have included some of the brands named in this thread. It’s so nice to have bras that fit and are cute/fancy/patterned/come in colors!

    17. Flower*

      I wear 30DDD and I really like wacoal and adore me, for more brand options! I also have a bikini top from Fantasie, which was mentioned elsewhere (they make bras too, of course). Generallyy, places that carry my size (with a too small band for most big box stores and a too big cup) will also make 32G.

      A Bra That Fits was mentioned elsewhere, but I just want to drive home how useful it is as a group, since it also helps with understanding your shape and how that matters for different brands and styles.

      1. Róisín*

        I’m a 30DD and buy alllllll my bras from Adore Me. I love the matching sets!

    18. LizA*

      This is good advice even for smaller-chested women! I wore 36Bs for a decade, and then went to a boutique bra shop and was measured as a 32D, and those bras fit me SO MUCH BETTER. It’s unbelievable. I live in NYC so I can often find bras in that size at Century 21 – the only thing that can compel me to go into that place!

      1. Emily*

        Seconding this! I’m around a D-cup, but most people wouldn’t guess that because my chest is pretty small! (Tbh, I mostly wear bralettes because I don’t want/need much support in everyday life, but when I do look for regular bras, 30D fits a lot better than the higher band-size A and B cups I used to wear.)

    19. blackcat*

      Yes, yes, yes! I buy all my stuff from across the pond, using Figleaves. A+, highly recommend from this 30F/G (UK size).

      Also, a bra that fits really well will actually cut down on the unexpected cleavage.

    20. Chinookwind*

      As a 34 DDD, former teacher of teenagers and currently a receptionist (which means everyone physically looks down at me), I feel your pain. I stumbled upon a Canadian brand call Knix dot ca that keeps the girls tame without require underwires. This magic bra actually forms to the boobs over time.

      They also have a line of tank tops with this bra built in that allowed me to technically go “bra free” for the first time since puberty and a sports bra that they tested on large chested runners. The tank top is cut so I can wear it as a cami without worrying about anyone’s eyeline when they are signing in.

      As for whether not showing cleavage is professional, I side on the “as long as you can’t see my bra or my bellybutton when you look at me from above” side of the line of acceptability. I also am an expert at strategically placed safety pins and love me my eshakti dot com shirts that are made to measure and come with bra keeps, which keeps things in place.

    21. mmiles*

      OP here – omg, lifesaverrr! Thank you! That’s what I’ll be doing this afternoon

    22. Harper the Other One*

      Second Chantelle, and also a brand called Rosa Faia, which is the most comfortable bra I have ever owned!

    23. AnnaBananna*

      Chantalle bras are the shiz! I got mine from Nordstroms years ago. They clearly last!

      1. AnnaBananna*

        edit to add: as a 29 DDer, Chantalle really saved my bacon. Can’t tell you how much I love them.

    24. PersephoneUnderground*

      Related to this, this blogger also has a full bust and writes well about both dealing with the social b.s. around it (like people judging you on your bra size), and reviews of good, actually comfy and stylish bras in full-bust sizes. It’s slightly O.T. but I think support from others dealing with the same issue can help with the self-consciousness you’ve written about.

  4. blink14*

    I can so relate to this! Would it be possible to purchase more full coverage bras? There are certain ones I would never wear to work because they create more of a cleavage situation, but the full coverage ones minimize that problem and also keep things more covered up, in case there’s some gaping if I lean over, my shirt shifts, etc.

    I also have several waterfall style cardigans for work – these provide some additional cover and if the fit is right, can be flattering for a larger chested person.

    1. BeachMum*

      I own at least 20 tank tops from Old Navy (about $5 each) to wear under blouses. (I also wear them for warmth in the winter, but that’s different.) I’m a 32DDD, but these tanks are high enough to cover the cleavage but not so high that they look silly. The come in dozens of colors and have adjustable straps so they don’t fall of my shoulders or need altering. (The right bra is huge, though. My poor daughter, who is 16, already wears a 32DD so she’s wearing Chantelle bras.)

      1. Laoise*

        Oh I envy you! Old Navy tanks barely cover more than my bras, thanks to where my breasts are located on my chest. Some of my bras actually cover more boob than Old Navy tanks!

        They just do not make tanks or camis that can cover my cleavage.

  5. Detective Amy Santiago*

    OP, you have my utmost sympathy. I used to be you. Actually, I used to joke that I showed cleavage in when I wore turtlenecks.

    I think Alison’s advice is spot on. I will also say that the best decision I ever made was having a reduction. It seriously reduced my back pain and made buying clothes much easier.

    1. ClumsyCharisma*

      I say the same thing, but I honestly think turtlenecks tend to be “worse” because they are usually tighter than other work shirts and show off all your curves.
      After children mine are Is so there is no hiding them and I feel like I can’t find any feminine shirts right now that are not v neck. I just stock up on camis and wear whatever top I want.
      But a reduction is coming as soon as I get down (or close to) my goal weight!

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I say the same thing, but I honestly think turtlenecks tend to be “worse” because they are usually tighter than other work shirts and show off all your curves.

        THIS. I too am very busty for my height and weight, and turtlenecks just overemphasize the size of my chest. Crew neck tops and shirts with ties at the neckline (don’t want to use the appropriate name for this as the comment will get flagged) are usually what I wear to minimize my chest.

        1. mmiles*

          YES! Everything shows through… there’s gotta be some sort of magical middle neckline that cuts right where the boob curve starts but without showing cleave. So mystery.

      2. Former Help Desk Peon*

        YES turtlenecks are worse…they give me uni- boob, no matter how well fitting my bra or how much it actually lifts and separates.

      3. Legal Beagle*

        Agreed on turtlenecks. I think Christina Hendricks’ wardrobe on the Netflix show “Good Girls” is a good template – she plays a suburban mom, and she wears a lot of sweaters with a very minor v-neck that look nice and polished.

      4. ket*

        Depends on the shape of the person. Turtlenecks & mock turtlenecks serve me well and look fine. I teach, and bend over peoples’ desks often to answer questions, and anything other than a boatneck or a turtleneck just falls open for a great view down the front. Put a cardigan on top (one of the light waterfall ones as mentioned) to break up the shape and there you go.

  6. Jennifer*

    I feel your pain. I always wear cardigans for that reason. Not saying you have to. It’s just a personal comfort thing. You sound a bit more confident with your cleavage.

    But yeah, people are going to leer regardless and boobs our size are going to make themselves known. Just do you.

    1. mmiles*

      OP here – I end up wearing a lot of cardigans too! Then I get too hot and have pit stains to worry about xD Let’s just say I wear a lot of black.

      1. AnnaBananna*

        It’s all about balance though. (fellow tons-of-black and cardigan wearer, here) If you’re going to wear both black and a cardigan, make sure you’re wearing sandles/something where your feet can breathe since the ambient temp of the office will cool your body down via your feet. And then do the opposite in the cooler months. It’s what I do! I also have a little desk fan, an under desk feet heater, and what I call my office blanket, for when I’m still totally cold. It works!

  7. Kateagory5*

    I am in a very similar situation! Work in tech, DDD bras, surrounded by Dudes. I am wearing a v-neck shirt as I type this. In my office, nobody, including me, cares even a little bit. I am not willing to be slowly strangled by my clothes via a turtleneck just because my body has different proportions.

    1. Daniela*

      I have the same attitude (and problem). I work in a hot climate, in an office with two people that prefer reptilian temperatures so the a/c is set uncomfortably high. No way am I going to sweat in here, just to cover up. Our dress code is super casual, so I wear v-neck shirts from Target, JCP and Old Navy. Since these are super mainstream stores, and the clothes I choose are anything but provocative, anyone that has a problem with cleavage should probably ask themselves why they are looking.

    2. That Californian*

      Absolutely! I believe this is the only body I have available to me for both work and recreation, so by definition it is not inappropriate for work if I stay within the bounds of basic clothing sense. If someone is staring at this my one and only body while at work, that action is the inappropriate part.

    3. Vemasi*

      Honestly, depending on your body shape, V-necks combined with big boobs don’t really reveal much. The opening gets hiked up. Or if it doesn’t, it gets narrowed and isn’t a V anymore, which is ugly. I find high-necked stuff ends up too short at the hem, because my boobs lift it up, and you get that expanse of chest.

      I find that the combination of shoulders and boobs is really what makes business casual clothes unwearable. I used to wear a lot of layered sleeveless stuff–sleeveless blouses with a cardigan, either long or short-sleeved, tank tops under flannels that are unbuttoned. It’s harder in the summer, but luckily I can wear T-shirts to work (I like the newer Target brand Universal Thread, they sell a not-too-deep V-neck with a breast pocket and a loose fit).

      Unfortunately I can’t help on bras, I’ve given up on them. I wear only yoga bras now. There are a lot of trade-offs in this approach, but I couldn’t stand being so uncomfortable every second of every day anymore.

    4. Jay*

      Depending on your band size, DDD isn’t necessarily that big. You may want to look at ABraThatFits on Reddit and use the calculator to check your size to ensure you are wearing the right size. I wore DDs for a long time because I thought that was massive and as big as they went. Turns out I am an H cup.

    5. mmiles*

      Gurrrrl can you airdrop me some of that confidence?! That is the attitude I aspire to!

  8. Sarianna*

    As someone with a 38H pair, I’ve found that wraps, cardigans, and generally choosing higher v-neck shirts (I’ve had luck with Eddie Bauer!) helps. Also squatting rather than bending at the waist when picking things up.

    Also r/abrathatfits is WONDERFUL. I was wearing a 36DD before I was properly fitted into 38H. They have plenty of recommendations for where to find bras beyond the B-DD you find on the racks in the US.

    1. Observer*

      Also squatting rather than bending at the waist when picking things up.

      That’s a good idea anyway. For most people, MUCH better for your back and your balance.

      1. Ra94*

        This also prevents tighter skirts/dresses from riding up, and is more comfortable in a structured suit with tighter shoulders.

    2. Owlette*

      Fellow 38H here! Flowy cardigans are a lifesaver for me. If I ever feel cold or uncomfortable, I can just wrap it around myself so that no one looks at my chest. Not that they are, but it just gives me some extra security.

      I go to regular bra fittings at Nordstrom, typically every year or whenever I have a fluctuation in weight. Their fittings are free, and there is absolutely no judgement from their clerks, no pressure to buy. They know that a lot of large-chested women go there because there are really no better options, and they are sensitive to budget (unlike the clerks in the rest of the store, I’ve found!).

      It’s extremely important to work with your figure, not against it! Don’t buy baggy shirts or you’ll feel uncomfortable and you won’t look your best. You’ll probably draw more attention to yourself that way. Don’t be afraid to buy fitted shirts, clothes that fit you! They don’t have to be super tight, just your size! You’ll look and feel more confident, and people around you won’t stare, I promise.

      I’m literally sitting here at work wearing a Star Wars t-shirt with porgs printed across my chest. Absolutely no comments, except for an enthusiastic “OH MY GOSH I LOVE PORGS” from a fellow coworker. Just wear what you like, and no one will care. :)

  9. Crivens!*

    I love the phrasing of boobs “making themselves known”.


      1. Oranges*

        It’s always interesting when accidental cleavage occurs. Like all people, my brain goes “nice” but that’s it. It doesn’t need to be said by look or words. Just refocus on work. You know, the thing I’m there to do….

    1. Emma*

      Recently my partner pushed my boobs over to one side when I was lying down, and the resultant change in centre of gravity caused me to fall out of bed.

      They make themselves known, alright.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Especially when doing any of a number of activities that were not designed with large busts in mind.
        Like using stairs.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Boobs, and Cleavage was following close behind her.”

  10. Goshdarntitties*

    As someone who wears a size 42G, this is relatable. That said, in even certain t-shirts while bending over can show cleavage. People sometimes ask why I use the buttons on the polo shirt we wear for events as most do not, but if I didn’t, well I would BE the event.

    1. Not A Manager*

      “People sometimes ask why I use the buttons on the polo shirt we wear for events”

      What a strange question to ask someone.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        I had to make a point that I would have preferred the men’s polo shirts to be ordered for me, as they have buttons, and I prefer to keep mine buttoned for work. They ordered the female shirts….which have fake buttons. The person ordering had not thought at all other than yay! female shaped for the women! I mean, I like the waist curving so I don’t feel like I’m wearing a tent, but oh boy are the boobs aired out if I don’t wear a tank under.

    2. mmiles*

      OP here – I am actually lol’ing. Yes, there are times we don’t want to be the event!!

  11. Meliza*

    I am also large-chested. And also very petite, so they tend to be more noticeable. It took some time, but I eventually had to keep reminding myself that accidental cleavage happens to everyone and it’s not my responsibility to prevent every person, ever, from accidentally seeing mine. I completely understand the anxiety that comes with big boobs, but I think you’re fine.

    1. Dragoning*

      I’m in a similar situation. And also making an effort to buy clothes closer to my size–wearing a size M or S when I need and XS makes the necklines much looser and more inclined to random cleavage even if the rest looks fine, or close enough. This is a learning experience for me, since growing up my parents were never inclined to make sure my clothes weren’t too big–but dang, does it matter a lot!

    2. Lucy*

      34H and short – the angles make boobs more obvious because more people are already looking down when they look at you.

      Any pleats or other additional fabric on the neckline help with containing the twins, including cowl neck and false crossover.

      But I agree with most posters that your secret weapon is a well-fitting bra, and I would respectfully suggest that anyone reliably describing herself as “petite” is probably not well fitted as a 32-back. Exploring 30″ bras could make all the difference to fit and therefore to control.

      1. Dragoning*

        I would love to explore a 30″ bra as I likely fit into one, but they’re basically impossible to find in America, especially for prices I can afford.

        1. Princess prissypants*

          Try Nordstrom, Amazon, and Bravisimo for 30 bands. They do absolutely exist, and being in ABTF is worth any investment you can make toward it.

            1. Dragoning*

              (Also, personally, I would never buy a bra online if I hadn’t at least been able to try out that size in that bran before–those things are damn expensive, and then they might not even fit, or be comfy? No thanks)

              1. Not A Manager*

                Most stores that sell bras online have very liberal return policies. I usually order several sizes and then return the ones that don’t fit.

                1. Dragoning*

                  That sounds like it requires me to have several hundred dollars on hand at one time to buy bras and nothing else, though. Even if I get most of it back, it will be tied up for a while.

              2. infopubs*

                I have one bra brand and size that fits me perfectly. I use eBay’s search function to find them, and get emails when a match comes up. Sometimes there is a closeout on a weird pattern (black and white stripes, anyone?) and I buy ’em cheap then. I usually have to pay retail for “good” colors like basic beige or black, but the oddballs work fine under opaque tops/sweaters. The key, of course, is knowing the exact make and model you want.

            2. Janie*

              I feel ya. I buy the same bra over and over because it fits well enough and I’m not here to experiment at bra prices.

        2. Iris Eyes*

          Shoot finding a 32 in higher than a C cup is darn near impossible. I did finally find one sz30 at Nordstrom Rack that fit. Fortunately it was 90% off since it started out at about $120

          1. SarahKay*

            There’s a good thread above about European stores that might give you a better choice. I can definitely recommend M&S (www dot Marks and Spencer dot com) – I’ve just checked their website and they do a 32 band in DD through to G fitting for a pretty good range of bras. The price is either the same or possibly just very slightly more than the smaller cup sizes – maybe £2.00 (approx $2.30) at most – and they ship worldwide.

            1. Lucy*

              I am wearing an M&S bra right now! I typically pay £16 each for them but I don’t know how their international pricing works. I buy exactly the same shape time after time, in different colours (including very useful “camel” which is essentially invisible on my very white skin).

              It absolutely sucks that normal sizes (30″ and 32″ back) aren’t easily available in multiple cup sizes and styles. It sounds like the US is (even) worse than the UK for bra shopping.

              1. Iris Eyes*

                The US is so much worse that some people traveling to the UK carve out time specifically to go bra shopping because the selection is so much better. In the women’s department stores it isn’t uncommon to have the sizing start at 34 (with cup sizes from A-C, with a style or two up to D)

          2. blackcat*

            Yep, Nordstrom rack sometimes has really good deals.
            I mostly wait for sales, buy a TON at the start of my CCs billing cycle, try them all on, and then return what I don’t want. 90% of the time, the return processes before my CC bill comes, so I’m never actually out the money.

        3. Velma*

          Aerie carries almost everything in 30D and they’re priced really reasonably!

          (I know 30D isn’t that big but maybe this will help someone…)

      2. mmiles*

        OP here – awesome tip! 30” bands are pretty much nowhere in the US where I live, but I’m already resigned to ordering online anyway, so I’ll definitely do some exploring. Thank you!!

  12. High school teacher*

    I laughed out loud at Alison’s caveat about high school teachers. Very true! I do many of the same moves, despite a smaller bust than OP’s, and I have many black turtlenecks as undershirts (luckily our building is cold enough that this doesn’t seem odd and outs comfortable!). I had to coach a short colleague on the angle issue OP describes, too (she’s short and I’m enough taller to… See the issue, let’s say). But I bet OP’s okay.

    For my other high school teachers, I also recommend Crewneck, bateau, boatneck, mock and turtleneck, and safety pins!

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      Middle school teacher and my thought while reading this was: wear turtlenecks everyday! Also, lots of drapey cardigans, high-necked tee shirts and mocknecks. If I can find a loose, drapey shirt I snap it up – the blousier the better. I haven’t worn a shirt with buttons on the front since 1991.

      This thread has made me feel less alone! Good luck, OP!

      1. Bears Beets Battlestar*

        Old Navy hugh neck tanks are drapey with a high crew neck. They look good under cardigans and are ok alone if your room gets really hot. They are also long enough to not worry about riding up. Plus, they’re relatively cheap. Holy grail for high school teachers!

    2. ket*

      Exactly! Boatneck & bateau can be really nice for summer. Also, if I’m wearing a lightweight summer button-up shirt, sometimes I just wear a light crew-neck fitted tee as an undershirt. There are lots of crewneck fitted tees that are honestly too thin for me to wear alone anyway, as they’re practically see-through, so they make a good women’s undershirt. Keeps the sweat from showing, too, in some situations.

    3. just a random teacher*

      I realized quite a while ago that as a math teacher, I don’t need to look nice, I don’t need to look “well-put-together”, and I can generally wear really unflattering things without issue since no one expects stereotypical “nerds” to know how clothes work so no one expects me to know things about color, drape, and pattern. What I can’t do is show cleavage, even though I’m really busty.

      So, I generally buy a bunch of crew-neck tops with loud patterns one size larger than I would otherwise wear at JC Penney. I will not win any fashion awards, but my students are largely unaware that I have cleavage and no one can tell if I’ve spilled coffee on myself.

      As a bonus, it also meant that when I was in my early twenties fewer people mistook me for a high school student since I was not dressed at all the way students dress. This matters less as I get older, but for a younger teacher it’s definitely more important to dress differently than students do than to actually look nice.

      1. mmiles*

        This is actually so affirming. I work in tech; I’m totally allowed to look “nerdy” – all my male coworkers usually do too! lol. Excellent point, thank you friend! -OP

  13. Middle School Teacher*

    Scarves are my best friends. They help hide a multitude of chestly sins :)

    1. 2ManyBugs*

      I was looking for this comment! Scarves can be gauzy and silky for Business Formal dress codes, or knit and chunky for Casual Offices, and make you look trendy no matter what. While hiding cleavage. They’re a life saver.

      1. 32DDD*

        Yes! My office is casual– today I am wearing trouser-cut jeans, a gray high v-neck t-shirt and a gauzy scarf that is gray with pink polka dots.

    2. Lora*

      I am here for this comment. Current office is business-casual, so I favor shawls and wraps in winter, but scarves work well too. With a fancy pin to keep it in place.

    3. ket*

      Also came looking for this. There are some nice ways to tie a scarf strategically. Even a short/small one.

    4. Koala dreams*

      I like scarves too. Turtleneck shirts feels suffocating, but scarves are more free. I can arrange them differently to suit the occassion. Light and thin scarfes for summer and thich warm scarfes for winter. And silk scarves when I want to dress up!

    5. Another chesty person*

      Also: tube-top-style Bralets! It’s like a a boob dickey and especially nice in the summer when you’re trying to minimize layers.

      1. mmiles*

        I JUST had to do this for a wedding I was in – the dress was a v-neck *down to my sternum* hahaha. I found mine on Amazon, inexpensively and perfectly-matching a hard-to-match dress. +++1 for this tip, and I’m definitely going to be acquiring more of these thingies. -OP

  14. Batgirl*

    A) No one cares, they’re just a part of your body and you’re professionally dressed.
    B) Still you’re a hero for even trying to wear shirts! I’m not quite as large a size as you and the peep hole button issue drives me bonkers. I tend to stick to stretchy boater necks. Yeah you’re showing a sillhouette (NBD in a mature office) but the neckline stays put under our collarbone and you’re not wondering if one’s got loose yet.

  15. Ghost of a Ghost*

    Wait, you mean I haven’t had to wear turtlenecks for the last 15 years?

  16. Amber Rose*

    I wear nothing but hoodies and baggy t-shirts to work, and I still can’t avoid cleavage when I lean over unless I’ve zipped my sweater up like a turtleneck. (I’m an H cup, but I also only order from Europe so I’m not sure if my US size would be different.)

    Big boob problems. What can you do.

    1. mmiles*

      Yeah! Since my office is casual, I end up wearing a cool-looking hoodie to work all the time (found it on Amazon – it has thumb holes, so it even counts as dressy-casual in tech culture!). Then I’m just hot all the time. It’s a war between the boobs or the overheated-looking face. xD -OP

  17. Watry*

    No extra advice, but adding my voice to the chorus of ‘same’s. 40H, and my office isn’t super conservative, but it is enough to make me check every now and again. I haven’t gotten my uniform shirts yet, but I’m so happy they aren’t button downs.

  18. Annastasia von Beaverhausen*

    I wouldn’t worry too much – occasionally you’ll move and someone will see a bit of top boob – big whoop. Someone who is going to leer at you is the problem, not you. I’m currently wearing a V necked jumper and I’m sure if someone wanted they could see some top, or even side boob if they really twisted themselves into a weird shape. I don’t care – if someone is that hell bent on seeing a bit of boob, so be it.

    1. Dorothy Zbornak*

      I read this comment fast and thought you ended it with “so boob it.” Lol!

  19. Murphy*

    I can relate! (34DDD, who is also very short so I have to take up straps/shoulders a lot because things are lower cut on me than they would be on someone taller.)

    I appreciate Alison’s advice as I’ve had this same worry before!

    1. Iris Eyes*

      Same! I’ve tried on dresses that were fitted at the waist and had the shoulder hover 4 full inches above my actual shoulders. (not a good look)

  20. applegail*

    And then there’s the joy of button down shirts with curves. Let’s see- gapping or the illusion of not having a waist? Even with tailoring, it’s a nuisance, but they LOOK so good.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Duluth Trading Co. is great for extra hidden buttons (and some good reinforcement along the edges too) in their women’s shirts! If only all manufacturers were so thoughtful about how to adapt a piece of clothing to the people who will be wearing it.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        I don’t recommend mod cloth; the only clothes I’ve ever bought from them all ended up being atrocious quality. They looked nice at first, but were threadbare within months.

        1. Rainy*

          I think it depends–I’ve bought some stuff that didn’t hold up well, but their own-brand skirts are fantastic, and I have owned multiple iterations now of the Botanical Breakfast dress and love it. I owned my one in forest green for three years or so before it succumbed, and I bought a second one last year that I expect to last another three.

      2. Former Help Desk Peon*

        My only caution with eshakti is that I felt they didn’t do a great job adding sleeves to a sleeveless dress I ordered. They *claim* that’s possible, but I suspect they just slap a sleeve into the same size armhole rather than modifying the armhole like they ought to. Very constricting fit and I never wear the dress.

    2. SorryNotSorry*

      I had shoulder surgery and could only wear button ups and bandeau bras for a while. It’s the only time in my life I’ve ever worn button ups (or bandeau bras), and I was buying shirts 3 sizes up and still popped off a button. I’m busty and broad shouldered, though, so that button never stood a chance.

      That said I only agree with Allison’s comments if LW is wearing a good full coverage bra and shirts that have no cleavage when viewed slightly above. It’s super restrictive to have big boobs, braless is a joke, even strapless is better in idea than practice. If things don’t nip in at the waist, you look huge, and more. But even so, it’s fine to work around, and it sounds like bending over is enough of the OPs job that she should dress to minimize exposure. Not to avoid leering, but to avoid men or women consciously or unconsciously taking her less seriously because they’ve seen too much of her bod. Of course it shouldn’t matter, but also I’m a girl that also has these wardrobe troubles, and I’d judge someone if I saw their boobs at work multiple times a week because it IS preventable. It doesn’t require turtlenecks, just a high V, boat, crew, or scoop neck.

      I guess my feelings are that if it’s a once a month or less thing, it’s accidental, and not a big deal. If it’s happening multiple times a week, it’s more like booby negligence.

    3. mmiles*

      lol just reading this comment gives me anxiety. Ohhhh the struggle. I am SO with you!! -OP

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Ah! The white button up shirt hype.
      Honestly, I never been able to find a nice one that fit me properly! Aside from the boob gap, the sleeves are always way too long, the waist is either too baggy or too tight! Arg! And I positively loathe tucking-in.
      I’ve given up and opt for popover blouses instead. The standard white shirts are simply not flattering on me and never will be.

  21. Rainy*

    I’m a 36H. I just buy clothes that fit and let the chips fall where they may. The way my breasts sit on my frame mean that I have visible cleavage in everything with a neckline, and I just don’t care anymore. People can deal.

    1. RachelM*

      Same. No matter what I do I’m going to show cleavage. I’d rather do my job than worry about it.

      Imagine how much more energy OP (or any woman!) could give to presentations and meeting participation if she wasn’t worrying about something that should be relatively unnoticeable.

    2. mmiles*

      I’m copying this comment to read in times of insecurity. That’s all any of us can do, right? Dress the bodies we have and live our best lives. -OP

  22. Dorothy Zbornak*

    not much to add except I feel for you, OP. We have the same bra size and I’m also slim-built, but I’m 5’10 so the proportions aren’t as, er, pronounced as they probably are on you. I do wear a lot of layering tanks.

  23. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

    I think Alison did a good job covering your concern. It happens. As a flatter person, I have similar issues with shorts cutting way too low because they expect more cleavage than I have. Do what you can and feel comfortable with, then move on. Skeevey people will skeeve.

    Also, since i haven’t seen the suggestion yet–try Brastop! (link in the response to this comment so I don’t get moderated). Lots of European styles and sizing and they have an amazing range as far as band-to-bust sizing.

    1. Rainy*

      ooh. Thanks for the rec! Looks like they have a lot of Curvy Kate, which I already know doesn’t work for me (underwires are too shallow and placed incorrectly) but I have hope of Pour Moi!

    2. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Found the original comment about fitting (it’s a reddit post):

      Please note it’s an older post and Brastop has since opened a US store.

      Apparently it was the inspiration of r/abrathatfits …who knew. Anyway, that site also has some fitting resources (though I haven’t read those like I did the original link):

  24. Mockingjay*

    I’m with Alison; you’re fine. But in a situation where you feel you need coverage, try a light, triangle-shaped scarf. I drape the long point in front and wrap the ends around my neck to dangle in front. I have some in a sheer, netting fabric so I don’t sweat to death. I usually wear solid dresses or tops to work, so the scarf doubles as an accessory while concealing my personal items.

    1. mmiles*

      Ooh, the overheating is what gets me with scarves. Most of mine are more chunky than decorative. But that’s a great idea, thank you! It’s going on the list. ;) -OP

  25. moql*

    On the flip side of this, how do people feel about deepish v-necks on people with very small boobs? If the plane of skin showing is still completly flat, is that okay?

    1. blink14*

      I was thinking about this – I tend to dress fairly modestly outside of work, mostly skinny jeans with longer tops and a sweater or flannel shirt. However, the tops I wear tend to be lower cut v-necks – which are really more flattering on a bigger chested/boxier top frame anyway – and most of them I would never wear to work. They aren’t so low that there’s cleavage, but low enough to suggest that the v-neck is cut about as low as it can without showing off the goods.

      There’s definitely a cultural viewpoint shift between someone with a small chest and someone with a larger chest. Generally, in my experience, a larger chest is automatically seen as more alluring/dangerous/inappropriate, whereas a smaller chest is seen as sophisticated and appropriate.

    2. QueenB*

      I mean I have a flat chest and wear low cut stuff. I think it does seem to pass as somehow more conservative? My sister, who is well-endowed to say the least, can’t wear things like that without stares/comments but I can? It’s unfair but I think there is a difference in perception.

    3. Emi.*

      I think it’s fine from a coverage perspective but ime they often look very casual, so know your office.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      I don’t do anything more than 2 inches below the collarbone, but I’m a very cautious dresser, smaller chested. 20 years in tech, and very tall / sturdily built. My general aesthetic has been ‘one of the guys’. My impression is that a feminine presentation is becoming less of a handicap.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        (At least, explicitly less of a handicap. I picked ‘one of the guys’ in order to minimize unconscious bias)

    5. Environmental Compliance*

      I’ll say this – I was once a bridesmaid where we had very deep v-necks. The other ladies looked superb. They had longer (?) chests, smaller chesticles. It did not look inappropriate at all, and they looked very classy.

      I on the other hand looked hilariously vampy.

    6. sisteradmin*

      Came down here to ask this question. I wear pretty low-cut stuff (not even a hint of cleavage in my case), and haven’t given it much thought.

    7. That Californian*

      The very deep V on someone with smaller boobs is the ultimate in Summertime Breezy Flowing Grace to me, especially if it’s on a flowing linen dress or something, and I am consumed with envy every time I see it. I think as long as the plane is flatt-ish and no undergarments are showing, carry on looking cool and classy while the rest of us sweat and adjust our chest scaffolding. ;-)

  26. Princess prissypants*

    A correct size bra will generally prevent extreme cleavage. If a) 32DDD sounds HUGE to you, or b) you have back problems, or c) you have big cleavage, or d) you have boobs, there’s a good chance you’ll be much more comfortable (yes, really) in a better size.

    Please get thee to ABTF – abrathatfits on reddit.

    Signed, happily pain-free and comfortable 38GG.

    1. mmiles*

      Lovvve that subreddit! That’s how I ended up with the size I am today, although I never did bother with the “sister sizing” part, and I’m seeing a fair amount of comments on here suggesting that I revisit. Thank you!!! -OP

  27. annakarina1*

    I find it frustrating. I’m busty, though I won’t state my size. I’ll say that I often wear undershirt tanks to both cover up any cleavage that can show in a V-neck, and because I just like the layering feeling. It definitely can feel annoying to shop for work clothes and to try to find blouses that aren’t full of ruffles or too tight across the chest (basically, bigger chest and smaller pant size can make for a challenge in finding the right shirt size).

  28. Carrie Fisher's Middle Finger*

    As someone with a DDD measurement … my high school choir director tried to fit me into our dresses in a way that wouldn’t show off the girls and came to the conclusion that (and I’m quoting directly, here) “they’re big and they’re there.” You and your peers just kind of have to live with ’em if a reduction isn’t an option for you for whatever reason. (It’s not for me!)

    As long as you’re not showing up to work in a metal bikini when you ought not be and you’re doing your due diligence in following your organization’s dress code, I wouldn’t stress it too much. I always get a little embarrassed when I accidentally give someone the tour of the Grand Canyon, sure, but they’re big and they’re there, and that’s just the reality of the situation.

    1. SignalLost*

      And if you’re in a field where you can get away with Not Caring, which it sounds like OP is, doing the whole grab-the-shirt or bizarre movemt to avoid directly bending over calls more attention rather than less to something that’s a physical fact. It reinforces the notion that cleavage is shameful.

      I’m not advocating that OP or anyone else start flashing people and shouting about institutionalized shame, but if you can act as though cleavage sometimes happens and carry on with your life, I think it’s better for everyone. The more we chip away at things we can’t comfortably help and are penalties for existing, the better we all are.

  29. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    I used to rant a lot about “wandering neckline syndrome.” It was the BANE OF MY LIFE before I pulled a major wardrobe revamp. Put on a shirt in the morning, it looks fine — a few hours later at work, somehow I’m practically falling out of it, what???? Some shirts just cannot be relied upon to stay where you put them, and it’s a giant flaming pain. Several cute shirts got thrifted because they proved themselves so utterly untrustworthy.

    OP, as long as it’s occasional and largely related to positioning (yes, someone leaning over your shoulder to look at your computer screen will get a top-down view unless you’re in a turtleneck; it’s unavoidable and decent people know not to let their eyes wander), you really shouldn’t worry about it. Shirts that do this to you routinely maybe shouldn’t be in your work wardrobe.

    Another trick I learned was to wear a cami under my bra; I started doing it for chafing reasons, but discovered the additional benefit that the bra keeps the cami from wandering, so it’s much easier to put it where I want it and trust that it will stay there all day.

    1. TacocaTRacecaR*

      You have just completely changed my entire life with that last paragraph. The underboob sweat, chafing, etc. is such an issue for me. Thank you, Countess! The boobs and I are both eternally grateful for your wisdom : D

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        If there is anything I have achieved in life, I hope it is spreading the gospel of cami-under-bra far and wide. It changed my life for the better in SO many ways!

    2. Lepidoptera*

      I wear a “tissue tee” under my bras in fall/winter/spring, but I just get too damned hot in the summer to layer. Michael Stars and LA Made are good brands for tissue tees.

      When it’s insanely hot, sometimes I just wear a jog bra under a shirt buttoned up to my neck and deal with the uniboob.

    3. Damn it, Hardison!*

      The cami/bra tips is genius! Approved by the Countess herself, no less!

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Nah, just a glaring sign of breakouts under the underwire. Which the camis also helped with, incidentally.

        1. Princess prissypants*

          Chafing comes from rubbing/friction/movement. A bra that fits does. not. move.

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            Then pardon me, I used a slightly incorrect word. The bras pressed uncomfortably on tender places on my skin, which was alleviated by the extra cushioning.

            You’re being a little pushy here about bra fitting; we get it. All glory to your favorite subreddit.

          2. Jules the 3rd*

            or from mild allergies, or trapped sweat. You’re coming across as weirdly aggressive.

            1. Princess prissypants*

              you’re right, sorry about the aggression in that comment.

              i speak from experience. I was squishing myself into 38DDD – the largest size, right? And getting massive sweat and rashes. It was only upon measuring that I realized there’s more than five inches difference between my underbust and bustline, and that there are bras out there that do fit me, putting me into a proper size that my rashes and sweating finally went away.

              1. TacocaTRacecaR*

                Are you saying that a different bra size made you sweat less? I am not really understanding that. I’ve been wearing a 34DD but the nips slip out throughout the day, so pretty sure I need a DDD. But I’m not sure how that would relate to the underboob sweat issue.

                1. Princess prissypants*

                  Yes, that’s correct. My best guess is that any sweat gets immediately soaked into a secure bra, because there’s no gaps where sweat can pool, and no places where any of my boob or chest skin is smooshed up against any other patch of skin thus eliminating any chubrub.

                  But moreso, my rashes were because sweat would pool up, tending to exacerbate even a mildly bad fit by causing things to slip around even more. But in the right size that is locked down tight, nothing moves, slips, slides, bounces, etc. and for me that has been the key to eliminate the rashes and chafing.

                  It really has been a life changer for me, bravangelism or no.

                2. TacocaTRacecaR*

                  Thank you for that reply; up until that one, I hadn’t even considered getting resized, but I will certainly try it if that’s a possibility. None of my skin rubs against itself currently, though, it’s just that I sweat and the bra band rubs because as I move and the skin under it is slick from sweat, the band moves as well.

                3. Emma*

                  Ideally the band can’t move because it’s attached to the underwires, and the underwires can’t move because they’re wrapped around your boobs, right next to your ribcage where the boobs don’t move either. So it’s worth checking your size, yeah :)

          3. TacocaTRacecaR*

            I don’t think a bra fitting is going to solve my sweat issue; it’s because of the sweat that it moves around, IME. So for me, it really is chafing, and it’s not due to fit.

          4. Jessen*

            Honestly that was always my problem with bras. I don’t understand how people are so comfortable in a garment that doesn’t move around? Always seems like if you’re in a bigger cup size everything is designed to strap you down and hold everything in the exact same place no matter what you’re doing.

      2. TacocaTRacecaR*

        My chafing is a result of being a sweatbeast (credits to another commenter for this term–I believe the great Katie the Fed, but I could be mistaken). And I literally wear a cami with everything (even pajamas). I have fibrocystic breast tissue, so they vary in shape and weight by quite a lot. So between my bra underwire all day (anything without underwire literally hurts), and then also the cami band, PLUS being a naturally heavy sweater = a very uncomfortable mess along the braline. But NOW I don’t have to buy the camis with the shelf in them, because I can just put it UNDER THE BRA!!!!

      3. Janie*

        I get the same rash under my boobs, under my stomach, in my inner thigh, and sometimes my armpits. A bra will, obviously, irritate that, as will pretty much literally anything.

        I don’t think I can buy a bra to make my armpits fit better.

    4. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      A hundred or five hundred years ago we would have most definitely been wearing a shift under our stays or corsets. And the shift would have had a pretty, frilly neckline that gave a bit more modesty to a low neckline.

  30. Boobs*

    Great post, and very relatable! I’m petite with big boobs… I usually carry a scarf in my bag and wear it in these types of situations.

  31. Zephy*

    IME, anyone that is going to Notice your breasts will do so regardless of how much or how little fabric there is covering them. I am similarly short and similarly endowed, don’t go out of my way to have The Girls on display at work (or in general tbh), and still catch men talking to my chest.

    Also, not to derail, just a quick mention for OP – check out the r/abrathatfits subreddit if you haven’t already, as I’m certain there are bras out there that will fit you better. Sometimes, when you got tig ol’ bitties, wearing a less-than-optimal bra can make them look bigger or more prominent than they need to be (especially under the unflattering on everybody work polo, ugh), and IME the manufacturers that ignore the rest of the alphabet and just start slapping on more and more D’s as their cups get bigger tend to also make just…really crappy bras. A US “DDDD” cup would be a UK F cup, which is not an uncommon size at all.

    1. Marzipan*

      I really appreciate this clarification as I was confused about what the hell a DDDD cup was!

      r/abrathatfits has a really comprehensive self-measurement tool that I found great, so seconding that recommendation.

    2. TechWorker*

      Is it really true that bras that fit will reduce cleavage though? Like sure LW may want to check that out for other reasons but when your boobs are a certain size the best fitting bra in the world won’t magically make them smaller or mean that you never get cleavage.

      1. JessicaRabbitsOfTheWorldUnite!*

        “Is it really true that bras that fit will reduce cleavage though?”

        It depends. It may, and it may not. It depends on your torso shape, breast shape, breast placement etc. and it depends on *how* the bra didn’t fit before.

        Some people wear bras with too small cups, and sort of fall out in the middle between the cups, squished together in the middle. In that situation a cup in the right size will mean less squishing, and less of an awkward cleavage.

        Some people wear bras with too big bands, and sort of use the cups as slings with the bust hoisted up by the straps. In that situation the correct band and cup will give better placement, and less under-chin-or-swinging-cleavage.

        Some people wear bras with correct size all round, and have breasts spaced apart (say from a 1/2 inch to 2-3 inches) in front. In a bra that fits, they may get very little or no visible cleavage, lots of bra shapes are for separating – so unless it’s a plunge pushing the breast together, it may mean no cleavage with wider set breasts. How wide the spacing is, will of course depend on torso size.

        Some people wear bras with correct size all round, and have close together breasts (less space between breasts than a bra’s centre gore, e.g.) – these people will get cleavage no matter what bra they wear, because they have natural cleavage that a bra won’t hide. I’m one of these people, and will never, ever not have cleavage – the skin itself is that close and my breasts literally covers all of the front of my torso.

        In my experience, all bras that fit (with correct narrowness on the wire etc.) will however generally give a “smaller” look, because the overall silhouette is better. I’ve seen this in a lot of different band and cup sizes and body shapes. You do need a good cup shape as well as correct volume. It will not look smaller if the new bra is very wide and brings the cups under your armpits, e.g.

        1. Pandop*

          This reminds me of the late, great, Victoria Wood on the subject of Platex’s ‘lift and separate’ range, ‘if nature had intended them to be lifted and separated, I’d have one on each shoulder’

  32. Bad Coffee*

    My motto is “cleavage is a naturally occurring phenomenon.” I think you’re fine.

  33. LSP*

    Boat neck tops are actually quite flattering and do an excellent job of covering up cleavage.

    But honestly, I think you should just be comfortable, as it doesn’t sound like you’re in danger of violating any dress codes/office norms. If a shirt you wear happens to show a little cleavage when you are moving around/bending over, and you’re fine with that but are worried about your co-workers’ comfort levels, I don’t think that matters so much. If YOU are not comfortable with that kind of incidental cleavage, then go for boat neck tops when you can.

    As a bustier woman myself, I’ll be glad if/when our society gets to a point where the hint of skin over a mammary gland isn’t considered the height of scandal, and when we can expect adult men to act like adults.

    1. TacocaTRacecaR*

      I saw a man running downtown in my city yesterday afternoon on my commute home (so like 4:45 PM)…shirtless. And thought, again, how unfair it is that manipples are fine but not womanipples. Although a) I don’t run anyway, and b) many women that I know wouldn’t run shirtless anyway b/c then we’d be getting slapped in the face with every step, it’d be nice to have the option!

      1. fposte*

        Though from a workplace standpoint, women actually have more exposure leeway than men, both in the chest region and on legs and feet. The reasons why it’s unfair to our advantage there aren’t cool, but I will still take the freedom to wear skirts and sandals and v-necks.

        1. TacocaTRacecaR*

          Very true, fposte. I am definitely grateful for my A-line skirt when it’s 103 degrees with 99.5% humidity while the men have to wear pants.

          I’ve almost always chosen to wear dresses or skirts over pants, for comfort purposes only. I used to get a lot of questions about that, like “Oh, you can’t possibly PREFER that for comfort”. But then I’d explain I get to wear leggings under it, which are basically stretch pants, or I just wear short underneath in warm weather, which are also stretch-waisted…well, I’ll just say I got quite a number of converts :)

    2. fposte*

      Yes, there are higher-neck tops and tanks that aren’t turtlenecks. A V is not requisite.

      But I’m also thinking of the wonderful Rachel Bloom video “Ladyboss,” where she sings “I’ll be asking on my deathbed/ How much boob is too much boob?”

  34. Wildflower*

    I was wearing a shirt the other day that was completely cleavage-free. The neckline was almost up at my collarbone. I should have been fine. Then I tried to zip up my coat in an elevator and my arms squished everything together, and apparently I showed more than I thought because an older lady I barely know reached INTO my shirt to tug it up.

    So. That’s a little off topic but the point is to say that accidental cleavage through motion just happens sometimes, and hopefully your colleagues are nicer and more professional about it than mine.

      1. Wildflower*

        I’d love to say that I said something wonderfully snappy, but my natural reaction whenever I’m uncomfortable is to smile and laugh, which is not ideal. It’s something I’m working on. She got out of the elevator right away anyway–after saying “oh, I’m just jealous!”

    1. VictorianCowgirl*

      I’m stunned by this woman. Actually just sitting here staring at my phone rereading your post. That sounds terrible – not sure how I would react to something like that. What did you do?

    2. Emily*

      My eyebrows just rose into my hairline, reading that. Why would anyone think that was okay?!

  35. busta rhymes for today*

    32F here, I feel your pain girl. Really basic question, though… what do we mean by “cleavage”? The “crack,” right? I can show much more upper chest than girls with smaller girls without showing that.

  36. Manchmal*

    I have breasts on the larger side, though not quite as big as the OP. This frankly has never been an issue for me (unless I choose clothes that show cleavage). Crewnecks, button-down shirts with only the top button unbuttoned, scarves, cardigans are all pretty modest. And, if the neckline hits well above your breasts, they shouldn’t be showing too much no matter what your movements are. So, OP’s issue might be with her chosen clothing being too loose or too low-cut.

    On the other hand, how much cleavage are we talking about? If the only problem is that certain movements reveal the fact that you have breasts just a little bit, then I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s similar to when a man’s pants fall a certain way and you get a clear outline of the package. I guarantee you they are not worried about it!

    1. Observer*

      I think you are making a lot of assumptions, though. True, to some extent it probably is a matter of the choices that the OP is making. But a lot of otherwise reasonably cut clothes don’t work for really chesty women.

      Button down shirts tend to be a particular problem, because they are often cut such that they are too tight across the chest, so you get the gaps between the buttons, or they are way to loose at the shoulder, which winds up being sloppy most of the time. A similar problem comes up with cardigans.

      1. Manchmal*

        Sure, but no one is entitled to have all clothes work for them / look good on them. (As someone plus-sized, I know this all too well from personal experience.) The point isn’t whether “lots” of reasonable clothes work for the OP, but whether she is choosing clothes that don’t work for her (regardless of whether they work for someone else, or whether they *should* work for her). There are lots of ways to dress professionally that don’t involve button-down shirts, or slimly tailored clothing, or v-necks, or loose shirts that come away from the body when you bend over. Pick what works! Spend some time in the dressing room making sure that the clothes function in various positions.

        1. AdhdAnon*

          I wanted to let you know that your comment reads to me, as someone who *does* have a large chest, like the OP as very harsh. I think you’re trying to provide suggestions, but it comes across as ‘you’re just not being careful/thoughtful enough about your appearance, if you were, this wouldn’t be a problem.”

          Yes, it still would be. I’m super careful about what I buy and what bras I wear and I have long accepted that there are certain types of tops that just don’t work and occasional cleavage is still a problem.

          I may be overly sensitive because I just heard something like this from a DD friend. Big, big difference between DD and DDDD.

        2. Observer*

          No one said that anyone is “entitled” to have “all the clothes” fit on them. What we are saying is that it can be extremely difficult to find reasonably priced clothes that fit properly and don’t show ANY cleavage.

          Your assumption that just because YOU – with a much smaller size – don’t have this problem, it means that the OP is just choosing poorly is uncalled for and not based in anything factual. And your examples of clothes that “do” work prove that you have no idea of what you are talking about. You say, for instance, that “button-down shirts with only the top button unbuttoned, . . . are all pretty modest” so I responded to show you that you are wrong about that.

          You were wrong. Stop doubling down. And stop being so judgemental.

    2. LSP*

      I think if you read other comments on here that this is a very common problem, especially for petite women who are otherwise large-chested. I wouldn’t assume there’s some simple solution that you’ve found and all these other women haven’t. As another commenter pointed out, many times a shirt looks fine when you try it on, and it looks fine in the morning when you first put it on, but through the course of a normal day it creeps downward. True, crew necks are probably fine most of the time, but I for one hate the feeling of something right up against my neck. It makes me feel claustrophobic. That can’t be the only choice for busty women.

    3. Environmental Compliance*

      Some of us don’t have a lot of area between neck and beginning of breasts, so there’s really not a shirt that hits “well above the breasts”. I think if someone were to measure, I might have a whopping 2″ between collarbone and cleavage. Combine that with a petite frame, and every shirt sucks, apart from the polo shirts I usually find myself in. Blousy business casual tops? Nope, they suck. I’m simply lucky my job allows me to dress in polos or t-shirts.

      1. JessicaRabbitsetc.*

        Yeah, me too. Less than 2 inches from the collarbone to the “mounds” on top of my breast, and maybe a 1/2 inch from start of mound (significant angle out) to top of “crack”. Which means that if I cross my arms the crack is at the top of the mounds.

        I find that boat necks and medium scoop necks (under collarbone, but above “mound”) are the most flattering and least cleavage-showing cuts for tops. There are no Vs that don’t hit my cleavage, and anything above the collar bone will perversely accentuate the girls.

    4. ket*

      Yep, gotta chime in here as someone very short with a high waist, almost all clothes have cleavage. I can put on the same shirt as my sister (who is only an inch taller but longer-torsoed) and she won’t have cleavage and I will. I did just measure: from the bottom knob of collarbone to valley between breasts = 2 inches. Most of the workout shirts available from Athleta, for instance, allow visible cleavage for me despite looking on the models like they’re collarbone length, and they’re all tight.

  37. Leela*

    I feel this on such a personal level (DDD here too).

    The way i feel is (and the way i think it should be, but definitely isn’t in all offices is): Feelings about your cleavage that isn’t coming from clothes meant to make it happen, feelings about how large your rear looks, etc, these are comments on your *body*, not your clothes. And people who don’t have body types like these don’t realize how extremely difficult it is to make clothes that minimize these parts of your body properly, nor should it be your responsibility to pretend you have a body you don’t have so that other people don’t freak out about your body. In addition to being DDD, having a very large rear, I’m also extremely tall for a woman and skirts are always short on me, and pants are very difficult to find unless I want to spent 2 or 3 times the price as everyone else by going to specialty stores for something that doesn’t last any longer/look any better. It’s extremely frustrating and I’ve had to deal with it my whole life, even as a teenager, hearing about the way my body looked from my middle aged male boss.

    1. VictorianCowgirl*

      Solidarity on the difficulty in finding clothes for tall women. I’m almost 6′ tall and for a while I sewed all pants and shirts for work. Now, I can order tall sizes off j crew, Eddie bauer, banana republic, gap even old navy and then do small adjustments for a better fit since the pants ALWAYS gap at my waist if I can for them over my thighs. But I take that ability for granted and it would be so much harder to buy off the rack without it.

      1. Emma*

        You might like eshakti, which I’ve mentioned upthread; all their clothes can be tailored to your measurements for $10 extra, and they offer a lot of customisations too. Their trouser range has historically been shite, but they’ve recently introduced a great line of jeans, so maybe they’re improving on that front!

  38. Sara*

    OP, I feel your pain. I had a friend growing up that used to say I had cleavage in a turtleneck! I’m a 32FF, and a relatively small person who is constantly looking for appropriate clothes. I also totally get the bending over panic – I weirdly moved to a squatting/lowering myself slowly to reach something at ground/lower levels instead of bending at the waist for this exact reason.

    I think you shouldn’t worry too much – it sounds like you’re dealing with it the best you can, and being proactive when you can be. As long as you’re not wearing intentionally plunging necklines more suited for a night out, it shouldn’t be an issue.

  39. LQ*

    I hate hate hate cardigans (which are a very common way to address this (I feel like they just highlight it to me/on me/for me)) so I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the right cut and style. I’ve given up and just buy all my clothes from Eshakti and I got for a “jewel”, “high scoop” or “high v” but the thing I really took away was a big part of what matters is how well cut it is in the shoulders as well. If it’s loose and flowing there and the top vs at all it is like Hello! But when it’s cut so there isn’t a lot of extra fabric it doesn’t show as much. Weirdly slightly more closely fitting is way less showy at least for my gs.

    That said I have coworkers who have less but clothes sometimes show more, and it is generally fine. Creepy leerers will creepily leer through a suit made of bricks. Decent humans will recognize that boobs happen and keep their eyes on the computer screen/files/etc when clothes momentarily disagree with your placement of them.

  40. Drax*

    Right now it’s super easy to find high neck tank tops with thin straps so they would sit at the collarbone for average chested people (I get mine at Walmart for $3 each) and when you have big girls, the ‘high neck’ means it sits where normal tanks sit on everyone else so right above the boobs. They have been a godsend, I have like literally 20 of them so when they wear out I have more waiting.

    If you are wearing normal neck clothing and there’s still cleavage – it is what it is. As a short person who somehow befriended giants*, I’m told they all make a point to not look directly down at people to avoid looking down peoples shirts. True or not, makes me feel better. People do understand with bigger chests come cleavage no matter what you do.

    **seriously, my boyfriend is a foot taller than me and is the shortest at 6’1″, most of my friends are between 6’3″ – 6’8″.

    1. RandomU...*

      hmm… I may have to explore this.

      I have a love hate relationship with tank tops and camis. I love them because I need them for almost all of my work blouses (sheer and/or v-neck) but I hate the tight fit that most tanks are designed for. That fit does weird things to my shape (hard to explain but trust me on this).

      The other thing I was going to suggest for the OP are the little dickie like thingies that are either lace or silk material that are basically rectangles that attach to the bra and provide coverage that way. I’d totally wear those if it weren’t for the whole ‘sheer’ factor in most of my blouses.

      Otherwise (and forgive me for the description) but I’ve found that ‘mature lady’ tank tops tend to have more coverage than the average ones that are more common. So I’m not shy about buying at places like coldwater creek or north style so that I can get the fit and coverage that I need, even though I’m not their target demographic.

      1. Drax*

        with tanks, sometimes going a size up helps. so it’s tight on the girls but not anywhere else. I usually wear a small at walmart but I buy the tanks in mediums and they lock the girls down but i don’t feel like I’m being squished everywhere.

        I tried the dickies before and if it’s the cleavage-covering-only ones, they tend to move up and down the bra straps so it’s under your neck framing your cleavage before you know what happened.

        1. RandomU...*

          lol… I’m glad my office is private, because your cleavage framing comment made me lol and I certainly don’t think I could share that with my coworkers.

          Yeah, it’s the tight on the girls thing that doesn’t work for my body type. Apparently my body wanted me to explore a career as a linebacker, so I have a really broad back to contend with in addition to the girly bits on the front. When I was a general size 4 I would still wear an XL mens sized coat because it was the only thing that would fit my shoulders and upper back) I’ve since doubled the size 4 so the problem’s only gotten worse :)

          Any sort of tightness or fittedness in my shoulders and rib region turns me into a block… It’s really quite weird and hard to describe. This is one of the reasons I like the cuts that are loose and usually found in places that sell to older women.

    2. Drax*

      Oh yeah, that made me think of another thing I found that works. You know when you buy clothes and the tags are attached to the item with those tiny safety pins? I use those in my shirts to keep them where I want them (attached to the bra) or in the cleavage to get more coverage. They hide really well and hold up fairly well, I think I’ve only had a few give out.

      1. RandomU...*

        You can buy them in bulk really cheap on amazon. I’m assuming you are talking the ones without the coils on them? Search for gourd pins or coil-less safety pin.

  41. Its Business Time*

    I’m also incredibly chesty, and over the years I’ve come to just sort of…accept it. I’m lucky that my office isn’t overly conservative, but when I focus on clothing that hides any cleavage, it inevitably forces me into clothes that make me feel bad about my body. Over time, it turned out that the loss of confidence was more detrimental to my career than occasionally showing a little cleavage in clothes I loved. I think Alison nailed this advice. Go forth and let your boobs take over the world!

    1. straws*

      Same. At some point, if you cover too much of a large chest, you end up looking like a ski slope anyway. And that attracts its own type of attention. Using camis, cardigans, and scarves can help. But, the thing that helped me most was to just stop caring. I make the best wardrobe choices I can, and I check my “placement” when I pass a mirror, and I focus on doing good work.

  42. Corporate Goth*

    If you’re constantly tugging up, that can also turn into a habit and look like nervous fidgeting. Sometimes that’s viewed as less professional – not looking to start a debate about that, just my experience/feedback. Personally, I just wind up getting annoyed and want the stupid shirt to stay where it’s supposed to be already.

    I use safety pins all the time (and in emergencies, staplers). They’re hidden under a blazer – I find “super professional” attire helps, too – but if you can find a magic shirt with double layers, that helps keep things tucked in so you don’t have to worry about it. I think there’s fabric/boob tape of some sort as well that achieves kind of the same thing.

  43. 32DDD*

    Scarves. I wear a lot of scarves, even in the summer. The office is always so cold and I have really short hair, so having the scarf around my neck helps keep me warm and helps cover up the kind of things the OP mentioned.

    1. KehSquared*

      So much yes on scarves! I often worry about unintentional cleavage since there’s a specific “No cleavage” rule in our dress code. I’d need to wear nothing but turtlenecks to prevent it entirely and scarves have helped so much.

  44. Hannah*

    32H here so I feel your pain. I am just generally really uncomfortable showing that part of my chest and prefer high-neck shirts, but more generally if the shirt is of an appropriate style (like, not MEANT to be cut sexy) I think you’re OK. You don’t need to go out of your way to make sure no one ever notices you have cleavage.

  45. Anon Today Because Boobs*

    I am a 34G and found Bravissimo (Google them) to be a godsend because they don’t just have bras – they have clothes! Sweaters and dresses and shirts that are sized as expected but each size has three boob options (curvy, really curvy and super curvy). I wore a button shirt for the first time in maybe 10 years this year because of this shop. It’s UK based so shipping might be a bit much but if you can swing it I highly recommend it.

    1. LPUK*

      I endorse this comment! I also have a couple of dresses and shirts from Bravissimo and it’s amazing the fact that tailoring for curves can have on your appearance! They tend to focus on the more casual end of the spectrum ( no suits) but many of the items are perfectly acceptable in most offices. They also do swimwear, nightwear and exercise gear in the same three curvy options

  46. anon42*

    I’m in automotive manufacturing as a production manager and I wear 32F-G. Currently wearing my uniform of Express Portofino Relaxed/Original Fit. It’s a flowy loose fitting button down and honestly the style of bra is critical in making me feel more comfortable at work. (Comfortable enough that I don’t wear a camisole!) It took time and patience to find that bra/shirt combo but I don’t tug on my clothes and for my confidence level that was critical. There are still occasional glimpses but I let it be.

    Personally I find that European brands tend to be less va-va-voom. There’s more separation and I can find a shape that is supportive and doesn’t have my chest trying to touch my chin. Fancy bra shops and Nordstrom will help, Redit’s ‘a bra that fits’ is wonderful, and once you know sales are everywhere.

    Good luck!

  47. Submerged Tenths*

    Not a sufferer, but one suggestion to eliminate “tent” blouses. Tailoring. A good seamstress can create fit in a button-front blouse that goes around the girls but “tents” everywhere else. And it shouldn’t be terribly expensive.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      In your experience, how much has it generally cost to get an off-the-rack item tailored? I’m interested in exploring this but leery of paying extra $$ on top of the cost of clothes.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I can’t speak to blouses specifically but the tailored items I’ve have had done is a minimum of $35 each, it depends on the fabric and how easy it is to manipulate.

        The thing is that once you have them tailored, you’re going to love them and feel more comfortable in them. It can be an investment in that sense. I only need a week’s worth of really lovely outfits to rotate through that way. Unlike when I’m just kind of grabbing clothes that will “do the job and not make me feel absolutely uncomfortable in my skin” kind of thing that I used to be dealing with!

        I understand that it can be an issue though, since many people don’t have the luxury to invest in something like a wardrobe but if you can gain some self esteem from the items, it can be well worth it in the end in my experience.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Appreciated! Right now, my big issue is that I’m (slowly but steadily) losing weight, and sitting right in a horribly uncomfortable place in sizing where my larger clothing, especially shirts, are visibly and definitely Too Big but the next size down is still just a hair too small to be really comfortable.

          I might hold off until my weight stabilizes, but once it does then tailoring sounds like a good investment.

      2. Rainy*

        In my old city, you could typically get a shirt tailored for $10-15 dollars. I haven’t done it here, but the place my husband gets his suits tailored lists pricing at $30 for shirt tailoring.

        My old city, you couldn’t heave a half-brick without hitting a place that did tailoring. Here, there’s one place in town I’d trust, so part of what you’re paying for is the fact that there’s one place in town most people trust, and if they charged less they’d be neck-deep in garments for tailoring rather than just waist-deep.

      3. Not A Manager*

        I’ve had good luck in general posting on neighborhood message boards like nextdoor. You can get personal recommendations for good local businesses. Even better, people sometimes recommend their friend or neighbor who does these sort of things for extra money. That’s usually much less expensive than a bricks-and-mortar establishment.

    2. ket*

      I’ve actually shopped at thrift stores to find nice shirts that I then spend an equal or greater amount on tailoring.

  48. literal desk fan*

    34G here and I can so relate! I definitely feel self conscious sometimes too. But I agree with Allison–you’re fine!

    My personal philosophy is that my body is the way it is. I’m not trying to be an exhibitionist, when I wear comfortable clothes that fit me, there may be a little bit of visible cleavage, and in some situations people may be able to see down my shirt. If they can’t still treat me with respect, I think that says way more about them than it does about me! I can’t help having this body and boobs will be boobs, but others can sure as hell help how they treat me. And it sounds like your colleagues do treat you with respect, so I really don’t think you have anything to worry about!

  49. Elizabeth West*

    So many women’s blouses are low-cut to begin with–it’s hard to find something that’s not. Then you try to get a camisole or something to wear under it and it’s also low-cut. Thank goodness for those little camisole inserts you clip to your bra. Scarves are helpful but not always feasible if it’s too hot.

    1. fposte*

      Yes, it’s really annoying; as a regular wearer of tanks and camisoles, I’d definitely say their necklines have been creeping down. I think there’s often a huge tension between what retail wants to sell women and what we actually need for basic workwear, and cleavage is emblematic of that. If you’d believe the web, we’re all flaunting sideboob around the copier.

  50. Elemeno P.*

    My company requires name tags, so I thankfully avoid this issue with a thick lanyard.

  51. AKchic*

    As someone who was 150lbs, 5’3″ and sported a 36J… I can relate. My chest did finally get the memo that the rest of my body had lost some weight, and dropped down to a more modest (ha ha) G cup, but we are still slightly struggling some days).

    We don’t boob at them on purpose. Even wearing turtlenecks is problematic because yeah, while it covers the sweaterpuppies, it actually accentuates them, so really, we’re not any better off, and it also gets *hot* (and to be honest, I hate turtlenecks with the heat of a thousand suns, so I don’t own any and refuse to wear them). I don’t even like regular-necked t-shirts because I feel like I’m being choked (childhood traumas come in to play here).

    It can be hard to find tops that fit well, and tailoring is usually involved. However, I gave up trying to *hide* my chest. My chest is a part of me, and if people don’t want to see the top of my chest, then they are free to look elsewhere. Y’know, like my eyes. It is not my problem that fashions are geared toward accentuating certain aspects of my anatomy, I am merely trying not to show up to work sans clothing. I look professional and it is up to them to actually be as professional as I am.

  52. mamma mia*

    To actually answer your question, LW (and not just talk about how big my breasts are like half of the commenters), you’re absolutely thinking too much about this. Considering the cleavage is accidental and you’re not wearing low-cut shirts, the question you’re really asking is “is it unprofessional to have large breasts?”, and when phrased that way, the answer is a resounding and obvious “No.” Let this go.

    1. TacocaTRacecaR*

      For many people, knowing others have the same issue/concern/feeling does help in a real way. Also, most of the comments I’ve read say “I have the same issue, and this is what I do”, which I believe is allowed and perhaps even encouraged by Alison.

    2. Koala dreams*

      Yes, I have the feeling a lot of comments won’t be very helpful to the OP. It is nice to see that people have so many ideas to solve breast-related clothing problems, but from the OPs description, they seem to be fine in that regard. No need to fix it if it isn’t wrong to begin with!

    3. Allonge*

      I also was struck by the words accidental and unprofessional – your body being what it is cannot, in my view, be unprofessional. It can be unsuited to certain jobs (I have terrible eyesight and am overweight, that rules out being a pilot or a flight attendant) but unprofessional for having large-ish breasts?
      Unprofessional would be staring at someone’s breasts. Unprofessional is dressing in a way that is not suited to your work environment. Actions are unprofessional. Existing is not.

  53. Hi!*

    Oof I feel you on this one. I am a size 36DDD and am otherwise 5’2 and wear a size 6. I go through this issue a lot too. One time I ended up having to tie my shoe in front of my boss as we were walking to a meeting. Problem is, I can’t see my dang shoes under the giant watermelons hanging from my chest. It did not go well. Best of luck to you and your busty existence. Can’t wait for boob sweat-aliscious summertime!

  54. JeanB in NC*

    I think there’s a cover made of lace, usually, that you can buy that attaches to the bra straps and just covers the cleavage area. It’s not as hot as a whole other layer and because it’s attached it doesn’t really gape when you bend over like a top would.

    I used to just hold on to my top when I bent over but that doesn’t work if you need both hands (and I was a lot younger then and still gave a crap about what other people thought).

    1. Wehaf*

      I’m surprised this item wasn’t mentioned further up! OP and others, you can search for “mock camisole”, “cleavage cover”, “bra overlay”, “mock chemisette”, “cami secret”, “clip on camisole” or “modesty panel”. They are triangular or trapezoidal, they clip or snap onto bra straps, are available in lots of different fabrics in varying levels of casualness, lace or plain. They look like you are wearing a camisole, but, as JeanB says, without the bulk, and, because they are attached to the bra straps, they don’t move around the way camisoles often do.

  55. Rose's angel*

    Being of the shirt and big boobed club I know exactly what you are going through. I have lace camis that I wear under my shirts for just this reason. I have MANY different colors and I wear one almost every day.

  56. Princess prissypants*

    LW, a well (properly, professionally) fit will solve your problem. There’s a good chance you’re more like 30F, and being in a proper fit will lift and separate, not smoosh.

    ABTF – google it!

    1. Tricksie*

      Yes! This is what I came on to say. Go to ABTF, measure properly, order a bunch of bras from somewhere with free returns. I love Elomi–it’s my go-to brand (I’m a 36G/38G). Proper bras help soooooo much.

      1. Princess prissypants*

        I’m elomi too.

        It’s all eliminated in the right fit: back problems, digging, rubbing, floating, stabbing, poking, chafing, rashes, quadboob, uniboob, megacleavage, pain of any kind – all gone!

        Fastest way to break of out bra-size-sticker-shock is just go try it on. It really is life-changing to be in ABTF.

      2. L. S. Cooper*

        I’d like to throw in a vote for Elomi as well, or at least a similar brand with soft unlined and unmolded cups– it isn’t a minimizer, but it sure as hell works like one!

    2. caryatis*

      This is off topic. OP didn’t ask for bra recommendations, and a well-fitting bra is not going to eliminate cleavage.

      1. Princess prissypants*

        But that’s the thing – it actually does and thus is on topic. Because a properly fitted bra in the right size and shape has a center gore that lies flat against the chest, keeping the breast tissue separated and preventing it from squishing together and forming cleavage.

        1. Wehaf*

          I’d bet good money the OP is not using “cleavage” in the technical sense or a line where two separate breasts are pushed together, but rather, colloquially, to mean simply more total breast tissue (or breast tissue further down than she’d like, e.g. past where the breasts “split”). A different bra will not fix this.

          1. Observer*

            Still, when you’re wearing a good bra you’re generally seeing a LOT less of either the line or (what you can tell are) the breasts. And when you DO see it, it’s less noticeable than the line between two squished together breasts. All of which makes everything else a lot easier to deal with.

      2. Tricksie*

        Well-fitting bras absolutely do eliminate cleavage and improve the fit of shirts.

      3. L. S. Cooper*

        Yeah, when I’m wearing a properly fitted bra in the right style (in my case, the aforementioned Elomi, with their very soft cups), my breasts appear WAY smaller than they do in a smaller cup size and a style of bra that’s less well fitting. Seriously. I’m a 40G. I have a lot of boob, and have a lot of trouble with unintentional cleavage, and I can promise you that a well-fitting bra can seriously help out with making your breasts less intense.

      4. Chinookwind*

        But a change in clothing or bra style that stays where it is suppose to can make all the difference because of how it feels on her. It took me decades to find a bra brand and clothing maker that fit me properly (thanks to being in rural Canada and on a limited budget). I have been in her shoes (literally – I was a receptionist and only female at a tech firm, which meant people could look down my shirt whenever they came in without even trying).

        If AAM had had this column when I first stumbled across this place, I would have been greatly relieved at AAM for pointing out that I, like the OP, was overthinking it because “boobs are going to boob,” but I still would have checked out the recommended brands to see if there was anything that would make me feel more comfortable. Because, frankly, if I can look down and see cleavage from my POV, then I am always going to wonder if other can see it too.

    3. blackcat*

      Right, or a 28G. Lots of US stores will put women who measure to a 28 or 30 into 32+ bandsizes because it’s all they have.
      When I realized I was actually a 30, it was life changing! Unexpected cleavage is a really, really common problem if your bandsize is too big.

  57. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP, you may wish to consider keeping your necklines no lower than your collarbone. That may take care of the cleavage problem without you having to put your hand across your chest every time you bend over.

    1. Janie*

      If you’re short that can be basically a turtleneck. My collarbones are basically as high as my shoulders.

  58. Non-profiteer*

    Just came here to say that Situational Cleavage is now on my list of potential band names.

  59. Professor Ma'am*

    I’m a college professor and whenever I buy a new shirt I do the “bend test” to make sure there’s no surprise cleavage when leaning over a student’s desk. There’s also the “reach test” where you lift your arm as high as you can (reaching for the top of the blackboard!) and make sure your belly doesn’t show or, if it’s a dress, your butt isn’t hanging out.

    1. Emi.*

      [i]There’s also the “reach test” where you lift your arm as high as you can (reaching for the top of the blackboard!) and make sure your belly doesn’t show[/i]
      COUGH COUGH men should do this too

  60. Wearing Many Hats*

    I work in HR and feel your pain! I always have a scarf at my desk in case in my pre-coffee morning haste put on a v-neck that is a little low. It’s often a bit chilly in my office, so the scarf helps with that too. That said, a little accidental cleavage is no big deal–we all need to stop worrying about it so much!

  61. Blue*

    LW- I have a lot of cleavage so I get it! Tops that are fine on someone with a smaller bust can show a lot of me. Leaning over can be problematic. I get around it by wearing a fairly tight (so it doesn’t gap) tank top under all my work clothes. It keeps everything contained and means I never show more cleavage than is work appropriatel.

  62. Amber T*

    “Such is the reality of clothes, and of boobs.”

    This line made me laugh. Boobs are gonna boob.

    Agree with everyone else here – I don’t think you have to worry.

  63. LPUK*

    As far as shirts are concerned: when I lived in Germany I found a fabulous solution – a shop where you could go in and choose a style and fabric swatch for your shirt , be measured for it ( 11 separate measurements including the distance between your nipples) and then wait 6 weeks for the finished articles to be posted to you ( from Lithuania as I recall). Looks as if you can now do this from a website at dolzer-dot-com but you’d have to speak German to navigate the site! Still, they were really nice shirts, starting from 74 euros and you get to choose fit, collar and cuff type, so it’s as close as most of us come to bespoke! They also do suits, trousers, jackets and coats ( I had a really nice black wool coat made with a shocking pink lining which I still love and wear)

    1. Shirty*

      Thank you so much for the Dolzer tip! Will definitely use the next time I’m in Germany.

  64. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

    I totally recommend LW, and really any and all boob-havers, to read this: because unless you’ve been sized by a professional, you might actually be wrong about your bra size. I thought I knew my bra size, but then read some of the tips and realized… hey, none of my bras actually fit the way they’re apparently supposed to (the gorget should lie flat, not ‘float’; the back strap should go straight, not rise up; and the chest/back strap, not the shoulder straps, should do must of the lifting). Measured myself, concluded that must have been wrong, measured myself again, had my husband measure me 3 more times… I was a couple strap-sizes and several cup-sizes off from what I had been wearing. The new ones fit much better, and now my shoulders don’t hurt!

    1. DJ*

      And professional does not mean Victoria Secret! They are the worst! I had a bra that you could tell wasnt fitting me (I was busting out) but the sales lady was like “this is your size”. And I was like no, get me something that fits. I can’t even remember if I ended up buying anything because that was when I realized that I knew more about fitting a bra than she did.

      There are specialty independent shops as well as some major chains like Nordstrom’s where you can get properly fitted. I have only gone to the local independent shops and had great results there. They are also useful if you have any…complications (radically uneven boobs, headlights that could cut glass, etc).

  65. AndersonDarling*

    I think it is all part of an overall image. If there is an occasional cleavage glimpse then it is OK. But if it is cleavage + skin tight pants/skirts, then it starts to add up to something to be concerned about. Most people can discern the overall intent of an outfit.
    I worked with a manager that had the same problems as the OP, but she would wear skin tight pants or really, really short skirts. It wasn’t until a partner mistook her for a prostitute that she found more appropriately fitted pants and skirts and she would wear blazers over it all. The tops were still tight, but the complete image changed to be more professional.

      1. RandomU...*

        “Oh hey baby… I’m looking for a date”
        “Umm…I’m looking for the date that the Johnson Report will be complete”

  66. EH*

    I (a 36I) feel you, OP. I’ve taken to buying custom-tailored dress shirts to wear at work, since I lean butch anyway – places like do good work at decent prices. I think eShakti does custom work on more femme styles.
    Also: if you’re having back trouble, you might be sized incorrectly – depending on where you live, there might be a knowledgeable specialty bra shop (here in Portland, we have The Pencil Test, for example) and they will likely size you WAY more accurately than places like Nordstrom or Victoria’s Secret.

  67. Fake Eleanor*

    I have *definitely* had my share of surprise cleavage…I learned my lesson fast that even the smallest, daintiest peephole on a blouse or dress will turn into a full “female superhero boob window” on me.
    When I absolutely cannot have any slip-ups, my go-to is a crewneck dress, in a size up from what I usually wear, with a belt on the waist so I look less like a sack of potatoes. That and an army of high-cut camisoles have gotten me through quite a lot, though I still gaze longingly at the wrap dresses I know I could never get away with.

    1. ket*

      Yes. I have a Lands End Ponte Sheath. Look ’em up. It has a keyhole neckline. It’s my sexy date dress. Hahah.

    2. DJ*

      I don’t even bother with most button up blouses. I don’t want to deal with the bother of getting things tailored and anything that fits my boobs makes me look 10lbs heavier anything that fits my waist leaves button gaps at the boobs. And that is without getting into the sleeve length issues. Thankfully, there are lots of alternatives!

  68. Exhausted Trope*

    This is the greatest prose I’ve read today :” Your boobs are big. Sometimes they will make themselves known. Such is the reality of clothes, and of boobs. “

  69. Faith*

    Great timing. I just got my shipment from Nordstrom of “office appropriate” wrap tops that would accommodate my pumping routine. And I was shaking my head at the way my 34F boobs made what appeared to be a modest office top in the picture look like a prop in a “naughty secretary” adult movie once I put it on.

    1. ket*

      Exactly. Wrap tops are always recommended for curvy women, and they always make me look like a porn star.

  70. RES*

    I love wearing scarves in general, but I find them especially helpful with shirts where gaps have been known to occur!

  71. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    It’s hard when our bodies seem to betray us, no matter how hard we try to be modest and covered up, our chests are like “Not today, Karen. Today we are canon balls rolling.”

    It’s good to be aware of yourself like this but understand that things happen, we can only do so much to prevent accidents. If we were able to control every thing in life, we would put the insurance agencies out of business so quickly!

  72. IWantToPetAllTheDogs*

    OP, I believe that you are just fine. I found that I was obsessing at looking down and thinking that everyone could see down the entire front of my blouse. I’m an extremely short-waisted 6 foot tall 32F, so even modest V-necks made me feel like I was wearing the equivalent of J Lo’s 2000 Grammys dress. I too, have to take up straps and raise shoulders on a lot of my clothing.

    After a really good friend helped me with a reality check, it turns out that I was “seeing” a lot more than any colleagues or clients ever would because of the extreme neck angle I was adopting to look down. Essentially, someone would have to put their head on my shoulder and look straight down to get the same perspective. In a work setting, if this happens, I clearly have much bigger problems than my cleavage. So I made peace with it, continued to wear the more-flattering V-neckline in my always professional manner, and if someone has a problem with accidental cleavage, it is their issue, not mine.

    For what it is worth, I have never had remarks about my bustline in the professional sphere, but everyone seems to comment about my height or leg length. There is always someone that appears to think my body has somehow migrated into the public space and is open for comment. I’ve used Allison’s previous scripts to deflect weird comments with fairly good results.

  73. Rockin Takin*

    OP, I understand this so so so much. I was a 32H, and constantly struggled finding clothes that would fit without looking like a potato sack. I got a breast reduction when I was 27 due to the intense back pain and tension headaches I had every day. Now I’m down to a D cup and none of my old shirts fit anymore! It’s been over a year and I still am surprised when I look in the mirror.
    When I had your problem, I looked a lot for high necklines, and usually found a lot of nice options for business casual.
    And I think sometimes we large chested ladies are so so so overly conscious about our size, but usually coworkers are respectful/ don’t notice as much as we think they do.

  74. Oranges*

    Okay, am I the only one who’s kinda… sad that all the advice is how to minimize something that your body has? I understand it’s the society we have. But still.

    You have two large lumps of adipose tissue on your torso that you should ensure don’t create a crease above the collar of your shirt. Because… it’s “unprofessional”. I’m trying to think of a male parallel and I can’t. Anybody?

    1. Dragoning*

      Honestly, it would be great if society were different, but typically here we don’t give advice to defy societies nonsense standards at the potential cost of professional standing/money/jobs.

      1. Oranges*

        Yep. Just pointing out that I find it sad. I probably couldn’t defy society’s standards even if there wasn’t professional standing/money/jobs on the line.

    2. SaffyTaffy*

      Well, let’s just say it’s because the OP wanted that advice. And because there’s very little advice needed on the topic of How To Show More Cleavage.

      1. Chinookwind*

        Nipples. I have seen nipples at work when the guys have their coveralls open. The women all wear tank tops or sports bras, but the guys go topless under them in the summer. No one should have to see nipples at work (unless you are paying to see them?)

    3. TacocaTRacecaR*

      I think the advice is mostly to minimize because it sounds like that’s what the LW wants. I haven’t read anything that sounds to me like someone saying “Batten down the girls, LW, it’s inappropriate to have them!” To me, it’s more of, I feel your pain, I know why you feel that way, and I’ve felt the same.

      But someone did mention when men’s pants sit or fit a certain way, you can pretty much see everything they have going on in the genital region, so I guess that’s the closest male equivalent?

    4. WomanWithWomanBodyParts*

      I agree! There is some aspect of it that’s “don’t show private parts” but a lot of this vibe overall in office wear is “disguise the fact that you’ve got a female body that men are attracted to.” Drives me nuts. Even though there are some aspects that apply to men, there is more pressure on women.

      1. Oranges*

        You said what I was feeling but more succinctly. That’s what was bugging me! Thanks

    5. Koala dreams*

      Isn’t the male parallel the same body part, that is, the chest? Men shouldn’t show their chests, their man boobs and their nipples in the office, so women have to follow along and do the same, since office wear traditions is based on men’s clothing historically. Or did I get it wrong?

    1. phira*

      THANK YOU, I was scrolling down to see if anyone else had linked to Lady Boss.
      “On my deathbed, I’ll still be asking, ‘How much boob is too much boob?'”

  75. Jessen*

    32G here, with the same slim/petite frame. I definitely know what you mean! And sometimes I feel like the looks are a double-edged sword for those read as female. I don’t deal with the judgments for being fat the way a lot of other women do – but I often feel like I have to be extra extra careful with what I wear. Because the slim/busty combination automatically reads as “sexy” to a lot of people, it means it’s extremely easy for one piece of borderline clothing to make everything look highly inappropriate.

    Can’t say a whole lot else about that, but I’ve been experimenting with shapeshifter’s binders/sports bras. They’re custom sized so you don’t have to have them be super tight if you don’t want. And it’s a lot nicer for folk like me who find your average “properly fitting” bra drives us up the wall.

    1. annakarina1*

      I feel the same. I’m a 36DD at 5’4, and am not slim but not plus-size either, so shirts may feel uneven. Like if it’s a large, it fits me in the bust but too big in the waist. If it’s a medium/small, it fits my waist but makes my boobs pop out or look huge. It’s very easy to look overly sexy without trying, and I would just want a more modest chest so that I wouldn’t look bigger than I am in some clothes.

  76. RVA Cat*

    So when are we going to have a thread about men wearing tight shirts that show off their pecs and sometimes nipples?

    1. TacocaTRacecaR*

      HA! I get on my bf for this all the time. His are often visible, and I’ll give him a look, and he’ll adjust his posture so his shoulders come forward a little, which causes the front of the shirt to get farther from his skin. But I mentioned in a reply upthread about how I saw a shirtless man running downtown yesterday afternoon during rush hour, and how women should be able to do that, too.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        Oof, yes, it’s gotten warm here on the East Coast and all the jogging men seem to have lost their shirts. I don’t want to body police but……ick.

        1. TacocaTRacecaR*

          *Note: I do not at all want to, or intend to, start a derail about the SuperBowl or any entertainment whatsoever. I am using this specific example because it was recent and widely known.

          I’m also in RVA, although I’m not RVA Cat :) For me, it’s much less about the body itself, it’s about the norms of it being acceptable for men to be shirtless, but not for women. For example, this year’s Super Bowl. Adam Levine got completely bashed for taking his shirt off and getting no backlash, whereas Janet Jackson…well, we all know how that went. And I completely agree with the principle there. However, what I did have a problem with was so many of the radio people were saying how Adam has a “dad bod” and they didn’t need to see that. That, to me, is completely inappropriate, and is just as bad as saying “moms” shouldn’t wear X or Y, or someone over the age of [whatever random number I happen to think of] shouldn’t do or wear ____. None of those things are OK.

      2. Jennifer Juniper*

        The thought of any of my neighbors, male or female, running down the street shirtless makes me want to puke.

    2. Batgirl*

      What is going on with the ever shrinking outline of men’s pants? At first I was like ‘Oh yay for men’s slim fit. That’ll help some people feel less swamped. Yay variety.’

      But now? Eek. They are going to start spraying them on soon.

      1. Emi.*

        Hint: men, if I can tell whether you’re circumcised, your pants are not appropriate for work.

    3. Chinookwind*

      See my earlier comment – nipples should not be seen at work and men should work hard to hide accidental slippage (or so I tell our guys).

      I may be a prude, but I don’t want to think of you as having more than a Ken/Barbie body – general shape is acceptable as are lumps and bumps but no details. I don’t want to be able to recognize if said lump has genitals, nipples, body hair, piercings or anything else. It shouldn’t be that hard to do, right?

  77. CupcakeCounter*

    Turtleneck and crew neck shirt just make boobs look bigger so skip that plan.
    Boat neck styles a la Duchess Meghan will work well – get a tank with wide, lacy straps to wear under them for bra strap & shoulder coverage or wear a cardigan over it. The neckline is usually higher than a traditional v- or scoop neck without looking like you are being choked.

    1. Close Bracket*

      “Turtleneck and crew neck shirt just make boobs look bigger so skip that plan.”

      It’s ok if boobs look big when they are big. Chest binding isn’t necessary, just a layer of opaque fabric.

    2. Quickbeam*

      Boat necks are great if you have the shoulders to pull them off. However if you are big busted and narrow shouldered, they can be a disaster.

      1. Batgirl*

        Do you mean a slash neck? I find the type of neckline in Techworker’s link just below is what I am after (I have dinky shoulders and petite clearance range between boob and collarbbone). I call this a boat neck but after reading what you say I am just realising there’s row boats and canoes. The one she links is really more of an eye shape. Rounded a bit like a crew but then just a wee bit pointed either side of the neck.

  78. DJ*

    I am a larger breasted (34J) relatively slim woman. I know how sucky this is when it comes to finding clothes. Alison’s advice is generally spot on but still limits what you can wear at work. You and I are large enough where many shirts that would look fine on a regularly breasted woman would have us busting all over the place. It really limits our options (and that is ignoring wether or not it is easy for you to do what Alison suggested). I discovered Demi camis. My favorite is this one from SecondBase:
    I have two and plan on getting more. There is the right amount of coverage to make it possible for you to wear almost any top but it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a t-shirt/turtleneck underneath.

  79. RainbowsAndKitties*

    This resonates in my SOUL! Even crewnecks/boatnecks/etc. will not contain my cleavage 100% if I bend or move a certain way. It’s so frustrating! But I refuse to only wear turtlenecks, so people just have to deal with the cleavage they get from me.

  80. WomanWithWomanBodyParts*

    I’ve realized in the past few years I am SO tired of putting in effort to hide the fact that I’ve got womanly-body parts. Can’t wear those pants to work, they show I have a butt… need a baggier shirt, you can tell I have a chest… screw it, I’m a woman, I’ve got those parts, people are gonna have to get over it.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Nobody is denying that we have woman parts, but they don’t need to be seen *in bare flesh* at work. Nobody is being asked to obscure their complete body shape; cleavage is about showing bare skin.

      1. WomanWithWomanBodyParts*

        I feel a lot of offices have pressure to obscure body shape, and I would say this woman’s fear that even “accidental” cleavage could be a huge faux pas is an example of how real this pressure is and to what extent.

      2. Rainy*

        Probably stop looking down people’s shirts if you don’t want to be offended, my dude/tte.

        1. Jennifer Juniper*

          I’m guessing a lot of those people get turned on by looking down people’s shirts, get embarrassed, and then blame the woman for accidental cleavage. Especially if the harasser looks down the woman’s shirt on purpose.

  81. Dust Bunny*

    For the record, I am not large-chested but I have a proportionally-thin upper body and sort of hollow upper chest (above my bust) so it’s really common for shirts to gap when I lean over, more than they would on most people. I used to wear scrubs at Long-Ago-Job and always wore T-shirts underneath because the V-neck showed everything, and I was always leaning over.

    For me, this is a frequency thing. Once in awhile? It happens. But if a particular individual garment or style of garment is doing it on a regular basis, I’d either stop wearing it, have it altered (add a button or snap, or wear it with a pin), or wear a camisole or filler underneath.

  82. Ella*

    A) As Alison says, I think you’re probably fine given you don’t seem to be in a particularly conservative office but,
    B) as a fellow large chested casual tech office worker, I’ve recently started wearing a lot of crew cut sweatshirts/sweaters to work. I’m mostly doing it because I’m digging the comfy retro dad vibe these days, but but I’ve also discovered they really eliminate any chance of accidental cleavage.

  83. Close Bracket*

    I’m closer to AAA than DDD, but when I wear an iffy neckline, I cover my decolletage with a modesty scarf of lightweight cotton. Keeping me warm in the air conditioning is an extra bonus, and I can take it off when I leave the office.

  84. TechWorker*

    Another busty (ew sorry weird word) woman in tech here *high five*. (I don’t know US sizes but I think we basically have the same bra size). I agree it doesn’t sound like you need to change anything, but if you do want to avoid having to pull clothes around, this is my favourite work top: I have two and might get more (it also comes in more colours I think, boohoo arranges theirs clothes strangely).

    It’s so comfy, I don’t get sweat patches, I don’t have to worry about accidental cleavage when bending over, no ironing – AND it doesn’t make my boobs look ginormous… What’s not to love :D

    Ps I actually love this thread because I’ve never met as many people with the same boob size! I still haven’t ruled out a reduction but I’m not as body hating as I was as a teen :) I have come to accept that in the majority of clothes I will look like I have big boobs – because I do…

    1. Bloodsucker*

      I had a reduction and I didn’t hate my body. I hated my back and shoulder pain, I hated never being able to wear fashionable clothing. I hated being a 16 on top and a 6 on the bottom. This was long before everyone in the universe got giant fake boobs. You couldn’t buy bathing suit separates, curves were bad and therefore no clothing was made to accommodate them. It is hands down the best thing I have ever done for myself. I went from a 38DD to a 36 big B/small C. Most people just thought lost a lot of weight and I guess I did. You get a lift too and that lift is magical.

      1. TechWorker*

        Sorry, I really didn’t mean to imply that you have to hate your body to get a reduction, more that when I longed for one as a teen that was my main motivation! I don’t get much back and shoulder pain so it would really be just to make clothes fit more easily (and for comfort I guess, I can’t run for a train without holding my chest :p). Pepperberry has basically fixed my dress needs though I wish they had ‘younger’ stuff. As it doesn’t cause me physical pain pretty sure if I wanted one I’d have to pay for it, which is another reason I’ve not done it yet! Maybe when I’ve paid off my student loan :p

    2. Emily*

      Not OP (nor am I particularly busty), but I’m now eyeing this supposedly magical top, so thanks for the rec!

    3. Batgirl*

      Yeah that slight boaty-ness to the neck is a magic shape I find. A bit of loose blousing + gathering is always great too. I am forever googling ‘gathered neck’ or ‘pintucked neck’

    4. Ellie*

      Another busty IT worker here, I’m a 14F, I cannot wear shirts at all, and turtlenecks just make them look even bigger.

      Honestly, I try not to think about it. This is me, my body is not getting any smaller, I dress professionally, and professional people should not be staring at them anyway. At any rate, the only time I’ve gotten unwanted attention at work that was clothing related was when it briefly became fashionable to wear fish nets. My skirt was below my knee, my shoes were conservative, but after the first dozen or so comments I vowed never to wear them again.

  85. she was a fast machine*

    Op, I strongly encourage you to check out A Bra That Fits! I went from wearing terribly fitted 34DDDD bras and so much pain to being able to wear a bra all day long without discomfort. I was seriously considering a reduction before I found my correct size and shape and it’s made a huge difference for me. It can also help your problem as the UK sizing system has a lot more variety in bra shapes than American ones, and they have options to help minimize cleavage and space breasts apart to appear smaller.

  86. WillowSunstar*

    It depends on the industry & company you work for. My company actually has rules about dressing appropriately in the dress code.

  87. Quickbeam*

    I am a huge busted (34H) otherwise average sized person. I want to emphasize that the writer’s clothing concerns are a real problem. No one really makes clothes for us. Nothing fits. I’m a super modest dresser and I’m sure I’ve had cleavage moments doing presentations or writing on a white board. I think as long as you are not wearing tube tops or plunging V-necks to work, you’ve done due diligence.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      Yes, it is an issue! I don’t have too many issues except for button up tops, but if you’re required to wear those tailoring is the only option.

  88. Bloodsucker*

    As a formerly large busted woman (38 DD before reduction surgery) who worked in fairly conservative law firms, I found the best way to deal with this issue was to buy button down shirts that fit my chest comfortably and then have them tailored to fit the rest of my body and/or I wore a button down with a full coverage cami underneath. Nothing is going to stop men from looking, but it definitely covers everything up. Best of luck!

  89. Jaybeetee*

    I was literally thinking of asking this last week in the open thread. I’m in the DDD category myself, my cleavage starts literally an inch and half below my collarbone (even in camisoles I tend to show cleavage), and after some recent weight loss, a few of my previously-appropriate shirts have become… a bit more showy (and I never seem to notice this until after I’m at work), or other wardrobe malfunctions. So far no one at work has said anything, but a couple of times I have gotten nervous about it. I tend to go by the rule of thumb that the “intent” of an outfit is usually apparent, even if it shows a bit more than it would on someone else. That is, even my more boobtacular work shirts are clearly meant to be work shirts, and clearly aren’t meant to be sexy looking, so even if I happen to show some cleavage, I think it “reads” differently to people around me than if I was wearing stuff that was too casual/party/skimpy/absolutely low-cut/etc. Most of my shirts seem to be more in the boat neck direction, though then I have to worry about bra straps sticking out. Otherwise, I tend to go with slight V-necks, crew necks, or front-ruching shirts (not sure what kind of “neck” that is, but the tend to be cut rather high).

    That said, I want to ask the commenters here: many of you are mentioning cardigans, and I’m not sure if the terminology is different in different places but… do you usually do yours up? I don’t find cardigans at all helpful in terms of cleavage, as to me, a cardigan is a sweater/over-shirt that is usually worn open. Many of my cardigans don’t even have buttons/zippers, or even if they do, I imagine they’d look a little strange buttoned all the way up to my collar so that no cleavage shows (like, the one I own that can do that, I’d want to wear a pearl necklace with it, start a game of bridge, and make scandalized comments about the neighbours). What am I missing here?

    1. 34jj and I get it*

      For a girl with a chest anything with buttons going up the front just gets gap-y and weird so I would never recommend a cardigan.

    2. Batgirl*

      I’m with you; cardigans just hang open over the girls like theatre curtains showcasing the main attraction. I much prefer to pop a v neck sweater on over my shirt as a tank. Or just go with a boater. What you say about straps is true, (and a PiTA) but I can live with a triangular half centimetre of strap edging toward my neckline. It’s not like having your straps out on show.

    3. Rainy*

      I’m about to change your life: DOUBLE SIDED GARMENT TAPE. Just tape the shirt together between the buttons. For more lasting gaposis remedies, sew a plastic snap between the buttons that gap.

      I have a variety of cardigans, and the ones that button up I usually wear buttoned.

      1. Jaybeetee*

        But like I said, most of my cardigans don’t have buttons or any way of closing. I’m actually wondering if I’ve been confused as to what a “cardigan” is this whole time?

        1. Rainy*

          There’s a difference between open front cardigans and cardigans that fasten. Many cardis have buttons or a front zip so you can choose to wear them closed or open. Many are also the open type that don’t. If you want to pull them in closer, you could wear a brooch or a sweater brooch with them–I’ve done this when a particular look I was going for required my open cardi to lay in a certain way.

          Yesterday I was wearing a button front cardi, and I buttoned it. Today I’m wearing an open front cardi.

  90. 34jj and I get it*

    I’m a 34jj & I have often stressed about this. I’ve had a boss talk to me about how my bras fit bc a slight weight gain gave me quad-boob (nothing was low cut you could just see the bra shifted & was ill-fitted bc of how the shirt was laying), but getting a fitting at my size is challenging and time consuming (can’t just go to the mall). I’ve also been told a shirt was too low cut (but smaller chested colleagues show more chest & its fine). It sucks.

    Anyway, if you’re in NYC or Philadelphia (cherry hill, nj) area, Linda the Bra Lady is the best (& I’ve been to a lot of fittings over the years). She can help give you modest looks for work & regular bras for the day to day. She is amazing & my bras are about $60 (not outrageous). I truly cannot recommend her strongly enough. Good luck.

  91. MissDisplaced*

    I’m a 40D to 40DD depending on the bra.
    Sometimes cleavage just happens!
    Honestly, I’m pretty beyond caring as I’m older now, and unless you’re very modest I wouldn’t worry too much over it in general.

    Tip: Walmart has some of the best light cotton camis, and at $2.96 each you can buy a rainbow of colors to go with all your sheer or low cut blouses. They hold up surprisingly well too.

  92. HereKittyKitty*

    The soundtrack of my life is Rachel Bloom’s song Ladyboss where she asks “how much boob is too much boob.” DDD here and can’t wear underwear because it fucks up my back more.

  93. Bulbasaur*

    I’m not a high schooler, but I confess I am still finding all the ironic descriptions, euphemisms and nicknames in this thread pretty funny.

    I don’t really have anything to add myself, except that if norms are difficult or impossible for people with a certain body type to comply with, then it’s generally the norm (rather than the person) that’s the problem.

  94. Audrey*

    I think I’ve been waiting for this to be brought up on AAM.

    I used to work in an extremely conservative field but had two coworkers who displayed cleavage almost on a daily basis (not accidental – low cut tops). They both also happened to be excellent at their jobs and generally nice people.

    But I always thought that was super interesting and wondered what clients thought when they met with them, if they were ever taken less seriously than they should have been. I bet they were.

  95. Happy Pineapple*

    I feel your pain (literally). I’m a 36H and there have been many, many days where I’ve looked myself in the mirror before going to work and asked myself, “Are my boobs unprofessional?” Not my outfit, the actual existence of my chest. Even though I rarely wear anything that shows more than an inch of skin below my neck, being well endowed means that your assets are front and center at all times.

  96. boop the first*

    I know this is silly, but 32DDDD? Are you sure? That shouldn’t be considered “large”. I’m 32H, and I feel pretty average over here.

    But! I would have difficulty finding a button-down type shirt that doesn’t do that annoying thing in the front where you can see into my shirt if you were standing beside me, so accidental cleavage makes sense.

  97. Thinking Out Loud*

    Woman in tech here. If it helps, I’m a 32DD, and I pretty much live in the “fitted crew neck sweaters” from Express. (I have no financial tie to Express. I just love their sweaters.) I wear a size M.

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