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What Is the Difference Between a Bra and a Bralette?

Your daughter is noticing straps underneath the shirts of the girls at school. Her best friend came over the other day, and her camisole looked shorter and snugger. She may have noticed her body is changing, too. It feels new, and she feels a mix of excitement and nervousness–is she the same as everyone else?

When shopping for bras for tweens, it’s important to keep track of development. When starting out, it’s ideal for your tween daughter to start with a training bra, so you bothshould understand the difference between training bras and bralettes.

Bralettes are lightweight, low-support lingerie items. In the early 2010s, young women started integrating bralettes into fashion statements—they wore them as tops with flowy pants or would let them peek out through shirts. Bralettes are made of various materials, ranging from soft cotton to scratchy lace to sheer mesh–this can be intimidating and revealing for girls who are just discovering bras.

Training bras are engineered for comfort and style. They are worn under clothing and have a band (the tight part of the top that rests beneath the breasts) and straps (the tight straps over the shoulders) that mimic what it is like to wear a regular bra. Training bras do not have cups, so the fit is more natural and complementary to your daughter’s shape. It works with her body instead of shaping her to look like someone else.

How does she find the perfect training bra for her, and  how should a training bra fit?

Take Proper Measurements

It can be intimidating for your daughter to walk into a store and have a clerk measure her. We recommend measuring her yourself at home so she can get accurate sizing in private–all you need is measuring tape.

What you will do at home is no different than what they will do in the store, but this way, your daughter will feel comfortable and safe. Make sure she knows that her size isn’t a reflection of her fitness or attractiveness–it is only reflective of what size of bra will feel more comfortable for her. Remember to tell her it’s also extremely common and normal for breasts to develop at different rates.

Find the Band Size

Wrap the measuring tape around your daughter’s rib cage underneath her breasts, right where a bra would go. Make sure it is even all the way around–when wrapping, it shouldn’t be uncomfortable or tight, but it should be snug. Note how many inches this is, and round up if she is between inches.

Next, take that number and add four to it. A little more room means a more comfortable band size, and remember she will continue to grow into it.

Find the Cup Size

Most training bras don’t come with cups, but it is important for her to know her cup size when that day comes. Repeat the steps listed above, but instead of wrapping the measuring tape around her rib cage, wrap it around the fullest part of her breasts.

Now, it’s math time–subtract the band size from this new number. For example, if the band was thirty-four and the new number was thirty-six, you would subtract thirty-four from thirty-six, getting two. The difference notates her cup size.

Zero inches = AA

One inch = A

Two inches = B

Three inches = C

Four inches= D

Five inches = DD or E

Combine the band size with this letter. Using our examples above, she would be a 34B.

Even if she is an AA, your daughter will still benefit from using a training bra. Training bras like the First Bras offered by Yellowberry support all sizes and styles. Even if she feels like there isn’t much to support right now, her skin is likely becoming sensitive and could benefit from the layers of protection a First Bra can provide. Many girls start wearing training bras when they are between ten and thirteen years old; growth spurts may feel awkward, but finding the right undergarments doesn’t have to be. Help your tween daughter feel empowered in her changing body by allowing her to find garments that let her feel more like who she is.