How to Enbooben

A friend and I recently got into a fight about whose boobs were smaller. It was a fight with no winners, but it got me thinking about my personal arsenal of enboobening techniques. It is a small but powerful arsenal that includes obvious equipment, a few flattering styles, and one recently discovered secret weapon.

In the equipment department we have:

Push-up bras and derivatives
I wear a padded bra every damn day of my life. I have never found supposed miracle contraptions such as the WonderBra to be remotely effective in creating actual cleavage, which is likely a testament to exactly how small my girls are. But a little strategically placed padding is no sin.

Chicken filets
I wore mine for my wedding, and have only hauled them out a handful of times since. But on those occasions, they have caused me tremendous boob-related joy. Chicken filets are a good item to have stashed in the back of the underwear drawer for that cocktail dress-related saggy-neckline emergency.

Equipment is key, but overall, I find the art of enboobening to be rooted in style and cut of clothing. A drape of cloth here, a carefully selected neckline there, and you’ve gone from flat to boobtastic.

Twist-front v-necks and halters

I recently picked up a dress at TurnStyle that has a twist of cloth that lays almost smack dab between my girls, and I swear it makes me look an entire cup size bigger. Although the dress pictured here features a slightly lower knot, the extremely deep v of the halter creates the illusion of cleavage where there is none. While a wide v can just show off a cornfield-flat expanse of breastbone, a deep-but-narrow v will enbooben. Crazy, I know.

Square necklines

As I’ve mentioned, I find square necklines to be very flattering to a small bust. Unless you are quite literally flat, your boobs will slope out and down a little, away from your chest. A square neck frames the little bunny hills created by your booblets, creating a marvelous cleavage illusion. This works best with a slightly lower neckline than the one pictured here, but any square neck in a storm …


Something about ruching just ABOVE the bust – or even better, a little accordion of ruching between the twins – creates the illusion of more boobage. I can’t fully explain why, as ruching doesn’t provide gobs of extra cloth around the bustline. My only guess is that subtly drawing attention to your rack via some carefully placed wrinkles makes said rack appear somehow larger. Whatever the reason, ruching helps. Take it from me.

Sweetheart neck lines

Wear with caution because – as a variation on a wide v – this is one of those cuts that can just make you look like Breastbone Betty. But if the ratio of width to depth is just right, the slightly curved neckline itself mirrors the lovely roundness of your boobs, and enboobens delightfully. (This style not recommended for those with square boobs.)


Curved hem boleros

Now, this secret weapon only works if you have a defined waist and your tum is flatter than your boobs. But if you’ve got those two things going for you, please go out and purchase a shrug or bolero like this IMMEDIATELY. Husband Mike recently bought me a dress that came with a fire engine red bolero sweater. (Click here to see dress, partial bolero, and a very happy Sal dancing to “Wanderlust King” at dear friend Mel’s wedding.) And while it looks smashing with the dress, it also looks amazing over a little white tee. Or a cami. Or really anything because it draws lots of generally undue attention to my boobs. Like the sweetheart neck line, a curved hem bolero relies on the simple trick of mirroring the natural roundness of the aforementioned boobs. Simple, but elegant. Love it.

What do YOU do to enbooben? What have I forgotten, ye Ladies of the Wee Cups?

(Twist front dress via Nordstrom, square neck top via Nordstrom, ruched top via, sweetheart dress via Stop Staring, bolero via moocowhandknits.)

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Although Barbara was the one who sat me down and explained the mechanics, I credit Trinknitty with prolonging my passion for knitting longer than was truly natural. She did this mainly via marvelously tolerant knitting groups during which I mainly watched and noshed while everyone else knitted and purled.

Trin sent me this lush image from the newly launched Twist Collective, and I figure it is eye candy for us all: Crafters note the intricate needlework on those handmade socks, Non-Crafters note the mouth-watering selection of Fluevogs.

Click to enlarge, for a better look at your candy of choice.

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Can’t Live Without It

I’m a list maker. I glean tremendous satisfaction from conceptualizing, writing, and completing lists of nearly all types.* At any given moment, I am likely to have at least one short-term and three long-term lists going. And although I adore them for the structure that they provide, they do occasionally get me in trouble.

One of my ongoing lists is the Ultimate Wish List. A Word doc on my home computer, this little number comprises a constantly morphing group of items that I would like to acquire at some point as part of my quest to assemble a complete and perfect wardrobe. (Oh yes, I’m well aware that this is a laughable goal. But it’s one many of us share, isn’t it?) Although I am generally able to work my way slowly through the list as my finances allow, staring it down week after week prompts the occasional imprudent purchase.

Additionally, the Ultimate Wish List never goes away because although I am it’s sole author, it is constantly being fed by outside sources. Seeing women with my body type wearing flattering pieces that I’ve never considered for myself. Learning about the thoughts, purchases, creations, and explorations of my amazing fellow style bloggers. And, of course, reading seasonal must-have lists generated by fashion mags. Items drop off the list as priorities change and trends shift, new items are added as they pop onto my radar. The list is in a constant state of editing.

I’ve been chipping away at the current iteration of the Ultimate Wish List a little quicker than might be considered prudent. And while this should feel exciting and rewarding, instead it feels a little like feeding the hole. I open my overstuffed closet to hang up an newly-acquired wishlist item, and feel … almost depressed. SO much STUFF. I love it all, but there sure is a lot of it.

I’m not sure that a giant purge and simplification of my wardrobe is pending. Knowing that I have options is extremely important to my sanity – in closet and in life. But I have been thinking about the lists. It’s in the best interests of a magazine to make its readers feel incomplete, and prompt them to shop. But there’s no reason I can’t turn that on it’s head. Maybe what I need to do to stem the spending is find a way to remain grateful for my current bounty.

Top Ten Already-owned Items I Can’t Live Without

Black cuffed widelegs

Brown leather strappy sandals

White American Apparel cap sleeve tee AND long brushed silver necklace
Raspberry leather booties

Khaki pencil skirt

Black leather knee-high boots

Dusty red three-quarter sleeved tee

Hot pink boat neck cashmere sweater

Black sweater tank

If the rest of my wardrobe evaporated tomorrow and I was left with these ten, I could totally make it. (OK, these ten plus some undies.) As you can see, I was able to forage photos of myself wearing most of these items. They are staples and favorites, and I feel awesome every time I put them on, which is quite frequently.

I’m going to put this list at the TOP of my Ultimate Wishlist. And every time I open that document to contemplate and edit the items I’m coveting, I’ll give my Top Ten a gander. Because assembling this list was a lot more challenging and fun than I’d expected. And perhaps a simultaneous reminder of the gorgeous, flattering, and beloved items I already have at my disposal will keep the desire to acquire in check. Hey, it’s worth a try, right?

What would be on YOUR list? Care to share?

Image courtesy Swiv.

*Husband Mike has two list making quirks that I love, but have somehow never adopted for myself. One is that he doesn’t make to-do lists, he makes ta da lists. Because when he’s done, then he can say “ta da!” He also makes sure that the very first item on his lists is always, “make list,” because that way, he can cross something off right away. You see why I love this man, don’t you?

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