Wednesday 6 June 2012

Pepperberry Has Problems

Pepperberry is probably the biggest and most mainstream brand purporting to make clothes for bigger busts. But they honestly drive me crazy with a lot of their designs. Half the time it seems like they just expand the breast area on clothing by adding pleats...

...or cinch in the waist by adding belts...

...or cover up excessive cleavage by adding a fake cami at the neckline (!?)...

...all without understanding what actually works for a curvy figure, or why. Pleats can be a decent way to add space for a bust but they also can add become bulky and add volume where volume is not needed. Waist belts can be cute--but they look best when they aren't necessary to draw in the waist of a garment, when they are just an accessory. When I do need to use a belt to draw in a top or dress without enough waist definition, I personally always feel annoyed about it. As for camis under low-cut tops--well those are just a solution we use when there are no options available other than trying to wear normal mainstream clothing that isn't cut for a big bust. I feel that Pepperberry should do better than that, since their prices are so high and their whole purpose is catering to a full bust.

I think this is going to be an ongoing series so I will just go over one item that is annoying me currently, and compare to a similar BiuBiu item that I feel is made better.

Check out Pepperberry’s gray Tie Shirt Dress.

Now, in general I like the idea of this: it’s a good color, it’s nice to have something shorter, and a shirt dress is an item that is hard to buy on the high street if you have big boobs, so it makes sense for Pepperberry to sell it.

I hate how it’s constructed though! The ‘boob space’ is added by those lumpy pleats at the neckline. 

The waist definition depends solely on the belt-like item that ties at the back—and as you can see, even on the model, there is tons of extra fabric in the back.

This is exactly what it would look like in the back if you simply belted a large men’s shirt—except with bumpy neckline pleats in the front. Now, I’m not saying this dress is hideous. I’ve seen it looking great on some people (though I've also seen it looking unflattering on other people); if you own it, I trust that you bought it because you know that it looks nice on you. I just feel like Pepperberry ought to have the know-how at this point to construct a garment like this without neckline pleats and waist ties.

To see what I mean, compare to BiuBiu’s Montparnasse gray shirt dress.

The construction here is totally different. The boob space is achieved by the seams down the front of the bodice—a much subtler, more flattering, and less lazy construction. There are no pleats to add bulk, the dress is just cut to have space where space is needed. The waist definition also comes from this seam pattern. 

The belt shown in the photo isn’t nipping in the dress at the waist—it is sitting a bit loose and not even on the waist, it is just there as an accessory. The waist of the dress itself is doing the nipping in! The dress would look good on its own, even without the belt, because it is constructed to fit and flatter an hourglass figure. 

I also find it hilarious how happy the BiuBiu model looks, in comparison to how miserable the Pepperberry model looks! I know that is just styling, but still...


  1. Great that I'm not the only one who's been nticing the same things! Pepperberry has some great clothes, but unfortunately there's been a clear trend towards the pleated neckline and straight-out weird waistline. I'm a classic hourglass shape, and there's nothing worse than added bulk to my already rather generous bosom - and the almost-empire waistline is plain horrendeous. I need more space between my natural waist and my boobs, please, or I'll look like a walking tent or that I'm pregnant.
    I've given some feedback to Pepperberry about their waistline policy (I can live with the pleated neckline...) but their reply was rather roundabout, read: yeah yeah, too bad for you. Well, more customers to BiuBiu...

    1. "more space between my natural waist and my boobs", ooh, that I haven't heard from someone else than me in a long time - glad I'm not the only one :) I remember reading this tip for busty girls many (many) years ago in some fashion magazine b: "try to emphasize and elongate the space between the bottom of your boobs and your waist"

      I find it a very good rule and have tried to follow it since, although with little luck lately. Agree completely with blog post + comments about Bravissimo. Actually, try browsing through their site concentrating on the under-bust-to-waist area & good luck finding items not chopping it off with belt-under-boobs looks or "empire" waists (or smothering it in bulky floaty fabrics). Not to mention the cleavage overload, especially for us desperately needing the SDC size they refuse to make more items in.

      Same thing unfortunately goes for Biu Biu, too many empire waists and, especially for those of us w. small shoulders/boobs high on torso, many tops are cut too low! I don't get why they make so many stretchy tops either, as someone pointed out stretchy fabric tops in normal sizing often work fine (at least for layering under things), at least then I can opt for more moderate necklines. And no, I am not ashamed of my boobs - as some of the companies hint at when criticized - I just prefer moderate necklines most of the time as I (1) live in a cold climate and (2) dislike to draw more attention to my boobs than necessary

    2. I know this post is old but... I worked for Pepperberry and just want to point out they didn't "refuse" to make more items in the SDC sizes, it is something they really did put a lot of time and effort into but the ratios just didn't work in every fabric/style. It was something that was focused on a lot but simply didn't work.
      Sorry you were disappointed.

  2. Thanks you for saying exactly what I have been thinking. I wish you used Biu Biu's striped tank top as well. It practically shouted can you guess what's wrong with my boobs.

    BiuBiu’s Montparnasse is nice but why should anyone spend money for a garment that isn't properly made. The puckering calls to much attention to the bust.

    Pepperberry's Tribal dress makes me feel like I'm gonna have seizure and I used to watch Pokemon.

  3. I haven't tried Pepperberry much but I've seen plenty of pictures of women in their clothes and I've always felt underwhelmed by the end product and overwhelmed with the price! With BiuBiu it's the complete opposite, I can afford their clothes and they really ARE made well. I can't rave enough about their wrap tops because they make the fabric to curve around your breast, which works perfectly on larger breasts.

    The Summer City also has a lot of thought put into it and the seams work perfectly on my large bust.

    I have yet to try Urkye's clothes but looking at the designs I think she some really clever ideas on how to deal with the larger bust issue too. The same goes with Darlene's Campbell and Kate shirts where the buttons are more closely spaced and she even put a lot of thought into the arm construction.

    In order to get well-fitting bust-friendly clothes designs have to be written some and new ideas have to be created. I always try to support the companies that pull that off well. ;)

  4. I find Pepperberry sizing and styles very hit and miss and am lucky to have a local store to try things on before I buy. But even they I go wrong sometimes, a top I bought a few months ago looks great until I move then the bit of elastic at the back for waist definition goes up my back and just stays there so I am forever adjusting it, bad design

    They are also too expensive full price, I won't pay £25/30 for a t-shirt, I'll either get BiuBiu for half the price even with postage from Poland or size up in something stretchy from H&M.

    Tempted by some stuff from Urkye too .....

  5. I recently started sewing and it is quite difficult to get fabric to fit a very curvy figure (I wear 28F). Especially if it is still supposed to look fitted and fit a spectrum of figures.

    The pleating is just one way to fold out the extra fabric, stretchy fabric can only do so much. I think your list encompasses most tailoring possibilities to achieve the changes of more >6" from underbust to bust, and I don't know of any other design features suitable for mass production. (The Montparnasse dress has what are called princess seams, easier to adjust to a curve, but again more difficult to sew without puckering.) You may be asking for something near impossible.


  6. To be honest, neither Pepperbery nor BiuBiu are really my style on the whole. Urkye's clothes seem more modern and fresh to me, but I don't think I'll fit in her size range. I would need a 42oooo!
    Anyway, as I said, I don't usually like BiuBiu or Peperberry's whole collection, but the things I do like, I really LOVE. It's a great feeling to have something that truly fits and doesn't have to be altered. Also, Pepperberry is overpriced. I almost only get stuff on sale... which is why I missed out on the only cute dress they ever produced in SDC. I like the BiuBiu's value for money. And I like that Pepperbery comes up with stuff like a leather jacket or a denim jacket. For casual tops, I'd rather get something stetchy from the high street. Preferably something without an empire waist!

  7. I just want to say I LOVE your last comment about the Pepperberry model looking miserable compared to the BiuBiu model. Spot-on! It's not too dissimilar from the lovely Victoria's Secret models who all wear dull variations of three (maybe!) facial expressions, and yet the equally lovely Bravissimo models are all so cheery and individual and fun... guess which models radiate what I'd hope I'd feel like in the clothes/lingerie they're wearing?! :p

  8. My issue is, even though I am a 28H/HH high street clothing often fits me very well.
    Biubiu has nice items, but most of them are not my taste as they have in my mind a bit eastern European/old designs and they love flowers and crazy patterns, which are things I despise.

    I used to love bravissimo before they became PB and buy a lot from them, they still do the occasional item I would really want, but they then over complicate it by for instance cutting out holes in the back of summer dresses or using horrible fabric.
    Add to that, their models are pinned into their clothing/have it tailor made as they are too skinny to fit into PBs clothing range.

    So for me, biubiu and PB are just a few of many shops where I would shop for clothing.
    I do always look at what is coming out, but do not buy much from either company.

  9. Have to jump in on this topic! Pleats, tucks, darts (triangular wedges stitched down on the garment inside) and Princess seams are all ways to shape a flat piece of fabric over a curve. In the case of a busty woman that curve is pretty full on!

    I think what we have is Bravissimo designers addressing the technical problems of curving around a big bust - but they don't always get the difference between breast coverage and fit vs a flattering design for big busted women.

    And it's totally subjective :
    I totally disagree with your princess seams > pleats. Yes, pleats can look less flattering but I think princess seams are a relic from the 80s. Shudder. No thanks.

  10. Pepperberry are avery mixed blessing in my view . Pros:- a range of clothes that at least try to fit over large busts with a few odd garments that are really lovely Cons:- pricey for what they are, often strange cheap fabric, most pencil shape dresses need dry-cleaning ( why?) still haven't come up with consistent sizing, still not designed for hourglass 8 shaped women. I despair of their dresses with almost no difference between the waist and hip measurements. I recommend Boden - who give accurate garment measurements for their clothes so if a bust measurements says 41 I know it is worth trying(expensive but with good sales) H&M are surprisingly forgiving and at least cheap and some M&S - I have just bought an A line shift size 12 that fits brillantly over my 30Hs and looks wonderful.

  11. Wow, that Pepperberry shirtdress is hideous from the back! the front is actually quite pretty and I don't mind pleats in the bust, but I agree that not all D+ clothing should rely on pleats. And I have always hated the cami-under-clothes trick.

  12. How funny... I'm all about the princess seams! Any time I wear them I get raves, maybe because they really elongate the under the boob to waist on my body. I'm not sure how I would survive this bust and waist/hip ratio without them. Or maybe I am just old and stuck in the 80's!

    I like the stretchy BiuBiu tops ok, the styles are a little too hoochie mama for me sometimes (especially the patterned ones). I always end up wearing a camisole under mine because I'm just not into showing that much boobage. However, I just flat out adore their tailored, non-stretchy shirts and dresses. They can really work for a variety of aesthetics, not just the ones on their webpage, but it's hard to separate the hair and makeup from the clothes.

  13. The first and last time I tried Pepperberry was in 2010. I wasn't impressed. Too low cut and bunching at the shoulders were my complaints; they didn't seem to fit me well in the bust. Also, it's expensive. I can get an equally good fit at a slightly reduced price if I buy a normal shirt to fit my breasts and then have a tailor add darts under the breast, and bring in the shoulders.

    I found BiuBiu last autumn and it's so much more what I'm looking for, although some patterns are too busy for me, and some styles are too low cut. Their button-down shirts have become a staple for my work wardrobe: at last, something that fits well, and at a cost of no more than a similar shirt at H&M! I've purchased a few of the summer tops (what a change to have the Empire waist falling under my breasts, instead of at about nipple-height) and I feel really good in them. (Some of you may not care for Empire waists, but they're a lot better for those of us with a bit of tummy to hide...and BiuBiu does make more fitted styles as well.)

    I hate pleats; to me they make it look as if my breasts are hanging lower. I prefer just about any other approach.

  14. I just checked out BiuBiu, thanks for the tip! Unfortunately all the styles aren't young enough for me, Pepperberry has the benefits of being in the UK and trendier.

  15. Pepperberry is overpriced for the quality and makes such frumpy styles and doesn't carry size 6. I don't know how such a good idea went so wrong.

  16. I have to admit, I've only tried one PB item, but it was bad. I got it in an 18SC, though technically I would need a 14SDDDC, I figured 18SC would still be better than the shirts I get in store. Lol, nope! It was so tight on the bust, I could hardly get it off, and it was so so loose on the waist (which was expected, since it was 18) Worse fit than I get from H&M or places like that...
    And I really don't get those dresses where they use a belt on it either. If I wanted a dress that needed a belt to look flattering, I could get that anywhere! The reason I would consider spending so much money at PB would to get options without a belt!
    I just bought a dress from Ellos, which is not made for the bust, but has all the same features as many PB dresses: wrap over bust, tie at the waist - but for a fraction of the price. Still not as good as a dress actually made for a bust, but it seems these 'short cuts' is what we have to put up with.

  17. OMG. I'm so glad I found this blog.
    Absolutely agree about PB. "all without understanding what actually works for a curvy figure, or why." - is exactly what I think.
    I actually find most Pepperberry styles being just sad, sad, sad. Can't explain their choice of colours and patterns either.
    And their prices for such questionable quality are really exagerated.

    But now I found out about BiuBiu and Urkye. Will check them out

  18. first of all nice blog. I'm not a big PB fan I can see where they go wrong especially for those among us wearing a size 8 or smaller. But I do like some of there Items. And believe it or not I own the grey tie dress. It looks a million times better on my short apple shaped body than it does on the model. I bought it in London this spring and barely recognized in my own dress when I looke it up on the pb site!

    And on that note we are all different, different shapes, sizes and tastes. What looks good on me might look ridiculous on someone else.

  19. The original blog and over half of the responses sound like they have been written by people who work for Biu Biu ?
    No one company can do everything perfectly anymore then we can as humans and to slate a company in every way possible is hardly fair. Taking a more constructive position would be more professional....and no I don't work for PB. I have shopped with them and Bravissimo since they started and find them amazing. They always have the underwear styles I want in the right sizes, always give great custmer service and although I don't like all of the PB items anymore than I like everything in Karen Millen or Coast etc etc, there are some great items that I have been thrilled with. When you want to shop at one outlet only then reading a blog like this might be helpful but if like me you like a choice then move on. !

    1. I am so pleased to see other people complain about the Empire Line/horrendous 'belt under the boobs' look! and PB telling us that 'under the bust is the smallest part of your body'!!

      Why is it assumed that if you have a big bust, then you don't have a proper waist in the place where a natural waist should be!!

      Like others on this blog, I have an hour glass figure!!

      I love Bravissimo bras (only complaint is that I find a style I really love and then they withdraw it!) and do hava a couple of dresses, but my choics is limited because of the awful empire line and also the fact that many dresses and tops are sleeveless. Plus, like others, Super Curvy isn't really big enough for my bus and also the prices are very very dear.


  20. Very interesting reading your blog. I am actually in the middle of creating my company in which solely provides work wear for those with a fuller bust and larger thighs and buttocks. I will definately consider the points you have included when designing my pieces. Hopefully one day you will be blogging at how impressed you are with my clothing range ;)
    Thanks again,


    1. Hi Ashleigh,

      I've just come across this page, has this business gone ahead, I'm 39, 29, 44 and 6ft tall so I'd love to find some curvy clothes without the awful empire line!


  21. My problem is that most dresses have an hourglass shape while my shape is more like a triagle heavy on the top... 20 - 18 - 16 (bust waist hips) so wearing empire makes my hip area look empty and my breasts huge. Well they are huge but I want to look in proportion. I am very happy to have found your blog too. allthough there's so many women with larger breasts it's incredibly hard to find fashionable trendy clothes.

  22. Thanks for the information on other clothing brands, I will try Biu Biu as another option to. However Pepperberry works for me and I have had some great dresses and tops. Not all brands suit every one but at least there seems to be a choice now works for me and is better than no option.

    Good shirts with enough buttons on the front placket (so as not to gape) is what I am currently looking for any ideas as I cannot afford $160 for a Campbell and Kate.