Buying A First Bra: Part 1 for Parents

By Linda the Bra Lady on September 15th, 2011

There are many milestones in a woman’s life. One of the first is buying a bra. It’s funny to me, now, the attitude that young girls take with bras. During their developing years, girls tend to think breasts and bras are silly and sexy and foreign. Then, as if overnight, some can’t wait to get a bra- even if they don’t have the breasts to fill them- just to be like their friends. The most important thing to remember: just like a pair of breasts, every girl is different. One may relish the opportunity to announce that she is a woman! Another may be completely embarrassed by the idea. So, here’s a little bit of help for Moms, Dads, (or anyone) who may need help when it comes to buying a girl her first bra.

  • What’s the right age? In a recent, and unofficial poll on our Facebook Page, I asked my fans how old they were when they started wearing their first bra. Out of the 95 responders, an overwhelming amount were age 10-13: 68%. The closest age group after that was 7-10 with 18%. Followed closely by 13-16 with 11% and a very small percentage of 17 and up with 3%. Some girls blossom early, and may need to start wearing a bra for modesty, comfort, or shape. And even those who don’t need one, often want one. It’s up to you and her. You two can decide how old she should be to wear a bra. But, remember, despite her age- if she is developing, don’t deny it. Get her a bra!

  • Does Mother really know best? Ok, Mom…deep breaths. I know that your daughter’s first bra can be exiting and overwhelming for you, too. But, think about your little girl. Do you remember your years from 10-13? There was a lot going on: school, boys, friends, parents, fitting in, growing up, hair, and more hair… the list goes on. It can really be a confusing time! Don’t add to the confusion, stress or anxiety by making bra shopping complicated. My best advice: Take her to a professional! Mother may know best in most cases… but bra fit specialists (like myself) really know boobs and bras best. Besides, the industry changes so fast, there may be new information and products out there since you’ve been fit.  Start now so that she can have the education and information about bras, breasts and proper wear from the start. And be a good example- get a fitting yourself! If you’ve never been fit, this is the perfect time to educate yourself so you can practice what you preach.

  • Extra Excited! Now, you have to decide what kind of girl you’re working with here. If she has been begging you to buy her a bra, or jumps up and down with excitement on her way to the bra shop, you’ve got an excited girl on your hands. Be sure to encourage her, still. Even excited young girls are not always completely confident. The most common problem with an overzealous pre-teen is their lack of reality. She may be excited to wear a sexy red, push up bra. Let the bra fitter explain, and help her understand that proper fitting, and age appropriate bras are always more important than style.  She will have many years of bra shopping to wear whatever style and shape she likes. And have fun!  You can make a special day out of it. Even if you’re not as excited as she is, stay positive!

  • Terribly Awkward! On the other hand, many young girls are reluctant to tread such a taboo topic. They may hate the way they feel, or be embarrassed to show a stranger her body. Never fear! Let the bra fitters guide her. It may be hard for you to let loose, but typically, letting the fitter take over while you wait, is best in this situation. Awkward teens only feel more awkward when more people are watching, discussing and prodding her. After she tries on a fabulous bra, and the fitter has explained how to put it on and adjust it, she can come out in her top and do a little show and tell. If you must see how it fits, go ahead and ask to take a peek in the fitting room. Staying put until she and her fitter find a good option will alleviate the extra pressure while they go through the trial and error process of finding a great style.

  • Positive Reinforcement: However she feels about the process, some young women feel awkward about their body. Her body is changing all the time, and she may need some help to feel “normal”. What happens if your daughter is some brand new size that you’ve never heard of? Instead of yelling out “Wowza! What a weird size!”, calmly take in the information and appreciate the advice and help you’re receiving. You can admit if you’re learning something new- it’s ok to be a newbie, too! And remember, she may not develop the same way you did. Whatever her new size, it’s important to create a positive and healthy environment for her to learn about her new body and explore her bra options.

  • Size and fit: Many young girls are too small for a basic adult bra, but that doesn’t mean she can’t wear a bra! At my shops, I carry bras in all sizes- even down to a 30 or 28 back! Even then, to properly fit small bodies, you may need to take in the straps or the back for a proper fit. (Psssst- this is something any tailor can do. And I offer the service, too!). Just because she may not have much to support doesn’t mean she shouldn’t have a proper fit. Bras that don’t fit well are uncomfortable. Make sure that her first experience with a bra is a comfortable one! Also, remember that the smaller the back, the smaller the cup. So if your little one ends up in a 30B, that is not the same cup size as your 36B! A 30B fits (in the cup only) like a 32A or a 34AA. This is an important concept for young girls (and parents!) to grasp. Trust me, it alleviates the “there’s no way you are the same cup size as me!” freak-out factor.

  • Shape and Coverage: Next, consider the shape of the bra. Some young girls are perfectly happy to wear a stretchy, thin bralette. These provide just a little bit of coverage, which may be just fine. Other times, young girls are nervous about the shape of their nipples showing, or want the bra to provide a little shape (young buds take some time to come into their curvacious, womanly shape). I would suggest something with a little bit of molding, or lining. And if she has already developed a full shape, she may already be ready for an underwire. Again- as long as it’s the right size for her, it will be quite comfortable. So does she want coverage, shape, or to simply fit in? It’s important to find out why she wants to wear a bra in the first place. Ask!

  • What if she keeps growing? IF? HA! Not if, but when! Young girls do not need 10 bras to start with. Their petite, perky breasts aren’t as much stress on bras, so they generally last longer. Also, she may outgrow her bras (either in the back or in the cup) and not get much wear out of her multiple styles. However, no one can survive on one or two bras alone!  I suggest three. It’s important that you start her off with a few to rotate. This way, she can wash some while she is wearing one, and she can try a few different styles to see what she likes best. Take note as she grows and her body changes. If she no longer fits in her bras, or she has overused them, it’s time to get re-fit!

  • Daddy Duties: Are you a doting Dad who needs help buying a bra for your little girl? Than you certainly need a professional’s help! However, you can educate yourself as well! Only, I wouldn’t recommend the joint fitting appointment. Talk to your daughter and ask if she would like to visit the bra shop, then make an appointment. At my Murray Hill store, you can wait patiently in the front room while she and a fitter talk and try on bras in the back. If you’re curious about bras and how they should fit, don’t be shy about asking a fitter to explain the basics so that you’re not totally in the dark. You may never be an expert, but if you’re the one who will be helping her purchase bras, it’s important to have some good information. If you’re completely afraid of a bra shop, or your daughter is totally embarrassed, ask a female friend or relative to help out. Either way, having a pro in the fitting room will really help. Do not attempt to pick a random bra from the store and bring it home. You’ll run into the same problems as Tony on Who’s the Boss?:

  • Shopping From Home: I know some of you are thinking, “I’d LOVE to bring my daughter to your store, Linda. But we live so far away!” Don’t stress! You can still learn so much about proper fitting and different styles, right here on my Linda the Bra Lady website and Linda Unhooked blog. And, you and your daughter can use the Bra Calculator to help determine her current size. I suggest that Mom’s and daughters use a soft measuring tape and measure each other. It’s fun! The two of you can enter your measurements, discuss your sizes, then shop for bras in your size. Remember- the bra calculator is just a starting point and every bra fits differently, and it may take a little trial and error before you find the best fit. But, you can always email my Bra Divas for help.

Phew! That was a lot of information. And, believe it or not, I could go on! However, these key tips will keep you and your little girl calm and confident when searching for the perfect first bra. Remember, knowledge is power! And being educated on proper fitting and bra styles will help you two ease through the process. And, don’t worry, you don’t have to know everything- that’s what my Bra Divas and I are here for!

Stay tuned for Part 2, a special note to young women!

Updated 10/14/11: Browse through some of our brand new selection of petite bras– perfect for first time bra wearers!

Good luck!






  1. […] – this can be a pretty uncomfortable topic. I wrote a fabulous post (in my humble opinion) on helping your daughter buy her first bra, but what happens when she outgrows those bras? And more importantly, what happens if the little […]