Bra shopping can be intimidating, emotional, and downright frustrating. Too often, the process of finding the right bra types for your boobs is conflated with another question: “Are you buying the right bra size?” But choosing something that works for your breast shape goes way beyond getting the right cup letter and band number down. Yes, both are important for fit and comfort, but there’s so much more to consider when shopping for lingerie that really fits your body—which is why we went to the experts to find out exactly what you should be looking for in the (virtual) bra aisle.
While your eye may be drawn toward trendy styles that appear to lay beautifully on the neckline, fit experts ID’d breast volume, shape, and positioning as the big factors that can help you better understand your body—and ultimately figure out which styles make you feel like your best self. Keep scrolling for a break-down of everything we learned about choosing bra types according to different breast shapes—plus, our top picks to shop for each.
When you’re on the hunt for a new bra, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the slew of options available (think strapless bras, convertible padded bras, multiway push-up bras, full coverage bras—you know the list goes on). If you find yourself stuck before even reaching the checkout button, Cora Harrington, lingerie expert and author of the In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie, says your breast volume (or fullness) can be a good indicator of whether or not a bra will be comfortable and supportive.
Harrington breaks it down like this: breasts can be full on bottom, full on top, or full all around. These categories have less to do with how large your chest is and more about where the tissue sits on your breasts: Does most of the weight concentrate below nipple height? Above? Or is it evenly distributed? If you’re not entirely sure about where the tissue falls, Harrington says you can easily figure that out by bending forward and looking at your breast profile.
Full on bottom breasts: Balconette bras are your MVP
If most of your breast tissue falls below nipple height, you might find that full coverage bras gape a lot at the top. Harrington likes balconettes for a reason: these bandeau-like bras are designed to provide lift and even out the weight distribution so the front gets filled out. Cuup’s barely-there mesh style is a Glamour editor favorite, while Journelle’s dainty lace number is perfect if you want something a little more sexy in your everyday bra. For maximum coverage and maximum comfort, look for bras with flexible fabric overlays that mold to the chest.
Full on top breasts: Air out with demis or keep them close with fuller coverage
Spillage is the name of the game for people who are full on top, so unless you’re going for the cakes-on-the-plate effect (we see you!), Harrington says you’ll either want a bra that’s open at the top of the cup (like a demi or balconette) or a high apex bra (which usually looks like a half cup with mesh or stretchy fabric for more coverage). Depending on the cup shape, these can include T-shirt bras or contour bras. Freya’s high apex bra is a great option for a variety of bust sizes while ThirdLove’s signature T-shirt bra is perfect if you want to give a smooth look to a sleeveless blouse or low-cut tank top while. (PS: ThirdLove’s bestselling style also exists as a nursing bra in case you’re in the market for maternity bras.)
Sapna Palep, co-CEO of Journelle, tells Glamour breasts that are round and equally full on top and bottom will get the most of out thin, unlined styles. Triangle bras or longline bralettes are chef’s kiss for lightweight coverage without digging—and they often come in racerback or halter styles that look super cute under tricky tops.
Choosing the right bra to fit your shape is “a must for comfort and support,” Palep says. Both Palep and Harrington have seen all kinds of shapes and breast sizes through their work, but those that project, are slender, compact, or asymmetric are some of the most common ones.