During our pubescent years, we tend to learn there are just a few kinds of bras, like sports bras, T-shirt bras and push-up bras, all for different moments. However, there are dozens of bra shapes because there’s a wide variety of breast shapes that need to be catered to. “Every body is unique in its own way, so it’s no surprise to hear that no two breasts are the same,” says LIVELY Experience store manager and fit expert Hannale Klubnick.
The choices can easily feel overwhelming, so we sought some expert help. “Determining your own breast shape can help you choose the right styles to fit and flatter you,” says brand experience manager at Cosabella Caroline Peaslee. It’s worth noting that breasts can be a combination of shapes. Klubnick recommends beginning by “considering which of these categories you fall into: Are your breasts close-set or wide-set? And are your breasts full or shallow?” She says, “Most bra styles fit best on a combination of these two factors, which can make the world of bras a little less intimidating.” See which shape is closest to yours so you know which bra will suit your chest best.
Klubnick notes that most of us have wide-set breasts as opposed to close-set. Wide-set breasts are often also referred to as east-west. Wide-set breasts “point outward rather than front and center. The nipples usually aim outward, and there is space between your breasts at the chest (usually at least three fingers of space between),” says Peaslee. Klubnick says wide-set breast tissue starts under or nearly under the arm.
Peaslee recommends a bra with added side support fabric and wider sides, which can help center and bring breasts in, like the Ushuaya Curvy Bra ($160). She also recommends looking for bras with a front closure, like Forever Front Closure Underwire Bra ($110), to help pull breasts in. Front closure bras “help alleviate the gap between your breasts and center them,” explains Peaslee. Another good option is a plunge bra, or racerback bra, which can help center breast tissue.
For those with wide-set full breasts, Klubnick recommends demi bras, balconettes and full-coverage bras. “These bra shapes feature higher gores, wider wires and lots of lift without any extra padding.” She says The Spacer Balconette Bra ($45), The Unlined Lace Bra ($45) and The Minimizer Bra ($45) are good options for this combination.
Wide-set and shallow or low-volume breasts would do well paired with push-up bras or T-shirt bras, says Klubnick. These bra shapes, like The All-Day No-Wire Push Up-Bra ($45) or The T-Shirt Bra ($45), will add a hint of volume and lots of lift, says Klubnick, “to bring your whole breast forward and centered on your frame.”
“Having close-set breasts means that the bulk of your breast tissue is centered on your torso and sits in front of your body when you’re standing up straight with no bra on,” explains Klubnick. She notes that close-set full breasts are a rare combination which means finding a bra that provides coverage and support can be challenging. Klubnick recommends looking for deeper cups with plunging necklines like The All-Day T-Shirt Bra ($45) or The Crochet Lace Unlined Plunge Bra ($45). “These styles will offer you lift and comfort without the quad boob!”
People with close-set shallow breasts have many options, says Klubnick. “Plunge bras work great, T-shirt bras will be your go-to and all the bralettes of the world will be comfy and light.” When it comes to close-set shallow breasts, Klubnick says it’s more about what to avoid, like “bras that have deep or full-coverage cups. These styles will feel like you can’t fill them out no matter what size you get.” She recommends The Long Lined Lace Bralette ($45), The All-Day Plunge No-Wire Bra ($45), The Crochet Lace Deep V No-Wire Push Up ($45), The All-Day Plunge Bralette ($45) and The T-Shirt Bra.
Athletic breasts are on the smaller size, often A or B cups, with minimal volume and usually a wider band size, sometimes as a result of sports and weightlifting, says Peaslee. Padded bras or bralettes, like the Never Say Never Padded Sweetie ($85), can help give breasts a more rounded appearance. Triangle-shaped bras are great for flattering this shape. Peaslee recommends the Abrima Underwire Bra ($140).
A plunging bra like the Never Say Never Longline Bralette ($80) can help accentuate cleavage. Demi cup or balconette bras can help add some lift without the help of padding. Peaslee suggests trying the Paradiso Underwire Demi Cup Bra ($110).
Asymmetrical breasts are exactly as they sound, with one breast considerably larger than the other. Peaslee says the size difference is generally half a cup or a full cup size. Memory foam and spacer fabric bras mold to your shape, which will create less of a gap.
Bras with removable inserts or bralettes are also great options because they’ll mold to your shape more easily, says Peaslee. The Forte Underwire Bra ($110) has removable padding. Peaslee suggests always fitting the larger breast first and then adding inserts for the smaller breast if needed.
“Having full breasts means that your breast volume starts higher up, towards your clavicles,” says Klubnick. “Still confused? Tap your chest from your clavicles down towards your breasts. The more squish (aka breast tissue and fat) closer to your clavicles, the more full you are.”
Peaslee describes full-volume breasts as voluptuous. “They fill out the cups of your bras at both top and bottom.” She says almost any bra can work well with this breast shape but recommends looking for styles that fit well and feel comfortable. Peaslee suggests a T-shirt bra like the Soire Confidence ($90) or a balconette bra like the Sanika ($175). For those with DD or larger cups, she suggests a bra with more support, like the Kalahari Curvy Bra ($125).
As opposed to full-volume, low-volume breasts, also referred to as shallow or saggy, “sit lower or wider with little to no volume across your chest above your breasts,” says Klubnick. Low-volume breasts are fuller at the bottom, which tends to cause sagging,” says Peaslee. While this could be a natural breast shape, Peaslee says, it can also happen with age, weight loss or after breastfeeding.
This breast shape could benefit from a push-up bra to add lift. “The bump-up/push-up padding helps center and push the breasts up, giving you a sexy décolletage and the lift you’re missing,” says Peaslee. She recommends the Never Say Never Pushie Push-Up Bra ($110).
A demi cup bra, like the Soire Confidence Demi Cup Bra ($100), is also great for low-volume breasts as it “helps lift without a whole lot of padding and also gives great décolletage,” says Peaslee. “We call these Date Night bras because though this style works easily for every day, it’s a flattering style, great for going out and showing off.” Additionally, balconette bras are a great option. “Balconette means balcony, and these bras act as a shelf to hold up your sagging situation and create lift,” says Peaslee. She suggests the Never Say Never Balconette Bra ($121).