Alice Top: Unflattering Conclusions

double alice or insta

Today I’m posting revealing photos of my Tessuti Alice tops; not just on my mannequin, but on me! I’ll preface this post by saying, although I like them as tops,  I think they are unflattering on me. Let’s see why…

Selfie Photo Confidence

I’ve been working hard to build my selfie photo confidence. I know this is a problem I share with many. I have never liked having my picture taken and have avoided it all my life. There are very few pictures of me in the last 22 years. I am usually the one taking the photo, not the one in front of the camera.

As this is a sewing blog, and I’ll be talking a lot about fit and style, I need to get over my reluctance to have my picture taken. I want to dress my body as it is, and find clothes that flatter me and suit my personality. I want to start with pointing out why I find it so difficult to find clothes to fit my upper body from ready-to-wear.Juju V mannequin

This is me and my mannequin in the mixed fabric V-neck version of the Alice Top. I am about a UK size 18, which puts me at the top end of regular clothes/bottom end of plus size clothes. The mannequin is about the same size, with similar bust, waist and hip sizes. However, the mannequin has much broader shoulders and upper chest; proportionate, and typically used in RTW, with the other measurements.

My shoulders are narrow and there is a large difference between my upper bust and my full bust. The full measurement of my bust is between 104cm-110cm (depending on bra and day of the month) but buying clothes to fit that means fall off my shoulders and make me look really frumpy. You can see the way the mannequin fills out the yoke, whereas the yoke and armbands stand away from my body. This is after I have adjusted the pattern to improve it.

My hope was that the extended armband might visually widen my shoulders. Actually, I think it has the opposite effect. My shoulders are lost inside the top.

Alice top with t-shirt underneath

And I think it looks even worse with an undershirt underneath, even when the colour is similar.

The other problem with this top, on my body, is that it makes my bust look large and frumpy. It looks good on models or the mannequin when the fabric hangs directly from the yoke without bust interruption.

Alice on mannequin

I should have known this wouldn’t work with a larger bust. But sometimes I need to prove it to myself. Do you do that?

I added pockets to my longer version. But I still look frumpy in it.


I won’t be making this again, but I will (hopefully) learn from my mistakes. I may wear it occasionally, with a cardi on top. We’ll see. Now I must press “Publish” before I chicken out.


27 thoughts on “Alice Top: Unflattering Conclusions

  1. Good for you! Well done on overcoming a personal hurdle and you look lovely, so there’s nothing to fret about. Your first top is just beautiful. I think the gathers across the bust are not a flattering design feature but it would be a real shame not to wear your Nani Iro fabrics. I think you suit the V neckline very well. We’re always sewing and learning.

  2. Oh, bravo on posting these when you’re not entirely happy with how you look!! I, too, am a busty girl although I’m skinny with it (a 30G) so am always at great pains to not have the Dolly Parton look when clothing is fitted while still avoiding anything too loose. It’s a careful balancing act!

    I actually think that when you’ve styled these with a cardy like in the last photo they’re really cute! It might make them not-summer wear (more spring/autumn layered) but they are too lovely not to wear. And, FWIW, you are incredibly pretty and should definitely have no selfie fears!!

  3. You look lovely! At a certain point if we only wear what is consistently flattering in a photo unless we’re 6ft tall and emaciated our wardrobes will be very boring. But you lead your creative life moving. Am not being very articulate but I learned this recently designing a ring for the first time. The human hand in action is a wondrous and beautiful thing. Take a shot of your hand still with your camera and you’ll be horrified. Like Ruth’s idea of the inverted pleat to make the front lines more architectural. The tones are very close to your skin in value so perhaps you need more contrast. You’re gorgeous and definitely do not need to have selfie fear!

    1. Thanks. I always tell this to people I’m photographing as well. And I agree that the goal of our clothes, shouldn’t be just to make us look thinner.

  4. Gorgeous! Never fear the selfie! I have narrow shoulders and a full bust too – your measurements. I do hope you wear your makes because you look lovely in those beautiful fabrics. I really like this post because I relate to the flattering / unflattering issue. I love what Sus says “If we only wear what is flattering – boring!” When we animate – when we are not just frozen in a picture – we add another attractive dimension. I have made and feel comfortable with the “smock” look using: Burda 6761 and Simplicity 1879, using rayon challis.

  5. I share your dislike for posing for photos, and it takes guts to do it anyway, and then post them. Congrats. And I think you photograph well. Might you just remove the “cuff” on each shoulder? That won’t fix the bust but would remove what you find unflattering in the shoulders, and possibly salvage some very lovely tops.

    1. Unfortunately, these wings go well under the arms so it isn’t an easy fix. I’ll put them away for a while and then think about it.

  6. Lovely Juju, thank you for sharing your photos, your experiments with the pattern & your findings. I can see what you mean & understand how you might feel frumpy but all of those tops are definitely wearable & you are totally gorgeous regardless. A cardi is a great option. I love my Alice top & find it very comfortable but every time I wear it I wish it was a dress instead & I’m looking for a similar weight linen to extend it.

  7. Thank you for braving the photos! You look great, honestly. I’m a US 14, so we’re about the same size. I don’t think the smock-top style is necessarily unflattering to a large bust, but the sleeve flange thingies really do add width in an unflattering way. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way, too. The shorter length with a cardigan on top really does look cute! I also think it’s important to remember that a static photo isn’t a totally accurate representation of how something looks, because as soon as you move, the fabric moves and reveals your figure in some way. One final thought: long necklaces (like navel-length) with some weight to them are a must for me with smock tops because they keep the fabric in front from tenting away from my body. 🙂

    1. Yup. My preferred smock tops all have a deep neckline that I wear a shirt under. I must photograph some of those on me.

    1. Thanks Debbie. I did try on the last top without the wings and it looked better, but the armholes were way deep. I’d basically need to redraft the whole pattern to make it work.

  8. It’s lovely to see your face. I am the same way about not wanting to do that but …you know…people would like to see your face, and you wearing your outfits. So it’s a comfort thing and I have to admit not finding my comfort level with just the process of taking the selfie. Now, onto the Alice top.

    For me, it’s the “wings” that gap around the armhole. I like the top with a cardi over it which means I like the front with the gathers. Too bad it’s not a quick thing to change the design around the sleeve facing. I’m on the hunt for a boho top with gathers.

  9. Lovely to see you Juju! Great photos that make your points very clear. Do you think that making the shoulder bit narrower could solve the problem? To accentuate your shoulders by making them visible. I have no knowledge of sewing clothes, but in my head it makes perfect sense. Lost from Hamburg xx

  10. I am a similar body type and oddly enough those gathered bust lines look better on me when they are dropped a few inches and land right under the fullest part of my bust. I never would have believed it unless I had seen it.
    Those flaged sleeves were designed not to look good on anybody. They remind me of the work smocks elderly ladies wore when I was young. And that goes back a long way!
    All that being said I think they all look lovely on you.

  11. Thank you for being so very brave with your photos – you are simply gorgeous, weird wingding sleeve caps or no! I am also a busty lady and I just bought the Alice pattern last night. I will definitely be adjusting the arm holes. I have broad shoulders and I have no clue how this will look on me (I’m also a novice) but I’m hoping for something that covers my postpartum belly a bit and also my back when I bend over. I’m in the same size predicament as you – the no-woman’s land between regular and plus. Your blog on this pattern is really helpful!!

  12. I’ll add my thanks to the others. I always appreciate the time people take to do photos and the bravery to post them. Also, I agree that your pics are cute!

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