Every breast is different, and so is every bra. Only in the past few months I have realised what my bra needs to be in order to look and feel perfect.
My formula is:
* Normal to wide underwires because the base of breasts is wide
* Low cut balconettes are best for tear-shape breasts that are not at their firmest
* Narrow center gore: the underwires should touch each other
* Low center gore, since I'm prone to underwires pressing me at that spot.
In many other things I am not so fussy. I can wear underwires that go high up into the armpits and they never poke me. I don't need reinforced nipple coverage, and most fabrics don't scratch me easily. My shoulders are broad, so I can wear even very wide-set straps without a problem.
My preferred brands are Discover Mademoiselle (it's not produced anymore, but I buy everything I find on Ebay), and Ewa Michalak. I could probably buy stuff from them blindfolded. Then come Panache and Fantasie (the latter when I still wore band size 30, that is).
I could have found out all of this at the beginning of my bra journey, if I had the chance to try out many more bras. Either at stationary stores, or by ordering online a lot of bras and sending back everything that didn't fit. That's how I would have done it today.
To find your perfect bra type, pay attention to details. If a bra doesn't sit well on you, try to find out exactly why. Compare it to another bra that fits you better. Make notes. Try on bras with long underwires and short, with half-cups and full-cups, with close set straps and far-apart ones. Make more notes. Very soon you will see patterns emerging. Once you've nailed it, picking out a bra will be a breeze.
Photo: Ewa Michalak chili, one of my all time favs.