Have you ever bought a bra online and received one that didn’t look exactly like the picture? It’s most likely to happen if you are full-busted.
A DD is around the point where breasts become heavy enough to require additional support features. The same bra design that works for an A to D won’t fit right or barely lift the breasts enough unless something is changed. That’s why full-bust sizing officially starts here.
Sometimes brands that make A to DD don’t bother to tweak things for that final cup size. And that can have implications for fit, as I explained here. But when you compare the same bra in a B and F cup, there’s often more difference than just size.
Unfortunately, most brands only shoot each style on one model. And usually, one at the lower end of their size range. It saves them money, but it can lead to some surprises when the post arrives! So what are the typical bra design changes that your full-bust bra may have?
Both the Lindy bra by Boux Avenue Available in 30-40 bands and US B-G cups
Seams are strong points on a bra cup, reinforcing the fabric. They also allow the cup shape to be more precise. Hence, full bust versions of bras often come with added seams to better support and shape pendulous busts.
Notice how the seam on the A-D Lindy bra is just a short dart. On the DD+ version, it goes higher and joins to the horizontal seam. This bra design element adds lift to the bra.
Both the Chloe bra by Boux Avenue Available in 28-40 bands and US A-I cups
The cups on the DD+ version of this Chloe bra are much taller. They end above the armpit, rather than just below it. Larger breasts tend to have more tissue at the sides. This taller cup design helps to contain that tissue better, so it won’t spill out.
Both the Shadows Demi bra by Chantelle. Right image via Neiman Marcus Available in 30-38 bands and US B-G cups
The bra band is responsible for around 80% of a bra’s support. A more substantial bust needs more support, meaning it needs more band! This is one of the most common bra design changes you’ll find in full-bust versus core-sized bras. Notice that the bra above goes from having one row of hooks, to two rows.
Both the Lizzie Balconette bra by Boux Avenue Available in 30-44 bands and US B-I cups
These are also called ‘ballet backs’ due to their leotard-like shape. See how the straps and band form a U on the full-bust version, but a squared-off shape on the core-size bra?
By having the straps curve into the band, the weight on them gets distributed over a larger area. It means added support and comfort for heavier busts.
Firmer Band Material
Both the Cara bra by Playful Promises Available in 30-40 band sizes and US A-K cups
The images above are another example of a square back shape, becoming a curved one for larger cup sizes. However, the band is also clearly made from a different fabric.
The band needs to have a firm, sturdy fit to do its job of providing support. Sometimes, flimsier fabrics are fine for holding up lightweight breasts. But it would over-stretch under the strain of a heavy bust. So brands may need to swap them out for a thicker/stronger material.
Fewer Cage Details
Both the Tabitha bra by Playful Promises Available in 30-44 bands and US A-K cups
Yet another way brands can make bands more supportive for full busts is to make them solid. You will most often see this with ‘strappy’ back designs.
Cage-style elastic straps look great, but there’s only so much weight they can support. Similar to the fabric change above, sometimes they need replacing with something that has less stretch.
Both the Lauren bra by Boux Avenue
Although the band is indeed the primary source of support, around 20% of your breast weight gets put on the straps. Wider straps distribute the load from heavier breasts over a larger surface area. Which means they’ll dig in less.
As mentioned above, some fabrics are too flimsy to lift a heavy bust. If it’s at the back of the bra, the brand may swap it out. But if it’s on the cups, doing that would change the look of the bra! Instead, they’ll add another fabric behind it. A sheer but durable mesh that’s hidden from view, but bolsters support.
There are two types of side supports a bra cup can have. One is a panel that makes up the outer edge of the cup. The other is a sling of fabric hidden inside the cup in the same place. Both help to keep breast tissue inside the cup and push it forward. Hence they may be added to full-bust bras to maintain the same, narrow silhouette core-sized customers would get.
Underwires are an essential support element. Larger cup sizes may use stronger, less flexible ones. Unlike everything else on this list, you won’t see a difference. But you may feel it.
This last change is less common. It happens when the original bra design is for core cup sizes, using a particularly narrow lace. If the brand expands its sizing, the lace won’t be wide enough to make the larger cup pieces. So the brand will have to switch it out for a similar-looking one.
How many of these DD+ bra design differences have you come across while shopping?