First bras for young girls can be difficult to find, fit, and buy. I've written on this subject before, but readers still ask: how do you decide which bra style is best?
The idea behind the "training bra" was to get a girl used to wearing one. It can be a bit of a shock to add one to her up-until-puberty typical wardrobe. But there's more to it than that; she needs to learn about bra styles that help her adjust to a new and changing breast life.
Young girls develop at different ages and experience differing rates of breast tissue growth. They can be as young as six or as old as 16. Breast buds can appear quickly or develop slowly. Everybody's experience is unique. This range means there are tons of possible fashion and physical activities to take into consideration. A small busted 8-year-old won't want to wear the same things as a petite breasted 15-year-old, and vice versa.
That's one reason there's a separate first bra industry market for teens and 'tweens. Some brands specialize in bralettes and soft tube tops. Girls don't always need wired or structured cups, and if they do, they might not wear similar sizes offered to adult women. Moreover, surveys suggest that wearing the right sports bra can make a girl feel more comfortable and confident in her body. Girls may stop participating in athletic activities if they think their boobs are getting in the way.
What should you look for in first bras?
1. Organic or soft materials. Adolescence is a time of hormonal changes that can cause inner and outer discomfort. Growing nipples can be swollen, painful, and easily irritated. Look for materials that won't make things worse. Fabrics like cotton, bamboo, and microfibers are all easy to wear and gentle on skin. Extra seams, embellishments or hardware, should be minimalized, depending on a person's sensitivity.
2. Brand names. Familiar names like Hanes and Champion make styles suitable for young girls. Royce Lingerie, in the UK, has a separate "Missy" line. Newer companies, like Yellowberry, can be found on-line. But it's not all about a well-known company or whether you buy from a local retailer. Your daughter may or may not like the idea of wearing something that carries the "Tween Bee" or "First Angel" label. You can buy regular bralettes that have many of the same first bra construction qualities.
3. Sizing. Just like grown-up lingerie, all bra brands have their sizing standards and it's best to consult each one separately to guarantee the proper fit. Some run XS to XL instead of by cup-band designations. Let your daughter compare brand sizing charts so she'll focus less on numbers and letters and more on how the garment feels on her body. Understanding that she has a Bra Zone of styles and sizes can help her make smarter bra buying decisions when she shops on her own.
4. Padding and linings. Many first bras build in extra padding or lining to make growing bumps less visible. Some girls are more self-conscious about their changing bodies. Make sure your daughter tries a bra on while wearing a favorite outfit so she can see how it looks under her clothes.
5. Price. It may feel frustrating to pay more for something your daughter might grow out of in a few months. Quality varies widely in the lingerie industry. The downside of spending less is you're buying items that may shrink or wear quickly. It might be a better investment to pay more for something made to last longer.
6. Sports Bra Styles. Sports bras aren't designed to fit the same way as a regular bra. Their construction can also make them more expensive. Look at the difference the same way you compare the cost of regular shoes to those made for specific athletic activities. You wouldn't want your daughter to run track in a pair of slip-on sneakers, would you? Consider the brand's recommended level of activity when deciding what to purchase. They'll be washed more often, too, so active girls will need more than one in their wardrobe.
Here are 15 possible first bras---including sports styles---you may want to consider:Tink Sports Bras Available in Sizes XS-XL via Yellowberry
What factors do you consider when shopping for first bras? Do you have any tips or shopping resources to share?