Helping a Teen Girl Find Her First Bra

shopping for bra

A teen girl's first bra is not only an article of clothing. It is also a long-awaited symbol of her impending maturity, of reaching a new stage in her life as well as her physical development. All teenagers can be sensitive about their body image, and choosing the right first bra is an important step in fostering a healthy self image and confidence for a young woman.

Buying a First Bra

It may be difficult to know when to purchase a girl's first bra. Most girls will begin to wear bras between the ages of 11 and 13, even if they have not begun to develop. A young teen may want to buy her first bra to coincide with her friends and peer group, particularly if she is involved in physical education classes or sports activities and is aware that other girls are wearing bras.

While there is no single time that is best, some situations may lend themselves well to bra shopping.

  • Breasts begin to develop.
  • The girl expresses or displays signs of self-consciousness about her breasts.
  • A teen girl complains about breast discomfort.
  • More support is needed for sporting activities.
  • She asks to go bra shopping.
  • You realize that most of her friends are wearing bras, so you ask her if she is ready.

Starter Bra Style Options

Beginning bras are called many things, including training bras, starter bras, and bralets. Even if the changes in her body are minimal, a teen girl's first bra still symbolizes the fact that she is growing up and gives her confidence that she will develop into an attractive woman. Starter bras should be age-appropriate and be designed to provide support for a girl's developing breasts. Many styles work well for a girl's first bra.

Crop Top

Crop top bras, also called pullover bras or seamless bras, provide minimal support but offer coverage for budding breasts. They work well for girls who are just beginning to develop, as well as for those who haven't begun developing yet but who want to wear a bra.

These bras usually come without cup sizes because they do not have cups. Instead, they are sized based on band size. They have some spandex and usually come in a breathable fabric blend such as cotton-spandex.

  • Hanes offers a cotton pull-over bra for under $10. Parents give it high ratings for a child's first bra, citing comfort and ease of use. It comes in sizes small through extra-large, with sizes corresponding to band sizes ranging fro 30 to 36.
  • The Gap's basic bra is double lined, so it provides extra coverage and a little bit of support. Sizing ranges from extra small to extra large (based on band sizes of 32 to 40). The bra costs around $11, and reviewers like it for its support and comfort.
  • Fruit of the Loom's spaghetti strap short bra is made from Lycra-spandex. The bra costs about $20 for a three-pack and offers a range of sizes based on band measurement from 32 to 40. Reviewers rate the bra highly, and especially like the tank-style straps.


Bralets (or bralettes) are similar to crop top bras, although they tend to offer a bit more shaping with darts and ruching in the cup area. These bras contain spandex, which provides some support for developing breasts. Varying styles work well under different necklines. Some come with removable padding, as well.

  • Maidenform Seamfree Laceis an affordable lacy style from Target that's great for teens who want a more traditionally styled bra. Sizing is for band-size only and ranges from extra-small to extra large. The cost is under $15.

T-Shirt Bra

T-shirt bras offer good support, though they are typically wireless. They are styled specifically so they don't show up under cotton t-shirts, making them a great choice for girls who need support but are uncomfortable with people being able to see their bra outline. Sizing for t-shirt bras is traditional - using band and cup sizes.

  • Jockey makes a girls' t-shirt bra that comes in a few different colors and patterns. Sizing ranges from 32 A to 36 A. Reviewers like the fit, comfort, and appearance of this bra, which costs around $15.
  • The Maidenform t-shirt bra has a modest fit and comes in small sizes, making it perfect for teens. Reviewers like the fit, appearance, and comfort. The cost ranges from $17 to $35.

Sports Bra

Sports bras provide firm support for junior athletes with wide straps and lots of spandex. They also typically feature moisture wicking, which pulls sweat away from the body and can prevent discomfort and chafing during physical activity. These bras are perfect for active girls.

  • Hanes has a seamless active bra for teens that costs about $9. It is a pullover bra with wide straps, and it is made from moisture-wicking nylon and spandex. The bra costs less than $10. Sizing runs from small to extra-large (30 to 36 band size) with no cup size.
  • Champion makes a basic sports bra that comes in sizes ranging from extra-small to extra-extra large (for chest sizes from 33 to 47.5 inches). The bra is seamless and has a supportive racer back. Reviewers really like the bra's comfort and range of colors. The cost is around $16.


Underwire bras offer a little extra support because they have a wire running underneath the cup. Girls with slightly larger breasts may appreciate the support offered in these bras.

  • The Hanes girls' padded underwire bra fits A-cup girls but offers a supportive underwire. The cup is lightly padded, and it comes in multiple colors. Reviewers rate it high for style, but note that the bra runs a little large. Sizing is based on band sizing and runs from 32 to 36.
  • The 'pure luxe' bra from Natori is both a t-shirt bra and an underwire bra, providing great support and making it invisible under t-shirts. It has modest styling and comes in an array of colors and patterns. Band sizes start at 30 and cup sizes start at A. The cost is around $72.

Selection Considerations

Before making a final selection, it's important to make sure the garment fits properly and provides the right level of support. It should also be a pretty, fashionable piece that the young lady will be pleased to wear.


Because bra tissue can be tender and delicate while it is growing, proper sizing is crucial for a girl's first bra. This is an excellent opportunity to teach a young woman how to choose the correct size so that she does not spend the rest of her life believing that bras must be restrictive, uncomfortable garments.

To find a properly fitting bra:

  • You can take measurements yourself and use an online bra size calculator to determine the right size.
  • You may want to enlist the help of a professional lingerie consultant to explain sizing to the girl and let her be involved in the bra selection experience.

Most lingerie boutiques thoroughly train their employees about proper bra sizing and they are happy to assist teens in finding the right size. The same is true for many department stores. Major department stores that offer fitting services include Nordstrom, Macy's, Sears and Kohl's. You may also wish to phone local department and lingerie shops where you like to shop to see if they offer this service, as well.


Depending on breast size and development, the amount of support in a bra may be less crucial than for adults, since the first bra is more likely to support her psychologically than physically. Nevertheless, some young girls are large enough to require adult sizes, and many parents opt for sizes that are slightly loose so they can be adjusted as the girl matures.


There are a number of bra styles available to suit all tastes, so a teen's first bra does not need to be a plain white, featureless garment.

  • Because it is a momentous purchase, girls often prefer attractive colors, a bit of lace, or other distinctive features that coincide with their individuality.
  • Sexy bras and exotic garments are not generally appropriate for a teenager, but fun, flirty styles are always popular.
  • Underwire styles are available in smaller sizes and can sometimes be more comfortable than other styles.
  • A sports bra is a good investment since she will undoubtedly be involved in gym classes and other activities where the extra support is welcome.

Shopping Together

The initial shopping trip for a first bra may be celebrated as a special occasion, particularly between mother and daughter. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share the mystery of womanhood, and many women use the occasion to discuss other feminine issues such as menstruation, dating, personal hygiene, and sex as well as more prosaic issues associated with bras and lingerie. However, some teenage girls may prefer to shop by themselves, relying on the advice of experienced salespeople for this first adult purchase. If that is the case, parents should set clear guidelines about the type of garment their daughter may choose, but they should allow her to take this growing-up step in whatever way she is most comfortable.

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Helping a Teen Girl Find Her First Bra