Sunday 22 September 2013

Why Do Full-On-Top Boobs Look Pointy in Full-Cup Bras?

One of the most irksome aspects of the HerRoom bra shape quiz kerfuffle was their suggestion that full-on-top breast shapes would be suited to full cup bras. I've constantly asserted since starting my blog that that's not the case. But I never really explained WHY NOT, and I want to provide some visuals so people who are frustrated by this problem can grasp the central issue.

By now, you may be familiar with my "bra seam structure graphic".

The full-cup bra seam structure shown in the diagram isn't good at shaping boobs. But despite this, lots of people get a nice shape in full-cup bras and really like them. But others (hint: full-on-top ladies) tend to get a really pointy shape, and hate these bras. What's the secret behind this?

To start with, let's look at the sort of photos I usually DON'T post to this blog: my own full-on-top boobs looking really sad in a full-cup bra.

From the front, the Panache Loretta in a 30H fits well:

But from the side, you see the truth.

(Seeing this photo and keeping in mind the hefty percentage of bras that are made with this construction,   you might begin to realize why I named my blog "Bras I Hate.")

Now, in the first stages of putting this bra on and swooping/scooping, it appears to mostly fit but not suit my shape. But a few minutes of jiggling around make the problems worse...

And worse...

I know what you're thinking--you need a bigger size! In a way, yes, but largely no. Sizing up in this sort of bra WILL eliminate the bulging, but it will make the shape even worse and will create more and more extra space in the apex of the cup. Clearly this isn't a bra structure compatible with my shape. The problem? Full-cup bras provide a lot of support in the top section without enough openness. This tends to have a 'squashing' effect on those who have lots of tissue there. Combined with the lack of lift from the bottom, the shape is very downward-facing and pointy.

Why is it, though, that ladies with full-on-the-bottom boobs can still often get a nice shape in this sort of bra even though there isn't much lift from the bottom? Let's examine some graphics.

Here's what happens to full-on-top boobs in a full-cup bra.

The large amount of tissue that needs to sit outside the bra forms a really steep slope that, combined with the way the bra lies, creates this shape that most of us don't desire.

Here's what happens to boobs with lower fullness:

The gentler slope at the top of the boobs meshes well with the intended line of the bra's profile, and the result is a perky 'green shape'.

I hope this is enlightening to anyone who wonders why full-cup bras work or don't work on their shape. For those who don't like full-cup bras, don't worry, there's hope--balconettes and half-cups.


  1. oh my gosh, this is exactly how my tango fits me >.>. I guess if I ever had doubts as to me being full on top, this post clears it up.

    as always, your diagrams are really helpful in understanding breast shapes.

    Question though, do you know what accounts for the empty space at the bottom of the bra? as I mentioned before, this is how the Tango fits, with the additional empty space at the bottom, in fact my andorra and jasmine fits that way also - other than the empty space they're wonderful bras.

    1. Empty space at the bottom is a tough one because it can happen for a lot of very different reasons. One possibility is that the bra is allowing more space in that area, but you don't have the tissue to fill it. That happens to me in some bras because I don't have much lower volume. This is what we saw in my photo of Tutti Rouge's Birds of a Feather.

      Another reason that can happen, on the other hand, is a bra that doesn't have ENOUGH space in the bottom. When this happens, the breast tissue can't sit at that extreme angle, especially if there is a lot of tissue there. So instead, the breast forces the bra down so that it can fill the bra where there is more volume, and the overly sharp upward angle at the bottom sits flat against the chest--it essentially becomes part of the band. This is the sort of thing you see happening in the Curvy Kate Elegance or Tempt Me.

      A third possibility is that a bra is sitting too low--either because it's not being worn in the optimal position, or because the wearer's breast shape necessitates this or pushes it there. This will cause the same phenomenon you see in the Tempt Me/Elegance but it can happen even in bras that don't have that absurdly sharp angle in the bottom of the cup.

      The empty space doesn't necessarily mean a bra is a bad fit, even though it's not ideal. I would mostly worry if it is affecting the shape you'd like to get or causing discomfort.

      I think this is an interesting question and I'll try to work out a post on it for the future.

  2. I think this is just too much generalization. A "full cup" can be cut a lot of different ways. And as for the reasons a bra might look pointy, well, there are a lot of those too.

    Loretta is clearly full on bottom, tight on top, and also pointy in construction. It looks pointy on everyone.

    1. It's true that lots of bras are called full-cups when they aren't, but the way I'm defining full-cup is based on the seam structure in my diagram. I'm only referring to bras with that construction.

      There definitely are many reasons that bras can look pointy--in this post I've covering just one of those possibilities. I would like to cover other reasons in the future.

      I don't have much experience with the Loretta, so perhaps you're right that it's just a bad egg. I can say with certainty, though, that pretty much all full-cup bras look like this on me (give or take a bit). Some are better, some are worse, but I always experience this phenomenon.

  3. This explains an important part of the pointy profile problem, I think. I sense another one of your posts is destined for the side bar! :)

  4. I disagree that you are 'generalizing'; on the contrary, you were very specific in addressing a concisely defined issue. Love your graphic, as always, & this is exactly the phenomena I see with full cup bras myself. One seam shape I don't see anyone that worked well for my FOT's was the 2 part cup with a very diagonal seam, but placed higher along the cup that the oddly low Tango seam. I got a very round shape with that, but less pushed up than 3 part cup as it allows my upper breast to sit above in its natural position.

  5. I'm FoB, but full cup with or without side support look vile on me. Granted, I prefer the vertical seam round look, but full cups are ugly. Pointy worse than your example, pokey underwires and major wrinkles and gaps up top because I don't have enough to fill the cup size I have to go to for not being too small. I'm a 32G-GG in Freya, but Panache full cup was way too small in a 34GG but I had terrible gapping at top. Does anyone actually look good in full cup styles?

    1. I also get a really pointy look in many full cup bras and am quite FoB. It may be because I have pretty shallow breasts? Could this be a related problem?

    2. Yes, definitely! If you think of it in terms of the diagram, it could certainly be the case that your curve is too severe in the other direction (because, with shallow boobs, it will be starting from a shallower apex). In general, one of the biggest causes of a pointy look in a bra is too much space (=not enough holding in and shaping) at the apex of the bra. The full-cup seam construction is notorious for this, and that's an issue that can span different breast shapes. I'll try to include all this in a follow-up post about other reasons for pointiness.

    3. What exactly is shallow? Lack of projection? I know CK runs shallow and I'm all over on size as such, but Tease Me/Thrill Me did fit perfectly in 32HH and I'm normally a 32G/GG so not the huge jumps FoB typically needs there.

      However, I admit. I do not like the green shape on me. I look stupid then. Purple shape or even flattened purple looks perfect. Flattened front purple is fine since I still have the round upper to drape from, so the flat doesn't show. Plus, if I'm fitting in small areas for work, wrangling the ladies in and compact wins over how I look. I don't like fixing gas lines and trying to keep everyone in place and perky. Down girls, down.

  6. I know this horrid shape all too well. I think I am full all around but definitely full on top. Even worse than this dreaded shape is square. Vertical seam half cups tend to do that to me. I keep trying to find one that works but they never do. They push me up so there is a nice round shape on top but the bra squishes the front of my boobs flat. It's the most unnatural shape ever created.

  7. I loved this post because it does highlight some of the issues with full on top breasts, but women with even fullness can experience this too. One of the reasons I decided to let Loretta go was because I felt like I was getting the cut in at the top too much, especially as the day went along. Great explanation of why full on top breasts have these issues!

  8. Lady, I just now came across this but dang, you've done it again. Absolutely belongs in ABTF sidebar guides.

  9. Oh my gosh was this why my bras didnt fit me well even though I was wearing thd size that the measuring tape said. Sadly I live in Korea so I am lucky to even find my size and its almost impossible to encounter the right style for me. But when I become an adult(I am only 16 now) I hope I will be able to travel abroad and get bras that are both in the right size AND style. Still, its good to know that bras that will actullay fit me right exist somewhere. Thanks a lot. Hopefully in about a year and a half from now on I will actually be able to own some.

  10. Hmm, I have had this issue in some bras but in others I don't really think I get a pointy shape, so I'm not sure if this is generalizing or not. And I'm FoT if there ever was one, sometimes I wonder if I have any bottom boob or not.

  11. Also, in what I call a full cup bra covers all of my breast tissue on top so maybe that is the difference.

  12. This is my problem! Happens a lot with Cleo bras for some reason. I have a wide root but full on top breasts, and Cleo tends to give me that pointy boob even if they seem to fit. Really liked this post! Good info.

  13. I have been struggling win the upside down 7 shape for years!
    Any alteration tips for making it point forward instead?
    I just got the Pour Moi Adore in 32J and I'd like to change it and about 12 other bras that make the same shape.
    By the way, love the blog. Thanks for taking your time to make it.

  14. Why do you want a shape that isn't yours? If you have round breasts, why are you dissatisfied with round breasts? If you have pointy breasts, why are you dissatisfied with pointy breasts?
    I can understand wanting to disguise an actual deformity, such as one "A" and one "DD" but no woman has perfectly matching breasts. Everyone is asymmetrical to some degree.