A couple of clever readers have suggested that I do some sort of round-up of the best bras available and I thought it was a really great idea. I think it will be helpful for anyone who isn’t sure where to start with properly fitted bras or new knowledge of their shape, or for anyone struggling to build a basic collection. I’m trying to cover all the bases here. Let me know what I missed!
I’ve distinguished in some categories between bras that give a ‘purple shape’
and bras that give a ‘green shape’.
I’ve also tried to distinguish between bras for full-on-top boobs and full-on-bottom boobs wherever relevant. Bras I’ve honored for shapes other than my own are based on the experiences of bloggers, forum members, and friends with different shapes than mine. Bras lost points for things like crappy band construction and problems that plague almost everyone. (That’s why you don’t see the Cleo Lucy on here, even though it’s a personal favorite—the band is at a stupidly high angle and the gore is too wide for most people.) I also pretty much ignored bras with smaller cup size ranges because I just don’t have a personal experience of them. Please note that this list is based on fit and shape, NOT fashion.
Best ‘purple shape’ balconette bra for full-on-top boobs: Cleo Marcie.
This one wins over the Lucy, etc because the band is better constructed and more stable, and the gore is narrower. The Marcie is pretty much a miracle constructed with magic, and gives the roundest of round shapes without pushing your boobs into your armpits. It needs to come out in black and beige, like, yesterday.
Honorable mention: Panache Sienna.
Despite the lovely shape, I couldn’t let this one win because it comes out in dismally few colors and even those colors are boring repeats of colors it’s already come out in. It also lost points for confusing sizing--you ned to go up a cup size in the Sienna! This one runs a full cup size small.
Best ‘purple shape’ balconette bra for full-on-bottom boobs: Cleo Meg (and, I’m hoping, the new Lily—a slightly altered but ostensibly similar design).
This bra is different from the Marcie’s construction. The top edge curves in more steeply and there’s more space at the diagonal seam. It works well for full-on-bottom ladies who want a really round shape but experience gapping in the Marcie.
Best ‘green shape’ balconette bra for full-on-bottom boobs: Bravissimo Alana.
This is one of those ‘old faithful’ bras that you can buy in a ton of cute or useful colors if it fits. It’s loved for its perky shape and firm support.
Sizing: Runs a little bit small. Go up if you’re between sizes. This one will not work for full-on-top boobs.
Best full-cup bra: Panache Jasmine.
This bra exploded on the scene a couple seasons back and has been really popular. Its genius comes from the uplifting side panel, the supportive firm fabric on the bottom, and the stretch lace in the top. That stretch allows the Jasmine to work for loads of people who tend to be a tricky fit. It expands to deal with bountiful upper breast fullness that tends to overwhelm most full-cup bras. It stretches back in to deal with breast with less upper fullness who tend to experience gapping. It provides a good fit to those with asymmetrical boobs who may struggle to find ANYTHING that works for both sides. See also: The new Envy and Clara bras are based on the Jasmine, though with little tweaks.
Honorable mention: Panache Andorra.
This ancestor of Jasmine has the same stretchy lace in the top, but it’s not as crazy-well-loved as the Jasmine and is, I think, a little less supportive.
Best bra for a retro shape: Bravissimo Dotty Spot.
This bra gives an extreme green shape, what I call “good pointy”. It’s a cult classic, beloved by a committed fan base. The shape is definitely not for everyone, but I couldn’t not mention it!
Sizing: Works better for those without too much upper fullness, but can work for various shapes.
Best bra for a round but minimized shape: Tutti Rouge Liliana.
If you prefer to blend in rather than stand out, if you’re not at an emotionally stable place about having larger boobs, if you have to wear scrubs for work, if you have your eye on a drapy top, or if you just prefer a minimized look, try this one.
Sizing: Go up a band size and a cup size. (E.g. If you normally wear a 30HH, try a 32HH.) Also, works better for shallower breasts.
Best plunge bra for firm breasts: Panache Andorra Plunge.
This one benefits from the same stretchy material as the full-cup, which makes it really comfortable and helps it fit stubbornly shaped firm boobs. It provides the best subtle cleavage I’ve experienced.
Best plunge for soft breasts: Cleo Molly.
I’ve heard this from a few people. Many women with softer breast tissue find they fall into the center in a plunge bra. Anecdotally, the Cleo Molly is genius for fixing this issue.
Best padded plunge overall: Bravissimo Satine.
This one works for a lot of different shapes. It fits my full-on-top boobs perfectly and also perfectly fits my friend who is full-on-bottom. It gives a really nice balanced shape.
Best plunge for higher cup sizes: Ewa Michalak PL bras.
Ewa’s PL bras go up to higher sizes than British plunge bras, and the expert construction provides the necessary stability even for heavy boobs.
Best strapless: HAHAHAHAHAHA funny joke. Errbody needs to go back to the drawing board on this one. Hint: Vertical seams. For instance, I have my eye on the Curvy Kate strapless that is slowly inching towards production.
Best unpadded half cup: Ewa Michalak’s HM styles.
There are not a lot of options for unpadded half cups out there, but of those available, the HM is the most stable. Half cups can sometimes get a little jiggly and weak in the center, but the HM’s gore tends to sit flat. Some HM styles require going up in the band. Check Bratabase to verify for individual styles.
Best padded half cup: Masquerade Coco.
I know this seems obscure. The Rhea and Delphi by rights belong here, but I took points off because the Rhea’s padding is a little too stiff and the Delphi’s straps are too thick to be practical. So although the Coco seems a strange choice, I believe it combines the best features of Rhea and Delphi.
Honorable mention: Tutti Rouge Betty.
Though new on the scene, this half-cup is a blogger favorite. I think it's Tutti Rouge's most versatile fit, and as such, probably their best bra so far. Go up a band size and a cup size in this one (if you normally wear a 32F, try a 34F).
Best Swimwear in General: FREYA!!!!!!! Hands down, no one else can even compete.
Best padded Swimwear: Freya’s padded sweetheart cut
Best unpadded swimwear: Freya’s plunge cut.
In particular, the Fever bikini is their best. The construction changes slightly starting with H cups but it is still great.
Best molded (purple shape): Freya Deco.
This bra also wins the category for “Best Bra to Feel Normal if You’re Used to Victoria’s Secret”. It wins this category by a sweep because it’s one of the few bras to come in TONS of colors, it has a low gore, and it has a comfy band. Some full-on-bottom ladies may struggle with gapping in this style.
Honorable Mention: Curvy Kate Smoothie.
I can’t let this one win because preliminary reports indicate that these bras have already shrunk a full cup size in the new colors since my positive review.
Best molded (green shape): Fantasie 4510 Smoothing Molded T-Shirt Bra.
This one gives a lovely perky, projected shape. I think it’s pretty underrated.
Best for deep cups with narrow wires: Ewa Michalak S and SM, and Comexim.
|Ewa Michalak S Bambino
|Ewa Michalak SM Trefl
|Comexim Green Velvet
Ewa Michalak’s S and SM bras offer tons of projection and suit deep boobs that don’t get along with shallow British styles. The narrow wires make them especially good for small-framed women who can’t wear wide wires, or for anyone with narrow breast roots.
Comexim bras also win in the deep cup/narrow wire category, and are even narrower in the wires than Ewa Michalak.
Most attractive sports bra: Panache Sports Bra.
This one definitely gives the best shape of any sports bra out there. It also comes in cute colors, and I like the use of underwire as well as the racerback clip. I recommend sizing down in the band to increase stability.
Most effective sports bra: Bravissimo Inspire.
It’s a LITTLE less ugly than the Freya Sports bra, and it immobilizes the boobs. It’s underwired, so it keeps everything separated and in place.
Honorable Mention: Shock Absorber Max Sports Top.
I didn’t give the category to this one because I feel the lack of underwire can cause breasts to rub against each other unless you wear another bra underneath. However, this one will completely eliminate bounce.
That's all I've got for now... Did your favorite make the cut? If I missed something important, let me know in the comments!