Classify Your Breasts: Breast Shape. Expert Bra Fitting Advice by Tomima Edmark
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Classifying Your Breast Shape For Bra Fit

Breast Shape

The actual shape of your breasts can have an enormous impact on how a bra will fit and look on you. Basically, there are six (6) breast shapes. Some are very common, and others are more unusual. When making a bra selection, it is very important that you know your breast shape and take it into consideration.

Archetype Breast Shape

This archetypical breast shape is just that – the standard. The breasts are full and round coming to a small point at the nipple. This is the shape most sought-after, and the shape most bra manufacturers use when designing new bra designs. Most women with breast implants have this breast shape.

Bra Suggestions:
  • All bra styles on the market fit this breast shape.

Uneven Breast Shape

Uneven breasts mean your two breasts are not of equal size. This is very common if the size difference is one cup size or less. It is more unusual if the size difference between your two breasts is greater than a cup size. In this case, the cause could be attributed to a body injury or illness during breast development. Uneven breasts can also occur during menopause when hormones can cause your breasts to expand unevenly. IF you are an athlete and use one arm more than the other, this too can cause uneven breast sizes.

Bra Suggestions:
  • Most bra styles can be retrofitted with pads called “cookies” or “breast enhancers” which add volume to the smaller breast thus giving you an even appearance.
  • Figure out where your fullness is missing in your breast and put the cookie in the correct place in your bra cup – along the bottom, along the side, or on the top of your breast.
  • Push-up bras with removable cookies can be a great solution. The cookie can be removed from the larger side, and kept in the cup on the smaller side – instant evenness.
  • Contour cup bras (seamless cups with a thin foam layer for shaping) are particularly good for giving an even look without the need for additional padding if your size difference is less than a full cup size.
  • For DD cup sizes and larger, bras where the upper edge of the cup is elasticized or where the upper fabric is stretchy will form to each breast for a more perfect fit.
  • Plunge bras could be problematic because they could show off your unevenness.

Conical Breast Shape

The base of the breast is typical, but the breast shape is more cone-like than round with the conical breast shape. This conical shape can have issues with filling out the front of the cup. A cup will look like it’s too big, while the underwires fit the breast base just fine. Conical breasts are a little unusual, and tend to exist in the smaller cup sizes (c cup size or less).

Bra Suggestions:
  • Contour cups bras (bras with a thin layer of foam in the cups) and a wide center panel will create a nice shape and fit well.
  • Small pads called “cookies” can be inserted into you bra’s cups along the bottom to help give you more breast volume and fill out your bra cups.
  • Push-up bras that both push up from the bottom and in from the sides will give you your fullest look and possible cleavage. A & B cup sizes will look best in heavily padded push-up bras. Make sure you adjust your breast tissue to make sure it is resting on top of the padding for optimal cleavage effect.
  • Minimizer bras (if you are C cup or larger) will give you a great rounded fit because their design goal is to round your breast projection.
  • Bandeau bras are an option because they can compress a conical breast shape and make them look more round. But, they also can make you look small-chested. Bandeau bras with underwires and lightly padded cups will look best.
  • Compression sports bras help to give your breasts a more rounded shape.
  • Avoid unstructured bras and bralettes – their lack of shaping tends to give you a less attractive silhouette.

Thin Breast Shape

Thin breasts are where the base of the breasts have a smaller circumference than standard breasts. Also called tuberous breasts, this smaller breast circumference causes the breast shape to appear slim and long. Thus, thin breasts tend not to fill a bra’s cups completely. Standard underwires have a built-in diameter that is too wide for this breast shape. Therefore, standard industry bras will have a tendency to rest far below your breast crease line. This in turn is uncomfortable. Thin breasts are rather unusual and are usually a C cup size or smaller. In the second row above, the tan lines tell this story – the underwire is resting well below the crease line. Most women with thin breasts will also have wide-set breasts as well. So, touching breast cleavage is not possible.

Bra Suggestions:
  • Traditional underwire bras are not recommended - they are not likely to fit properly and the underwire ends in the middle of your chest can poke your sternum.
  • Soft cup bras (bras without underwires) will be comfortable but not give you great shape.
  • Push-up bras can do a great job in giving you a fuller look.
  • Push-up bras with padding both along the bottom and far side of the cup are particularly flattering.
  • Placing cookies (removable pads) along the bottom of your bra cups will help fill out your cups and give you a fuller breast shape.
  • Contour bras made with rather firm foam can give a more rounded shape and hide the inability of your breasts to completely fill the cups.
  • Plunge bras can work because the wires will come in low at the center along the sternum and thus be more comfortable.
  • Bandeau bras and compression sports bras can give a flatter rounder breast shape to thin breasts. However, though you are getting a rounder look, your breasts will also appear smaller under the compression.

Omega Breast Shape

The Omega breast shape (named after an upside-down omega symbol) occurs with mostly large cup-sized breasts (D cup or larger). Also known as “ball-shaped breasts” it is a shape that occurs over time due to improper bra wearing. Basically, the base of the breast (where your breast meets your chest wall) is one circumference size, but further down your breasts your circumference becomes larger – for lack of a better analogy, its liken to a tennis ball in the bottom of a sock. No woman starts out with this breast shape, and it is not a common breast shape. Also, omega-shaped breasts can be overly large for the body’s frame and thus both touch in the center and extend beyond the sides of the body.

So, with this omega breast shape defined, here is the issue; the bra cup size that will contain all your breast tissue will also have a wider underwire circumference than your crease line. Think of it like putting a teacup (bra cup) over a tennis ball (omega-shaped breast). The teacup is filled up by the top half of the tennis ball, but there is excess space inside the teacup around the circumference where the cup meets the saucer. This is the same problem with an omega-shaped breast inside a bra cup - the underwire circumference (edge of the teacup) of the bra cup size big enough to contain an Omega breast will be too large (even though your breast mass fits) for the under-breast crease of this breast shape. This too large underwire therefore does not rest in the under-bust crease, but instead slides down the chest wall to a lower position under the breasts creating pain and discomfort. And worse, these too-large/wide underwires extend out from the underarms and “catch” the wearer’s arms as she moves them.

There are many causes for large breasts to turn into this Omega shape - Years of not wearing quality/supportive bras, too often going braless, a history of gaining/losing/gaining weight over many years, and/or years of wearing the wrong size bra.

Bra Suggestions:
  • Cut & Sew bras where the cups are made with 3 to 4 pieces (especially side-support slings) will give the best support and shape. You will get cleavage and possibly mounding with this type of bra.
  • Look for bras where the cup fabric is rigid and non-stretchy.
  • Bras with side panels to place the breasts more front and center. This gets the breast tissue out from under the arms for better arm movement.
  • Full Coverage bras will be your best friend because the cup will come up high to help support your breast weight.
  • Plunge bras are an option.
  • Soft-cup bras (bras without underwires) will be comfortable, but will not optimize your shape.
  • Avoid most molded and contour cup bras unless they are made by a brand that specializes in full figure lingerie. They will not give adequate support, nor fit properly.
  • Traditional shelf-style bras, bandeau, leisure bras, and other unstructured bra styles simply do not give enough support and will exacerbate your breast shape further.

Reduced Projection Breast Shape

Breasts with reduced projection have a traditional breast base circumference, but the breasts themselves do not have adequate breast tissue to fully fill out a bra’s cups. For example, the breast base fits perfectly in a C cup underwire bra, but does not fill out the cup; the cup looks pucker and wrinkled. Going to a smaller cup size means the underwire will not be wide enough, will rest on breast tissue, and will thus feel uncomfortable as well as be ill-fitting.

Reduced projection can also be the result of breast reduction surgery. The surgeon reduced the breast mass, but did not also reduce the base size and under-bust crease of the breasts. So, the original breast crease is there, but not enough breast tissue remains to fill the bra’s cups. Reduced projection breasts are rather unusual.

Bra Suggestions:
  • Purchase the correct underwire bra size that fits your breast crease. Then supplement your breast tissue with breast enhancers to fill out the empty space inside your bra cups.
  • Bras where the cups are made with stretchy (not rigid) fabric will form to your reduced projection shape for a nice fit.
  • Bras where the top edges of the cups have elastic will give a better shape to your reduced projection.
  • Minimizer bras can be a terrific solution. Their cup design has reduced projection worked into them.
  • Soft cup (wire-free) bras are also a solution, but a flattering breast profile could be jeopardized.


© 2016 Andra Group, LP - Sunday, June 26, 2016 (A1).