Contour Bras vs. Push-Up Bras: Do YOU Know Which One You’re Wearing?

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So I was having a girl’s night last week, and of course, bras and boobs came up as the number one topic. It seems now that I’ve started working in the lingerie business I’ve become quite the resident expert among my friends! My friend started complaining that her boobs looked too big. She’s a 34B and looked like a C cup in her top. She said she wanted padding to cover her nipples for all those cold evenings but didn’t want to look a cup size bigger. This led to a round-table discussion of contour padding vs. push-up padding. Here’s a rundown of the conversation with my friends, with some photos, links and examples of contour and push up styles I recommend.

Why would I want to wear a padded bra?

Every type of bra has its purpose. Contour bras and push-up bras are types of padded bras, so their benefits follow those of most padded bras. The majority of padded bra styles will give your breasts a rounded shape, offer lift and nipple coverage. Padded bras are ideal when worn with t-shirts, dresses and fitted clothes. While non-padded bras have their merits too, most don’t offer the same degree of nipple coverage as a padded bra (be careful for those chilly days, you may have an unexpected guest!). Contour and push-up bras are also available in wire-free options, if you like padded bras but want them without underwire.

What’s a contour bra, and why should I try wearing one?

Naked Glamour Wire-free Seamless Contour Bra by Calvin Klein Lingerie

Contour bras have a unified layer of padding or foam, and the padding is the same throughout the cup. A contour bra is great for women who don’t want to wear a padded bra, because they’re afraid that it will make their breasts look bigger. For women who want a natural lift without an extra cup size, this is the perfect style for you. Calvin Klein makes a beautiful Naked Glamour wire-free seamless contour bra! It’s great for every day and looks fantastic underneath a shirt or blouse. Contour bras are great as T-shirt bras because they are padded and unified, giving breasts a smooth, rounded look. For women that are full busted looking for an everyday bra, a t-shirt contour bra is the way to go. It gives a seamless and clean look, perfect for every day. For example, the Absolute Plus Memory Foam by Montelle Lingerie is the way to go for fuller figured women that want a nice shape and lift.

What about push-up bras?

The Essentials Prodigy Maximizing Add A Size Convertible Push Up Bra by Montelle Lingerie

A push-up bra includes the same kind of unified padding as a contour bra, with the added boost of a half-moon or crescent shape which is the extra padding towards the bottom of the cups.  Depending on how much extra push-up padding there is within the bra, the bra will add lift, or an extra cup size (or two!) to your bustline. Usually a push up bra is narrower in the middle, at the center gore, and offers less coverage than a contour bra, which is slightly wider at the center. For a natural push-up, take a look at these push-up bras by Blush Lingerie, like this Idylle Embroidered Padded Push Up Bra.  There is a small crescent shape inside that will give you a natural-looking boost that won’t exaggerate your bust size and is good to wear for every day. It’s a great way to convert from wearing contour bras to adding a little more oomph to your step. If you’re looking to add a lot of volume to your bust (one of our customers comically calls these bras “false advertising bras”), check out my blog on the Montelle prodigy maximizing push up bra. It’s amazing for all those women who want to add an extra cup size to their bust. 

How and when do I wear contour & push-up bras?

Many contour and push up bras these days are seamless, making them perfect to wear with fitted tops. These padded bras offer a flattering cut on most bustlines and sizes. One of the best candidates for push-up bras are women who wear an A or B cup and are looking to make the most of their smaller breasts. A push-up bra can help fill out that top or dress that just wasn’t fitting you properly before. Even just a small push can make the biggest difference and add an extra boost of confidence.  They’re great to wear with evening dresses or something with a lower cut in the front. Whereas, contour bras are perfect to wear for everyday. I wear t-shirt almost every day and I hate when the stitching shows through. I find t-shirts or any type of fitted top looks best with a contour bra. It gives you that seamless look with an extra lift (try it with a v-neck top for some sexy cleavage).

Most importantly, the same bra fitting rules apply to push up bras and contour bras. Just because it’s a push up bra does not mean you should have ‘quadboob’ or spill out of your top! Bras should fit properly and be comfortable! A padded bra should not squish your breasts or create bumps – the material of the cups should lie comfortably flat against your breasts, with the center gore lying flat against your breastbone. If your bra does not fit the basic rules for bra fitting then it’s time to get a new bra or get personalized bra fitting advice from us.

Sweetest Sin Push-Up Bra by Blush Lingerie

Do you wear contour or push up bras? Which do you prefer? If you have any questions or comments, please write below or comment on Facebook or Twitter.



  1. Lonnie

    July 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Some contour, no pushups. Pushups are rare in my size anyway. And I don’t know if I need to look bigger. I too wear mostly t-shirts or sleeveless tops in summer. Thank you Felicia for helping me understand the how and when of both styles. Jeez, all of these years on me and I am still learning things. Thanks again. I surely enjoyed reading this blog. as I do all of your blogs.

  2. admin

    July 2, 2013 at 10:06 am

    Thanks, Lonnie! There’s never too much to learn about bra fitting, that’s for sure. We are always learning new things as new technologies emerge and new ways of understanding bra fitting do, too! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Do Push Up Bras Help | A Listly List

  4. Grace

    January 10, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    I’m a teenager with DD’s, and I wear a small T-shirt size, because of my waist and ribcage. I avoid push-up bras at all costs, because they usually stretch my clothes or pop buttons, and they make me look disproportionate, anyway. Thanks for explaining the difference. I was shopping on a site that didn’t use the language I was used to (lightly lined is what I’m used to contour bras being referred to as). This helped me a lot!

  5. admin

    January 20, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Hey Grace, we’re so glad we could help explain the difference between a push-up bra and a contour bra. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  6. Clarice

    September 14, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Im a f-g cup and all the bras i like are contour… is there a trick i can use so i can wear contour bras without having to give up and resort to boring grandma bras?

  7. admin

    September 17, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Hello Clarice,
    Thank you so much for contacting us.
    Contour bras are sometimes referred a molded cup bras and come with and without underwires. The cups are preformed and may feature foam or a different lining in order to hold the cup’s shape.
    Even if you are f-g or deeper there are a quite a few styles in that size that are contour bras. We, at Now Thats’ showcase quite a few of them.
    Perhaps you have not found the styles or brands that are the most convenient. I am here to help should you have any questions. Have a great day. Celine

  8. James Adams

    December 8, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    I’m a guy and here’s why I wear breastforms and bras. I’m in my late 60’s and growing up I always felt detached from my emotions, unable to understand my feelings, and I developed a resentment toward women; I felt at a disadvantage when disagreeing or arguing because it seemed to take me so long to figure out how I felt and what I thought. Sometimes, days, and the women in my life didn’t understand why that was.

    We’re raised differently. Show weakness or thoughtfulness you you get cut out of the herd and run down. I’m not kidding, it happened to me a few times I can give examples. Boys are NOT encouraged to have feelings or emotions! You’re lucky or he is if that isn’t in your dynamic.

    So, breasts. The hallmark of femininity, secondary sex characteristics as the emblems of what men feel they lack, envy, or despise. It’s true, isn’t it? Hey, my eyes are UP HERE! We’re fascinated, envious, excited.

    I never knew about womens’ anxieties about walking alone at night, averting their eyes so as to not make contact out of fear! Most men, I think, don’t and we need to be told!

    So, bras. I bought breastforms and a bra so I could access my feminine side. To kind of know something about what women are and what they experience. I told my wife what I wanted to do and why and she [bless her!] gave me her blessing! It’s been a journey, and I LOVE my girls and my collection of bras. I’ve learned so much about what is a woman’s experience, as much as a straight man can, I guess.It’s not a fetish, I think, because there’s no sexual excitement I derive from this but it has put me a lot closer to my emotional side, a less testosterone driven approach to life.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  9. admin

    December 12, 2016 at 8:35 am

    Hello James,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. You have some very interesting viewpoints. Let us know if you ever need helping finding the perfect bra!

    – The NTL Team

  10. Kimberli

    January 12, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    I am short! 5’2″ but I have DD cup size. Depending on weight, I am a 34 or 36.

    I am 60! Yikes
    I need a bra that will lift me back to normal placement without adding size.

    Can you help?

  11. ansu

    March 8, 2017 at 4:17 am

    Hi I want my breast front lifted as my boobs are heavy at side.i don’t want added volume or inches.which bra should I use.

  12. admin

    March 8, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Hello Ansu,

    Thank you for contacting us.

    Since you don’t want volume, a padded bra would not be convenient however I would suggest a balconette or demi bra whose cups do not stretch. In that way the breast tissue will be supported. As far as the cup size is concerned and given the measurements you gave, it seems that the 32c would be the most convenient. Please let me know if you have any questions. Have a great day. Celine 1-855-521-4244

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