This is the image I used in my original post. It shows what full on top versus full on bottom boobs tend to look like without a bra.
However, I did not talk about breast volume/elasticity in that post, nor did I talk about nipple placement. So let's fill in the gaps.
First off, here's a helpful method to determine your own shape. Take off your bra, stand in front of a mirror, and bend over at a 90 degree angle so that the top of your back is straight. Your breast will hang down and assume its natural shape without gravity confusing things. Wherever your nipple falls is the tip or apex of your breast (even if it doesn't lie where you might think the apex would be). In this position, you will be able to tell more easily if you have more tissue above the apex/nipple (towards your head) or below the apex/nipple (towards your stomach).
Full-on-top boobs will look something like this:
Full-on-the-bottom boobs will look more like this:
Note that not everyone has one shape or the other. If you have a balanced amount of tissue on either side, then you do not have either of these shapes, but rather you have breasts that are balanced--either full all over, or less full all over.
Another confusing factor I would like to address is breast volume or "perkiness"/"sagginess", which are factors that tend to change over a woman's lifetime. Most of us have more overall volume in the breast and are more "perky" when we are young, and as we age, we lose volume and skin elasticity and become more "saggy" (which is a horrible word, hence why I'm putting it in quotes). The relative perkiness of one's breasts, or lack thereof, does NOT alter the shape you have. I've seen a lot of people confusing "full on top" with "perky, young boobs." In fact, full-on-top boobs can be either perky or not-perky, and full-on-the-bottom boobs can likewise be either perky or not-perky. Your breasts will look different as you age, but the basic shape itself will typically not change.
Here is what breasts with upper fullness (full on top) versus lower fullness (full on the bottom) look like after loss of elasticity has occurred.
Note that I used the same breast shape in this drawing for both breast types. It is only the nipple placement--the natural apex--that is different. And that placement of the apex will affect what sort of bras suit each breast type.
So let's revisit my original image. Here are the two types with the nipple placement I had imagined:
The reverse also holds true. When using the original "upper fullness" image, a simple change in nipple placement alters it to depict a breast with LOWER fullness. This is why the image in my original post was really not much use to dispel confusion.
Finally, I want to clarify that these two different breast shapes do not necessarily look different when they are in a well-fitting bra. When you are wearing a bra that gives support, uplift, and shape, your boobs should be supported all over regardless of where the tissue is in relation to the apex.
Here is what the two different types might look like in a well-fitted bra. I've chosen a round shape at random, but this will likely be the case with most shapes you can get in a bra. I've marked where the apex/nipple lies in relation to the center of the breast on the body.
Full on the bottom:
Full on top:
For example, bras that have a tight upper section (like Bravissimo's Alana and similar balconettes, or Freya's Arabella) do not work for full-on-top boobs. They will fit like this:
These bras are built for full-on-the-bottom boobs. Therefore, they have a longer arc in the bottom to the place where the apex of that breast type would fall, so breasts without lower fullness will not fill this area. Then the top section curves in too steeply to accommodate upper fullness. Sizing up will not fix these issues--it is the construction that is incompatible.
On the other hand, bras that are very loose in the top section (like the Cleo Chloe, Marcie, or Alexa) will gape on full-on-the-bottom boobs.
These bras have space to allow for a lot of upper fullness, so boobs that don't have volume there won't be able to full it. Sizing down can help, but it's not a perfect solution because then you will lose the room and space that you need at the bottom of the cup.
That's all for now, folks. I hope this has helped clear up some of the confusion regarding different breast types. It can definitely be complicated to figure out, but there are a lot of clues that can help along the way.
I love these posts! This one defiitely cleared things up for me.ReplyDelete
As an aside, I tended to associate perkiness with high nipple looking upwards and thus with full on bottom boobs.
Same with me, actually! I never understood why people used "full on top" as a synonym for "perky" when it feels like the opposite to me...Delete
I just learned a few new things about FOT and FOB that I didn't know before! :DDelete
Now I think that my "saggy" boobs are full on the top, so many bras in correct size are cutting into top of my breasts - Miss Mandalay or unpadded Curvy Kate. Great post!ReplyDelete
That was kinda my relevation too. Not this exact post, but others were she talks about problems she had had with bras, being full on top. I thought it weird that my very saggy boobs (I can hold a bottle of water in place with my boobs) could be full on top, because, all the tissue is on the botton, since, well, they're hanging!Delete
But then I started thinking how they lie in a bra, and when I lifted and pushed in, my boobs were actually pretty round, and seemed convex, like in full on top. And on top of that, I fitted better in bras that were considered "full on top" than full on bottom.
Do you think boobs that are full on top tend to fit better in bras with wide wires instead of narrow? The Cleo Alexa, Zia & Lucy bras fit me PERFECTLY in 32J while the Freya Antoinette in the same size leaves me with space at the bottom of the cup & the center gore is an inch away from laying flat on my chest. Awesome post! This clears up the full on top/full on bottom question for me, now I'm wondering how the width of the wires relates to fullness or even if it relates at all.ReplyDelete
Ooh, interesting question, will be interesting to see the answer, because I'm full-on-top and fit better into wider wires too.Delete
I think wide wires tend to work best for those without much "depth" or projection to their boobs, which can happen which either shape. Wide underwires spread the cup out more but tend not to have as much depth as bras with narrow underwires like Ewa Michalak.Delete
Maybe another post is in order discussing depth and projection!
Yes, please! That would be most excellent!Delete
im young and i hate my breasts. im getting surgery when im older. mine are completely.sorry for using the word but they are indeed SAGGY. i hate them. so saying they are perky when you and saggy when older. grest. they will just get worse for me.Delete
Thanks! Now I know for sure that I'm full on top! :-)ReplyDelete
Love your graphics. Wonderful color contrast!ReplyDelete
Thank you for this informative post, but I'm wondering something - do you think it would be possible to add drawings for full on both?ReplyDelete
I'm pretty sure that's what I am, as I seem to be in-between on every drawing - which would explain the fact that I have some of the same issues for both types (i.e. some bras are too shallow for the bottom like full-on-bottom while others cut across the top like full-on-top).
For a while, I thought I was full-on-top because of the cutting and the fact that full cup bras don't fit right no matter the size. Then, I started having issues with shallow bras, which full-on-top do not seem to have (not saying they don't), so I started thinking I was full-on-bottom. Now, I think I'm both (or "balanced").
Thanks for helping clarify some of this - it does explain why some bras that fit either full-on-top or full-on-bottom don't always work for me.
This is also pretty much where I'm at, and I think it's because my fullness is pretty balanced (at least in terms of flesh), but I'm firmer on top and towards the center/cleavage than on the bottom or towards the sides/armpits.Delete
I'm also balanced, neither full on top nor full on bottom. This makes a lot of sense, as I seemed to have issues associated with different types of breast fullness in different bras!Delete
So glad I'm not the only one who feels in-between or both! I've recently shortened the bands on a couple of otherwise well fitting bras and now they suddenly gape on top?Delete
Not wanting to buy any new ones just yet as I'm releasing weight and with summer heat just around the corner (which makes them swell a cupsize).
I do find these posts both enlightning and entertaining <3
Oh my good, I love your blog! So informative, you tell a lot of things I wouldn't find from anywhere else! I've allways "suffered" from big breasts, and your blog has helped me to deal with them, it's unbelievable how much it matters to wear a good fitting bra!ReplyDelete
I've thought for a long time that I'm full-on-the-bottom, but now I realized that I'm full-on-the-top, it's just that all the breast tissue happens to be so low, thanks to my bad, bad genes, I got saggy boobs only in the age of 24...:/ Now it makes so much more sense!:)
This was the most thorough blog post I've ever seen about the issue. I've got very confused on Bratabase where people suddenly called having upper firmness for "full on top".ReplyDelete
I have semi soft and shallow boobs and therefore my boobs can look full on bottom in a bra. But it's because the base for my boobs is far larger than my depth or "projection". So wrongly fitted bras makes me look what I'm not.
My boobs when I was younger pointed down and kind of "inwards".
I almost have the same problem!Delete
only mines point outwards; thi indeed has beena revealing post!
I know this blog post is really old but it's a really valuable one. I've just discovered with the info posted here that I also am more balanced, I have fullness in both upper and lower and my apex is neither pointing up or down. I still struggle to find styles that will fit though since I'm a larger size- 36GG. And I have looser flesh now than I used to.Delete
This and your other posts on shape have really changed my approach to bras and bra buying - I now buy well-fitting, comfortable and great shaped bras because I know I am full on top! Thank youReplyDelete
Is is possible to have one great full on top while the other is full on bottom? Pretty sure thats what I have going on...ReplyDelete
Fascinating--I never thought of that, but I don't see any reason why that wouldn't occur. Most of us have boobs that are two different sizes, so I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that plenty of people have two different shapes as well.Delete
Fangirling because you replied to me. Thanks very much for your input, kinda thought I was crazy :/Delete
This is amazing! I just discovered ABraThatFits on reddit and have been trying to find the right bra for myself- I was totally convinved I had full on top boobs because I tend to get very slight quadboobage in the more full coverage bras, but after reading this and bending over in front of a mirror....it would appear that I am more full on bottom. CRAZY!ReplyDelete
I, too, come from reddit. Just saying hello, i think ABTF lead me here as well :)Delete
"Me too" :)Delete
Thank you so much for this post!! I have had such trouble tying to define what my shape actually is.. This post makes it so much clearer! Now I realize that I am neither full on top or full on bottom, I am very much full or even all over!.. I have had such trouble trying to work out which I fit with, but looking at this post it makes it very clear to me- I have equal amount both top and bottom, and thats perhaps why I am having alot of trouble working out bras that fit properly. Now to work out if I am shallow or deep, lol.. Is it possibly to be full all over and be shallow? As I think I may be this.ReplyDelete
*trying to define(not tying, lol)ReplyDelete
Thank you so much - your posts have helped me to find bras that fit, support and flatter me. Since I started reading your blog I have worn all the bras I have bought and not had to get rid of them - you have saved me money, too!ReplyDelete
This is very useful, and the pictures are really clear, however, I still can't decide what my shape is.ReplyDelete
Oh so very helpful. This really does clarify it, I'd never thought about bending over!ReplyDelete
I was always torn between what I was and decided I was full all over but high-busted. Yeah, bend-over test is so so full on top. So much so that the underside feels hollowed. That would explain why the moment a bra starts getting a little small in the cup I'm no longer able to fill out the bottom of the cup and start getting quad boob (the bottom happens well before the quadboob). It also explains why I crease the hell out of all my molded cup bras.
"bras that are very loose in the top section (like the Cleo Chloe, Marcie, or Alexa) will gape on full-on-the-bottom boobs"ReplyDelete
Aha! That explains a lot. I live hours by plane from a decent bra shop, so I buy all of my bras (36E) by mail, and I've found the situation you mention a few times. Scooping definitely helps. But now I have a better idea of what to look for, though some bras are just so darn pretty...
My husband did wonder what I was doing after my shower, bending over and then checking the laptop -- thanks for all your wonderful posts and advice!
Thank you so much for this informative post! I've struggled many years with bras. Here in continental Europe, stores generally start from size 70 and up (UK 32). Even the better lingerie shops only stock a few 65s (30). I've done my own research and thank God for the British brands! I've bought many on eBay and returned many as well, and pretty much settled on Freya and Cleo, in the "general" size 30FF.ReplyDelete
I still haven't figured out if I'm full on bottom or top. I've gone through 2 pregnancies and a total of 5 years of breastfeeding. Breasts are quite long but still feel full, albeit soft. When I bend over, nipples are smack in the middle. They are very close set. Does that mean I'm full all around? Bra-wise, I've found the Freya Tara/Beau style fits me really well in 30FF, the Cleo Lucy 30FF I can't seem to fill all the way on the top, and the Cleo Zia in 30FF fits me really well in the cups, though the band just felt very tight when I first put it on. I've read the Freya plunges are good for full on bottoms, while the Cleo Zia and the likes work well with ful on tops?
About the bands... I measure just about 30 inches around, but sometimes Freya bras feel very loose towards the end of the day. Does that mean I should size down in band with the Freya's? The Cleo's feel snug.
Anyways, thanks and I love your blog posts. Keep them coming!
Until I saw your earlier post on breast shape, I had the most enormous trouble with bras. When I finally understood that I was full on top, I marched off to bravissimo for a fitting. Turns out I was in the right size, but the wrong shaped bras.ReplyDelete
Here, what I've discovered is different to your advice. I am definitely full on top. 100%, absolutely, no two ways about it. But the only bra that actually fits and gives great shape with no quad boob? The bravissimo Alana, 1 size bigger.
In my normal 30GG, the wire is fine, but when I adjusted myself into the cup, I had massive quad boob and a bit of a wrinkle. My fitter told me that it's not important where the nipple sits in the cup (I'd always adjusted myself so the nipple was centred, in the seam), so she put my in 30H (the wire goes a loooong way around my side towards my back, but it's not uncomfortable)and told me to let my breasts settle naturally into the cup, without adjustment.
The result is that my nipple is quite low in the cup, but the bit of the top of the cup that cuts in does so ABOVE my breast, so I'm completely supported with a rounded shape. It's fab.
Many women would recoil in horror because there's a lot of bra and it's as far from a plunge as you can possibly get, but I simply can't wear a plunge.
Now if only the Alana had softer, less scratchy material...
Very interesting & amazing blogReplyDelete
Thanks for clarifying this, I now know I'm full on bottom :)ReplyDelete
I have always had a lot of trouble figuring out what my shape is. I seem to have the slope on the top of my breast which suggests full on bottom, but my nipple placement suggests full on top. I can't quite fill the top of bras which are designed for full on top, but I have the same problems that you do with bras which are full on the bottom.ReplyDelete
So I tried your guide last night. My nipple placement looks like the lower fullness picture, but I have a pronounced indentation on the bottom side of my breast like the full on top picture (but more extreme). This is consistent with how my breasts go when I lie on my back: somewhat to the sides, but even more toward my neck.
I'm still confused, but I appreciate your efforts to clarify how these things work. I would love it if there were some things I could just measure and then do some calculations to finally get an answer. My breasts seem to exceed my ability to subjectively classify them.
Great post! Thanks so much. I wasn't sure exactly how to describe my breasts, but your awesome diagrams (which I love, by the way) confirmed for me that I am indeed a full on top breast shape. This was extremely helpful, this single post summed up everything I needed to know but had yet to find on several other sources. Thank you!ReplyDelete
This confirms what I thought; I'm full on bottom. This really alleviates my feelings of inadequacy while wearing my Deco bras. They fit great when I first put them on and keep my shoulders back, but with slouching throughout the day I get gapping and worry that I'm fooling myself into thinking I need a bigger cup than I do.ReplyDelete
Time to start searching for balconettes.
If you are full on top, what is a good bra type to buy from brastop.com?ReplyDelete
This is the most informative post I might have ever read.. thank you so much! I always thought mine were odd and the only ones like that, typical teen ha. Thanks again! xReplyDelete
Thanks for the breast positivity and the expanded vocabulary--i feel a lot better thinking of myself as "full on top" instead of "saggy by 21"ReplyDelete
So many questions being answered. It all makes sense. My full on the bottom boobs and my two favourite bras happening to be balconettes!ReplyDelete
Thank you for this! So I currently wear size 28F or FF bras, mostly Panache/Cleo. My breasts are somewhat widely spaced, and I always thought full on the bottom with less projection. I assumed that's why Panache cups seem to fit better than Freya for instance. Plus I do get some gaping at the top of cups that may fit at the bottom though not a ton in Panache styles. for instance Panache Maddie fits me well with minimal gaping which I think is mostly due to the fact that my narrow shoulders dont perfectly accomodate the wide strap placement. I do tend to get more gaping in Freya styles. Deco and two recent unpadded, multi-part cup styles were major fails with not enough width at the base of the cups (narrow underwires that I also found too short on the sides) and excess space in the cups themselves. But I just did the bending over test, and I think my breasts my be more balanced. Now that I think about it, in some seamless cup styles or plunge bras, I get some empty space at the bottom of the cups. My breasts are also wide set so I'm always trying to bring them center because they naturally splay to the sides a bit despite being fairly firm. Any style suggestions? I just ordered the Andorra and find it fits really well and is very comfortable. The side support panels are surprisingly effective, I fill out the cups, and there's no gaping.ReplyDelete
This blog is amazing and has me rethinking my bra selection! This post has me questioning my breast shape too! I have fairly firm breasts that, though not huge, fit a fairly large cup size, and are wide set on a very narrow rib cage. I typically wear a 28F or 28FF. I always thought I was full on bottom. I find Panache and Cleo bras with a wider, taller underwire and cups shallower than Freya's for instance fit me pretty well. I get major gaping and puckering with Freya bras. I do get some gaping with Panache styles like the Maddie. But it's pretty minimal, and the more I think about it, the more I suspect it's actually due to the slightly-off placement of the wide set straps on my narrow shoulders (I have to pull them in a bit so they don't slide off the tips of my shoulders. This creates a little gaping because the cups aren't lying completely flat when I pull the straps closer in on my shoulders). So now I'm wondering if I may be more "balanced" than I thought. I did the bending over test, and bending over I've got a full on top profile. Plus, I do get some emptiness at the bottom of bra cups in seamless and plunge styles. Any suggestions for bra styles for my shape? Thank you again!!!ReplyDelete
This was super helpful! This is the first time in my life that'd I've gotten myself properly fitted (after a breast reduction and currently nursing) and my "starting size" appears to be a 34FF. I ordered the Freya 'Patsy' long-line bra because I fell in LOVE with it! But it had a slight gape at the top of the cups and exposed some nipple. I was confused because the band, gore, straps, everything else fit perfectly. This post has made it clear that I have full-bottom boobs and the size is right, but the style is not :( Sooo sad, but I will have to fall in love with a different bra.ReplyDelete
I'M SO CONFUSED!!!!! I checked and i think i'm full on the top BUT my current bra gapps on the top which is supposed to be a full on the bottom issue. but i think it just might be that my bra is to big its a victorias secret plunge 34A, the bra size calculator says i'm a US 28 DDD, i want to get a new bra but as i have to order it i need to know if i should get a bra for full on the bottom or full on the top ahhhh help!!!ReplyDelete
Any thoughts on...center-heavy breasts? I'm neither top nor bottom heavy when leaning over, but nipples are definitely pointing away from each other, toward the sides, as if there's less skin on the outside of each. I do best in "frowning" center seams like the Tango or Ariza, rather than in a swooping-to-the-strap seam like Curvy Kates tend to have. The swoop seam lets all my tissue mass toward the less-restrictive decorative upper panel, therefore toward the middle, and my nipple placement is shoved even further outside the most projecting part of the breast...a very odd look. Any other advice for fitting this shape?ReplyDelete
Late to comment but just want to thank you for all the work you put into this blog and on this post in particular. I have been fitted for bras many many times but no one has ever explained to me why one style bags or bulges and another doesn't. It's just 'oh styles vary'. Now at last i have some structure to my hunt for the best bra for me, rather than thrashing about in the wilderness, occasionally hitting on a good bra for my shape but not knowing precisely why it works. So thereby not being able to repeat the success.ReplyDelete
30 years since i sprouted boobs at age 13, having fed my babies cumulatively for 5 years in all, I feel that my mammaries thoroughly deserve some serious TLC and at last I can get to grips with the mystery of what suits them and why. My boobs may be a bit saggy these days but they are mine and merit cherishing and cosseting.
Many many thanks for your writing.
This makes so much sense. o_o I can never get my bras to look like the fit models', and I sometimes have a little gap room on top. Now I realize that it's just how my breasts are shaped.ReplyDelete
Anonymous, saggy breasts can be beautiful too. I think of myself as beautiful and unfortunately so did the man who sexually assaulted me. I've always had "saggy" breasts. In short, who cares? No one.ReplyDelete
I don't really buy these categories. I think full on top exists, but I don't really think full on bottom does. Maybe it does when you're standing, but not leaning over. Breasts will be centered if you lean over unless you gain weight on your chest, then they will be fuller on top. I think if people who are full on top experience weight loss, they will go back to being centered, I mean neither one or the other when bending over 90 degrees.ReplyDelete
I think if you gain enough adipose and not breast tissue on the breasts (subcutaneous) and chest, because of gravity the heaviest widest part of the breast (which ends before the nipple) can be pulled into a lower position permanently. But that doesn't mean bras should be worn that support this position. If anything, balconettes and companies like Bravissimo should be favored.ReplyDelete
And people whose nipples sit higher and whose breasts have the most obviously bottom heavy look when standing, are often found D cup and below, whether or not they are full figured. This is because their roots are larger relative to the depth of their breasts as breasts grow first wide then out/long/deep.
In addition to the last comment...those who look bottom heavy when standing are often not when they bending down though (still generally smaller cupped at any figure size).ReplyDelete
I swear, you are an angel from heaven. I never realized I had "full on top" breasts because they are not super high/perky, but they look exactly like the breasts in your seventh drawing. The lean-over test and checking my nipple placement confirmed it. Now I know why my breasts fall out the top so much! I can join you in your hatred of certain (a LOT) of bras, and I can trust your recs for better ones! Seriously, so happy right now. Thank you a thousand times over.ReplyDelete
I measured myself the other night and I usually wear 10A as I always considered myself to be very small however 10A was always atad small but 10B was too big. The calculator is measuring me at a US28DD!!! I cannot find this size anywhere for me to go and try (I'm in NZ) :(ReplyDelete
My boobs have actually gotten perkier as I've gotten older because I've started running. I'm in my late 20's. My boobs also change shape drastically throughout the month, looking huge around menuastration and perky and even small on the far week. I've also found that wearing sports bra's with wires is really saving my back and my breasts, and honestly I prefer the way my chest looks. I've found a championship bra with wires that is my favorite. It makes my 34D's look like C's or even B's. I know running makes some women lose their breasts but this has not been the case for me.ReplyDelete
I'm curious whether there are any Panache or Cleo bras that work for full on bottom? I've read that bras shaped like a "v" on top often work well for this, and I've generally found this to be true. It's very hard for me to find bras that are deep enough in the bottom and shallow enough on top, and I rarely find bras with a center gore that lies flat. In general, I find that Chantelle, Wacoal and sometimes Elomi are the safest brands for me. Fayreform and Evollove also fit fairly well, but Fayreform doesn't give me enough support.ReplyDelete
I bought a Panache Andorra online, and the cups were about two sizes too small. For some reason, I can wear the H cups in Chantelle and Wacoal, but I can't wear any of the equivalent FF cups I've found in any UK bras -- I need at least a G or GG to fit on the bottom. Smaller sizes, even when they look better and have less gaping on top, cause tremendous shoulder and back pain. And there's almost always gaping on top.
I've never tried Freya, but they look too...round on top for me. I need a taller center gore than I see on most of time. But they seem to specialize in plunge bras, and plunge bras can be...difficult for me.
I recently got my first Chantelle, and it fits better than anything I've ever tried before. It's just... I'd like to be able to have some bras that cost less than $100.
The Le Mystere Dream Tisha, despite not being a great fit, is one of the more comfortable bras I've had. Even though the H cup is too small on my left side and the center gore sticks out an inch or two, it causes a lot less pain than most of my bras. I have lupus, btw. I'm not sure if the pain would be as big of an issue for me if I didn't already have chronic pain, but seriously... There's almost no bra out there that doesn't cause at least some pain, and I'm finding that it's better to have some gaping on top than a cup that just barely fits. And my left side is at least a cup size larger than the right, so it's just... I'm beginning to think I'm never going to find a perfect fit unless I start buying custom bras.
I just found this and hopefully it will change my life!! I'm a busty petite who has dealt with my breasts not looking good in bras as well as being uncomfortable all day. The space at the top I always blamed on the bra size but now I think its mostly because im a full on bottom! I plan on going to Nordstrom and finding a bra to fit the shape, not just size. More people need to know about thisReplyDelete
This post is so enlightening! I would have associated full on top with 'perky', which my breasts are not. But have read this I totally am full on top, now I know which shape I am I can make use of your recommendations. So glad I read this before I just ordered a load of bras to try (came across you site looking for info on how different brands fit) Thank you so much!ReplyDelete
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Thanks ! It was very helpful.ReplyDelete
Very useful information about woman. Thanks for sharing.ReplyDelete
One of mine is full on top but the other one is full on bottom, anyone else have this? Any bras you suggest?ReplyDelete
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