Wearing a bra for the first time can be simultaneously terrifying, exciting and nerve-wracking, and taking your little girl shopping for her first bra can feel equally intimidating. The more you know going into the process, the easier it’ll be on both of you, so Shop TODAY asked two bra experts to share their top tips to help you find a comfortable bra for your favorite little lady. We also rounded up a dozen options to help you get started. Good luck!
What age should girls be wearing training bras?
We’re all different, so there’s no “required” age for wearing a training bra, according to Dora Lau, founder and president of Dora L International, an intimate apparel global sourcing and design company. In general, though, Lau said many girls start needing a bra when their hormones start to kick in during puberty (typically between the ages of 8 and 13, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development).
How to shop for a training bra
You need to learn to walk before you can run, and there’s a reason that first bras are often referred to as “training bras.” If it’s been a few decades since you started wearing bras yourself or you’re a dad shopping for his daughter, you might not know where to start. Luckily, the pros we spoke to helped us put together this little cheat sheet:
- Keep it simple: “Kids are always looking for something to criticize, so choosing a bra that doesn’t draw attention to the wearer is key for this young age group,” Suzanne Macbale, CEO and founder of New York-based lingerie brand LoveSuze, said.
- Bralettes are the best: “A bralette gives support combined with ease of fitting, as well as a contemporary and sporty style, and it’s good for a first bra. Look for a bralette that goes over the head and has a scoop neck so it’s a bit like a camisole and won’t feel like a bra,” said Lau.
- Comfort is key: “As they are still developing, some flexibility of fit provides comfort as breasts grow. Look for limited stretch seamless cups, perhaps with a light lining for modesty (no nipple show), which do not show seams under clothing are a good choice for growing bodies,” Lau told us.
- Seek out stretchy styles: “Adjustable stretch straps and back hooks and eyes when purchasing bras with sized cups give options for comfort and support adjustment. A flexible L-shaped underwire can give extra support for a larger bust,” Lau revealed.
- Breathable fabrics are great: “Look for natural fibers like cotton, bamboo with spandex or cotton modal. Nylon or polyester fabrics are not breathable,” Lau explained.
Do you need to take your daughter to get measured for her first bra?
Getting measured for a bra is a rite of passage, but it’s not really necessary when you first start wearing a bra, according to Macbale.
“For a girl’s first bra, she does not need to know her band or cup size. They are usually not busty enough and simply need a bra in a size XS, S, M or L,” she said.
Over time, girls eventually transition into a bra with a cup and band size, and when that happens, Lau explained that getting measured by a professional can make a world of difference.
“It is important to get fitted if possible, as a bra that is too loose will not support or be comfortable, equally one that is too tight or small will also be uncomfortable. Bra fitting should be done regularly as growth continues,” she advised.
If your daughter is a bit shy, you can always order several sizes and brands and try them on at home. But an in-person fitting is ideal.
“A simple over the bust and under the bust measurement should be quick and easy to determine band size and cup size,” Lau said.
Best training bras to shop
Jockey Girl’s Cotton Stretch Bralette
It doesn’t get more basic than this bralette set from Jockey — and we mean that in the best possible way. The cotton stretch bralettes feature adjustable straps and offer just enough support for a starter bra. They also satisfy two of Macbale’s biggest recommendations: that the bra be wireless and have an elastic bottom.
Popular Cotton Girls Training Bra
This Amazon bestseller has 8K+ five-star ratings from customers who couldn’t help but gush about how comfy the pull-on design is. It comes in neutral and colored options, has adorable bow detailing and is available in sets of four or five bras. Not bad for $15!
Girls SO Tie-Dye & Solid Racerback Sports Bra
Bralettes are a fantastic first bra choice, but a sports bra is also useful to have on hand, especially for girls who love to play sports.
“With any bra purchase, you’ll want to find something that gives her the support she needs and is comfortable. Feeling good in her first bra will boost her confidence and empower her to navigate her day successfully,” Macbale said.
This two-pack we spotted is available in sizes S-XXL and has a comfy, wire-free design and fun words like “love” and “squad” on the elastic band.
Maidenform Seamless Crop Bra
Over time, girls discover what bra styles they like best, and you can help jumpstart their journey by picking up a multipack like this set that comes with one racerback, one scoop neck and one triangle bra.
“As girls age, they will want to be cognizant of their bust size and shape. There are different bra styles that work better for petite busts and full busts. For example, bralettes in a triangle shape are better for girls and women with petite busts, as those with full busts would likely spill out,” Macbale said.
Old Navy Cami Bra for Girls
Wearing a bra can feel a bit unnatural at first, but fun patterns can help ease the transition a bit. This set from Old Navy comes with patterned cotton cami bras with adjustable straps and elastic hems. The prints range from stars and stripes to hearts and smiley faces, and we could totally see our younger selves wearing them.
Shein Girls Rib-Knit Bralette
When you’re just starting to wear a bra, you don’t need any fancy bells and whistles and something like this four-pack of ribbed bralettes we found for $9 is ideal.
“Seamless knitted tanks and bralettes are wonderful options and light fabrics with bonded edges are great for a start into the bra world as well as comfortable options,” Lau said.
B2BODY Girls Seamless Padded Training Bra
“Some girls blossom faster than others and may have a fuller bust. In this case, I recommend that those with a larger bust opt for a first bra that offers more coverage and light padding to prevent any part of her bust showing through,” Macbale told us.
While searching for padded bra options, we came across this four-pack that comes with two racerback styles and two scoop neck bras. The coolest part? The padding is removable, so girls can wear it two ways depending on their bust size and the occasion.
Cat & Jack Girls’ Cotton Cami Bra
Three bras for $7? Talk about an affordable way to help your daughter build her bra collection. Cat & Jack’s cotton cami bras are wireless and stretchy, and they’re made of a soft, lightweight fabric. In other words, we wish they made them in our size!
Fruit of the Loom Reversible Crop Bra
When you find a bra that’s comfy, it’s always smart to buy it in multiples, and this multipack from Fruit of the Loom comes with four bras that your favorite girl will get lots of use out of. It includes two white bras that go with everything and two fun prints — hearts and stripes — for days where your daughter is feeling a bit whimsical. They’re also tag-free, which is a major bonus!
Maidenform Girls’ Seam-Free Padded Bra
Removable pads? Check. Lightweight fabric? Yep. Comfy pullover design? Uh huh. This set is basically the trifecta of training bras. It comes with two bras — one racerback and one V-neck — and has several comfortable features including adjustable straps and ruched detailing.
Athleta Girl Day to Day Seamless Bra
“Everyone’s bodies and lifestyles are different, so it’s important to acquire bras that stretch and adjust as each girl’s body naturally fluctuates and that the bras are made of fabric that flexes so she can move through her day with comfort and ease,” Macbale told us.
This underwear drawer essential is the perfect example and is available in three neutral hues (white, nude and black) and six sizes. It’s made of a stretchy seamless fabric and also has soft straps that won’t dig into shoulders.
Nicole Miller Training Bra with Removable Pads
Great for girls who need a little more support, these padded wireless bras are made with a breathable fabric and feature adjustable straps for ultimate comfort. The padding can also be removed in a flash for times when she doesn’t need it, and the set comes with four bras in three color schemes.
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