Thursday, 5 January 2012

What Exactly is a "Good" Shape?

The more I interact with others interested in lingerie, the more I realize that even the most basic concepts are subject to opinion. One of these concepts is what defines a “good shape.” I feel like I spend a lot of time talking about that on this blog without having ever defined what I mean by that. There are a lot of different shapes that could be considered “good shapes” for a bra to give you:



The shape that I personally prefer as my “best” shape is rounded and a bit lower, even slightly minimized.


I find I get this shape in low-cut bras with somewhat looser upper sections. They don’t give as much support to the top half of the boobs but are often an easier fit on people with full-on-top boobs (like me) because the bra isn’t even messing with the top of the boobs. In fact, people with full-on-top boobs might even find they can size down in these bras. Another kind of bra that often gives this shape is the bra with vertical seams, like Curvy Kate’s Tease Me and Thrill Me bras. However, in my experience people with full-on-top boobs usually can’t size down in these.

Bras fitting this description include: Panache Harmony, Sienna and Confetti, Cleo Brooke and Frances, Bravissimo Demi Diva, Curvy Kate Tease Me and Thrill Me. I have not tried the following, but would venture to add the Cleo Eleanor and Bonnie. Also, according to Curvy Wordy's reviews, I feel comfortable adding Ewa Michalak’s “HP” bras.
Bras fitting this description somewhat include: Panache Melody, Curvy Kate Ella.

If you’re shopping online, you can usually recognize these bras by the lack of a ribbon or tight detail along the top of the cup. They also tend to appear to have a more round or horizontal shape across the neckline if you are just looking at it on a model online:


Bras with this shape can be good for anyone, even those without full-on-top boobs, and are an easier transition from poorly-fitted “normal” looking bras to the world of well fitted bras, especially for people who were used to Victoria’s Secret, as the shape is more similar.
Drawbacks to this shape include the fact that it often comes hand in hand with wider underwires which can tend to put your boobs in your armpits. Personally I prefer this because it balances my visual shape from the front and minimizes my boobs from the side:


However, lots of people find wider underwires very uncomfortable, while others dislike the lower, rounded shape and prefer an upfront look with more lift and projection:


This shape puts the boobs front and center. The look can be achieved by slightly higher-cut bras where the top section actually curves back in, and is meant to cover and support a greater proportion of the boobs. These bras can be a nightmare for anyone with full-on-top boobs as they curve back in right where the most stubborn part of the boob is and can cause epic quadraboob. However, they can also be more supportive and if well-fitted, are often LESS likely to shift under clothes and start to cut in and leave a line. These bras are more likely to give a fuller-coverage but lower-cut appearance when seen on a model—a V-neck shape:


People with full-on-top boobs can sometimes still wear bras like this but may need to size up and/or alter the center gore to get a better fit if they are seeking this shape. I know many people who prefer this shape as the gold standard of a well-fitted bra. Other bras giving this shape include the carefully structured Ewa Michalak padded bras, again according to Curvy Wordy (I have no experience of Ewa Michalak bras).

Bras fitting this description include: Bravissimo Alana and Dotty Spot, Freya Arabella, Lyla, Eleanor etc, Ewa Michalak’s “PL” bras.
Bras fitting this description somewhat include: Bravissimo Boudoir Beau, Cleo Lucy.

This shape makes the boobs look much more streamlined from the front, because it pulls them to the center and up. They look more dramatic from the side:



Although I think these two shapes tend to be the ones most sought out by women, there are a lot of other shapes, and many bras seem to give a shape that falls in between. There is this more relaxed, natural look, which is often achieved with full-coverage bras:


There are also a thousand shapes in between these extremes. I’m becoming more and more interested in what other women want and what shape they search for in a bra. If you like a shape that I haven’t mentioned, let me know in the comments!

40 comments:

  1. My preference is definitely the green one. Actually, it's more of a need than a preference. I don't have any side boobs and have long narrow breasts so basically the only possibilities for me are either green or blue. The Panache bras (or any bras with wide wires), flatten me out too much and I end up getting a quadraboob effect at the same time as I'm not able to fill out the sides/bottom of the bra. Crazy stuff!

    I get the blue look in soft cup bras and/or ones that don't have padding/molding. The blue fits much more the natural shape of my breasts so without the extra structure that's what I get. The good thing, is, though that it makes my breasts smaller so sometimes I can wear smaller tops BUT in terms of preference of appearance, I really don't like it.

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    1. Sounds like you have a similar shape to me, though I have the added problem of really narrow shoulders. I'd be interested to hear of any bras you have found that fit well

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  2. The blue look can certainly serve its uses, especially with tops that are tight right in that top area.

    I've always sought out the purple shape, which is what I get from Panache (in Freya mine look a bit more like the blue look, sort of in between) but only recently realized the green shape could exist at all! I've never seen my boobs achieve that kind of upfront look, except a bit in Bravissimo's Dotty Spot bra and Freya's Arabella, but I could never get the fit right in either. I think it's a really flattering look for those who rock it, though.

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  3. I always thought I was in the minority in liking the green look. There are so many complaints on how some bras (for instance the dotty spot, which I love) make the boobs look "pointy" . And so many rave about a round (but more upfront) shape than the purple. I get that shape with the Ewa Michalak PL and that's my least favourite as it looks the less natural to me.I usually aim for something between green and blue. Upfront, not too round, but wih some uplift.

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  4. I've been thinking about this more and I think why many prefer the purple look is that it gives you more of the appearance of an hourglass shape from the front. Basically, it extends your ribcage out and would make waist appear smaller. Then again, from the side view it will flatten you out but most women tend to look at themselves straight in in the mirror first. ;)

    I'd actually guess that this is a big reason that you get the triangle effect in so many bras. Basically it's the idea that you have more boobs than band. I wonder, though, how realistic this look is for many women? I'd guess (speaking 100% just from my own personal experience so I could be wrong here) that the purple look is more achievable in younger woman who have not had as many weight fluctuations whereas green and blue would be more common in older woman and/or woman who have had weight fluctuations (especially through pregnancy). I know prepregnancy I definitely had shallower, wider breasts...

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  5. Hi, I'd love to do a guest post exchange with you. Could you drop me a line at eternalvoyageur (at) gmail (dot) com? I wriite at www.venusianglow.com

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  6. What a great post! I have only just read it and want to say a huge thank you for the links. I am truly honoured x

    The Ewa Michalak PLs give me the purple shape but without the flattening/minimising that is achieved with the HPs. The CHs give the green shape but with more roundness on top. I don't think any EMs give the blue shape but like June said this is what I get with non-wired bras (as seen on my blog!).

    Apparently Ewa Michalak will be bringing out padded balconettes soon, which will be an interesting addition to the current shapes available. Of course you can rely on me to review them as soon as I possibly can ;-)

    I am still trying to decide what Curvy Kates to go for now I know the Showgirls are definitely out. Which one of the regular styles do you think would give me the most rounded, uplifted shape?

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  7. June, I agree about the shape--that's why I prefer the purple shape. As for the triangle effect, I just bend the underwires of my bras so they fit my body perfectly and that totally fixes the problem of too-wide underwires. I should post about that! I'm still irritated that the manufacturers don't do it themselves. Women are not triangular and two-dimensional...

    Eternal Voyageur, thanks! Just sent you an email.

    CurvyWordy, it's sort of hard to say with Curvy Kate. Personally I get the best shape in the Angel, but only after altering the center gore, and it's still not as good as the shape I get in Panache. But depending on what your boobs are shaped like, you might find that you get an awesome round shape in any or all of them. Have you seen the reviews on Broods Bra Blog--she does a rundown of the styles that might help. For some reason I want to suggest the Emily, as it has a bit more give so I think it can work with more body types. I would really recommend just ordering a bunch of the different styles in different sizes to see what works--you can do it on Amazon with free returns, and then get your freebies based on that.

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  8. You have, quite literally, saved my sanity. I have a suspicion that you and I were seperated at birth because I've got PRECISELY the same boob shape, but my sloth/gluttony super combo as of late has me in a 32HH (or 30J if I've gone on a workout bender, haha). With few exceptions, I get quad-boob in otherwise well-fitting bras because of the fullness on top and I absolutely prefer your ideal shape to all others.

    I was about 3 seconds away from a meltdown and ANOTHER endless string of overseas returns when I found your blog a couple of weeks ago. I never had luck cracking the code until you explained the cup construction this way. Until now, the only well-fitting bra (no quad-boob, ideal shape) I owned was a Panache Sienna (in 30J, mint green; coincidentally, the first fun color I've ever had!) and I had been desperately seeking an additional style since I needed a nude and a black option. Based on your reccommendations, I ordered a Panache Harmony (omg, so great!), a Curvy Kate Thrill Me (omg, so frilly!), and a Cleo Bonnie (my new favorite!) because I found sales on those styles.

    Thanks so much for the excellent education and reccommendations. I am truly and eternally greatful :)

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    1. :D I'm so touched! This is exactly why I started a blog--it's always been my dream to be able to help people find great bras for them! YAY!!!!!!

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  9. How is the Frances? I am ready to buy one but the only opinions I have read are from girls with an average bust size. Does the middle come up very high? The picture would say it doesn't but I know sometimes in the larger sizes, it does. Are the straps fully adjustable?

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    1. Brianna, I have the Frances in my drawer still. I can do a review with photos this weekend! I keep meaning to do one, I will use this as my inspiration to get it done!

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    2. Posted the review--Hope it helps!

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  10. I go for the green look personally also - mostly because my boobs are wide and cover a lot of my chest and into the armpit, particularly after having babies...so bras that can pull them forward and out from under my arms are good...I have had incidents with soft cup bras where the boob kind of spills to the sides and I was presenting and just trying to find a comfortable position to stand with my arms at my side was impossible.

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  11. I think you and I are similar in size. I was wondering if you could tell me what your bust measurement is. I measure 40" and wear a 28 band. I've tried the Panache Confetti in a 28HH and I think it might be a bit small in the cup for me (my boobs try to escape). I believe I'm fuller on bottom but I'm still learning about breast shape. Also, I would love to see a review of the Panache Harmony or just post a picture of the shape it gives. I searched your blog and couldn't find one. I kind of don't like getting the purple shape because it makes me look kinda flat. My problem though is that I'm on a budget and I can't find anything by Freya in a 28hh or 28j on ebay.

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    1. I also measure 40" around the bust so we're probably a similar size. I think I am going to do a post on figuring out breast shape later, as I wrote a fairly lengthy bit about it in a response to a comment and it seems worthy of a post. As for the Harmony, yes! I can post a review. The problem (and the reason I haven't done it yet) is that I am in the UK right now, and I didn't actually bring any of my Harmonies with me as my size had changed, so they are all in the US. I do have a couple photos, so I think I can put together a post about it. As a sneak preview of what I would say, the Harmony makes my boobs look much smaller compared to Freya bras. It also doesn't give as round a shape as some of Panache's very similarly constructed bras (like the Sienna). I consider it a kind of "starter" bra for people who are self-conscious about highlighting the size of their boobs. For this reason it may not be up your alley, but when I post photos it may help you get an idea of what I mean.

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  12. I think I love you! I'm constantly frustrated to read reviews about bras giving "great shape" and then trying them myself only to be confronted by the worst uncomfortable point-boob situations. But, now I see I'm just full on top like you. Makes sense now.

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you've found your shape! Hopefully some of my reviews can help you pick out styles you might like better :D

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  13. OMG! You have the very best bra blog!!! Not only because we have the same shape boobs, but because you are so knowledgable and you don't miss a thing. I wish I had found you earlier....But no worries I will continue to be a big fan. Thanks so much for sharing, I have learned so much!

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  14. Wow ! I've just realised that I tend to look for bras that give me the blue shape (it's either green or blue to me with my breasts) because I feel it looks more natural to me.
    But I can definitely see that most women go for the purple shape which is the most desirable, especially to show some cleavage.

    Very instructive.

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  15. A bra that keeps the boobs up front and center is good to wear and will never lead the shape in other way. Bras that are more tighter will cause to mislead the shape of the boobs. So, it needs proper care.

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  16. The new Cleo Alexa is excellent at giving the green shape, but unlike most Cleo bras, I found it large in the cup. My usual size - 34GG - still has room and I could probably do with either a 34G or a 32GG. It is also quite large in the back - I have worn my Alexa only twice and am already on the tightest hook. I will be trying numerous sizes on next time I visit a Bravissimo store as I LOVE the bra. And I can also confirm that despite the tight top band, this bra does NOT cut in like many others, even though I definitely have top-heavy breasts.

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  17. I like all natural (blue picture), like it would come in non-wired bras. But not _too_ pointy like in 70's style.. I don't mind though that when it looks like boobs sag a little. I am size about 30G. But I think it looks funny maybe if there are many kind of bras and your boobs look different every day..

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  18. This is just an excellent blog post. Thank you so much for sharing all of your insightful observations with the rest of us!! :)

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  19. The more I play around with my new, correct bra size(s) the more I realize I generally prefer the blue look or the green look. I'd say during my "VS days" I wanted the purple look out of my molded-cup bras, but now that I'm wearing unpadded bras I'm realizing how nice a more 'natural' look can be. I find that, honestly, my favorite look--which I like to wear under some of my more form-fitting knit-type tops--is achieved through my one Panache Tango II balconette bra. I'd like to buy another (or two!) since I find the bra itself so comfortable, besides. I will admit though that under looser shirts, the kind of retro look it gives is not as attractive; it's like my figure is overwhelmed by the material. So under those types of tops, I think I prefer a rounder kind of shape, almost the purple look. Probably, like you said, because straight-on it can give more of an hourglass shape, which isn't quite as 'lost' inside of a big shirt for me (I am very slender).

    Interesting, interesting post! :)

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  20. omg-someone who reconizes about shapimg ,because everyone thinks im crazy.every bra i try gives me a pointed shape and im at the end of my rope.ive spent so much money sending bras back, and im out of stores in and around my area and then some.i definatley like the purple shape.and im going to try out a bra or two from suggested places.noe i only hope they come in my size.ive had the same bra for over 6 years held together by 6 saftey pins with materail thats wearing thin and in some parts ready to fall off.it so stretched out it does not even correctly fit me anymore.

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  21. Great post, too bad people often don't realise that various models give various shapes - and that's how it's supposed to be. I noticed that some people tend to criticise every bra which doesn't create their desirable shape, even if the bra is perfectly ok. I think it's unfair.

    Please, please, girls - take this under account and stop criticising good bras just because they're not to your liking. The only affordable shop in my town stopped selling Panache, supposedly because of customers' complaints.:( I don't believe it's the only reason, but I think there's some truth in it, as I hear some people aren't compatible with their bras... ok, I got it - don't wear it then! I don't feel good in narrow wires but I don't go around saying narrow-wired brands suck.

    Personally, I don't like the purple shape. I think round shape is ok, but not if it flattens the top and only if it lifts the bust really high, to create a look resembling wearing a corset - it looks great with some shapes of cleavage. But for everyday use I prefer a more natural look, which for me would be something between green and blue shapes - lifted but still somewhat pointy. For me, a very natural look with almost no lift and shaping, is also ok under some clothes - if only the bra provides support and breasts don't move.

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  22. I love your blog. Stumbled across it yesterday and have spent an inordinate amount of time reading thr posts. I seem to have the exact body type as you (except that I am a 32E/F. Living in India, finding larger cup sizes is a nighmare, soit is doubly tricky for me.

    My favourite shape has always been the purple too! But I recently purchased a Wacoal Embrace Lace and it gives me the green colour. I love it! Unfortunately it does not come in smaller band sizes. But it seems to be my HG of bras so far. I get complimented on my posture all the time now- and I give the credit to the bra!

    I would be linking your blog in a post of mine, hope you don't mind!

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  26. You can know what is exactly good shape useful post

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  27. I recently got a Freya Lyla in black/red and a Curvy Kate Romance in black/cherry and I was trying to figure out why I preferred the CK in certain situations and the Freya in others. I remembered having read this post a while ago and realized that it's because I get more of the purple shape in the CK and the green shape in the Freya! Your illustrations are super helpful btws.

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  28. hi :) i love the pink illustration, but i have found it almost impossible to find a bar that will do this for me, after my favouritestest bra of all time has been discontinued (http://www.brasandunderwear.com.au/fine-lines-jessie-5-way-convertible-bras.html). would anyone have any recommendations that would match the pink illustration and the bar in the link above? i prefer unpadded bras, balconette, lace, with adjustable straps. up until a few years back i was a 34DD but have since gained a lot of weight (anti depressants) and am now a self proclaimed but not properly measured 38E. many thanks in advance to anyone who can help :)

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  29. Thank you for this post. I was hoping you could update with some newer bras that give the purple shape. That is my favorite shape and I feel I get this best in the Fantasie Rebecca. I love the side boob as June states, this gives a good hourglass shape. I feel that it evens me out. I dislike Cleo as I feel it puts everything way up front kinda like the EM ch's & chp's however I do like the EM bras a lot better than Cleo. I also love EM's PL style. I am out of the thrill me/tease me range. I am hoping CK improves their cups depths when their new bras are released. Maybe these will give the purple shape. Any suggestions on bras that give the purple shape but also provide cleavage and can be worn with low cup tops? I usually have to wear the Freya Deco or EM PL to acheive this look. I may order the new Bravissimo Demi Diva. Thank you for this post!!!!

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  30. Thank you for this post. I was hoping you could update with some newer bras that give the purple shape. That is my favorite shape and I feel I get this best in the Fantasie Rebecca. I love the side boob as June states, this gives a good hourglass shape. I feel that it evens me out. I dislike Cleo as I feel it puts everything way up front kinda like the EM ch's & chp's however I do like the EM bras a lot better than Cleo. I also love EM's PL style. I am out of the thrill me/tease me range. I am hoping CK improves their cups depths when their new bras are released. Maybe these will give the purple shape. Any suggestions on bras that give the purple shape but also provide cleavage and can be worn with low cup tops? I usually have to wear the Freya Deco or EM PL to acheive this look. I may order the new Bravissimo Demi Diva. Thank you for this post!!!!

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  31. The 30H Cleo Lucy on my FoB breasts, at least when first put on, is very round. Like Tease Me round without the slight flattening. But, it's a typical unpadded balconette on me, straps must be very short and cup size up. I'm still sorting out Cleo, I'm either a 30GG or 32G in padded styles.

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  32. I wrote this last night on another post, but it seems that blogspot ate it. So... here goes another try. LOL

    I just wanted to say that I think that your blog should be required reading for all women. I have learned more about the shape and size of my breasts in two days of reading your blog and looking at a website that sells bras in real sizes than I did in the entire 25 years or so that I've owned the darn things. I'm currently trying to lose weight, so my size is in constant flux, but as of my last set of measurements about a month ago I measured at 37 chest 45 bust which I believe would make me a 38FF? Or am I still doing this wrong? I'm currently wearing a 38DD, which despite the fact that it SHOULD be painfully small, the one I have almost seems too big - except for the fact that while the bottom of the band mostly fits (it's a bit stretched out, now), the entire rest of the center of the bra is kind of floating in space. I don't think I ever realized it wasn't supposed to look like that. It's a full cup, soft cup bra, I have no idea if that makes a difference in how the thing is supposed to look or fit, I don't think I've ever owned a truly properly fitting bra in my entire life. I'm somewhat full on top, ridiculously full on the sides, and saggy. My boobs pretty much point due south when left to their own devices. Except not really. I'm also VERY wideset - I can actually fit my entire fist between them, and they kind of point out to the sides. I rarely wear underwires because they actually give me no support whatsoever. My boobs push them down until they're resting about half an inch below the bottom of my boob, and I have a tendency to fall out of the bottom in them. I do much better with a soft cup with a decently wide band that won't move on me. The only underwire I've ever worn that actually gave me real support was a longline and so it had several inches of band underneath the wire that was providing the real support. Is this simply a sizing issue, or could there be something else going on with me? I have always had that problem, even in high school. I also can't wear molded cup bras, because they don't mold me at all. And since my boobs are rather conical in shape, somehow this results in a HUGE gap at the top of the bra - despite me actually being full on top. Also, while I'm full on top, I'm firmer on bottom. I wonder if that could have something to do with the odd issues I have, where they almost seem to act more like full on bottom shapes? Oddly enough, while molded cup bras do nothing to shape me, I have worn other bras that can give me something of a purple shape, so I don't pretend to understand. Basically, my boobs are weird and I hate them.

    I am voraciously reading your blog to try to get an idea of what I should be looking for once I a) have money, and b) will be buying a bra that will fit for more than a month or two.

    Sorry this is so long and rambly, and TMI - I was just very excited to find this blog and start figuring out why NOTHING seems to fit me, properly.

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  33. I'm happiest with the blue look -- I wouldn't want any less uplift than is shown in the illustration, but that's about the best shape for my full-on-top, very soft breasts (which lie flat against my ribcage when I'm not wearing a bra -- I'm a 42HH, in terms of finding bras that are comfortable and don't cut me up.)

    I really love plunge-front molded-cup bras and feel attractive and sexy in them (my shape is a little closer to the pink shape in that style, and I have dramatic cleavage), but recent health issues (I'm wearing a back brace) have required me to seek out some non-underwire bras -- and I can't find my much-loved plunge bras in my current size.

    My current bras, which all fit reasonably well, are these:

    Chantelle: Rive Gauche 3-Part Cup Bra (I'm closest to "pink" shape in this)

    Goddess: 3-Part Cup Lace Bra

    Le Mystère: Dream Tisha Lace Bra

    Rose 3-Part Cup Wire-Free Bra

    And the one I'm wearing day-to-day (which does give me the "blue" shape, with a little bit less uplift, but it's the most comfortable of my bras and the front closure is easier to deal with when I'm having problems with my back/shoulder.)

    Hope this is helpful!

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  34. I'm happiest with the blue look -- I wouldn't want any less uplift than is shown in the illustration, but that's about the best shape for my full-on-top, very soft breasts (which lie flat against my ribcage when I'm not wearing a bra -- I'm a 42HH, in terms of finding bras that are comfortable and don't cut me up.)

    I really love plunge-front molded-cup bras and feel attractive and sexy in them (my shape is a little closer to the pink shape in that style, and I have dramatic cleavage), but recent health issues (I'm wearing a back brace) have required me to seek out some non-underwire bras -- and I can't find my much-loved plunge bras in my current size.

    My current bras, which all fit reasonably well, are these:

    Chantelle: Rive Gauche 3-Part Cup Bra (I'm closest to "pink" shape in this)

    Goddess: 3-Part Cup Lace Bra

    Le Mystère: Dream Tisha Lace Bra

    Rose 3-Part Cup Wire-Free Bra

    And the one I'm wearing day-to-day (which does give me the "blue" shape, with a little bit less uplift, but it's the most comfortable of my bras and the front closure is easier to deal with when I'm having problems with my back/shoulder.)

    Hope this is helpful!

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