Breast friends: A step-by-step guide to helping your daughter choose her first bra

Wearing the right bra size, and a comfortable one, at that, can give you the confidence boost you need.
Wearing the right bra size, and a comfortable one, at that, can give you the confidence boost you need.

We always see that pinned and repinned quote about how one can compare a good friend to a bra. And it’s true – a bra is like a good friend: always comfortable, always supportive, always there to lift you up and, of course, close to your heart.

But it’s also incredibly hard to find, especially if you’re a young woman barely used to the new additions to your chest, never mind having to choose a holster to put your new lady guns in. 


Growing up I was completely insecure about my body. And when my boobs came in, it was a whole other level of awkward. For some or other reason I always felt like I wanted to tuck them away – even flatten them if I could. I was just never happy with the size and things only got worse when I went to high school. The comments didn’t affect me much, but I felt uncomfortable wearing a button-down dress as uniform, changing in front of everyone for PE class, and playing sports.

I mean it’s hard to keep your eye on the ball when you’re so focused on the bouncy mess happening on your chest.

But I think the discomfort had much to do with the fact that I simply wasn’t wearing the right bra. I was really just Taylor Swift at an awards ceremony, making the moves up as I go, with a whole lot less confidence.


Some years later, when I made the effort to actually have myself measured and figured out exactly what my size was and which type of bra was perfect for me, my self esteem got a much-needed boost. Everything became easier, including selecting clothes to wear and doing the things I love. And I kick myself now when I think how something so simple prevented me from doing so much.

So as the latest resource for our growing girls, or simply a guide for you to help them through, we’ve put together a woman’s guide to choosing her first bra. It’s a step-by-step that may seem fairly obvious to some, but I so wish I had it when I was coming into my own.

How did you help your daughter choose her first bra? Any tips you'd like to share? Tell us by emailing and we may publish your comments.

1. Get measured

In most underwear stores and departments they’ve got a woman in between the bralettes and T-shirt bras with a tape measure in one hand and a go-to attitude in the other, just waiting to assist you. But if you or your teen would feel more comfortable doing it on your own, here’s how they determine your band and cup size.

You’ll need to be wearing a non-padded bra for this, and a soft tape measure.

Your band size:

To measure the band of the bra, begin by wrapping the tape measure directly below the bust. You want to read the inch-measurements.

Keep the tape measure parallel to the ground and snug, but not too snug – your daughter should be able to breathe in and out comfortably. Round your measurement off to the nearest whole number and if the number you’re left with is an odd number, add 5. If it’s an even number, add 4.

Take 29,5 inches. Round that up to 30 and add 4. The band size would therefore be 34. 

Or 29,2 inches. Round that down to 29 and add 5. The band size would still be 34.

Your cup size:

Next, measure the cup size by measuring at the fullest part of your breast, most likely, in line with the nipple. Round that number off to the nearest whole number as well. Take your band number and subtract it from your bust measurement. Find the difference on the following chart, which will give you the corresponding cup size:

Say the band size is 34, and the fullest part of the bust measured 38 inches: you’d go 38 – 34 = 4. That gives you a bra size of 34D.

If the band size is 30, and the bust measurement rounds down to 30 inches, you'd have a bra size of 30AA.

2. Choose a bra that makes you feel comfortable

Once you’ve determined your daughter's bra size, she can look for the type of bra that feels comfortable to her, and by comfortable I mean which bra gives her what she, specifically, needs. Everyone’s different, but there are certain bras that work for smaller-chested women, and others that work for bustier women, or at least I think so.

For example, as beautiful as bralettes are (see below), they don’t have an underwire and don't offer much support, which is not the most comfortable or flattering for me – a bigger girl. Too much padding makes me look like Dolly Parton; an adhesive bra, let’s be honest, would fall right off; and I feel I’d just spill out of a balconette bra.

I imagine the opposite may be true if you were an A or B cup: you may not feel as comfortable in a full-cup and a hard underwire could one day deceive and betray, like a bad friend, stabbing you in the heart.

To make things a little easier, we’ve listed a few bras and their functions below.

Types of bras and their features and functions inf

Bra illustrations: iStock.

3. Choose a bra that makes you feel confident

While the fit of the bra is important, so too is buying a bra that makes you feel pretty.

Yes, mom, a beige T-shirt bra will probably be the most serviceable, but it’s also as drab and boring as watching a Nicholas Cage movie about the toilet paper industry.

“But where are you going with that bra? Who are you trying to look sexy for?”

Quite frankly, myself. They say if you look good, you’ll feel good, and that’s really all there is to it. So allow the frills and lace if that’s what makes her feel beautiful and helps her to embrace her changing body. It doesn’t matter if no one sees it. It will give her the confidence she needs, knowing she's wearing something pretty, even if it is underneath her clothes.

Because you may not always be able to see your best friend, but they’re always there for you when you need them.

How did you help your daughter choose her first bra? Any tips you'd like to share? Tell us by emailing and we may publish your comments.

Read more:

‘I don’t want to wear a bra, Mommy!’

Dear tween me, let’s talk about your period, sweetie

You won't believe the diagnosis and treatment for PMS back in the day

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