Reader Request: Scarves for Busty Women

scarves for busty women

Reader Rhianna sent this request via e-mail.

I was wondering if you could maybe do a post on scarves for larger-chested girls like myself. I love scarves, but I have large breasts and they never seem to lay right. Do you have any advice?

I am not in possession of a large bust myself, but I’ve worked with style clients who are busty and struggle to make scarves work. So I’ll offer a few tips, and ask you all to chime in with more!

Heed size

A giant, thick, oversized scarf is likely to add bulk and volume to the figure of a large-busted woman – or, really, any woman – especially if she also has a shorter neck and/or long and voluminous hair. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for scale: A teeny silk square may look lost on your frame, or make your bust appear even bigger. So depending on your personal figure flattery priorities, you might consider tracking down a medium-sized scarf that feels like it matches the scale of your unique frame.

Avoid bulk

Many of the scarves in trendy shops are thick enough to be winter blankets. As I mentioned above, I don’t have a large bust, and even I find these impossible to style and wear. With a larger bust, you probably want to avoid making your head and chest appear as one, which thick, bulky scarves tend to do. So select a scarf that is fairly lightweight and thin. The thinner it is, the larger it can be: A featherweight cashmere pashmina will generally work better than an inch-thick skinny muffler.

Consider placement

Most of my large-busted clients prefer to keep jewelry and scarves above the bustline. Not ALWAYS, but most of the time. A long necklace can bounce off the bust as you walk, and a long scarf can drape awkwardly. Think about how your scarf will interact with the other elements of your outfit, and where on your body you’d like it to rest. If you pick a spot above the bustline, be especially mindful of size and bust to avoid merging your head, neck, and bust with an overwhelming scarf. If you wear your scarf long and draped, create a configuration or use a tie that feels natural to you.

Explore various ties

Speaking of ties, finding creative ways to fold, bend, twist, and otherwise corral your scarves into knots and shapes that suit your figure and taste is the key to making them work with ANY figure. For women with large busts, consider the twisted rope tie (shown above) which shrinks a larger scarf into a dense, manageable size, the French Twist, an ascot or cowboy knot. If you’ve got larger, thinner scarves that you’d like to style, take a peek at this fabulous video that shows 25 scarf ties in less than five minutes. Many may feel too voluminous, but see especially the bunny ear, the hidden knot, and the shell roll.

Avoid infinity scarves

Scarves with two ends are easier to tie and manipulate. Infinity scarves can be looped once or twice and that’s it. Since that generally creates a pile of looped cloth on top of and draping over the bust, it won’t work for many large-busted women. (“Many,” not “all” – if these work for you, enjoy! But they’re challenging on many.) Tying two ends of a rectangular scarf to create your own infinity loop can work better because you can control the length and placement of the knot.

For loads of great scarf tying and wearing inspiration, check out Already Pretty contributor Une Femme’s blog, Une Femme de un Certain Age. She’s got a whole category on scarves and, as a woman in possession of a larger bust, wears them stylishly and frequently with tremendous chic!

As always, none of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.

So let’s hear from you large-busted women! Do scarves challenge you? Have you found ways to wear them that feel good? What ties do you use? What styles of scarves work best? Let us know in the comments!

  • http://circusrandomus.blogspot.com/ queenrandom

    I’ve been really struggling with scarves – I love the look but I’m large busted, short, and my hair is currently just past my chin, so it tends to bunch on top of a scarf. I’m growing my hair out, so soon I’ll be able to pull it back when wearing a scarf which I think will help. I’ve had success doing an un-knot – just letting the scarf drape over my shoulders without wrapping it or tying it (or, for less bulky scarves, wrap only once). It’s not the trendiest way to wear a scarf right now, but it looks good on me and that’s what counts.

  • Allison

    I mostly wear long pashmina styles – medium weight, infinity scarves, and long silk scarves. Sweet Sal, and dear Rhianna, my chest size has never occurred to me when it comes to scarves. I wear a scarf nearly every day of my life because i LOVE them and I’m extremely comfortable wearing them. I wonder if you just need to try wearing them more. (??) I will say though, that as a matter of preference, I can’t quite figure out a smaller square scarf and I do like it to be longer – so I can do more with it.

  • Sandy

    Why would you answer a question about a figure you don’t possess and with which you have no experience? As a woman with a large bust, I have no problem with bulky scarves. I especially love infinity styles, which conceal, rather than highlight, my figure.

    • http://www.alreadypretty.com Sal

      Because a reader specifically asked for my input, ideas, and advice. And because I have worked with dozens of style clients who do have large busts. And because I knew it would spark an interesting conversation.

      As I said above, none of my figure flattery advice posts should be considered gospel, including this one, and I fully expect you to read them with a grain of salt. Style “rules” are merely guidelines, no matter who is dispensing them. I trust you to use your judgment. And I trust you to take what applies to you, discard the rest, and assume positive intent.

    • Chelsea

      Sally often answers questions and provides helpful advice for many shapes, sizes, and styles. Just because she only has one body doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have anything of value to say about others.

  • Jenn

    I lucked out this fall and found a lightweight black knit scarf at a sample sale. It’s very light and sort of wavy and I figured out it makes a great infinity scarf. I tied the ends together and with two loops it lays pretty flat and looks more like a collar for my sweaters. I absolutely love it and wish I had bought more. Heavy scarves seem to aggravate my neck muscles, they’re carrying so much weight anyway that little extra seems to make them grumpy. So I tend to avoid all but the lightest scarves.

  • http://sueinsocks.blogspot.cz Zu

    That is some seriously useful stuff. Not that I’m busty myself but just for playing with pointing out different parts of my body (and sharing with my bustier friends) it’s really a good article.
    Thanks!

  • Maura

    I’m an E cup and I wear big, poofy scarves all the time! I’m wearing one right now, as it happens. I wear infinity scarves too. I like big scarves because it is COLD here in Minnesota and I don’t want to be cold, and a wide, warm scarf is a good way to avoid that. I wear longer scarves whenever possible, because I feel like they draw the eye down my body and make me look thinner. Also because I think they’re cute. But yeah, as a chubby and large-busted woman who wears scarves every single day, I basically only wear big, voluminous scarves. My favorite scarf is actually a HUGE pashmina that I got in Venice. My second-favorite scarf is an infinity scarf. And, for the record, my bust has never, ever been an issue for me with scarf-wearing. (I actually prefer a bigger scarf because it makes it easier for me to cover up my completely unhideable cleavage.)

    • Ginger

      Put your scarf to work and you’ll find more uses for them!

      Using a scarf to do something like -hide out of control cleavage, to stay warm, to shield you neck from a scratchy sweater, to form a collar over a plain shell- gives it a function and with that it’s no longer a decorative add-in that a person might feel self-conscious about, it’s a working wardrobe item that belongs with an outfit.

  • Barb

    I often do an extremely loose necktie (what scarves.net calls the “fake knot” in their library of styles. http://www.scarves.net/scarf-tying-index.html )
    Tied below my bust, it creates deep V, and the knot creates just enough weight to stay in place (in contrast to long necklaces that don’t work for me). Bonus points for creating the knot by wrapping scarf with a necklace or leather cord.

  • Mel

    I never thought I could wear scarves, thinking that they would only make me look bustier than I already am. But a year or so ago, thanks to one of your blogs, I thought I’d give it a try. Voila! I’m in love! Now I wear scarves almost every day. I have a wide variety, and it’s a lot of (inexpensive) fun collecting them.

    I actually think that they make me look thinner, providing a column of color down my body. I think that they give me a vertical length that I need to not look as wide. They also help me to look more professional in my work clothes. I think that being short and busty can make me look dumpy in my clothes if I don’t make an effort to dress them up more.

    I’m big-busted with short hair. I’ve found, like your article mentioned, that thin scarves work best for me. They can be as volum…uh, as big…as they want, as long as they’re thin. I’ve had a lot of fun trying out new ways to tie them. I especially like that video, which I’d come across a while back.

    Scarves made of bulkier material make me look like a giant sumo wrestler with an itty bitty head sticking out of the body. Never a good look.

    Small scarves don’t work for me at all. I can’t figure out how to tie them so they look good on me. I think they’re not enough volume for my body size/shape. They look like this teeny little thing up there futzy around my neck, and what the heck is that anyway.

    I look best in thin scarves, medium length or longer. Infinity scarves can work as long as they’re not a bulky material. And I don’t wear them with something else bulky.

    Salt grains? Aren’t we supposed to avoid salt?

    Keep up the good work!

  • Andi

    I’m busty, plus size with a short neck and long full hair.

    And I love thick scarves and infinity scarves!! I feel snuggled in and comfy. I feel like the scale is off if my scarf is thin or too small.

    Just goes to show how different everybody and their preferences are!

  • http://notdeadyetstyle.blogspot.com/ Patti @ NotDeadYet Style

    I am definitely not large busted but I enjoyed these tips too, and adore all scarf-tying videos.

  • Dee

    I love scarves, all kinds but they don’t all love me! I don’t have a long neck and I envy women with those long swan necks becasue they can pile on the scarves and large necklaces. (Well, at least I THINK they can but I am finding that making assumptions about what looks good on body types is not always the case.) Anyway, I just LOVE that video on ways to wear scarves. I will definitely try some of them out. I tend to stick to the styles that give me a longer veritcal line, and/or not too much bulk – I am not that busty but have very broad shoulders and that shortish neck! That “sumo wrestler” look is one I have to be careful to avoid. But scarves are so fun, I love all the color and texture. Interesting story about scarves and trends: About 5 years ago I was going over to Europe and one woman I traveled with said she had to buy some scarves while on the trip as scarves were the latest fashion in Europe. But they were not that big in the US, yet. We both bought a few scarves and had a ball shopping in all the cute european shops for them. Lo and behold about 1 or 2 years later the trend hit the U.S. and is still going strong!

  • Sarah

    Wow, I wear scarves all the time and never once thought about any of this stuff! I have a large bust (44DD) and I don’t really have too many issues with scarves. But really, that’s only because I spend more time concerned with how my waist/stomach/hips look in my clothes! I also stress about proportion between my tops and bottoms a lot, but never even thought about how scarves might affect my proportions too.

    I do wear scarves that fall past my bust line daily, same with necklaces. I never considered the bouncing between my boobs thing, but I think the length of the necklace gives me a leaner, longer line. I feel the same way about scarves that fall beneath my bust line.

    Thank you for an enlightening post, Sally!

  • http://cheapandchicinchicago.blogspot.com Piper Alexander

    I wear scarves regularly. Lately, they are my go-to accessory. I also have a larger bust. I prefer large rectangular scarves in lightweight material. I tie the ends together, making an infinity scarf, and loop either twice or three times. I find with the bulk of the scarf lying between the girls, it doesn’t make them look larger. I’ve tried leaving the ends out on both sides (not sure of the name of this style), but that adds bulk to my bust and is not a good look for me. I agree though, it’s best to try different types of scarves and different tie-styles to find what suits you best. If interested, check out my blog to see how I style my scarves.

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  • Ericka

    I am a 34DDD and I love scarves. I do gravitate to lighter/thinner scarves but I like them big because it gives me the versatility to wrap them around and not necessarily dangle over the girls (I do this sometimes too though). The twisted rope tie that Sally featured on her blog is one of my favorites for super big scarves and great for abstractly colored ones for a nice interesting piece that draws the eye up. I usually coil them around a couple times. With a simpler outfit such as leggings and a tunic, I will wrap ones and let the ends dangle.

    Super bulky infinity scarves aren’t my favorite—being able to really adjust where they fall is key for me. But I do like some thinner ones if the length is right.

  • Shaye

    I’m a scarf wearer, for sure, and although my bust isn’t as big as some, it’s big enough! I basically do two kinds of scarves:

    A) Silk squares, draped and tied in interesting ways. My favorite is to roll it up diagonally and tie three equidistant knots. Then tie the two ends together and you basically have a necklace! I also use silk scarves as the go-to for a simple square folded on the diagonal and tied behind my head. Silk is so lightweight and drapes so well that it doesn’t add bulk as long as the drape doesn’t come down too low. That’s actually my favorite method for concealing too much cleavage, rather than a cami underneath!

    B) Long scarves worn plain, or knotted once either just below or just above the bust. Like many other readers have noted, this creates a nice vertical column down the center of your body. Sometimes long scarves also get the slip knot treatment, but I find this works best with my hair worn up, to eliminate some of the extra visual bulk around the neck, but this has more to do with the volume of my hair than the size of my bust!

  • http://line4line.blogspot.com K-Line

    I think so much about wearing scarves has do do with proportion, rather than bust size specifically. What I mean is, a large-busted person with a larger frame is likely to be able to wear bulkier styles (IMO) than a narrow person with large breasts. As a woman who falls into the narrow/busty category, I do tend to go with slimmer (silk) scarves using knots at the neck. I do, however, also wear shawls (a whole different, if similar concept) that cover shoulders and breasts). I do agree that a scarf that hits at the full bust is not always attractive on a large-busted frame.

  • Sonia

    BLESS YOU, SALLY! I am big-busted AND short-necked AND long-haired. I am constantly pining to dress-up my mostly-monochromatic wardrobe with scarves, but my few attempts have been (IMHO) pathetic. I will be bookmarking this entry, committing it to memory, and exploring the many links you provided. Thank you, and thank you to the person who requested this post!

  • http://www.teawithstephanie.com Stephanie

    I am also plus-size a 42DD bust and have long hair (about bra strap line) and I wear scarves all the time. Partly because my neck is shorter I tend to avoid bulkier knit scarves as I feel drowned in them. I also live in the Pacific Northwest and since the weather is mild most of the year silk and silk-weight scarves layer very nicely here year round. I once believed that scarves looked odd because of my chest until I started playing around with them. I have since realized that the right scarf can often be the crucial finishing touch to an outfit even being larger. I have also found that my size and confidence can help me pull off a more outrageous or brighter scarf easier.

    I also tend to wear solid colors or classic prints like polka-dots almost exclusively; scarves are one of the ways I add pattern to my outfit. I have used many of the different method of scarf tying that were linked to above. I also just play with the scarf until I am happy with how it lays. Since I have worn scarves on and off most of my life since I was in my late-teens I have quite a collection and even have classic scarf hardware to help with styling.

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  • http://ccscheapchic.blogspot.com CC

    I am quite busty! And I love scarves. :) I have definitely found that thinner silky scarves are better. Also a longer scarf elongates which is great if you are also a shrimp like me. As for infinity scarves the look is great but can be easily achieved by pinning the ends of any scarf and looping it.

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  • http://www.bfrog.com Amenda

    very nice and informative sharing .I also love to wear trendy and funky scarves my boyfriend likes a lot when i wear scarves on trendy shirts and jeans :P

  • Kera

    I am of Indian (desi) origin where the national dress for female is shalwar kameez which includes a large scarf to cover chest, I have always tried incorporating scarf in western wear to achieve the same type of coverage. The challenage I face is I am petite (5’1”). One loop infinity scarf is too long for me & 2 loop scarf falls above my chest & provides no coverage. I might have to look into altering scarf. Anyone else face similar issue?