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Buying a Bra for the First Time

Everything you need to know about sizes, styles, and finding the right fit. NY Times article by Katherine Cusumano.

It can happen quickly. One day, you're getting dressed as usual, and the next you're staring down at your body, wondering... Do I need a bra? Maybe your clothes started to fit a bit differently. Or maybe lots of your friends started wearing them. No matter the reason, the NY Times has you covered. Here's what to expect.

Which type of bra should I get?

Training bras and bralettes are lightweight and can help you get used to wearing a bra. Sports bras are made for exercising. Some people also use them to flatten out their chest. (If you do this just make sure you take it off before you go to bed). If you want coverage over your nipples, try a bra with a lined cup. The most important thing is to be comfortable, says Dr. Cora Natteson. You should have room to breathe and avoid anything that irritates your skin.

Where should I buy it?

You can try on bras in person at a store or shop online. Just be sure to test a few sizes and styles. If it doesn't feel good, or you don't like the way it looks, don't keep it.

What do the sizes mean?

Bra sizes are usually a number and a letter, like 34C or 32B. The number represents how big the elastic part that goes around your ribs is in inches. When you're first buying a bra, this will probably be the most important measurement. The letter is the cup size or the part that goes over your boob. A or AA is usually the smallest cup, and each subsequent letter (B, C, D) is slightly larger. You can be sized for a bra in a store, or ask a family member to help you take your measurements and put them into a calculator online.

How many bras do I need?

How often are you wearing a bra? If it is every day, you'll need more than if you just wear it occasionally. Start with one or two, and buy more as you need them. And remember, when (or if) you wear a bra is all about you. You do not have to wear a bra, or even have a large number of bras. It is entirely up to you if you wear one and when you wear one, or how many you want.

Bra Glossary:

Training bra: First bras, not usually with cup sizes.

Camisole: Longer body of the bra, usually worn under another shirt.

Bralette: Bra with slightly longer body, or under cup with more fabric.

Bandeau: Bra with no straps and looks like a smaller tube top.

Sports Bra: A thicker bra with wider straps, and more material to offer support while doing sports and is usually made of an elastic material.

Underwire: Wire under the cups of the bra to offer more support.

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