How to find the best bra for a smaller bust — and make sure it fits perfectly

News flash: bra-fit issues aren’t exclusive to big busts. Here’s how to solve common problems like wandering bands, slipping straps and gaping fabric.

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Small chest bra fit
If measuring at home, make sure the tape-measure is at the fullest part of the bust (typically along your nipples line).

 

1. Fit to a T
The hard truth is you won’t get far with any style of bra if you don’t have an accurate fit. “Many women take for granted that they are wearing the same size as they did a few years ago,” says Marie-Josée Koury, customer relations and product development consultant for lingerie brand, Wacoal Canada. Gaining or losing weight, having children and aging can all affect a bust line. A professional fitting will require enduring a few minutes of awkward intimacy with a salesperson, but it will also yield crucial information about your current proportions.

Then, move on to build a bra wardrobe, starting with the essentials. “For every day and for all silhouettes, a good T-shirt bra is a must,” says Koury. This seamless style lies flat under even the thinnest fabrics for a contoured shape. For increased versatility, Koury suggests convertible designs with detachable straps.

Bras for small bust
L-R: Wacoal Classic Reinvention bra, $49, Hudson’s Bay. Skarlett Blue Divine Kissing Contour Underwire Convertible Bra, $72, Nordstrom.


2. Beware the Band
Cup size tends to hog the spotlight, but the true star of a great fitting bra is the band. A bra band that won’t stay put is a common complaint among women with small busts, and the solution can be a revised set of digits. “Small-chested women tend to select bras that are too small for them in terms of torso band, which makes it rise at the back,” says John Izzo, VP Design and Product Development at Canadian lingerie retailer, la Vie en Rose.

Going up a band size and down a cup size, i.e. from a 34B to a 36A, can help keep everything in its place. A bra band should fit comfortably around your body, and sit at the same level in the front and back. With a new bra you should be able to use the loosest hook and eye closure to start, leaving room to tighten the fit as the fabric stretches.

Bras for small bust women
L-R: Wireless Bra, $40, La Vie En Rose.  Sweet Cotton Soft Bra, $69, Huit.


3. Do a Demi Cup

One advantage of a petite rack is that you can control the volume, so to speak. Comfortable as is? Fantastic — that’s what airy bralettes are for. Want bombshell curves? No problem — allow a push-up bra to work its magic. And if you’re looking for something in between, consider a lightly lined style for natural-looking enhancement. “There is the demi-cup option, too, with or without push up,” says Izzo, “By covering the breasts less, and on the horizontal just above the nipples, it will give the illusion of a fuller chest.”

Bras for women with a small bust
L-R: Sunny Demi Lightly Lined Bra, $59, Aerie. Lightly Lined Plunge Demi Bra, $47, Victoria’s Secret.

 

4. Get Back at It
There are scenarios where a bra strap falling off your shoulders is ideal – but at work, in the grocery store or yoga class isn’t one of them. “Criss-cross back straps help with the issue of straps falling off shoulders,” says Koury. Racerback or T-back designs can also remedy straying straps. And when it comes to cost, invest when possible. “You do not need to pay $100 or more to get a great fitting bra, but rarely do those $20 bras fit correctly, provide comfort or last more than three months,” she says.

Back support for small bust bras
L-R: Circuit Breaker Bra, $64, Lululemon. Alana Bra, $79, The Little Bra Company.


5. Natural & Now
If you’re not down with oodles of padding, then the girls are in for a treat. The bralette is currently the hottest style at the bra bar and it’s tailor-made for small chests. This style offers minimal support with maximum femininity, pulling out all the lacy, strappy stops. To get a smooth fit with no gaping, Koury recommends leaning over to allow breasts to fall naturally into the cups before adjusting the straps. And don’t feel the need to keep a gorgeous bralette completely under wraps— a peekaboo of these pretty little nothings isn’t taboo.

Bralettes for women with a small bust
L-R: Wacoal Lace Affair Bralette, $76, Hudson’s Bay. Bralette, $30, La Vie En Rose.

 

More:
6 surprising things you didn’t know about bra fittings
How to pick the right sports bra for your size
11 bras that will solve any wardrobe dilemma