I can count the number of times in my life that I’ve gone bra shopping on one hand. I’m 31, with two kids—and discounting my early teens, when a lacy and ill-fitting Victoria’s Secret bra was what I thought I needed to impress a boy (judge me if you will, I was 15), I never saw the need for one. I’m as flat as they come, and I’ve never had any success filling out an actual cup. For most of my life, I’ve been going without, and I’ve been mostly OK with that, but there are limitations: Sometimes I just want to be able to wear a thin white tee without feeling exposed when going to meetings at my children’s school or with editors. Up until this point, I’d amassed a collection of horrid stretch bras (basically training bras marketed to girls over the age of 12) to wear in these situations, but I needed something more. I needed a “real” bra.
A friend who owns a lingerie store in Brooklyn opened my eyes to an emerging trend in lingerie: petite sizing. This growing category aims to provide solutions to common fit issues people with smaller busts often experience, such as a need for shape, ill-fitting straps, and gaping cups. And, like we’ve seen in the offerings for DD+, a host of brands have popped up catering to this customer—companies including Lula Lu Petites and The Little Bra Company, which adjust the cuts of their bands and the size of the cups so that they actually support your boobs how you need them to. (They’ve even created smaller cups, such as 28AAA; and some companies, like ThirdLove, offer half sizes.) What that means for us? No more sizing down arbitrarily, or going without simply because you feel there’s no other option.
Glamour polled some of the best petite lingerie experts in the biz for their tips and tricks for finding that long-desired fit. They reminded us of the importance of getting fit regularly and not simply picking out the same size because you’ve worn it before (these can vary among brands!), but also offered some interesting tidbits and suggestions for bra shopping when you have small boobs. Ahead, check out insight from Rachel Klein, owner of Lula Lu Petites; Emily Lau, founder of The Little Bra Company; Mette Iacovou, “amBRAsador” at Bare Necessities; Elma Valerio, founder of Elma Shop; Hannah Casanova, fit specialist at Dana-Co (which manufactures Natori and Skarlett Blue); and Caroline Peaslee, global merchandise manager at Cosabella.
Yes, bra support matters…: I long assumed that because I didn’t have big boobs, a bra didn’t need to offer lift or support (which is a huge consideration when you have a larger bust), but experts say that one could benefit from the design considerations of a bra, such as wide bands and padding, for one simple reason: gravity. According to Lau and Casanova, even the tiniest amount of breast tissue will eventually stretch and sag, and a well-fit bra can help prevent that. This doesn’t necessarily have to translate to underwire: Valerio notes that support should depend on how your breast tissue sits; people whose breasts are bigger on the bottom, for instance, could get ample support from a longline bra or a wider band, while those who are fuller at the sides might find that a bra with a wider back with three sets of hooks provides the optimal fit.
…as does the spacing of the cups on a bra: So much of the bra shopping process hinges on the size (or letter) of the cup—but, according to the experts, the key to getting the best fit might actually be in how the cups are spaced out on a bra. If your breasts are set wider apart, for example (which is often the case for smaller chests, per Valerio and Klein), a bra with touching cups isn’t great; instead seek out a style where the cups have a one-inch gap between them, to ensure that they’re sitting right over the breast instead of toward the center.
Don’t sleep on the bralette trend: Bralettes are ideal for people with small boobs not only because they’re seriously comfortable and don’t have underwire, but also because the silhouette frames the natural shape of the breast. “The triangle cup tends to be the most flattering for a smaller chest just because it’s the smallest cup type,” Valerio explains. Plus, they just so happen to be trending right now, which makes finding them seriously easy. Stock up on ’em now!
Ahead, a collection of bras, handpicked by the experts for all of your small-chested needs.