With it being Midlifechic’s 10th birthday a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d delve into the stats to see what my most popular post has been and ever since I wrote it over five years ago, it’s been the one about finding the best bra for your breast shape. Of course it’s all a bit out of date now so I thought it was time for a refresh – after all there’s no point in moving on to new season clothes if your underpinnings aren’t right.

The original post came from a really interesting day I spent at a lingerie event where lingerie experts taught me all about the different kinds of breast shapes and the way that bras are cut and moulded to support them. I was measured properly for the first time in years and discovered that I was typical of most women with a drawerful of bras that weren’t doing me any favours. When I was brought something in my new band and cup size I couldn’t believe the effect it had on my whole silhouette – it looked more youthful and as if I’d lost half a stone in weight.

As you can imagine I was intrigued and so I took the opportunity to grill the fitters about their skills. With just a glance at my form they’d gauged what kind of bra I needed and in what size. It turns out that measuring is only part of the bra-fitting journey – you also need to understand your breast shape – their fullness, their spread at the base and the way your flesh is distributed on your sides and your back.  You see it’s the shape of your breasts that dictates the best bra for your breast shape so I’m going to explain more.

Since my day with the experts I’ve completely revamped my lingerie collection. As with everything else I have a dual lingerie wardrobe – one for everyday life here along with a more elaborate one for Newcastle or when we’re travelling and I want to feel the best version of myself. The thing is that a good bra may seem just to be something that happens underneath but actually well designed lingerie changes how you look from the outside and perhaps even more importantly how you feel about yourself on the inside. So let’s look at what goes into finding the best bra for your breast shape.

Finding the best bra for your breast shape.

I talk a lot about understanding the architecture of your body and so this is post will help to elaborate on an aspect of that. Expanding upon what I learned from my day with the lingerie experts – most women fit into one of these categories. Have a look at the pictures and then I’ll say more about them below:


the best bra for your breast shape

  • Slender: narrow in width with minimal fullness, these breasts can hang as they age. Look for a balcony or full cup bra for support.
  • Asymmetric: it’s very common to have one breast bigger than the other. Bras with stretch can help because they expand to fit one and shrink to the other. Alternatively opt for a moulded cup and add a silicone booster to one side to even things out.
  • Athletic: pert with less volume at the top, a wide base and prominent ribs. Full cup and balcony bras are likely to gape at the top so look for plunge and push-up bras.
  • Pendulous: all that is needed is good support. Focus on a wide, well fitting band, strong straps and a full cup or balcony.
  • Bell: full at the bottom and narrower at the top; balcony and half cup styles work well for this shape. Opt for plunge if maximum cleavage is desired.
  • East West: wide set breasts that sit at the side of the body. Look for either a full cup bra with stretch fabric, a plunge bra or one with side support that will push the breasts closer together.
  • Side set breasts: usually about the width of three fingers apart. Look for balcony bras with vertical seams, a wide gore (a panel of separation between the cups) and strong side support panels. However if you’re aiming to achieve cleavage, you can try a plunge bra with a short gore – it won’t be as comfortable but will achieve the effect.
  • Round: choose a full cup or minimiser if you want to reduce the impact of your breasts or a plunge or balcony if you want to maximise your assets. If elasticity has been lost, look for a full cup with extra side support and stretch to restore lift.

What does finding the best bra for your breast shape do?

It raises your breasts away from your middle, thereby lengthening your torso and accentuating your waist so the result is that you look taller and slimmer. Most people don’t realise that 80% of the support for your breasts is actually provided by the band and the other 20% comes from the straps. The work is all done by these two pieces of engineering, the job of the cups is simply to cradle the breasts and hold them in place.

Besides wearing a band that’s too loose, the mistake most people make is in not frequently checking that the straps are tight enough – and frequently is the point here because the straps slip with every wear. There’s no point in buying a good bra and not checking it when you put it on. You should only be able to slide two fingers beneath the strap at the top of your shoulder, if you can fit more than this, it needs tightening. As for the band, if it fits properly you shouldn’t be able to pull it away from your body by any more than an inch with your finger. As you wear a bra in, the elastic will give so when it’s new, always fasten it on the last set of hooks and then gradually tighten it as it gives. The advice is that if you wear a bra four or five times a week, it will need replacing every six months.

How to put your bra on

It sounds mad but this was the real eye-opener for me. Apart from during 27 glorious months of breastfeeding I’ve always had a small bust and so when the lingerie specialist allotted me a generous sounding cupsize I couldn’t believe it. However she explained that over the years our breast tissue ‘migrates’ towards our armpits and back so you have a bit of a scooping job to do. She fastened my bra and then told me to bend forward at a ninety degree angle so that she could hoik (there’s no other word for it) everything into place and ta dah! – with everything pulled into a proper fitting bra I had a bosom. And that’s the joy of a good quality bra that fits properly and isn’t too old. I’ve replaced all of my bras since then and it’s been a joyful project because the structure they give makes me feel better in everything I wear. Bras with side support in particular have been a revelation. My outline has improved because the structure is there.

So it could be that before we head into a new season, you need to give your lingerie drawer some attention – if finding the best bra for your breast shape has a similar effect to losing about half a stone in weight, it’s worth checking that you’re wearing the right one and if you are, that it’s still doing its job properly. A bra that is too comfortable probably isn’t working – and of course it’s up to you to decide whether you care about support. I know a lot of people moved into bralettes over lockdown claiming they’d never look back but with the fitted tops that balance out the wider bottoms again this season, it’s something to think about. All of the lingerie brands and retailers I know are reporting a big return to wiring and supportive bras over the last twelve months. So let’s go on to look at the different types of bras on offer and which breasts they work best for.

Types of bra

  • Full cup: for women with full breasts that have volume at top and bottom. It offers more coverage and shaping than other bras. If you have small breasts or breasts that have more volume at the bottom than the top, you may find that this type of bra gapes although you can get round it with one of the mesh bras I’ll show you below. (Best for pendulous, round and slender breasts)
  • Balcony: a bra that gives gentle uplift and cleavage. May gape if breasts lack volume at the top. (Best for slender; asymmetric with silicone booster; pendulous; bell shaped and round breasts)
  • Plunge: gives cleavage without additional uplift (unless padded) – the gore is low and breasts are pushed together. (Best for bell shaped, side set, east west and athletic breasts).
  • Push up: an extension of the plunge bra, cups are angled with contoured padding to push the breasts in and up. (Great for athletic and east west breasts).
  • Bralet: no support (Best for young breasts, Sunday afternoons or for wearing at night).
  • Minimiser: reduces the appearance of large breasts.
  • Multiway: great for holidays and eveningwear however support can be compromised so not ideal for everyday wear.
  • Spacer bra: made from lighter, thinly padded technical fabric – developed as a t-shirt bra option for anyone who overheats. Spacers can also be more comfortable for people who have wide set breasts. (Great for side set and East West breasts).
  • Side support bra: unsung heroes – great for east west or wide set breasts but also for anyone whose breast tissue has relaxed in the armpit area (basically most women over 50). Side support is an extra feature that is sometimes integrated into high quality full cup and balcony bras.

Lingerie capsule wardrobe

What do you need in your lingerie capsule collection? Variations of the following:

  • Nude t-shirt bra
  • Coloured t-shirt bra
  • Everyday pretty bra
  • Sexy bra
  • Sports bra
  • Strapless bra

Or, the absolute minimum

  • Nude t-shirt bra
  • Convertible bra (straps adjust or can be removed)
  • Sports bra (great for weekend lounging too)

Nude lingerie is a real plain Polly – the bra that makes your heart sink but is the most important in your collection, especially if you wear a lot of fitted, light coloured tops. It’s the only shade that won’t show through when you’re wearing light colours (it’s a mistake to think that white lingerie works well under white). So, I’m going to start each of these sections with a highly rated nude t-shirt bra (I’ll do my best to make sure multiple skintones are available) and then move on to prettier styles.

Full cup

Full cup: to recap, this is for women with full breasts and it offers more coverage and shaping than other bras.

Full cup nude t-shirt bra

One of the UK’s top-selling bras, this has flexifit technology meaning that it moves with your body in every direction so there’s less likelihood of you having to hitch your bra down all the time. The A-E sizes also come in a range of nude colours to suit different skintones but for some reason the larger sizes don’t which seems like a big oversight. It has smooth lines, soft piping, light padding, added stretch and it’s machine washable.

the best bra for your breast shape

Flexifit full cup bra; (99 matching knicker options here)


Pretty full cup bras


  1. Mesh full cup bra – the great thing about mesh bras is that they have great stretch so they adapt to your breast closely making them a great option for athletic or asymmetric breasts too. They also give a more natural outline. Available in pink or black – various styles of matching knickers here.
  2. Side support full cup bra. This bestselling bra has added side support so is great if your breast tissue has migrated – it will scoop it all in for a great profile. Made for larger breast sizes (D-K) it’s available in 4 colours – black, white, beige plus red in the sale. Matching knickers here.
  3. My personal favourite – I have this in all kinds of colours, it’s my favourite everyday bra because it’s mesh and so it fits beautifully as well as being pretty to wear. New colourways are released every season and it’s from a small, female led British lingerie brand. Matching knickers here. More styles and colours here.
  4. Moulded full cup bra from the much loved Glossies range. This comes in a rainbow of colours and cup sizes from B to G – the turquoise is a great buy in the sale. Matching knickers.
  5. Pretty full cup bra – with its eyelash lace and natural shaping this is a lovely bra for fuller cup sizes (F-H) and it currently has 20% off. It’s also available in a minimiser, a plunge and a demi-cup, plus a green colour option – the full range is available here.
  6. Unpadded lace bra – a great price for some serious engineering for fuller cup sizes (D – J). Also available in latte – matching knickers here.
  7. Full cup bra for smaller breasts – a pretty one designed for smaller cup sizes can be hard to find. This comes in four colours, some are in the sale. Cup size B-D, matching knickers here.
  8. Fuller cup bralette from a lovely small female brand with a focus on body positivity. There are bras for women of all shapes and sizes with some great body positive models showing them to their best advantage – you can find them all here.


Balcony Bra

Recap: gives gentle uplift and cleavage. May gape if breasts lack volume at the top. Because the balcony scoops the breasts and lifts them upwards, you need to focus on the mechanics and find the fit that works best for you. If you have larger breasts, look for balcony bras that are designed specifically for larger cupsizes, the cantilevering will be better giving you a more comfortable experience. Balcony bras work well for women with broader shoulders as the straps are set slightly wider apart. They’re also useful if you’re a fan of a boat neckline.

Nude balcony bra for smaller breasts

This is made from microfibre for extra softness, it comes in four skintones as well as black and white.

the best bra for your breast shape

Ultralight nude bra (6 colours, B – DD cup)

Nude balcony – full support

A nude balcony bra engineered for larger cup sizes with extra support from the seam free wings at the side. It also has the option of crossing the straps over at the back for different types of top.

the best bra for your breast shape

Nude bra (only one shade, D – H cup) Multiple skintone shades here


Pretty balcony bras

the best bra for your breast shape


  1. Lace balcony bra. With its eyelash lace this is so very pretty. It has careful construction behind it with darted cups, brushed elastic under the arm and at the bottom of the front frame to prevent slipping as well as a U shaped ballet back – you can tell it comes from a female led brand. Also available in sea green or white, cup sizes A-E. Matching knickers here.
  2. Navy balcony bra. If, like me there are days when you want your lingerie to match what you’re wearing, you’ll know how hard it can be to find a navy bra. This embroidered tulle with slight padding will give a great outline. There’s a full range of lingerie in this style including different bras, bodies, bustiers and briefs – you can find it all here.
  3. Pink embroidered bra – with its vintage style and five star reviews this is a well priced option for a lingerie refresh. Cup sizes A-E, also available in black – full collection here.
  4. Navy silk bra – when you find a navy bra…! This is utter simplicity, made from silk (but not too highly priced). Also available in beige, black and white. Cup sizes B-DD. Matching knickers here or with fuller coverage here.
  5. Satin and lace bra – padded for cleavage, this bra is both pretty and well priced. It’s a demi-cup which is an easier way for a smaller cup size to achieve extra support (cup sizes from A – E). Also available in red or apple with a matching slip too – full range available here.
  6. Lemon bra – perfect for the new season, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Unpadded so good for those who like a natural outline. Cup sizes B-F. Matching knickers here.
  7. A longline bra gives you extra support with the added favour of disguising any underbust bulge. This is available in cup sizes A-E here, and then re-engineered for F-H here. Also available in a pretty navy tulle spot – you can see the full collection here.
  8. Racy date night number – when I heard how many of these sell I had to include it – clearly the UK’s midlife market likes a strappy number. The clever thing about this bra is the fit – each strap has a slider so that you can adjust it to fit you perfectly. Maybe you won’t wear it every day but it’s great for a special night out. Matching knickers here.


Plunge bras

Recap: enhances cleavage, usually without additional uplift – the gore is low and breasts are pushed together (best for bell, side set and athletic breasts).

Nude Plunge:

My personal favourite everyday nude t-shirt bra (although I wish they’d go back to the original design without the stripes). Lightly padded and incredibly comfortable to wear. A-E cup only though and only one nude skintone.

the best bra for your breast shape

Body define plunge t-shirt bra;

The larger versions of the bra above have poor reviews but this one doesn’t – still only one tone available though, it’s ridiculous that the colour ranges aren’t more inclusive for nude bras.

the best bra for your breast shape

Nude plunge – larger cup size(DD-GG)

Pretty plunge bras

best plunge bras for your breast shape 2024


  1. Soft, stretch lace plunge bra. Starting with the other key player in my lingerie collection, I have this in all kinds of colours too and eagerly await the new releases because it’s so comfortable. You have to be quick because they sell out fast. Matching knickers here. More options here. Cup sizes B-DD.
  2. Black and ivory embroidered plunge bra. A perennial bestseller, loved for both its look and its fit. Cup sizes C – E. Matching knickers here. Also available in nude.
  3. Pale blue lace and mesh bra – so pretty and available in 12 different colourways – this pale blue version is half price in the sale. Cup sizes B-DD. Full range available including knickers, bodies and slips – you can see it all here.
  4. Smoothing plunge bra – this will give great shape under anything fitted because it’s completely seamless. It’s also one of the few I’ve seen that will give good support without wiring. Also available in beige. Cup sizes A-E. Matching knickers here.
  5. Unpadded plunge bra for people who prefer to keep things simple. Also available in grey or acid yellow, cup sizes A-E. Full range of matching pieces including camis and knickers here.
  6. Ribbon trim plunge bra – it’s always nice to have a touch of trim, especially under a low cut top. This bra has meshed side support too for added structure. Cup sizes E-G. Matching knickers here.
  7. Blue bra with floral embroidery. From another of my all-time favourite ranges and I would have featured more from it if the deliveries hadn’t been delayed. You can’t beat the quality for the price, it always feels and looks much more expensive than it is. Cup sizes B-F. Matching knickers here.
  8. Mesh and satin plunge bra – a cost-effective way of achieving maximum impact and a great way of adding mesh into your collection if you prefer not to have a completely sheer effect. Also available in black, cup sizes A-E.

Push-up bras

Recap: push-up bras take plunge bras one step further by using padding to boost breasts from underneath as well as at the side to push them together.

When I wrote my last lingerie post five years ago I was surprised to find that push-up bras had almost disappeared. I was told by both lingerie houses and retailers that sales had plummeted because the 15 – 30 year old market had been the key consumers. With the rise of #MeToo and younger women’s refusal to be uncomfortable, the enhanced cleavage had been overtaken by the new category of bralettes. This was, of course, further reinforced by lockdown but now that there’s a backlash against anything that signifies comfort, they’re on their way back. It makes sense when you see the return to tailored fit that’s been appearing at the various fashion weeks. So apparently there will be a lot more push-up bras released in the autumn. Last time I could only find six styles of push-up bras at M&S – now there are 74 and you can find them all here. There were seven at John Lewis and there are now 18 here.

So I hope that’s helped with the tricky task of finding the best bra for your breast shape, it’s one of those things that we don’t give enough thought to and yet it can make a huge difference to our look.


Moving on – a couple of regular commenters have been in touch to say that they haven’t been able to see the comments for a while. It’s such a shame because they’re every bit as important as the posts I write. However, it’s finally given me the push I needed to move away from the Disqus system, it might take a while but there will be a new commenting interface coming up and hopefully it will be easier for everyone. In the meantime, could you just tick a box here to let me know whether you can still see the comments so that I know how urgently we need to work on it.

Can you see the comments at the bottom of each post?

And that’s everything for today. I’m SO looking forward to seeing some of you in real life next Thursday – you should receive an email from me this weekend with all of the details. As I’m going to be away from my desk for a few days it may be that I don’t have time to write a post next week but I’ll be back the week after that. In the meantime have a lovely weekend – next time we speak it will be March – how about that?!

Disclosure: ‘Finding the best bra for your breast shape’ is not a sponsored post. Thank you to fitters, lingerie buyers and shopfloor staff at:Wacoal, BTemptd; Fantasie; Freya; John Lewis & Partners; House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer for answering my questions over the last few months as I’ve been working on this post.

Recent posts you may have missed

Spring wardrobe lifts that work now

A midwinter midlife lately

Midlife – the time for trying new things

Midlife skincare – the products I buy because they work

Midlife – the rough comes with the smooth and how to handle it

The quest for midlife mojo

Happy new 2024 – an investment buy round-up

A surprise trip to Amsterdam and goodbye 2023

Midlife lately – an October catch-up

Jigsaw review – retailer spotlight

Using texture with winter outfits

Mango review – retailer spotlight

Easy AW23 outfit updates

Cos review – retailer spotlight

Rediscovering your style over 50 – understanding what’s right for you

Subscribe by Email

Disclaimer: as with the majority of blogs, products featured on Midlifechic sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, you are helping to support the site because a small referral commission may be paid. This contributes towards hosting fees, software costs, site maintenance and other plug-ins. Midlifechic could not exist without these small payments, so every contribution makes a big difference.