Attention Curvy Women: The Perfect Button-Up Really Does Exist

A buttoned shirt is a fall wardrobe staple, but finding one that fits well is no easy feat. Consider our expert tips the next time you hit the fitting room.
By Lauren Gray
Attention Curvy Women: The Perfect Button-Up Really Does Exist

Finding a stylish button-up shirt that fits in all the right places is like spotting a four-leaf clover — possible, but rare. My biggest problem is finding a look that has enough give around the chest to not show a gap between buttons. Or, if it fits across my bust, the rest of the shirt ends up looking too loose.

34 Of The Best Plus-Size Retailers In Canada
34 Of The Best Plus-Size Retailers In Canada

I knew there were better options out there, so I asked my pal, Toronto stylist Rachel Matthews Burton, to share her tips for the perfect-fitting button-up:

1. Fit the largest part of your body, first then tailor the rest.

If you have a large chest, look for shirts with darts sewn into the bust area.

2. Try a men's shirt.

“Roll up the sleeves, undo the top few buttons to create a longer silhouette and add a statement necklace for a feminine touch,” says Matthews Burton (I love this idea). Or have it tailored to suit your shape.

3. Use a safety pin or double-sided tape in a pinch

If you’re having the gap issue with a shirt you already own, you can use pin or tape, or if you have more time, sew in invisible snaps (find tutorials on YouTube or head to a tailor). I usually throw on a camisole or tank top to wear underneath and leave the top few buttons undone.

A few other things I've learned:

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Fit is key

A crisp white or black button-up shirt, especially one that falls around the hips, looks great on everyone — when it fits well.

Don't be afraid to mix it up

For work, pair a sleeveless top with a feminine detail — like ruffles — with your favourite skirt. A necktie or bow around the collar is a nice touch, too. Long-sleeved or three-quarter-sleeved button-ups are great for layering in the fall: Wear one over a maxi dress or a tank top, leave it unbuttoned and tie it at the waist (another way to avoid the dreaded button gap if it’s giving you trouble).

The structure of a button-up is a personal preference — don’t feel restricted to one shape. I like flowy button-up tunics with pintucks around the bust to flatter my shape; I also love boxy cuts that fall around the waist, especially paired with a pair of high-waisted shorts or a pencil skirt. Mix up your look with details in the sleeves, especially if you’re bored with your work wardrobe: Try flared options or something with slits. Unique touches like structured pockets and edgy cutouts can also make your outfit stand out.

Experiment with fabric

A light denim button-up is a great laidback pick, while cotton shirts with a bit of stretch will give you a comfy fitted look. Personally, I love sheer options; wear a cami underneath (or skip it if you’re feeling extra flirty) and finish the look with skinny jeans and heels. When it comes to colour, white is always classic, but I’m a sucker for a tropical or floral print. Embroidered flowers are also hot right now, especially over stripes.

Curvy Girl Button-Downs


A vibrant pattern and pintuck detailing give this top feminine flair.

Melissa McCarthy Blouse, $99, Penningtons 

Penningtons floral button up shirt


A white button-down with elbow-length sleeve is an office essential. This one has zippered cuffs so you can switch up your look.

Shirt, $53, eShakti

eShakti white button up

Mod Cloth

Rock a cami under this sheer option with hidden buttons.

Top, $57, ModCloth 

Mod Cloth cream button up shirt

Lane Bryant

This shirt has two hidden buttons to prevent the dreaded bust gap, plus is has a bit of stretch to it for a better fit.

Shirt, $71, Lane Bryant 

Lane Bryant black button up shirt

Hudson’s Bay

Cotton shirts are great for workdays and weekends, especially with an embroidered touch.

Style and Co. Embroidered Shirt, $79, Hudson’s Bay 

Hudson's Bay embroidered button up shirt


You can’t go wrong with millennial pink, especially when it comes to denim.

Shirt, $50, H&M+

H&M pink button up shirt


Make a statement with a bright colour and flared sleeves. This one also has a hidden no-gap button and you can choose from two neckline styles and two lengths.

Shirt, $57, eShakti 

Eshakti red floral print button up shirt


A boxy cut like this looks great with high-waisted skinny jeans or open over a maxi dress.

Top, $38, Elvi

Elvi black and white striped button up shirt


Gingham is always in style and a triangle cutout adds just the right amount of edge.

Cutout Top, $76, Eloquii 

Eloquii gingham button up shirt

Addition Elle

A see-through option like this one works for the office with a cami underneath, or wear it after-hours and skip the cami for a sexier look.

Michel Studio Shirt, $48, Addition Elle

Addition Elle striped button up shirt


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