Shape is just as important as size
Updated: Jan 13, 2020
Teacups and teardrops looking for the perfect fit
One night, I was having drinks with some girlfriends and we were talking about the use of the word "melons" to describe a woman's breasts. "Melons?" my friend said. "After nursing my kids, mine look more like zucchinis."
Breast shape is super important in bra-fitting, though it's often overlooked. Many of us haven't given it much thought, but it can be the source of problems finding the right bra.
If you're young, or if you have implants, you might have a plump, rounded shape. This is often the "standard" for bra designers and manufacturers, who use idealized fit models when creating new products. If this is the case, you probably aren't having any trouble finding ready-to-wear bras that fit and flatter. Consider yourself lucky.
Here are two examples of common breast shapes that often cause fit problems in ready-to-wear bra designs:
If you just can't find a ready-to-wear bra, you might be one the 25% of women with a "low contour" shape--a wide breast root with a shallow apex, sort of like a flat-bottomed teacup. A comfortable fit around the wire line leads to baggy fabric and an empty-looking cup. Women with a low-contour shape often give up entirely on underwires or choose sports bras. Ironically, the best ready-to-wear bra for someone with a low-contour shape is a "minimizer" bra, which achieves compression through a cup designed to be more shallow. In custom bra-making, it's easy to remove the excess fabric by pinching it out of the cross-cup seam, giving the bra exactly the right profile to fit the shape of the breast.
Teardrop or Omega
Other women might have a breast that has more of a teardrop shape. When you're lying on your back, the breast might look like the Greek letter Omega, with a breast root that's smaller than the fullest part of the breast. Women with an Omega shape often can't find ANY bras that fit--either the cup is too big and the wire is too small (ouch!), or the wire is too big and the cup is too small and there's nowhere for the lower breast to fall, which can also lead to fabric that looks like it's pulling horizontally across the bottom of the lower cup. Ready-to-wear, which relies on standard wire/cup combinations, doesn't have much to offer because there's no way to change the wire size. Custom bra-makers can fit you with the correct wire size and shape, and then build the cup to fit using darts along the seam line.
Everything in between
It's not just breast shape, but the space in between your breasts that could be causing problems with fit. If your breasts have a large space between them (as often happens with low-contour), the cups of ready-to-wear might be too close together, exacerbating fit issues. Plus-sized women might find that their breasts appear to be almost touching at the centre, with breast tissue wanting to fluff out between the cups. In custom bra-making, we create a template of the space between the breasts to ensure that the cups are in exactly the right spot.
If any of this describes the issues you've been facing when bra shopping, a custom bra may be the answer to your fit issues.