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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.

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How to find the perfect plus-size button-up shirt: 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

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.