Underwires: Body Type & Style Guide

Jun 18, 2017 | Tutorials | 15 comments

Hi All

This post is going to be all about the different styles or shapes of underwires- before I jump in I want to let you in on some exciting updates… I just launched two new underwire styles in my Etsy shop! more about them in this post- so let’s jump right in!!

Also- if you haven’t already read last weeks post on Fitting Underwire, it has some great information before you start into this post!


So first off- what do I mean when I say different ‘Styles’ of underwires?

Different styles of underwires are all the different shapes of underwires. They can be tall and narrow, short and shallow, high on the sides, high at the front, all different!

There are two main reasons for different underwire styles: 1. to suit different body types, and 2. to suit different bra styles.


Let’s talk about different body types first. There are some key factors that are important to consider about your body type when you go to pick an underwire style mainly: breast shape & how close your breasts are together. Now, because this is about underwires, we’re thinking more about your chest wall, and how your breasts meet on your chest wall, rather than the rest of your breast shape (that’s a job for the bra cup!)

I like to picture this by imagining that your breast disappeared- and all that is left is an circle of where it attached to your chest wall- What does that circle look like?



is it more of a tall oval? round? or a wide oval

** It’s important to remember that there are SO MANY different body types, and variations, this is only a generalization to help guide you on finding the best underwire for you ** 


Generally if you’re a tall oval I find that these are your specs:



This is the most ‘average’ body type, and is the most common for bra patterns.


The wide oval can be on a variety of body types- some I find on very petite women with small cup sizes, who need very shallow wires. Others are larger cups, usually with larger bands and can have both wide and narrow bridge.



As you can see, even from looking at the shapes, it becomes a little more clear what type of underwire shape would fit each breast type best.


Now the other consideration for different styles of wires are different styles of bras.  Is it a standard day-wear bra? is a a plunging bra? is it a high front or strapless bra? All of these bras will have underwires to suit their styling. If you follow sewing patterns to make your bras, then they will have decided the wire that they want to use- but if you draft your own, you can pick out whatever style you like to make up!


In my shop, I’ve worked on sourcing all different styles of underwires to suit different body types, and also different bra styles. Here is the collection of wires I’ve curated for my shop along with my two new ones!!


I’ll start with my most classic and popular: The Orange! This one fits in really well with lots of bra patterns including the: Marlbrough, Boylston & Fenway (Orange Lingerie), The Harriet (Cloth Habit) and the Sofie Swimsuit (Closet Case Files)

Get this wire here, or get the fitting pack here 

Orange Wire Chart PDF

Next is my other very classic bra wire- this one is also a standard that fits with many patterns including the Cindy (Ohhh Lulu) and the Classic and Shelley (PUG patterns). It’s a little higher at the center front than the Orange, so a little more full coverage.

Get this wire here, or get the fitting pack here

Round Wire Chart PDF

Next is one of my most popular wires- the Bliss! This is perfect for those tall ovals, people who have little space on their bridge and difficulty getting their wire to go back to the chest wall- it’s narrower than the round or orange.

Get this wire here, or the fitting pack here 

Bliss Wire Chart PDF

Next is one of my new wires- The Omega! And this is a more specialty wire- as you can see immediately – this wire is for the very tall ovals! This wire is not suitable for most people, but amazing for some! I used this wire in my custom bra making days for the ladies with very large cups on small bands, who’d never had a wire go back to their chest wall!

Get this wire here, or the fitting pack here

Omega Wire Chart PDF

Now let’s swing in the opposite direction- for the wide ovals. This France wire is one of my favourites- it’s perfect for the petite wide oval body type, but can also be used as a more relaxed wire for lots of bodies.

Get this wire here, or the fitting pack here 

France Wire Chart PDF

Next is another new wire- the Carmen! This shape is also good for the round to wide oval body types! It’s similar to a standard wire, with a bit of extra width. It’s also great for more wide-oval shapes with close set breasts, because the arms don’t splay as much!  

Get this wire here, or get the fitting pack here

Carmen Wire Chart PDF

And finally I’m going to end on a fun wire! This is a plunge wire, low in the front normal height on the sides- perfect for really getting some cleavage in a plunging bra!

Get this wire here, or get this fitting pack here 

Plunge Wire Chart PDF

There really are an infinite number of different wires out there, that get even more specific to niche body types, or bra styles- you can get monowires, over wires and everything in between. Personally I’m working towards curating a selection for the best body fit possible.

What are your favourite underwires? Are there any new styles that you would like to try?

I’m going to be doing a series of mini posts this week focusing on each wire, with even more information!

Next Sunday -up on the blog will be the monthly round up! Don’t forget to send me all your bra, swim & intimate makes, as well as any posts that you’ve written on bra making! send to:  bra.a.week@gmail.com

But don’t worry – Underwire Month won’t end here! Since there have been so many comments & requests – I’m extending it into July! You can look forward to posts on: modifying your pattern for a different size of wire, modifying your pattern for a different style of wire, and common underwire fitting issues!

Until next week!




  1. Maddy

    Loved this post Erin! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone describe both basic general breast types AND the many different underwire options to suit them so well before! I still love the Bliss wires so much – made a new bra today (first in ages!!) with them and one of your kits 😀 hopefully I get some pictures and post together in time to send in to this month’s round up! 🙂 xx

    • Emerald Erin

      Thanks Maddy! I’m so happy it was so clear for everyone! And I can’t wait to see your new bra!!! 🙂

  2. AJ

    Lovely info and makes so much sense, but I’d love to see more about figuring out how to use patterns with the more unusual wire types. I’m guessing you can’t just shove a France or Omega wire into any old pattern and have it work out….This has always puzzled me, because the general consensus is to never alter the wire line on a pattern.

    • Emerald Erin

      Thanks AJ! That’s one of the posts that I have planned! And I should say that without some major drafting, the really specially wires won’t fit into just any pattern. But there are things that you can do to alter the wireline on your pattern – and I will be sharing those all in my next underwire theory post 🙂

  3. Jen

    Which wires would work best for the AFI maya pattern? I definitely want the fitting pack as I don’t know what size I need… are you familiar with this bra?

    • Emerald Erin

      Hi Jen, I don’t really know very much about that pattern- and I can’t seem to find any straight forward answers for that- I would measure the wireline in the size that you want to use, then check out different wires- from the look of the pattern I would guesstimate that a round wire/bliss or carmen would be the best – depending on your fit preference 🙂

    • AmyInNH

      It would make sense for someone to come up with a simple set of plastic ones for test driving fit, eh?
      The last underwire bra I had flared outward and made my arms numb from pressure on the nerve under my arms. I’m finding, these days as my size changes, the same thing happens from no-underwire bras.
      Not a small issue.

  4. Sofía

    Great post!! It’s amazing how many different shapes of underwires are out there! I really like your Orange wires, they’re a great fit for me. The Round ones fit me as well, but I think they’re a bit too tall for my small frame. Oh, and I also want to make something with your France wires because I absolutely loved the silk bra you made with them!
    I’m looking forward to reading more posts of your underwire series! 😉

    • Emerald Erin

      Thanks Sofía!! it’s amazing how much underwire styles can change the look of a bra too- I’m sure you would make something amazing with the France wires 🙂 🙂

  5. Monica

    The best part of this blog post is that I got flagged at work for accessing “adult content”.

    I’m a bra technical designer so… Lol!

    • Emerald Erin

      LOL I suddenly feel so riské

  6. Ilna

    Wonderful info! Sadly, here I can only supply one type of wire which look like your round wires. But luckily they work for me and the patterns (same supplier), so that is OK. Wish I could get my hands on some others without paying an arm and a leg…
    Thanks for the good tutorials and info

  7. Eve S.

    Thanks for making this series of posts on underwires! It’s what I’ve been finding most difficult in bra making so far, as I haven’t been able to find the right underwire and pattern for me yet. Now, I’m starting to understand why. It would seem that I’m a wide oval. Do you know of any pattern that is most adapted to that particular shape? Thanks! Very much looking forward to the next posts. 🙂

    • Emerald Erin

      Thanks so much Eve! I’m not sure about the best pattern for that shape- but I am planning an underwire post all about changing your pattern for different sizes and styles of underwires- coming up soon! Underwires are definitely the key to a good fitting bra though- it’s best to find the wire that fits you well, and then work the bra around it!

  8. Charissa

    I appreciate your various blogs, they are helpful on this finding a bra that fits and doesn’t hurt journey. I like the look of some of your wire options including the bliss or Carmen for narrow vertical centre front but otherwise a round or wide oval shape. My local supplier even supplies them. Except I’m at the #58-62 end of the spectrum (UK34-36KK+) so I can’t really compare my IMF trace to a chart. I’m ok with the idea of having the modify my own but it just makes it so much harder to know what shape or size to use as a starting point.


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