Bras For Babes With Small Busts

keira

Even Keira Knightley has a hard time finding bras that fit

As a pre-adolescent, I regularly cursed the heavens for damning me to eternal misery by making me flat-chested. It was a ripe source of material for bullies, like Noah at Jewish Day Camp who told me I was a “carpenter’s dream, flat as a board and never been nailed.” Meanwhile, adult females repeatedly insisted that one day I’d be grateful for my small endowment and I was like, YOU ARE WRONG AND NOBODY UNDERSTANDS MY PAIN. When I finally went through puberty about four years after everybody else, my breasts grew, which was great, and I’ve totally nailed a ton of things, so I’m no longer a carpenter’s dream, but I’m also not exactly a bra manufacturer’s dream either.

That being said, the adults were right: I love my breasts now! I think they’re the best, and I’m totally happy to be a proud [whatever size I am on any given year/week/life-stage]. However, bra-buying — that shit is tough. When I was on the pill for about six years, my breasts magically grew and for a while I had a solid 34B and could even wear 34Cs sometimes. Let me tell you: life is sweet for 34Bs. Pretty much whatever I wanted came in my size, which was great, because I’m obsessed with underthings and put more care into picking my undershirt than my shirt, if you know what I’m saying.

I am the kind of person you would assume is an A, but lately I’ve actually found some AAs that fit even better than some of my A-bras. Many people with larger breasts often find that they’ve been wearing the wrong cup size, and the same can be true of small-breasted people too! Keep an open mind when it comes to your size. You know, experiment.

I come to you today with a medium-sized bounty of what I hope will be very useful information, garnered from my own experiences and those of other small-breasted babes. If you’d rather not wear a bra at all, don’t despair; we have a post about that too.


Small-Breasted Bra-Buying Basics:

+ Although we have the advantage of fitting into a wide variety of basic pullover, sports-bra-style or flat triangle-cut bras, when it comes to bras that come in cup sizes, finding one for really small breasts can be just as hard as it is to find a fit for really large breasts.  There’s just a lot less surface area to deal with, which means every detail of cut and form and shape needs to be exactly right to prevent gaps. Eve’s Apple has a great rundown on sizing for small-breasted women if you need help.

+ Several specialty retailers focus entirely on bras for small humans, such as The Little Bra Company, Eve’s Apples and Lula Lu Petite Lingerie. Lula Lu goes as small as 30AA and as large as 38AA and is recommended for women under 5’8 with a dress size between 0 and 8.

+ Frequently recommended brands for ladies with A-cups include Gap Body, aerie, Calvin Klein, Asos Boudoir and Natori. Calvin Klein, Asos Boudoir, aerie and Natori all go to as low as a 30A.

+ If you have a wide frame (38+) and very small breasts (AA), finding underwire bras that fit is an extra-extra-special challenge. Little Women, a boutique in the UK, has bras up to 40AA and so does Flatter Me BrasAmoena sells really comfortable 100% cotton bras and underwire bras in sizes up to 46AA, but if you don’t plan on inserting padding or prosthesis into the pockets provided, you should probably order a cup size smaller than you usually do. Later in this post I’ll tell you about some hot options for humans rocking a 38A! Also, some of Mey’s tips on bra-buying for trans women could be applicable regardless of your gender identity.

+ It can be really difficult to find an underwire bra in a small size that isn’t excessively padded or lined. But lining has a silver lining in that it prevents “nipping out” and oftentimes that padding can help fill out a shirt or dress. I used to hate padding but now I think of it as a fashion accessory. 

+ If you are both small-breasted and small-framed, you can occasionally strike it rich in the little girls’ section or score with petites. But if you’re anything like me (5’10 and broad-shouldered), you’ll likely find the straps too small and the cups too close together.

+ These days I’m more into underwire bras with cups because I like the look better under tight shirts, but still prefer bras like this for when I’m dressing in a more masculine style. Lots of small-breasted ladies are huge fans of pullover bras, bandeaus and flat triangle bras — these are especially good if you’re truly flat-chested or are going for a more streamlined/masculine silhouette. It’s also really easy to find cheap ones!

+ If you find a style you like, buy five of them! It is a truth universally acknowledged that the degree to which you like a certain bra is equal to the likelihood that said bra will get discontinued.


 

Model Charlotte Carey is a size AA

Model Charlotte Carey is a size AA but not in that bra

If You Wanna Rock Your Curves

If you want an underwire bra that provides the same style of support and shaping that larger sizes offer, I have one primary suggestion: aerie by American Eagle. Especially if you’re too tall or wide for petite bras, aerie is your very best friend.

Here's a AA bra on a AA lady

Look, they’ll even show you what a AA bra looks like on a AA lady.

Almost all of aerie’s bra styles are available in sizes going as low as 30AA and they also have a wide variety of convertibles/multi-ways — bras that can be adjusted to become racerbacks (or strapless, sometimes)! It’s super-hard to find a bra that fits, so it helps if the only one that does fit can serve multiple purposes. I have two aerie Hannah lightly-lined multi-way bras and they’re basically all I ever wear. Plus their website is the best.

Here are some fun bras for you. I’ve also indicated below the smallest size carried in each of these options.

1-Small Boobs

1. Odyssey Blue Sunnie Stretch Lightly Lined Bra (32AA) ($39.95). 2. Josette Demi-Cup Bra ($58) (34AAA). 3. aerie Hannah Multi-Way Lightly Lined Bra ($24.95) (30AA). 4. Wear Everywhere Push-Up Bra ($32) (32AAA). 5. Small Is Beautiful Bra. ($58) (32AA). 6. Wacoal Petite Embrace Lace Push-Up Bra ($52) (32AA). 7. ae Mia Vintage Lace Multi-Way Push Up Bra ($25) (32AA). 8. Lulalu Essential T-Shirt Bra ($46) (34AAA).


I wish I had bought ten of this style of Calvin Klein bra before they stopped making them

I wish I had bought ten of this style of Calvin Klein bra before they stopped making them

Underwear Style

Calvin Klein used to sell the cutest triangle bras with a band that looked like the waistband of their underpants back then — like men’s underpants, but in a slightly smaller and more gentle font. Alas, like all good things in the world, these no longer exist. Some pricier brands have picked up the torch.

underwear-style

Base Range Racer-Back Waffle-Knit Cotton Soft-Cup Bra ($55). Sloan & Tate ‘Buckingham’ Bra ($48). Sloan & Tate ‘York’ Bra ($48). Surplice Sweetheart Cotton Bandeau Bra ($7.99). 


 

jenny-s

Tomboy Style

You don’t have to choose between lace/flowers/bows and plain ‘ol black sports bras — there are plenty of styles that manage to be fun without being overly feminine. Here are some!

1-Gender-Neutral-001

1. Gap Pullover Bra ($17.46). 2. Fruit of the Loom 3-Pack Cotton Pullover Sportsbra ($11). 3. VPL Insertion Bra ($95). 4. Tie-Dye Layering Bra ($5.80).  5. Calvin Klein Concept Seamless Wire-Free Bra ($20). 6. V-Neck Bralette ($3.80). 7. Tomboy Or Bust ($32). 8. Interlock Bra ($10)


AZ-Marie-via-thefabfemme.com

Femme-ish Fun

Here are some options for bras that come in XS-XL rather than bands and cup sizes. Be careful with bralettes and many triangle bras — if you’re not just one minimal weight gain away from an A-cup or in the 32-34 range, you could end up with too much space for non-existent boobs.

1-Baby Femmes

1.Steve Madden Reversible Bralette ($16.08) 2.Leanne Lace Racerback Bralette ($32). 3.See You Monday Galaxy Bandeau ($12). 4.American Apparel Loral Print Cotton Spandex Jersey Cross-Back Bra ($16). 5.Sweet Floral Lace Bralette ($6.80). 6.Emma Elegance Lace Bralette ($30). 7.Top Secret Hippie Bralette ($54). 8.Aerie Signature Lace Bandeau ($10).


Big Band, Small Cup

This one’s for all you 38As out there.

1-small boobs3

1. Timpa Duet Lace Underwire Demi Bra ($36) (32A-38A). 2. Amoena Ruth Soft Cup Bra ($25) (32AA-44AA). 3. The Little Bra Company Nicole Push-Up Demi Petite Bra with Optional Pads. ($60) (30A-38A). 4. Pretty Polly Lingerie Take The Plunge Lace Embroidery Plunge Push-Up Bra. ($44) (32A-38A). 5. Cosabella Sophia Balconette Bra ($90) (32A-38A). 6. Natori Understated Contour Underwire Bra ($64). (32A-38A).


 

So, my fellow carpenters’ dreams, what are your favorite brands?

Avatar of Riese

Riese is the 32-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1734 articles for us.

27 Comments

    • Thumb up 2

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      Yup, here too. Thank god for this article. Coming back when I have money to try more new bras in the desperate hope I find ones I actually like again.

      See also: why do they always discontinue things as soon as I find them?

  1. Thumb up 4

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    This is fabulously helpful. I’m a 36A, which you wouldn’t think is that weird but apparently it is. All the nice stuff doesn’t come in my size (and all the pushy ladies in lingerie keep trying to tell me I’m wrong and need to wear a very painful 34B which oww), and the only bras I can usually find are push-up bras that really just push *in* to the point that I just have one super-cleavage-y mono-boob in the middle of my chest. (Also oww.)

    And I, too, am in the “wear the same one every day forever” camp, so I will definitely mind the advice on stocking up on the good ones.

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        Me too. Closer to a AA. I found that the Clavin Klein t-shirt bra in 36A was closest to actually fitting with just enough padding to be smooth under tight, thin fabrics. The cups are a lot less concave than many other bras, so it can flatten out even more against my chest, unlike other ‘real’ bras that keep a dome-shaped cup (full of air, when I wear it) even if the band is tightened.

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      when i was making this post i found Her Room really helpful because you can search by size and they have ALL THE SIZES! including lots of 36As. of course it’s always tricky to get stuff online instead of in the store ’cause you can’t try it on until you have it at home. I was a 36A for a minute and usually had luck at H&M?

  2. Thumb up 1

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    I was so happy to see this, thanks! I don’t think I’ve got to the stage of fully embracing the small boobs thing I’ve got going on but this definitely helped. I have also been wearing the same bra for years..!

  3. Thumb up 5

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    Carpenter’s dreams represent! Or, as my grandmother says, “Any more than a handful is a waste!”*

    *This is not meant to imply that large breasts are anything but fantastic. Just a way for the women in my family to feel better about ourselves!

  4. Thumb up 1

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    “If you are both small-breasted and small-framed, you can occasionally strike it rich in the little girls’ section or score with petites.”

    Yep, all of my bras come from the little girls’ section. But as a 26D I’ve pretty much given up all hope of ever finding a bra that fits well. The boobage of that size is roughly equivalent to a 32A though (just on a smaller frame) so XS bralettes sometimes work. I wish there were more bra options for extra petite ladies.

  5. Thumb up 8

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    I’ve been sitting here for 5 minutes, stunned. I didn’t even know they made bras in cup sizes smaller than A. I’ve been wearing the same ill-fitting 34As for years when I’m probably a 32AA or 30AA. I think my whole life just changed right before my eyes.

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      I actually once thought AA and AAAs were just training bra sizes and not actual cup sizes! like sizes for the standard white pullover bra i wore in 8th grade before i had Become A Woman. i didn’t know that they were also legit adult sizes that you could wear if you had actual boobs — which I do! but I started noticing that there was always extra room in the cups of my bras, even the As, but I thought maybe everybody’s bras fit like that? i also didn’t think there was any possible way i could be smaller than an A, considering i used to comfortably wear Bs. so i tried getting a 32A in the little girl’s section to see if that fixed the extra-room problem, and that was just way too small all over, cups and band and straps and the whole situation, and then i was looking for bras on american eagle and saw that they had 34AAs and that it was an actual size with actual cups and i was like, oh wow, and then i got mine in the mail and i was like OH WOW!!! and my life has never been the same. i didn’t know it was possible to own an underwire bra that fit well enough that i didn’t have to wear another layer between that and my shirt just to make sure everything was smooth. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE ERIN

  6. Thumb up 6

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    Those Timpa mesh bras run a full size smaller (the A is really an AA) and they are made of magic. Put it on. Your weird little misshapen- due-to-lung-surgery scars- chest situation will look good for the first time in your life. Once you’ve left the house (shirted or otherwise), be prepared to upward head nod every babe you see. O the confidence

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    The best thing about being an A-cup is that I can wear underwire-free bras, and then I’m not getting stabbed all day by my bra. Granted, figuring out that I was actually a 36 band size, rather than a 34 did wonders for that, too. But even in the “right” size, with an underwire, they always seem to gap in weird places, or shift in strange ways throughout the days, or the molded cup wants to make my boobs look pointy?

    Lately, I’ve determined that this is The Most Comfortable Bra in the World. Not stabby, lets my boobs do their own thing shape-wise, doesn’t gap in strange places, and doesn’t ascribe to the belief that A stands for “aspirational”. Wins all-around!

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    I used to be a 38C, which was pretty perfect, but I have magically shrunk down to a 34AA-A. I started going braless after getting my nipple pierced, but it rejected and the habit just stuck. I’m a sucker for cute underthings, though. I’ve had really good luck with aerie (hit up those discount bins if you’re a broke grad student like me!) and H&M.

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    Hello Ladies,

    I am a fellow small (or as I prefer to call it) “petite” busted woman. I struggled with finding lingerie that was flattering and fit my body in a way that made me feel sexy and like I wasn’t wearing a tent despite wearing the smallest size.

    I appreciate your above article and also wanted to share my company with you and your readers. I started Bella Petite Lingerie because of the lack of lingerie for petite busted ladies like myself. If you are looking for sexy pieces to wear beyond bras, please come visit our site.

    http://www.bellapetitelingerie.com

    You can also find us on facebook : http://www.facebook.com/NHBellaPetite

    Many thanks,
    Stephanie

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