There is only so much padded enhancement can do with a 34A chest. They are just…small. I don’t envy the more generously endowed, however. Quite the opposite. I think my modest bust suits the athletic silhouette I favor and, rather than seek to make my chest look as large as possible (though that can be fun), I often like to give a more straightforward representation.
Here are some soft, unpadded lingerie pieces I think do this well, and create that lithe, nipple-friendly look that is to me so French. I’m thinking Vanessa Paradis in La fille sur la pont; that tight sweater and what looks like no bra at all. There is perhaps something slightly risqué in failing to hide that you have nipples (surprise!) but I like this element of it as well, and find the effect youthful and natural, especially in the contexts of certain types of shirts/outfits. There is something alluring in the more soft, yielding appearance unpadded lingerie provides. And: comfortable. In the case of the American Apparel pieces below I often like to have them showing under loose, open, or transparent layers; effectively treating them as I would a bathing suit top.
American Apparel spandex jersey cross-back bra, Myla London Delena bra (asos), Princess Tam Tam Night Bird bra (asos), Mimi Holiday éclair lace bra (link), Calvin Klein micro lace triangle bra (asos), American Apparel ruched front tube bra (bandeau), American Apparel baby rib bikini bra. [The American Apparel options are nearly always in the sale section, if not actually always.]
And, of course, there is the option of nothing…though I tend to think I am not quite flat enough to pull this off. Alas. Maybe if the sweater were tight enough? Hm…
UPDATE, June 2013: Maybe I’ve been watching too many couture shows, but I’m now fine with not wearing any bra, if that is what the ensemble calls for, or lends itself to best. Progress. There is still a matter of propriety in our relatively conservative culture but has no bearing on my private fashion fantasies.