Breast Shapes & Nipple Types: Your Ultimate Guide
Women come in all different shapes and sizes and so do their breasts and nipples – no surprise there. But you might be surprised to learn how many different breast shapes and nipple types there are, none (and yet all) of which are “normal”. There’s no wrong or right type of nipple or breast shape, but there is a right or wrong type of bra based on what your breast shape is.
When it comes to bras and finding your bra size, bra makers have to go beyond cup and band size – shape, nipples, and all. Back in 2011, True&Co. founder Michelle Lam realized just how important (and varied) breast shapes are after holding focus groups in her living room and listening to women talk about their breasts. How could women be expected to find the right bra if they didn’t know all the factors?
That was how the original Fit Quiz was born. It was the first-ever of its kind to include options for breast shapes: bottom happy; taking sides; bottom + sides; well-rounded. Data from millions of women who have taken the quiz reveals that only 27% of us are well-rounded shapes, which is what bra companies typically design for. Tend to have gaping cups? You probably fall into the other 3 shapes.
There are, of course, way more nuances in types of breasts and nipples that that fall into or blend between those categories, which we’ll cover in this article as well as the best bra styles for them.
9 Most Common Breast Shapes
Now here’s where we get to the good stuff: a the deep dive into the most common breast shapes – including the four we mentioned from our Fit Quiz – and the best types of bras for those breast shapes.
The asymmetrical breast shape is probably the most common breast shape out there. It’s actually not so much about shape than it is about size. Asymmetrical breasts usually comes down to one being larger than the other, but they’ll both have the same general appearance.
If you want to balance them out a bit, try a bra with removable pads like True Body.
Athletic breast shapes are wider and more muscular. Breast volume largely correlates with body fat, which a lot of athletes don’t have much of, so they’ll often have less breast tissue than most.
Best Bra Match: To give your breasts a lift and accentuate them, go for a push-up bra. A demi-cup or balconette bra are great for supporting your breasts without adding bulky coverage.
Round breast shapes, or what we call “well-rounded” breasts, are equally full all around, top and bottom.
Best Bra Match: Round breast shapes don’t need much in the way of padding or enhancement, so an unlined bra like Made of Stars Unlined Ultimate Coverage is ideal. Want less coverage? Triangle bra styles like Bare Plunge are just as flattering.
East West breast shapes are also what we call “taking sides” — the nipples point outward in opposite directions. East West breast shapes that are fuller on bottom are what we refer to as “bottom and sides.”
Best Bra Match: T-shirt bras and padded bras have cups that help give East West breast shapes a more rounded shape. T-shirt bras are a great everyday go-to, and you can choose from a variety of bra types that are padded, including True Body.
Side-set, or “bottom and sides,” are a different type of breast shape from “taking sides” in that there’s more spacing between each breast, though the nipples may be facing forward.
Best Bra Match: Bra styles with more flexibility in the center such as plunge and demi-cup are a good match for side set breasts. Push-up bras will also provide lift and enhance cleavage.
Tear drop breast shapes are similar to round, but less full at the top. This is a breast shape that falls into what we refer to as “bottom happy” breast shapes, where the volume is concentrated lower. If you’ve lost weight, you probably noticed that your breasts are more bottom happy, which also includes slender, relaxed, and bell shapes. It’s really common and just means it’s time to go bra shopping!
Best Bra Match: Padded and push-up bras are great for lifting your breasts and evening out the shape for a smooth silhouette. Balconettes are another good one to have in your wardrobe, especially if you don’t prefer pads or too much lift. The underwire and minimal cup still give the right amount of support.
Bell breast shapes, another bottom happy breast shape, are slimmer at the top and fuller at the bottom. The fullness toward the bottom means you’ll need plenty of support to help keep them at a level that’s both flattering with clothes and to nip back pain in the...bust.
Best Bra Match: Whatever your breast size, you’ll want a bra that provides lift. True Body Lift and True Body Underwire are the perfect styles. Don’t let the buttery-soft fabric fool you. It’s just as supportive as it is comfortable. Balconettes are another underwire bra style that will flatter bell shapes.
Relaxed breast shapes have lax tissue with nipples pointing downward. Breast shapes can change throughout your life (just like size can) with things like age, weight fluctuations, and having children. So it’s not uncommon for women to develop relaxed breast shapes later in life. (Psst … that’s when it’s time to update your quiz results and go for another bra-fitting).
Best Bra Match: Bras that offer more support, lift, and coverage are just what relaxed breast shapes need. That includes bras with underwires and padding.
Slender breast shapes are thin breasts often with nipples pointing downward, similar to relaxed breast shapes, but not quite as full. Slender breasts are also smaller on top and are likely longer than they are wide.
Best Bra Match: Plunge bras are a universally flattering silhouette, so one with padding is a great choice to give slender breasts just the right amount of lift. That doesn’t mean an unlined bra is out of the question, just try one that’s also plunge with an underwire that’ll help with lift.
8 Different Types of Nipples
Not every pair of breasts are the same, and neither are every pair of nipples. At first glance, nipples might all look the same, but there are actually eight different types of nipples (and you can have more than one type!).
Many nipples will have bumps around the areola (the flat, brown part). Those bumps (AKA Montgomery glands) help lubricate the areola by releasing oil. This part also gets bigger when women become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
Flat nipples don’t protrude or invert, even when gently pinched. Flat nipples are evenly level with the areola and have subtle definition.
Hairy nipples are simply nipples with hair around the areolas. The degree of hairiness can vary, from a few hairs to hair all around.
Inverted nipples, or retracted nipples, are those that are tucked within the areola, and can have the appearance of a “dash” mark. Most women (and men, for that matter) are born with inverted nipples, but just as breast shapes can change throughout your life, so can nipple types.
Protruding nipples are those that stick out from the areola to varying degrees – usually more so when they harden.
Puffy nipple types are those that look like a raised mound on top of the breast, where both the areola and the nipple protrude.
“Supernumerary” is a fancy way of saying “third nipple.” They can often be mistaken for a mole or birthmark, but it’s definitely a nipple. You can have more than one supernumerary nipple. They tend to appear underneath your breasts, but they can actually be anywhere on the body (it’s just not as common).
Having a unilateral inverted nipple means having one that’s inverted and one that isn’t, usually protruding. Just like with any nipple type, you can either be born with a unilateral inverted nipple or have it develop later in life – in which case you’d want to check in with your doctor for any underlying causes.
Breast shapes and nipple types come in all different forms, just like our bodies do. There’s no such thing as normal or ideal types of nipples. Different is normal; different is beautiful. We shouldn’t be ashamed of what our nipples look like because of what’s portrayed in mainstream media. A change is long overdue, and with movements like #FreeTheNipple, that change is on the rise. We’re all unique while sharing commonalities with millions of other women; that’s something we embrace in our Fit Quiz, our bras, and our community.