Found: The Best Summer Tops For Curvy, Post-Partum Mamas

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Reader Question:

I am a mid-thirties mom of twins, so I basically have a permanent pooch. I have slowly come to accept this and have been transitioning my wardrobe from tighter, stretchy shirts to ones with more layers and pooch-hiding ability. I loved cardigans over the winter, especially the ones that have the twist of fabric right in front, I wore them almost daily. But now I’m at a loss of what to do for the summer. I live in NC, so summers can get hot enough that more than one layer is almost out of the question. I’m also a curvy girl so need a real bra to support the girls, and have trouble picturing an outfit on me that I can only see on a tall thin model online. Any suggestions?

— Andra

Summer Tops For Curvy Girls


Hey girl! Thanks for writing in. You are so not alone in the quest for summer fashion ideas that work for pooch hiding and/or bigger bust. We actually get hit up a lot about making trends work for busty or curvy girls without layering on cardigans or cute jackets. And to be honest, it’s hard. My weight fluctuates and I had come to dread summer time because I couldn’t stack up the layers like the cotton camouflage I’ve come to love (and rely on).

But, before I dive into an attempt at answering, I’ve gotta come clean: I feel ya girl, sort of

Like I just mentioned, I am for sure relating on the pooch-front but, I have no idea what it’s like to carry around the big guns, the muchachas, ol’ Bonnie & Clyde. There’s times I am oh-so jealous, but others where I could see those cupcakes being a major frustration point. So, rather than pretend to know the tricks, I’ve hit up all of my relevant friends, sisters, mothers and online-stalked my favorite celebs for style inspiration and must-have favorites. A resounding common theme has been wearing tops that find the waist and hug the curves without accentuating the pooch. You’re all shaking your head — duh OE, duh! But this isn’t just a list of random tops that do that. These are brands that my big busted besties keep going back to. And these are tops that have real reviews from real women that lead me to believe they’re not just hot on the model. I know it still comes down to getting in the dressing room and getting it on, but hopefully this research has paid off.

So, Andra, take these ideas with a grain of salt. And I am just prayin’ that, if nothing else, hopefully I at least provide some inspiration or spark an idea! I want you to find something that you wake up, throw on, and feel damn good in! IMO, I’d rather look great in what’s practically the same outfit every day then worry about switching up my look. So find something you love, stick with it, and work it all up and down North Carolina.

Without further ado…


The Summer Tops Curvy Girls Swear By:

Perfect Button Down

Express Aztec Strip Convertible Sleeve (Buy One Get One 50% Off!): Express is hailed as the big busted girls go-to for button downs. And what’s better for summer casual vibes? They’re nursing friendly and always in style! The reviews on these styles of tops from Express are insanely positive. From postpartum tummy hiding to buttoning over a larger bust without gaping and pulling, they really seem to flatter. And you guys. This print! OMG!

Madewell Blouson Blouse

Super Cute Madewell Lace-Mix Top: Trust me, I was like “no way” on Madewell. It’s like the store you shop in right after a cleanse. But, a girlfriend of mine swears by this shirt and all the online reviews second her opinion: The perfect summer top with tons of room for DD bust and a great pooch hiding peplum. And, cap sleeves make any arm look sexy.


Big Chest Summer Shirt

Summer Vibes Cap-Sleeve Blouson Top: I’ll just let their description tell you all you need to know, “Flattering fit for every figure, this essential knit top is the perfect go-to item in your closet. The banded hem is slimming, the cap sleeves and wide neck are sexy and the drop-waist blouson silhouette is so easy to wear.” and, it’s in like 4 colors — me’s likes the yellow!


V Neck For Big Boobs

The Perfect Basic Tee: Every summer wardrobe needs a perfect easy basic tee. This one is your best friend if you’re hiding a postpartum pooch. It fits loose in bust, tighter at the waist, and then flairs out! Obviously a little more shape, not quite your “basic tee” but it’s that little bit of shape that gets the job done!


Classic Shirt Large Chest

Express’s Original Long Sleeve Essential Shirt: Another Express classic little button down. This chick is classin’ it up with some slacks but I (shocker) would dress it down with some cut-off jorts and some Birks. Maybe a sexy little hat too.


Floral Peplum

Adorable Little Floral Peplum TopThis floral peplum is made up of very stiff fabric and fits very structured. In other words, it hides all sorts of imperfections and doesn’t cling to the postpartum pooch! I love it in both the white and the black! Just a great summer staple for your wardrobe. PS: Doesn’t look like it on Flatty McFlatterson up there but there’s actually negative reviews about it running too big, and positive ones from the ladies with the girls to take advantage of all that space 😉


Halter Shirts For Big Breasts

Sexy Beaded Halter Top: I loved this beaded halter. The cut and draping is super flattering and the beading is so on trend right now. The flattering elastic waist and pull-on style gives it that effortless wearability and comfort. Plus, just looking at it makes me want to pick up a cocktail as the sun’s going down — what’s more summer?


Shirt Ideas For Hiding The Pooch

Chic Banded V Surplice Top: This top was recommended to me on more than one occasion. There is a hidden snap right at the cleavage so you don’t have to worry about pinning it! It’s silky and soft and the dramatic vertical lines of the fabric cut your chest and arms in such a flattering way!


Hot Tops For Postpartum

Lace Blouson Top: Ok, one of my favorites. This top has some serious pooch hiding ruching. This is one of the best selling silhouettes from Boston Proper. Long sleeve, yes. But, the light material and lace neckline will keep you cool when you pair it with some short shorts and gladiators for a sexy summer look.


Postpartum Tops

Pattern Blouse From H&M: First of all, the yellow on black and the palm leaf pattern are beyond awesome. And to top that, this blouse is airy with slightly sheer fabric to stay cool and the smocking at the hem is an epic way to mask the postpartum pooch.


Play Along!

On a final note. We would love you to join in! Link your go-to tops for summer (pooch hiding and big bust accommodating) in the comments. If I get enough good reccos I’ll update the post and take all the credit! 😉 Just kidding! But seriously, tell us your favorites!

peace ’n love — OE


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  1. Yeah, I’m calling shenanigans on some of these (no offense intended to your peeps, OE). Those cute little peplums on #2, 4 and 6? If you size up for those tops to fit the girls, you’re going to look like you’re still in your 2nd trimester (30GG here, so I know whereof I speak). And as for #7, there’s just not enough material there to cover up large boobs unless you’re comfortable with *extreme* cleavage. The others have potential (with the caveat that #9 will require a strapless bra, which is a feat of engineering for larger cup sizes), and yep, I second the rec for Express’ button downs. I may have to purchase #8 for myself, as well. 🙂

    Everlane’s tees are awesome and drapey, particularly the V-necks.

    • I love 7 but can’t figure how to wear it. I’ve only found one strapless that could withstand my boobs, and it was a longline one I wore in my wedding. Not wearing that on the regular. I like the button downs and v-neckline ones, too. Cap sleeves make my arms look fat, though.

    • I honestly kind of shy away from t-shirts because they always seem to cling to my pooch, but I of course don’t have the girls to kind of hold it out. It’s all about the perfect drape! I’ll have to give these a try! Thanks Heidi!

  2. It would be great if there were more breastfeeding friendly tops on the list.
    With a postpartum pooch I’m finding anything I can easily nurse in is too slinky to feel comfortable on my squishy belly. Ugh.

  3. I just purchased this top at my local anthro — — and it hit all the right markers for me (5’3″ and a 32E). It has a great neckline – nice and high so cleavage isn’t all over the place; the armholes are well-sized so you can’t see your bra; it’s got a great drape/swing without crossing into maternity territory and it’s nice & cool for summer. Drawback is that bc of the skinny straps you need a strapless bra but that’s not a deal-breaker for me (finally bit the bullet and invested in a Simone Perele this spring that’s been worth every penny). Looks like it’s falling out of stock online but there were plenty avail. in-store. Now I just need to figure out what to wear it with! Sigh… I need more *dresses* with necklines like this top in my closet!

    • jenny! I love this top! Seriously it is great. I just die over the lemon print. But I kind of want all three of them. Perfect summer vibes! Which Simone Perele strapless did you buy? I hear they are the best!

      • I bought this one and it’s fantastic. The strapless bra territory beyond a C/D cup is a scary place. I mean, it’s basically super heavy body armor. And since you usually need them for summer styles it’s just not worth the added bulk/heat…just wrangling into some of them would have me breaking out in a sweat! But this one is really light/smooth and stays put. It was pricey but, and I’m not overstating this, it opened up a ton of new style choices for me (think – strapless jumpsuit: yessssss! / halter dress: now in my closet!)

        • Thanks for the tip on Simone Perele! I’ve never heard of them before, and I thought I was a 36DD, so I’ve always had a tough time finding a strapless that really works. I was stunned to find some lovely options for the DD+ set–strapless bras up to a G?? Madness!

          I ended up getting this one:

          I’m a little scared though, because according to their online bra calculator, I’m a 32F. WHAAAAAA?? Did you purchase in person, and if not, how was their size chart for you? I figure with free shipping both ways, there’s not much to lose, and I was excited that this item was also a multi-way. Fingers crossed that it works for me, and thanks again. Reader comments are so so good. 🙂

          • Maria, I used to be a bra fitter, so I’m answering you with a bit of expertise. 🙂 You are very likely a 32F. Most women are wearing bras that are too big around the ribcage. The cup size of a 32F is the same as the cup size of a 36DD, so you’re wearing the right size cups….your band is just too big. If you find that the 32F is too snug, you should try a 34E (again, same cup size, different band size.) If you’re near a Nordstrom, they are great at bra fitting and can help you out. Good luck!!

  4. I am normally a size medium but have DDDs and am post partum. Most of these tops would not work well at all for me…peplum is a big no-no with a larger chest and that empire waist halter top would never, ever work. I’ve found that Madewell tops are cut for a small chest and are too short. I’ve found some really great Anthropologie tops that are drapey and flattering. Also J Crew popovers are amazing (full button ups tend to gap).

    • Haha, Erika you basically just said the entire list is bunk! Bummed none of this stuff would work you 🙁 But… I gotta counter your blanket “no-no” to peplum. Big chested women I know and celebs (google Sofia Vergara peplum, Christina Hendricks peplum) all continually go to it. Jessica Simpson’s clothing line is chalked full of peplum too!

      Seen a few suggestions on Anthro now and thanks for the recco on J Crew popovers, I’ll check them out!

      • Ahhh sorry! So I haven’t tried the Express tops but those could totally work (as long as there is no button gaping!) And I take it back on the Peplum V Neck – that one might work because it’s a cross between a peplum and a tee (and doesn’t have a seam under the bust like some of the other peplum tops).

      • I’ve got to jump in on this peplum discussion! I think the secret to hourglass vs. maternity when it comes to a peplum is where the peplum hits. I have a large bust and I’ve found that if the waistline of the peplum is right at my true waist line or at my hips in a drop waist peplum it’s usually good for me. If it hits anywhere north of my natural waist I’m in the false maternity danger zone.

    • I second the drapey Anthro tops – I picked up an awesome One September henley on sale and it drapes perfectly without smashing the girls (just measured – 32H thanks to nursing, eek!). The tshirt/knit fabric back on these shirts are key – the extra stretch is forgiving and flattering for the front.

  5. I disagree about cap sleeves… I think they make arms look bigger. I love the drape and pooch-hiding of these Stem tees from Nordstrom but the drawback is the cap sleeves…

    Personally, I think peplum tops look ridiculous on anyone who is not stick thin.

    I’m a month postpartum with my third and really struggling to find tops that work with big boobs and a pooch. The drapier tops hang so far out because of the boobs that they look like maternity tents. The tighter fitting tops that slim the chest area are too tight on the belly. I’m not sure which is worse. I’m at a point right now where I don’t have a single shirt in my closet that I think looks flattering. Hopefully as my belly goes down, I’ll be able to try some other options.

    • Yeah, my arms are bigger and I look better in sleeveless or regular short sleeves. They draw attention to the collarbone area or the lower arm/elbow instead of the larger parts. Cap sleeves look even worse from the side, even if they look okay from the front, if your arms are larger (and I’m not talking muscles here, I wish).

      • Yup. I have fairly wide shoulders with larger arms, cap sleeves generally look awful on. But for large chested mamas with thin arms (like my sister….) the cap sleeve shirts would work well!

  6. Yeah I am in the DD club and most of these tops would be bad on the girls. The button downs are ok but can just make you look heavier unless you do some kind of tuck. I like the halter but some times its a little too sexy so you have to be careful. I like a drapey tank with a nice wide strap. I kind almost always find something like this at Maurices. Also a sleeveless rayon top with one button and a bit of a collar is good, I got a great one at loft last year.

  7. I am *loving* #8… Seriously trying to talk myself out of buying it in two colors right now because I’ve had a rather embarrassingly large online shopping spree in the past few days. But I swear it was all stuff I needed! Right? Right?? And then the Nordie’s half year sale shows up, and I’m like “GAME OVER.” Why oh why can’t I be rich?

  8. Thank you for this great list and all the hard work you put into it OE! I’m particularly excited to try the blousons and Express print tops. I’m happy to hear I’m not alone with this particular fashion struggle – sounds like there are plenty of us!

  9. Great list, thanks so much for doing the research!! I’m seven months postpartum with my 4th, and while I’ve lost most of the baby weight (5’1, 118lbs), I’ve still got a pooch, and I’m sporting a very large chest (32G). I’m very excited to try the portofino shirts! I don’t do peplum, it’s so not my style! But there are a few shirts I’m willing to try 🙂
    My biggest struggle with finding stylish shirts is not looking like a huge tent. Loose shirts generally just hang straight from my chest and look dumb, and if I tuck or half tuck it makes my upper body look like some weird inverted pyramid….there are some shirts I’ve found that drape just right and come in under my chest while still being nice and loose/flowy as to disguise the pooch! I have a few H&M tshirts that work well.
    Thanks again for the list!

    • I have a similar problem, as I’m broad in the shoulders and narrow in the waist. So long flowy tops that shoudl fit on top, often don’t look so great because then I just look like I’m swimming in a tent! I’d be curious what you think about the Portofino’s. I got two after Scoti recommended them, but I think maybe I should have gotten a smaller size? Going with my normal issues with button-ups, I ordered a Large, but it’s just too much fabric, too much drape, too much flow! 😉 Unfortunately I can’t return them.

  10. OE, your posts are always so thoughtful and beautifully designed 🙂 Thank you for thinking through this conundrum . . . I loved some of the silhouettes you found, and I think some of the others would work on someone who is not quite as poochy as I am. (Side note, I think all of you gorgeous ladies could expand your concept of the types of bodies we are trying to dress out here in the real world. Case in point, the peplum tops and your comment about Googling Christina Hendricks and Sophia Vergara–yes they totally look awesome in those styles! But they also have drop dead gorgeous hourglass figures. A far cry from my own situation–think apple shaped PLUS large bust–like, I have rolls and things jiggling around in the mid-section, not just the tiny adorable bit of convex-ness in an otherwise sleek torso that Shana hilariously refers to as a pooch 🙂

    Anyway, my point is that it’s tough–there is such an insane spectrum of poochiness and curviness and bustiness, and what works on one end of the spectrum decidedly would not work on the other end. I think #8 has the most potential for me . . . I would love to find some shirts in this silhouette that feel more me color-wise (cute prints maybe?) if anyone has any leads.

    Thanks again OE, and I’d love to see you tackle summer dresses for curvy mamas (other than fit and flare!).


    • Yes, it’s so true! You can have a big bust, but be hourglass, pear, inverted triangle, rectangle, etc. etc. etc. and all those factors will make a big difference for a how a top will work on a big bust! Argh. I need a personal shopper 😉

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