Small boobs and the exhaustive search for a bra that fits

Why it's so difficult to find a bra that fits small boobs and five tips to take to your next bra fitting.

Getty images

Getty images

If you’ve got small boobs and by that I mean AA or AAA, you have likely never found a bra that fits. Instead, you’ve suffered through years of gaping, billowing, puffing, sliding and riding. To add insult to injury, if a petite gal dares pipe up about these complaints she risks being asked, with a pantload of incredulity, “Why do you need a bra?” The answer, people: nipples. (Note: If this happens when you are 14, the effects are traumatizing!)

It’s true. Tiny-breasted womens’ nipples operate in all the same ways as the large-breasted. Meaning: In chilly boardrooms they make their presence known under thin blouses.

But the more emotional reason for a small-breasted woman’s exhaustive search for a bra that fits goes a little like this: Women have breasts. Women wear bras. Having small breasts and not wearing a bra can make one feel, well, less womanly. Ellen Shing, the founder of Lula Lu a line of lingerie  specifically designed for the small-chested, can relate to this sentiment:  I think a lot of our customers feel “less than” when they shop for bras as there are no options for them that make them feel good about their body type,” she says. “They are still women and they want to feel like women and want the choices that other women have for a basic necessity, such as a basic T-shirt bra.”

Oh yes, the T-shirt bra. The thing about most T-shirt bras is, if your cup size is anything below a B, the options are these ridiculously padded mega bras. Note to manufacturers: The small breasted don’t all want to be large breasted. They just want a pretty bra that fits and creates a nice shape.

“Women always think that if you have a smaller bosom, it is so easy to find a bra: not true! says Jennifer Klein, owner of Secrets From Your Sister in Toronto. “It can often be more challenging.” Klein says there are a few reasons for this, namely, that having less bosom to work with makes it more difficult to find a bra with the appropriate depth and width. “Some manufacturers are actually not producing smaller cups and bands anymore,” she says. “A bra for a smaller-breasted woman needs to have a very special cut in order to actually fit well, not many companies have perfected this. Everyone always says small boobs can fit into anything, but that’s not case.”

That’s not the only misconception out there about small breasts and the bras that fit them. “Some sales people automatically assume that a small-breasted woman can only fit into an A cup, not knowing that breast shape can affect bra size,” explains Gayvin Powers aka “Eve” of Eve’s Apples Lingerie, another line celebrating small busts. Really knowing your bra size and body type is key, she says. Eve’s Apples has a specialized online bra fitting that explains several essential steps to finding your correct size that many of us (small or large) may not know. The first thing you must determine is your breast placement: centered, narrow set or wide set. And then you must take a good look at their shape: Do you have shallow, medium or full breast tissue (and yes, the latter can apply to an A cup). “And make sure if your current bra gapes in the cup to go down a band size and up a cup size, explains Eve. “This is the main problem with women who are small busted with a poor fitting bra.”

Both Shing and Power starting designing out of personal frustration. “Growing up, I wanted Wonder Woman’s breasts as soon as I turned 13, and I couldn’t wait to buy French lingerie,” Eve writes on her website. “Fully grown, I wound up with 1/4 of Wonder Woman’s cup size and was left searching for beautiful bras in the tween department. Something wasn’t right. I’d grown up but all I found around me were prepubescent training bras. And it wasn’t just me. My friends had the same dilemma bra shopping for small cup sizes.”

Thankfully, they both channeled their frustrations into entrepreneurship and the untapped market of petite lingerie. Their loyal customers are certainly appreciative. “I had this woman who was probably in her mid thirties come in one day and, like many of our customers, she started to tell me how she couldn’t find a bra,” recalls Shing.  “After having children and nursing them, her breasts had gotten even smaller and she was tired of bending over and having people see right down into her bra.  So, I fitted her and brought her several styles to try and, at one point, I went into the dressing room and she was crying and saying how happy she was that she had found bras that fit her.”

Five tips for finding a small bra to fit small boobs:

The bottom line, says Klein, is that you must go for a fitting at a reputable boutique. Here are her top tips to take with you when you go:

1. The band should be snug but by no means too snug on a smaller busted woman. (Teen fittings are different)
2. The wire should fit well around the bosom and this means it often needs to be a broad wire to work its way under the arm where a woman’s bosom often naturally finishes. If the wire is too narrow, smaller bosoms often get squished on the chest wall where there will seem to be a lot of body on the sides by the arms, it can look odd. A suitable wire for the body will center the bosom in a flattering manner.
3. A shallow shell-shaped cup is often the best. It suits most women smaller-busted women and makes the bosom look very attractive in a lined (no nipples) or unlined style (not all small breasted women want padding).
4. Not all smaller breasted women want wires. There are plenty of wireless option in basic and fashion.
5. Bra fitting is not just for busty gals, it is for those who want something better for themselves. That’s what our customer’s want!