Are Underwire Or Soft-Cup Bras Better For Your Breasts?

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When it comes to bras, many hate to love them and love to hate them. But finding the right one is perhaps the most difficult aspect of dealing with bras in the first place. While there are many different styles and constructs of bras out there — from demi-cup to full cup, padded and unpadded and underwired to the bralette — it can be a journey to find a bra that feels good on your body, and provides you with the look, coverage, and support you want. But whether you like it or not, some experts say that wearing a bra can keep your breasts perkier for longer, if that's your goal. 


Speaking with Shape, OB-GYN Dr. Sherry Ross notes that "if there's a lack of proper, long-term support, breast tissue will stretch and become saggy, regardless of breast size." While over time, the stretching of this tissue is inevitable whether you wear a bra or not, breast surgeon Dr. Andrea Madrigrano tells Shape that the density of your breast tissue also plays a role in the stretching of breast tissue, called "ptosis." To put it simply, the bigger your boobs are, the more prone they are to ptosis.

But size is not always all that matters. Depending on your personal medical history — from pregnancies to breastfeeding, genetics, exercise, breast cancer, and more — there are many factors that contribute to the shape and size of your breasts that should be considered when purchasing a bra. Here's what we found.


The asymmetrical breasts

Speaking with Seventeen, fertility specialist Dr. Cindy Duke says that "pretty much no one has completely symmetrical breasts." One general aesthetic purpose of wearing a bra is to make the breasts appear more uniform underneath your clothing. Taking this need into account, the brand ThirdLove created a line of bras specifically for those with asymmetrical breasts, which feature both underwire and soft bras with a plunging neckline and removable inserts.


For those who have had a mastectomy fighting breast cancer, Athleta also offers a pair of single bra inserts tailored for both the left and right breasts in a range of sizes which can be used to balance your unpadded bras. 

The athletic breasts

Athletic breasts are breasts that sit on top of typically toned or wide pectoral muscles, giving the breasts a wider shape. For athletic breasts, which tend to be on the smaller side, soft cup bras or bras with wide pads could be the most comfortable and conforming options, as underwire for support is not usually necessary for this breast type. Kim Kardashian's shapewear brand Skims – which makes an impressive claim – offers a bralette with a wide scoop neck in a wide range of sizes and shades.


The conical breasts

Conical-shaped breasts are, like the name suggests, slightly pointy instead of round. Per Healthline, this shape is typically associated with smaller breast sizes. While tuberous breasts – a medical condition in which breasts are not fully developed — can be somewhat conical in shape, not all conical breasts are tuberous. Because of the shape and volume of the breast, some conical breasts might not fill a typical, round, padded bra cup. 


Therefore, it is essential bras for conical breasts have a bit of stretch and shallower cups, like a T-shirt bra, for maximum comfort and a bit of shape. One user on Reddit suggests the Wacoal t-shirt bra for conical breasts, which offers wide-set cups and an underwired frame with a bit of stretch. 

The east-west breasts

Similar to conical breasts, east-west breasts are breasts that protrude outward but in opposite directions. For this breast type, the goal is often to bring them closer to the center. This can be achieved with an underwire, padding, and strategically placed seams that shape the breasts. On a Reddit thread for those with breasts this shape, one user suggests the Panache Clara Side Support Bra. An underwire balcony bra, it offers inner side support with built-in slings and elastic lining along the cups. Wacoal also has an entire collection dedicated to east-west breasts, as does ThirdLove


The pendulous breasts

Because these breasts can hang low, they are often prone to ptosis, and the goal is often to give them a bit of a lift as well as to support your back. According to D Cup Or Bigger, a bra that has underwire, full coverage, multiple seams, and reinforced sides are winning elements for those with pendulous breasts. Although bras do not usually need to be padded for this breast type, push-up bras can also help with support and gapping in the bra cups. The Panache Tango Underwire Bra offers many of the features D Cup or Bigger recommends and comes in tons of sizes, as well as an array of neutral and colorful options. 


The bell and teardrop breasts

Bell-shaped breasts are often large, hang high from the chest, and feature most weight at the bottom of the breast in a shape that looks like a bell. Teardrop breasts could be described as the smaller version of this shape. Bras with underwires can work well for bell-shaped breasts to offer support. ThirdLove has a line of bras designed for bell-shaped breasts that include both underwire bras and soft cup bras for those with teardrop-shaped breasts who might not need as much support.


The Unlined Foliage Perfect Coverage Bra features seams to contour the breast and an underwire for support but instead conforms to the natural shape of the breast in the absence of a foam cup. For teardrop-shaped breasts, the Shadow Stripe Triangle Wireless Bralette does not have an underwire but does include a seam to contour the breast. 

The slender breasts

As Seventeen noted, slender breasts are breasts that are thin and often narrow. Typically on the smaller side, the trick for this breast shape is often to give them some lift. A cute triangle bralette can give some shape to your breasts without overloading you with underwiring that you might not need. This cotton bralette from Cotton:On features a seamless, triangular shape and soft fabric for maximum comfort, as well as adjustable straps. It comes in six different shapes and sizes from extra small to extra large. 


The round breasts

Round breasts are breasts that tend to have an equal distribution of tissue and fat. For this reason, the round breast shape can work with several different kinds of bras according to your preferences. Bras can feature either demi or full cup, depending on your coverage preference, as both complement the natural shape of the breasts.


This demi-bra from Skarlett Blue features a demi shape and underwiring for that perfect fit, although because of their distribution, an underwire might not always be needed for a round breast shape. Should you be curious about how to further perfect your bra fit, we have the most common bra problems solved