Bras & Underwear for Teens & Pre-Teens

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Training bra for 10-year-old?

Aug 2012

Help! My 10 yr old daughter is wanting me to get her some training bras. She has no need for one. Many of her friends are starting to develop and are wearing them, so I think she just wants to experiment a little and be one of the gang. Part of me is okay with that. And another part of me says ''relax, and just be a little girl while you still have the chance!''. How have all you wise BPNers handled this one? First daughter

Back when my daughter needed one we went to a very nice lingerie shop in Berkeley. It is no longer around but I am sure between Berkeley and Oakland there is a nice one around. Have her fitted and let it be a grown up experience for her. Or you can go to Nordstroms in Corte Madera and make a day of it. I know it can be expensive to buy bras at Nordstroms but they are so knowledgeable about fit and types of bras. So it will be worth the time to have her fitted and schooled on the right fit. Both sides of my family the women are well endowed so I wanted to prepare my daughter. My daughter later on found that she was uncomfortable with having her nipples show. So we went back to the lingerie store and got her one that was hard cup. pricey bra mom

I have a 12 yo and we went through this last year. The perfect solution was to get cotton/lycra sport-type bras. You can buy them at Target and they are merchandised right next to the true beginner/training bras. You can show your daughter that those really need to have something to fill the cup. My daughter liked the feel of sport bras and when her breast buds started developing she was glad to have that layer of fabric to smooth things out under her shirt. Anon

Get her the bra! No 10-year old wants to be told to stay a child, particularly not if all of their friends are not. Just buy the bra. What would it hurt? Why would you want her to feel different from everyone else? Anon

When I was entering 7th grade and knew I would have to change for P.E., I agonizingly asked my mom for a bra. I didn't need one at ALL, but couldn't face being the only one in the changing room without. At this age, the WORST thing in the world is not being like your peers. I know 10 is much younger, but also the options for first bras are much, much better - being no more than a sports bra.

From her point of view, if you don't get her one, she won't be thinking ''Yay, I'm still a little kid! Lucky me!''. If you get her a nice simple one that's in line with the fashion of her friends, she'll be thinking ''Phew! I don't stand out!''. And if she really doesn't need one, she may even stop wearing it everyday - maybe she'll be more comfortable without, maybe she will revel in weekends of being ''little''. And if you don't get for her, she may go out and get one herself and keep it a secret. It's been known to happen! I say get her one so that socially she doesn't feel so left out. The more I write, the more I remember that age and being the last one to go through puberty. I don't wish I could change the past, and every aspect helps our character, empathy, personality grow. But this is a gentle ''assistance'', telling her you'll be there to help her through these years, a chance to have some feminine bonding with your daughter, to start opening up the pathways of ALL the questions she'll have in the years to come. Ellen

My kids are not at that age yet, but if my experience 25+ years ago applies, get her one. When I asked (in maybe 7th grade) my mom tried to push the, ''you don't need it'' angle and I was further upset. I knew I didn't need it, heck I didn't ''need'' a bra until after I was through HS; total late bloomer. But there are reasons a girl ''needs'' a bra besides to support budding chest growth. Yes, I note that I was a couple years older than your girl, but I was the last in my class to get a bra. late bloomer

Really if her friends are getting them, it is about feeling grown up. Kids must experiment with the trappings of maturity. It is healthy to give something a dry run before you need it. The best non stress way to deal is get her something simple. She can wear it some and decide for herself if she wants to keep it up.

Target has cotton stretch slip on bras without cups that are more like undershirts. Some are even pretty. Don't make a big deal about it. Just get a couple and let it work itself out.

I did find out something important though for when development sets in. Padded cup bras help protect sensitive breast tissue from hurt. Even a small nudge to that area while developing can hurt pretty bad. I hated the idea of padded cups till I realized it was helping my daughter cope with the ache of developing. moonmom

I suggest you let her get the bras. My daughter was in a similar situation physically, but emotionally she was ready so it was an important part of her development. Recognize that is a separate being and her likes/dislikes in clothing and development are different from the perspective you bring. Target has great, affordable options - if it makes her feel good about herself it is a really easy one to say yes to! go for the bra

We handled it by buying her some bras. My husband was in the camp of ''She doesn't need it!'' But my feeling was, if she wants basic undergarments, let's not make it a big deal. I think he was just not ready to deal with his little girl wearing a bra.

We started with the ones at Justice. (I know: shudder. That place is awful.) They had bras with a light pad in the lining that you can take out. Also, they have some pull-over sports bras that were basically camisoles fashioned into a bra shape. All of these were cotton knit and easy to machine wash. JC Penny also has a decent selection of training bras. I told her we would not get those molded, demi-cup, push-up bras. She agreed.

She wanted to start wearing bras right after 5th grade. It hit me that she was self-conscious about the locker room at middle school.

If you're interested, this is the type we started with:

We also got a few of these:

And we didn't do these, but they are a good option, as they are in between a training bra and a sports bra. Her good friend started with this style:

I recently bought my daughter a training bra (12 yrs, her breasts are starting to develop and show. Her little sister, a few years younger wanted one too(she wanted to be like her big sister). I found some at Target, Hanes about $7. They look more like a sports top/bra v's a 'training' bra. I bought my older daughter the bra that looks more like a bra, and the younger one the one that looks like a sports top/bra. My mother and older sister always told me that support is best before your breasts develop fully. If your daughter is not showing anything, get her the ones that I got my youngest daughter. She'll more than likely stop wearing them. It takes a minute to get used to wearing one. My oldest is not comfortable yet that she has to wear one every day. Don't panic. It's normal part of development. My daughter is hoping her period comes before she goes back to school, cause apparently everyone else has been getting it since 4th grade!! Yikes!! My youngest daughter sometimes puts a liner in her underwear cause she wants to be like me!! It's normal to role model of your elders. Mother's of young women to come!! ANNON

I was one of the first girls in my class to get nylon stockings.My grandmother bought them for me and my mother was not happy.It really made me so happy and I still remember how good I felt.It did me no harm and I think you should let your daughter get the bra if she wants it. Ellen

If your daughter is asking for bras, then she's ready for bras (even if you're not). Support her! (Pun not actually intended). I was the flat-chested kid whose mom refused to buy bras for me even when every other girl in my class was wearing them; I eventually asked a girlfriend to go to the mall with me and bought bras with my own allowance. Argh, on so many levels. Listen to your kid, and don't miss the opportunity to share a little developmental landmark event with her. d.

I went through this when my daughter was just about to turn 11. I had bought her the book, The Keep and Caring of You (from the American Girl Book Series). This book helped her understand how her body will begin to change. As soon as she realized she was changing, she asked for a bra. I remember when I was a girl in 6th grade being too shy to ask my mom and wishing my buds wouldn't show (so I layered my tops no matter the weather). My daughter and I went to the mall and tried on a bunch of different types of training bras and found some at Penny's. I showed her how to tell if it's a good fit (ie., lift up your arms, make sure it doesnt creep up, does if feel comfortable to her? figure out best fabric, etc.). At first she wanted to tell everyone, she was so excited, but soon got tired of having to put them on everyday, so stopped for awhile. At about 11.5, she started wearing the full-time. If your daughter wants one for any reason, I'd get it for her. We have stayed away from bras w/padding, etc. and have used the t-shirt material bras that are shaped more like a bikini top. Whatever fits her best when she is moving around should work out fine. Good luck and have fun shopping with her. She'll remember getting her first bra w/fond memories if she is supported in getting it when she asks for it. ANON

Well, I maybe have some advice about what NOT to do. When I was your daughter's age (I'm 40 now), I wanted to start wearing a training bra. Most of my friends were wearing them, but my mother refused to even listen to me about the subject. I was beginning to develop, but she reacted with such disdain and hostility when I would try to talk with her about it that I eventually gave up. My aunt finally saw what was going on and bought one for me, and I wore it in secret.

I think my mom just refused to acknowledge that I was growing up - both physically and emotionally, and this led to many years of me feeling like I couldn't talk to her about anything related to my body or sexuality. That may sound extreme, but that's exactly what ended up happening. Breasts are usually the first thing that girls notice about themselves when their bodies begin to change, so if I were in your shoes right now, I would take her out for a Mommy-Daughter shopping day topped off with a nice lunch to lightheartedly talk about her changing body - even if you don't think she's ready for a training bra. J

Underwear for slim teen girl

July 2006

I'm having terrible trouble finding underwear for my 15-year-old daughter. She is very slim, with 33-inch hips. She doesn't want to wear kiddie underwear, obviously. But all the women's underwear we've seen is too big (the smallest seems to start at 34-inches for the hips). Any suggestions? She is particularly looking for bikini styles or boyshorts. I'd prefer reasonably priced (we did find one website with stuff in the $100 range!)
Oakland Mom

Go to Victoria's Secret. Their sizes range from zero to extra large. They have a great line called ''Pink'' with some fun prints and colors and many styles. They also have ''basics'' and frequent sales. Once you know what you like, you can also shop online.

If you don't mind taking BART into SF or driving in and parking H on Powell would be the perfect place to find the size she needs. Their sizes run very small. In fact my 13 yo who is very slim usually a size 3 to 5 jrs fits a 6 there. Very inexpensive too.
Hope this helps
Mom of x slim Teen

My 5'4'' 108 pound teen had the same problem. A very petite salesclerk at the Gap gave us the answer -- Victoria's Secret. They carry extra small underwear in cotton knit and microfiber in a wide range of styles including bikini, low cut bikini, thong, brief, high cut brief,etc. My daughter found the low cut bikini to fit her best --no more baggy seats! While they do cost more than the 5-packs from Target, you can often find sales and/or get a reduction in price for buying 5 or more pairs.

And they have usually have nice, well-made shelf bra camisoles to match some of the panty styles, so she can have attractive, comfortable matching underwear without looking like, well, a Victoria's Secret ad.
Challenged mom of a tiny daughter

I also have a very slender teen daughter. She's had good luck finding underwear at the women's Gap store on Bay Street. Her hips are also around 33 in., and their x-small fits her well. They have lots of styles including the bikinis and boy shorts your daughter is looking for. You can also find their styles on line at
Hope this works for you! Mama of a Thin One

Good Selection of Small-Sized Bras

Feb 2006

My daughter wears a size 34-A bra. Does anyone know where to find this size in a nice selection of colors (or at least something other than black and white), preferably without underwires? (And preferably not terribly expensive!) We live in Berkeley, and already know about Bancroft Clothing Co. I don't much like shopping on-line, but will consider going to the Internet for the Perfect Bra.

Victoria's Secret's new line, ''Pink'' offers a good selection of fashionable smaller cup bras. They also have a lot of bras that don't have underwire (see their on-line selection for best choice). Also, the San Francisco Macy's has the best selection around if you are an A cup. an ''A'' myself

I wear 32A and have had the best luck with Lily of France brand bra. They come in many styles and colors and are very comfortable. I think the large department stores are the best place to find them; once you find a style you like, you can buy them online. The Barely There brand also makes lots of small sizes, but I have found the durability somewhat lacking. Kristen

There is a great online selection at I never thought I'd want to buy bras online, but her selection and service absolutely make it worth it. Fleuri specializes in A and AA bras -- the tagline is ''for women who don't need a lot.'' She has some pricey lines, but some everyday lower-cost ones as well. Lots of colors, softcup and underwire. The return policy is great, and if you have questions about the styles and what's likely to work for you, she offers advice by phone or e- mail. I'm a 36A, but after bf'ing two kids I want a supportive bra, and I've found wonderful ones through Fleuri -- I know, I'm gushing about it, but a good bra is such an important thing, and as a hard-to-fit size, I'm so happy to have found something like Fleuri. A woman who happily doesn't need a lot

I wear about the same size bra as your daughter and just got a great bunch of ''bralettes'' by Maidenform at Kohl's in San Leandro - on sale right now for $7.60. Great colors and many to choose from. -Lovin' these bras!

Prior to pregnancy and breastfeeding, I was a 34A. (Now I'm a 34DD, which is a strange experience.) I used to get my bras at Macy's in Walnut Creek. I liked the Calvin Klein bras especially, and on sale they're not too expensive. Newly Busty

If you are willing to shop online, I can highly recommend the Bare Necessities web site ( They have a great range of sizes. I am a 36A (used to be a B before kids...sob) and I can usually find what I want at Bare Necessities. It seems to me that stores get in one or two of the A cup sizes and sell them out quickly. An A Cup Sister

Young teens wearing thong underwear?

September 2005

I am a parent of a 7-yr-old and I am writing a magazine story about a trend I've noticed among young teens to wear thong underwear. Companies such as Abercrombie and Fitch and Deliah's have been marketing thongs in girls sizes. Has anyone else noticed this trend? Does this alarm anyone? Vanessa

I am curious to know what you object to and why you think we should be alarmed by teens wearing thong underwear.

I am more concerned about the effects of advertising on our children. As we all know, clothing designer and manufacturers change styles as just a way of making perfectly good clothes obsolete so you have to buy new clothes. As soon as everyone is wearing thong underwear, they'll think of some other kind of underwear for everyone to wear along with some form of advertisement to make it appealing to teens. I'm sure thongs are quite profitable as they cost the same as other underwear and there is hardly any material cost involved. Maybe soon we'll be back to boxers.

The best thing we can do is show our children how these advertisements manipulate them into spending money for things they don't need. Then perhaps they can use other criteria for making their choices. I wear thongs for practical reasons.

Thong wearing grandma

A few years ago my teen (then ~ 15) started wearing thongs under her volleyball spandex to eliminate panty lines. No, it doesn't alarm me if they can stand them -- I think they're dreadfully uncomfortable. But for kids? I don't think a parent needs to buy them for kids. Barbara

It's just another latest style. I don't think the girls that wear them are making a sexual statement any more than we were when we wore really short miniskirts. They are just trying to be stylish. Teens wear them, so of course pre-teens will wear them in order to look like cool teens.

Thongs are uncomfortable in my opinion, and I don't wear them, but then bras are uncomfortable too. And high heels. And panty hose. And jeans that are too tight. And mascara. All of which I wear. I guess I could dress in sweatpants and t-shirts and no bra, but then nobody could stand to look at me, including myself! It's no big thing, IMO.
Just tryin to be stylin

Bra for almost-10 year old?

September 2005

I've checked the archives, and while there are suggestions for where to buy first bras, they don't address when. My almost-10 year old daughter doesn't need the physical support of a bra yet (far from it), but she is self-conscious about her ''bumps'' (her word) when she wears knit tops. Her ''bumps'' look very small to me, and I've seen plenty of girls who are bigger and not apparently wearing a bra. Should I follow her lead about when to buy her first bra? A late bloomer myself

If your daughter is feeling self-conscious, by all means, take her lead. I don't think it is too early -- I'd noticed that my daughter, who is 11, and most of her friends started going through similar physical changes when they were 10. I took my daughter about 6 months ago to get a ''bra'', because we noticed she was starting to show her points, although they're hardly noticeable. She didn't want to get a bra, per se, and seemed very embarrassed about going to find one. I made it a special day for just the two of us, without dad or younger sister, and used that time to talk casually about puberty and some other issues. We went to the lingerie section of a department store for a greater selection, and I had her try on what she liked. Instead of getting a regulation bra, she chose short tanks with shelf bras and thin adjustable straps (Barely There brand). They're comfortable and work very well under knit tops and light-colored t-shirts; and they're very much in fashion. Hope this was helpful. Good luck. mom of preteen

My mom took me shopping at about the same age and we found a set of underwear with a top much like a light sports bra. I got to pick it out myself and that increased my confidence. early bloomer

I really think the time is when your daughter feels ready. If she feels uncomfortable or self-conscious, and she thinks a bra would help alleviate that, I would trust her. Sarah

Absolutely follow her lead! I'm not a big advocate of early-bra-wearing, but it's their bodies and they should feel comfortable. I would recommmend maybe a sports bra or softly padded bra, but not an underwire bra. There are plently of these kinds of bras around for first-wearers. It's kind of fun too, to go bra-shopping with your daughter. It's the begining of adolescence and a whole lot of new things to come. Have fun! good luck from a bra-wearing mom of a bra-wearing daughter!

Follow her lead by all means. When I was a kid they called them ''training'' bras, which always cracked me up. But they have many useful roles: to give straps to a girl uncomfortable about not having them when her friends do; to cover up those very sensitive ''bumps'' so clothes don't rub them uncomfortably, and probably others. It's easy to find a cup size A-B bra which will start small then stretch a bit as she grows. Take her to a nice dept. store if you can, and have fun with it! anne

I got my 11 year old two bras this past spring. She was interested in getting them, enjoyed trying them on and buying them, and since then she has not worn them. This doesn't bother me - I think she just likes to know they're there. My suggestion then would be to go ahead and get a bra for her, and let her decide if she actually wants to wear it all or some of the time, or none of the time! We went to Nordstroms in Corte Madera FYI where the salesperson was very helpful and matter-of-fact - my daughter liked being treated like a grown-up. tweeny mom

Oh, I wish my mom had asked this question when I was in the 4th grade. I still cringe when I think of how long it took to build up the courage to ask her for a bra only to have her laugh and say, ''No, YOU don't need one.'' (I was so envious of my best friend, whose mom made a big deal of all transition-to-womanhood things and bought her a beautiful pink satiny special one. She was also the mom who bought kid-friendly books on getting your period, had a coming-of-age party for her, etc.) Anyway, the topic was dropped by both me and my mom for over 3 years, when it was most definitely past the time for me to get one.

So, I say, get your daughter a bra. If she thinks she needs/wants one, what could it hurt? It can be embarassing to be the only girl without a bra, whether or not she truly needs one. And if she changes her mind or doesn't like it, she'll probably just stop wearing it. I guarantee you she will be grateful if you don't make a big issue of whether or not she should have one. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret

There seems to be a LOT of peer pressure these days about covering up those little ''bumps''. Girls are pressured to wear bras, or at least camisoles, at a really young age. I don't think there's any harm in it, except that bras are uncomfortable. During winter, anyway, camisoles seem better. I hated bras, myself, and refused to wear one until my best friend told me I HAD to, and I was pretty big! I would try to avoid anything that is padded, since you probably don't want your little girl to look like she has something she doesn't! had to wear one before I wanted to

I bought sports bras for my daughter last year (she was 10 and had ''bumps'') for her to wear if she wanted. She sometimes wear it under tight tops, but mostly not. She knows it's available, it is enough for her, for now. For my daughter, the issue is more to be like the other girls and not to advertise what she thinks she's to young to have. anon

I recall all the other girls getting bras and me not needing/having one. I had to ask my mom for one and explain why I thought I needed one. As if peer-pressure wasn't enough I got parental-pressure too! :) It would have been nice to have my mother notice the class/age ''trend'' on this milestone and made an offer. I probably still would have been awkward and embarrassed... who knows! I'd follow her lead, while surveying her peers. The first bra is not to support the buds, it's just to support the girl. small blooms

I have two teenage daughters myself (12 and 15 1/2) and was also a late bloomer, though my daughters weren't. This first bra issue was a very sensitive one for me in middle school because it seemed to be a rite of passage that EVERY other girl had reached but I hadn't (an exaggeration, of course, but that's the way it felt). When I asked my mom to get me a bra, her response was that I didn't need one. She was right, of course, but I'm convinced that she could have handled it better and was determined to handle it better when my daughters got to that age. I think at a certain point in every girls' life there's a combination modesty/status issue about wearing a bra, and I decided when it came to my own daughters I didn't really care what that mix was. When they were ready for one (they both asked me; it wasn't my idea), I went with them to buy ''sports'' bras. They were perfectly happy with those for the first year or so and they're really handy when you have to change clothes for soccer practice in the back seat of the car. (-: That said, the Gap, Limited Too and Target are all good sources for sports bras. Good luck! Also a Late Bloomer

I remember desperately, desperately wanting to wear a bra -- and I also remember how sad, hurt and belittled I felt when my mom said I didn't need one. Then when I finally did get a bra I hated it. It looked bumpier under my shirt than my bumps had; it was uncomfortable; and worst of all, all the boys at school NOTICED it and commented and snapped the back. Of course I still didn't really need it, but after all that begging I didn't have the courage to just tell my mom I didn't want it after all. So my advice is to smile sweetly, buy your daughter the bra, and gently let her know that often girls decide they don't want to wear one after all... and that if that happens, it will be just fine with you. anon

Your letter took me back many years to when I was your daughter's age and wanted my first bra. I was and still am flat, but somehow, to me, that bra represented growing up. My poor mother was so oblivious to the needs of a child, I applaud you for giving so much thought and consideration to your daughter and can only say: Yes! Go with her, what a great opportunity to spend time with your daughter and help her in this important transition. BTW - I now never wear a bra, unless it's for business. flat

My 9.5 year old daughter is in a similar development phase. Our solution has been simple white undershirts - they are light cotton tanks that come in packs of 3 at places like Target. I personally dislike most bras and am quite small chested - so much so that I will sometimes go without - so am definitely not encouraging anything like a training bra just yet. If the tank doesn't make your daughter feel more comfortable, my next recommendation would be a training bra in the ''shelf bra'' style - similar to a sports bra shape. Kristen

We started off with lycra cami tops from Target. Like wearing an undershirt. Available in the adult underwear dept--the small size is really small and will probably fit fine. We've now moved on to the super stretchy type bras in their kid bra dept. None of these offer support, but just a nice layer to make her feel more secure. Wish they had these options when I was a kid! Good luck

Old Navy has great starters bras. My 12 year old started wearing them last year, she was just commenting how nice they were. anon.

When my daughter was about 10 or 11 I bought her several sports-type bras (at Target) in the girl's section. I remember distinctly being self-concious about my ''bumps'' at that age. These bras are a good transition before your child really needs the support of a regular bra. Another late bloomer

Where can 12-your-old be properly fitted for a bra?

August 2000

I went back-to-school shopping with my almost 12 year old daughter this evening. She feels that her breasts are large enough that if she does not wear a bra, (boys) people will stare at her chest. She feels she needs to secure them somehow. I remember being this same age and general point of development myself. Thirty years ago however, the staring was (dare I say this?) more subtle. I'm sure the boys stared, just I didn't think about them, I suppose. Can anyone on this list recommend a place where she can be properly fitted with a decent bra? She has used a sports bra for the past few months, but it is too hot (and bulky) for summer clothes. Is there a teen, or preteen store that would be less embarrassing for her to be fitted? Or can somebody point us toward a certain brand that would be good?

My daughter (12) and I went to Target and found a very simple, light bra that fit her pretty well. I would imagine that any large deparment store would carry something appropriate.

When dealing with this challenge last summer, for my then-11 year old, I found that the regular lingerie departments of women's clothing or department stores were fine. I just asked to be pointed in the direction of light-weight bras for small-breasted women and found a huge selection because lighter, less structured bras are in style. I helped her with the fitting myself because she did not want any strangers near her. My daughter liked shopping at Bancroft Clothing across from the campus because it caters to teenagers and college students. We've also been successful at Macy's, though she's less comfortable there. (If you're really concerned with getting a professional fitting the first time around, I'd go to Nordstrom's where the help is fantastic.) The biggest challenge is that at this age they are extremely self-conscious and therefore VERY picky. I happened into a solution to this problem a few months ago when I found a great sale at Macy's and she wasn't with me: with the aid of a cell phone, I did the shopping without her. The basic idea is you figure out her size (based on visual inspection and how much too small the current bra is) and a general sense of what she likes (type of material, decoration/no decoration, thin straps or thick, underwire or not, etc.--I deduced this by having her buy several different styles and watching which ones she wore and which ones stayed in the drawer, but you could also do it by looking at magazines or catalogs), go to the store and pick out 5 or 6 that fit the bill, then call her from the store, describe them, and let her narrow down the choices over the phone. She's perfectly happy to take my selection, feels like she has control because she picks the color, etc. (based on my description), and is tremendously relieved to not have to go into the store herself! I never would have imagined that one could use someone else to shop for such a personal item, but it's worked out just fine and it's WAY faster!!
Please post anonymously or my daughter will kill me.

My 13 year old wears a very comfortable cotton/lycra bra from Victoria's Secret (their size 32 runs small). It think it is called a bralette. It looks like a cross between a regular bra and a sports bra but it has all day comfort. Looks great under T-shirts. The customer service at Victoria's Secret (we went to Corda Madera) is very good. As many of you ladies out there know, we go through many bras and many size and style changes. I think it is good for young girls to learn how to ask for fitting help. There is such a variety, that advice is often needed!
Anonymous Please (my daughter would be Soooooo embarrassed!)

Bancroft Clothing seems like a good place to go for bras for a teen. They cater to college students and have lots and lots of tiny little bras and panties. I was there yesterday looking for something a bit (ahem) larger for myself (didn't find much in my size alas). A Mom