Right, let’s get one thing up front (here we go…), we’re not talking here about the relative merit of bigger or smaller boobs. Whether discreet champagne saucers or the full Chesty Morgan, they’re all marvellous, although it does always seem that every woman to the left of a C cup wants bigger ones, while all to the right want smaller ones. Just file it in the same place in your head as straight vs curly hair. Human nature, innit?
It pains me mightily to see those puppies flopping round the show ring unharnessed
What I want to address instead is a very particular phenomenon of the mature bosom, which can happen to the more well-endowed woman at a certain age. If I had to choose one word to describe it, it would be this: Crufts.
Something hormonal makes once relatively normal bosoms explode into unmanageable barrage balloons and it pains me mightily to see those puppies flopping round the show ring unharnessed. And the dogs. They should make a firm-fitting sports bra compulsory.
But undergarments is a whole other conversation and one I suggest you have with the most excellent women at the Selfridges lingerie department. I’ve done a fairly exhaustive study of London’s bra-fitting services and they are way the best.
Where I hope to help here is on the outer, because there’s a lot you can do with accessories and clothes to minimise the visual assault of the BBB (Barrage Balloon Bazooma). The secret is to think like Bridget Riley and deceive the eye. Distract it. Make it not see things quite the way they are.
A Henley collar
Dark colours is the first trick. And most busty (what a truly terrible word, but I’m running out of options here) women work out an early stage that V-necks are much more flattering than round. But I think the Henley is better still.
This is the arrangement we used to call a granddad shirt: a round neck that splits at the throat with buttons down it. The little bit of extra business going on in front there has the optical illusion effect described above, such as the Navy Anchor-Print Silk Shirt by Equipment, £245 from Liberty (above, right). The T by Alexander Wang Navy Collarless Shirt dress (above, centre) is currently £115.01 reduced from £239).
These were once very hard to track down, but are now widely available from Uniqlo (£12.80) (above, left), M&S and some supermarket ranges. The best ones are by US label Splendid and start at £60 (much cheaper in the States).
Another nifty trick is wearing a cardigan or jacket open over a T-shirt. The narrow horizontal gap makes the eye travel up and down, not side to – wahay! – side.
A natty scarf
You can also be clever with a scarf. Not a tiny neckerchief, which will have absolutely the opposite effect, but a one-metre silk square, tied in a manner (see Hermès or Liberty for help on that) that involves the ends hanging down at sternum level.
The long neck-looped scarf that has been with us for a while now is a particular gift to the ample bosomed. You can hide so many sins beneath one. Jigsaw has a mid-priced selection with something for everyone (and still some sale items on offer, such as the Spit Spot Scarf, left).
Top tip: a chunky necklace
The cleverest visual trick of them all is a chunky necklace. Over a dress or a T-shirt, with or without the jacket/cardie described above, this anchors the rampant mammaries down and distracts the observer’s attention.
The crucial thing is the length. The necklace needs to come below your boobs (too cute), breasts (too medical), tits (too coarse); whatever – your wobblies. Too short and it will hang off them like a ski jump. It also needs to be quite chunky for the proportional trick to work. Multiple ropes of necklaces work brilliantly.
TopShop can be a great source of good cheapo costume jewellery. Net-a-Porter has the best selection of dreamy designer goodies (see the Dannijo and Rosanticapieces, left). Fenwicks jewellery department is great, but for some bonkers reason it doesn’t have a working website.
Don’t go near a pendant. It will hang between your lovely lady lumps (to quote the Black Eyed Peas) like a plumb line, reminding everyone our age of the glory days of Spitting Image and Samantha Fox’s talking Leftie and Rightie. Not the idea at all.