Finding a bra that fits perfectly can be something of a gamble. Getting measured is only part of the process. Different stores seem to go by different sizes, and then there are all the different styles to wriggle in and out of until you find the one that works for you. That’s if you don’t give up and just grab the next-best thing before you completely run out of patience.
But new research could make everything a lot easier. Lingerie company ThirdLove has identified the seven most common breast shapes, which appear in the company's own breast shape dictionary to persuade women that it's the shape of their boobs rather than the traditional measurements taken around the chest that should dictate what type of bra they should be shopping for.
This is the holy grail of boobs: equally full at the top and the bottom. Typically seen on pre-pregnancy 20-somethings with bouncy bodies. If you have these boobs, show them off, ladies! And when it comes to your ideal bra, go for a plunge style to show off that cleavage and make the most of your shape, like this one from Nordstrom, $41.
If you have asymmetrical boobs (one bigger than the other), you’re not alone. It’s actually super rare not to have different-size breasts, with an estimated 99 percent of women having asymmetrical boobs to some degree. And around 40 percent of women have one breast that is a whole cup size (or two) bigger than the other. Golden rule: Buy a bra that fits the larger best. It’s far easier — and more comfortable — to add a pad to the smaller boob than to try to squeeze the larger one into a cup that’s too small.
Side set boobs have a space between them that’s three fingers wide. If, on the other hand, they’re very close together or touching, they’re considered to be close set. Make side set boobs feel supported with a bra designed to draw them into a more central position, such as this front-fastener from Macy's, $30.
Blame gravity for bell-shaped boobs (slim at the top and full at the bottom), although it’s not the only culprit — you could also blame weight gain or loss and hormonal changes. If you have bell-shaped boobs, your best friend is an underwire bra, which will make your breasts appear rounder.
If you have small, flat boobs, embrace the fact that you can go braless if you wish — you’re the envy of many an ample-bosomed lady. But if you’d like to give what you’ve got a bit of a helping hand, then invest in a good-quality, built-in push-up bra to give an appearance of natural fullness, like this Victoria's Secret push-up bra, $29. A bra with insertable pads can make you look up to two sizes larger.
"East West" boobs have outward-facing nipples, which are very common. To draw your boobs toward the center and create an illusion of cleavage, choose a molded, rigid bra with supportive side panels.
Teardrop boobs are less full at the top than at the bottom and may be due to hormonal changes, breastfeeding, genetics or simply the ongoing fight against gravity. The best bra style for this type of boob is a supportive plunge bra with cups at an angle to create lift.
Need a little help working out what shape your boobs are? Check out our infographic below.
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