While buying a first bra can be a milestone to be celebrated, it can also a delicate issue that should be handled with care. Armed with the right information, a parent can easily ace this important stepping stone. Parentology consulted with Ilona Shariga, CEO and founder of Ms Pomelo, a UK-based, onlin bra brand, for expert advice on how to choose the best-fitting, first bra.
Is a training bra necessary?
Turns out, this question has both a yes and a no answer. “A training bra is ideal for girls who develop tender breast buds,” Shariga says. “While not a bra in the strict sense of the word, a training bra offers camouflage and is a rite of passage to help a girl transition to a fully formed physique.”
Not all girls need a training bra, though. Shariga points out girls’ physiques have become bigger over the last 20-30 years, with many developing fully-grown busts. These girls can bypass training bras and purchase one based on true size.
Not having a perfectly-fitting bra to wear can have a profoundly negative impact on a girl’s self-confidence. And many girls are too embarrassed to broach the subject with their mothers. So, it’s up to mothers to take the first step and be open about the subject.
When is the right time for a first bra?
Every girl develops at her own pace, it’s not age-related, Shariga notes. Girls as young as 11 might need a bra, while others only need one around 14. The right time for a first bra is when the breast tissue measures an A cup or more.
What should you look for in a first bra?
We all know the basics: a bra should be comfortable to wear and provide good shape under clothes. There’s more to finding the right fit, though. “Choose a cup that doesn’t interfere with tissue,” Shariga advises. “Avoid underwire bras; they’re not suitable for young girls.”
Some pointers recommended by Ms Pomelo:
- Look for design supporting good posture and comfort: wider straps, full cup (to prevent the tissue from spilling), sides made from power mesh (to hug the body well and prevent it from traveling).
- Choose breathable, high-quality materials like cotton, or bamboo cotton, for cup lining.
- Go with non-wired for young girls. The body’s lymphatic system is highly concentrated in the underarm and chest regions, wearing a bra can keep our lymph circulation from draining easily out of the breast, hence wires are best avoided during early age. That said, if you must go with the wires, ensure they fit well and are not don’t pinch.
- Choose plain patters (min sexy lace etc.) and pastel colors (nude etc.) that don’t contrast with school uniforms.
- Use sports bras only for sports, not as a daily wear (see point on lymphatic system above).
How do you gauge the best fit?
Something to note, Shariga says, “Bra size will fluctuate continuously throughout life, triggered by many events including puberty, childbirth, menopause and weight gain or loss.”
Throughout these various stages of life, Ms Pomelo advocates three pillars for finding the right fit: band, straps and cups. The right fit in these three elements encourage a good, upright posture.
Ms Pomelo offers a free FitKit with a tape measure, size measurement instructions and fabric swatches of specific bra models. They also offer intimate workshops with no more than six participants. These are often mother/daughter-focused.
Also on tap, in-depth tutorials like this one:
Can the wrong bra affect your health?
Buying a first bra together is an ideal time to continue conversations about breast health. Why this is important? Knowing basic bra health goes beyond benefits of comfort and a good shape under clothes. Shariga says, proper bra health prevents headaches, shoulder aches, indigestion and compromised backbone health.
What if you’re not developing as quickly as your friends?
Shariga’s advice for girls who are self-conscious and shy when all their friends are proudly sporting their first bras, “Learn to love and respect your own shape. Develop your own sense of style that’s uniquely you. Look for role models who may be in the same situation.”