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Knowing your cup size and breast shape can help you shop for a well-fitting bra without wanting to pull your hair out. Particular breast shapes fit into certain bras, and the wrong one can be uncomfortable and unflattering. We’re teaching you how to determine your breast shape for ultimate support.
How to Determine Breast Shape
To determine your breast shape, you need to check several things:
- breast fullness and projection
- nipple position
- root width and height, and
- identify the gap between breasts
From here, you can see whether you are fuller at the top or bottom and if you have wide-set (also known as east-west breasts) or close-set boobs.
While women may need to switch cup styles to achieve different support levels in bras, knowing your breast shape is the first step to finding the best sports bra.
How to Identify Your Breast Shape
For this to work properly, you must remove your bra, lean forward, or stand up straight while facing the mirror. You may make a mental note, draw, or take a picture to help identify the shape of your breasts.
1. Check Breast Fullness and Nipple Position
The breast density makes the bustline look either small or big in bras. Some breasts are fuller on the top or the bottom, while others have an even, balanced shape. To determine breast fullness, you have to check the position and direction of the nipples.
If the tissues veer toward the bottom of sports bra cups, then you may have bell-shaped or teardrop breasts that are fuller on the bottom of the bras.
In contrast, if the tissues focus on the top part of the bras, the breasts are fuller on top, which can sometimes mean you have uneven or slender breasts.
Meanwhile, you have even, rounded breasts if you can’t tell the difference or the nipples point directly toward the floor.
2. Determine the Nipple Projection
Projection refers to breast depth. Knowing your breast projection will help you find sports bra cups that fit you better.
- Shallow: If you have shallow breasts that spread closer to the bust, you need demi or balconette bras with shallow cup style. This is typical for most women with asymmetrical breasts, meaning one is bigger than the other. Research shows that 62% of women have a bigger left breast.
- Projected: In contrast to a shallow breast shape, projected breasts point away from the body, making them stick out more in bras. This is common among women with E cups or larger who experience cup spillage. In such cases, you need cups with a deep cup shape, such as full-coverage sports bras.
3. Measure the Root Width and Height
Determining the root width requires calculating the width of your breasts. To do this, raise your arm above your head, then feel the side breasts sitting under your armpit.
Measure the side of the boobs that protrude from the torso, then go over to the other side. The number typically equates to the size of the band or underwire in bras.
- Narrow roots end right before the armpits. A shorter or narrower root is common on breasts fuller at the bottom, like in round, bell, and teardrop.
- A bigger underwire is necessary for wider roots. Asymmetrical and conical breasts often have wide roots because of the tissue that spills to the sides.
4. Check the Gap Between the Breasts
Breast separation pertains to the gap, or lack of gap, between the boobs or cups. You have close-set breasts if they are touching, and there’s no visible gap. Conversely, you have east-west or wide-set breasts if there’s a noticeable gap between the breasts.
When your breasts touch closely, you need bras with a center gore, like plunge bras, to introduce separation and prevent a uni-boob look.
On the other hand, bras with side boning are ideal for those with wide-set breasts to push the tissues front and center. The east-west shape needs a sports bra that pushes the breasts back toward the center.
It’s common to have a space between your breasts as you age. However, some can have a flatter ribcage, a bony projection, or an inverted sternum. The spacing may also reposition the breast tissue and affect how the cups rest against the chest.
What Are the Common Breast Shapes
Breasts come in various shapes and sizes. Different breast shapes require certain bras, and knowing your breast shape can help determine the right cup styles to accentuate your features better.
Compared to other shapes, the archetype standard breast shape has an equal amount of fat tissue, coming to a small point at the center. Most sports bras fit this shape without spilling or sagging because the breasts are full at the top and bottom.
- Bra suggestions: Use molded or seamed bras with full-coverage cup styles to lift the breasts. If you’ve had breast augmentation surgery, it’s ideal to use a sports bra for breast implants. Larger breasts may need a high center gore in the bra’s middle part.
Small breasts don’t have much volume in the bust. This breast shape has more space in the center, making it challenging to create cleavage.
- Bra suggestions: Bra cup styles that can visually enlarge the bust to suit smaller breasts. A sports bra with push-up or padded cups can provide ample support and coverage to add proportion to the body.
A large breast contains a higher volume of fatty tissue than smaller breasts. Women with this shape may have D+ cup sizes.
- Bra suggestions: Opt for a bra with a cup style that can separate the breasts. A minimizer or sports bra with full-coverage cups can give exceptional support to the bust. Avoid bras with low-support cup styles.
In contrast to rounded breast shapes, asymmetric-shaped breasts have one breast larger than the other. Having asymmetric breasts is common among most women, where one boob may have a larger volume. The difference is by one cup size or less.
- Bra suggestions: Use padded bras suitable for flat chests to compensate for the unevenness. You may also consider putting chicken cutlet inserts on the smaller breast to avoid gaping. Additionally, look for a sports bra with a low-cut cup style for support.
The teardrop shape is somehow like the round shape, yet tends to be less full at the top. The wide, rounded base slopes upward.
- Bra suggestions: Find bras that can lift the bottom part and give a fuller look while ensuring all-day support. The best bras for teardrop-shaped breasts are well-fitted longline bras that can best encapsulate the heavy bottom fat tissue.
The east-west shape has breasts gravitating to either side of the bust. Unlike in other breast shapes, the nipples point upward instead of to the front. This is typical among most women with small cup sizes.
- Bra suggestions: Look for cup styles that can gather fat in front instead to the sides. A padded sports bra is an excellent example of a bra style that can prevent side spillage. The band should have enough elasticity for contouring while providing the support you need.
Side-set breasts are almost similar to east-west, where the breasts gravitate to the sides, although they are typically larger and fuller. Those with side-set breasts may have difficulty creating cleavage because there’s more gap in the center of the bras.
- Bra suggestions: Try a t-shirt bra or sports bra with more cup padding to gather breast tissue to the front. Cami bras with underwires and broad side panels are also excellent options for bust support while preventing side spillage.
A bit like the teardrop shape, relaxed breasts have lax tissue, where the nipples point downward in bras. These usually have soft tissue and a longer shape. This is common among women experiencing weight loss and aging.
- Bra suggestions: Find bras with a demi cup to guarantee shaping and support. Opt for a sports bra with a thick band to lift the breasts comfortably.
Slim, small breasts have a narrow silhouette, with nipples pointing downward in bras. In contrast to shapes with much breast volume, this shape doesn’t require a lot of support, although coverage is a must.
- Bra suggestions: Bralettes, bandeau bras, or triangle bras best suit this shape because these styles conform to the bust easily without compromising support.
Sagging can apply to different breast shapes where some women feel like carrying a bag of skin. Whether you have large or small breasts, there’s less breast tissue at the top of the bust. Not wearing a supportive sports bra can also cause sagging.
- Bra suggestions: This shape requires bras with proper fit and support. Look for bra cup styles that can lift breast tissue comfortably. For example, choose a sports bra with your actual cup size to lift the breasts and provide a fuller shape.
Athletic breasts are wider and more muscular compared to the others. Most women with this shape need ample support from bras to minimize breast bounce.
- Bra suggestions: Opt for a compression or full-coverage sports bra for running or high-impact activities. Avoid underwires that can dig into the chest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Sports Bra Damage Breast tissue?
A sports bra can only damage breast tissue if it’s not the right size for you. However, using a well-fitting sports bra with breathable and comfortable fabric can support delicate breast tissue and ligaments.
What Influences the Shape of the Breasts?
Genetics, hormones, tissue density, and weight mainly contribute to a person’s breast shape. Other factors such as age, activity levels, diet, and medical conditions may stimulate breast growth and shape.
How to Change Breast Shape?
You won’t be able to entirely change the shape of the breasts, although wearing some kinds of bras can contour the breast tissue to your desired shape. You can also do targeted exercises and improve your diet, depending on the shape or effect you want to achieve.
Determining your breast shape requires checking for breast fullness, nipple location, projection, root width, and the gap between the breasts. We hope this guide can help you determine the shape of your breasts so you can find a properly-fitting bra.