For many mums, buying their daughter’s first bra can be a bit of an ordeal. Not only do they have to broach the subject with a potentially very embarrassed daughter, they also have to try to persuade her to go for a bra fitting (often difficult!) and then find a bra she likes and is willing to wear.
The teen and pre-teen (because some girls need a bra of some sort before they hit their teens) lingerie market is limited in terms of style and brands, and there is also the possible conflict between what your daughter would like to wear, and the type of bra she should wear.
Underwired bras that are suitable for older teens, for example, are not recommended for young girls in the early stages of development. If your daughter is a late developer and all her friends are wearing pretty wired bras, this can cause some angst.
Because all girls develop at a different rate, and are different shapes and sizes, those handy age range sizing bands for kids just don’t apply for bras. In the very early stages, crop top styles make a good halfway choice and are much easier to buy, but when a bra becomes necessary, size will become an issue.
In an ideal world, we would all be taken for a fitting when buying our first bra, and therefore have an understanding of fit and its importance instilled at a young age. But, for so many reasons, that is not always possible, and mums have to guess their daughter’s size and preferred style and, possibly, waste a lot of money on unsuitable bras that never get worn.
If your daughter is one of those who just will not go to a fitting – or let you measure her – the best thing you can do is encourage her to measure herself and there are plenty of bra size calculators and apps she can use to help her. These aren’t as good as a proper bra fitting, but they are certainly better than you trying to guess her size and (probably) getting it wrong. It is also a good idea for you to familiarise yourself with the signs of good and bad bra fit should she let you help her.
For some girls, however, buying that first bra is an exciting experience, and many independent lingerie shops have several generations of the same family as customers, as mums bring their daughters in for their first fitting and they never look back.
Brands to try
One brand mums should definitely check out is Sweetling. Sweetling was set up by sisters-in-law Sophie and Maria Law after first bra shopping trips with their daughters ended in disappointment when they couldn’t find that special bra they were hoping for to mark the occasion.
Sweetling’s bras are designed for young girls in the first few years of development and the range includes a line of front-fastening first bras for pre-teens. All the bras are non-wired and are designed to complement the breast development as girls grow and support healthy breast growth.
The brand has a couple of different styles to suit different shapes, including bikini and half balconette styles, and while there are some plain bras in the range, the majority are made from pretty prints in limited runs. Some are aimed at younger girls, but there are also some gorgeous modern prints that should also appeal to older teens.
Oh, and all the bras are made in the UK for that extra feel-good factor.
Left to right: Hazy Dazy Divine Collection bra, £32, 30-36 A-C; Midnight Garden Classic Collection bra, £30, 30-34 A-B; Vintage Discs Limited Edition bra, 28-34B £30. Sweetling.co.uk
The other great thing about Sweetling is that the brand has a size calculator on its website where girls (with mum’s help or without) can measure themselves and find out the size they should buy. And buying from Sweetling avoids the two-pack purchase which is commonly how a lot of first bras are sold, which doesn’t create a ‘grown up’ feeling.
Boobs and Bloomers
Boobs and Bloomers is a Dutch brand that specialises in teen lingerie and has lots of non-wired bras that offer a slightly more grown up look for girls moving on from first bras. You can choose from plains and prints in soft, comfy fabrics at very reasonable prices.
Left to right: navy polka dot cotton bra, £16, 30-36 A-B; flower print teen bra, £15, 30-36 AA-B; grey marl teen heart bra, £15, 30-36 AA-B. All from noo-noos.com.
One brand that definitely has the cool factor, is Brazilian label Marcyn Capricho which has a number of styles that are great for teens. Still non-wired, the brand’s signature wide underband and sporty style should appeal to trend-conscious teens, and they offer crop tops and bra styles that are very easy to wear.
Left to right: moulded cup, racerback bra, £15.95; pink crop top, £8; racerback crop top, £9. All from noo-noos.com.
Royce is another brand that has a specialist range for teens and young girls. All the Royce collections are wirefree and its teen Missy collection ranges from starter bras to pretty styles for early teens and even supportive sports bras for young girls – another essential item for developing breasts. These are great for younger girls, but older teens might not appreciate the cutesy two-pack packaging.
The Royce website also provides advice for parents on first bra fitting.
Left to right: The Bubbles print/plain two-pack is for younger girls and comes in sizes 30-36 AA-B for £20; The Sweetheart print/plain two-pack is aimed at slightly older girls and comes in sizes 30-36 A-D; My First Sports Bra is designed for the smaller frames of teenage girls. It comes in sizes 30-36 A-D and costs £22. All from Royce Lingerie.
As the nation’s first stop for underwear, M&S has a wide range of teen bras, many of which are sold as two-packs, especially online, but you can buy more singles in store. Choose from non-wired and wired styles, crop tops and sports crop tops in a selection of prints and plain colours.
Left to right: Two-pack Angel cotton rich apple print non-wired bralets, £12.50, 28-38 AA-B; Two-pack Angel cotton rich leaf print non-wired AA-C bras, £16,30-38 AA-C; Two-pack Angel cotton rich bird print underwired bras for older teens, £15, 28-38 AA-D. All from M&S.
If you can’t get to an independent boutique, department stores are a good bet as most of these will stock bras suitable for developing girls from a few brands as well as from their own-brand lingerie lines. A department store may also feel like a less pressured environment for your daughter if she feeling unsure of herself. Try somewhere like Debenhams or John Lewis or your local independent department store.
Left to right: Pineapple girl’s pack of two white moulded bras, £12-£14, 30-34 AA-A, Debenhams; Pack of two grey non wired bras £14, 30-38 AA-C, Debenhams; polka dot padded teen bra, £18, 28-34 A-DD, John Lewis.
As girls grow up and get further along in their development, it’s fine to transition to wired bras, but this doesn’t mean either your daughter or you will suddenly want her wearing sheer, sexy styles. Look for a brand that has a young feel and offers styles that are attractive and feminine without being too overt.
Two good brands to try are Cleo by Panache and Freya, both of which have fan bases of all ages, but which also appeal to teens and twenty-somethings because of their on-trend designs.
These brands are particularly good if your daughter has a cup size of D or above (which is not at all uncommon) as they are specifically designed to offer good support in larger cup sizes. Both brands offer some lines with 28 back bands and good basic ranges alongside their fashion styles. Another to consider is Lepel, which also offers a varied collection in terms of style and is reasonably priced, or take a look at B’tempt’d, which has a young, fun feel.
When buying from brands, it’s worth testing out their best-selling, core lines – the ones that repeat season after season – as well as fashion styles, as these will be popular for a reason. Freya’s Deco range is one such, with several styles of moulded bra to choose from, including a soft cup. Lepel’s Fiore is another one, a pretty but modest lace line that is loved by its fans and comes out in new colours each season. Choose from balconette, plunge and full cup styles to suit a range of shapes.
Left to right: Lepel’s Fiore plunge bra in navy, £22, 30-38 A-F, Figleaves.com; Freya Deco Honey underwired moulded plunge bra in jade green, £32, 28-38 D-GG, Asos.com; Marcie balconette bra in candy pink from Cleo by Panache, £27, 28-38 D-J, Figleaves.com.
We hope that this is helpful to any mums out their struggling to find bras for your daughters. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.