Preteen girl needs unpadded bras, but nobody's selling!
October 20, 2009 9:06 AM   Subscribe

Is there such a thing as an inexpensive, everyday unpadded bra for preteen girls? If so, who sells it?

My 12 year old daughter, bless her heart, has blossomed to the point where it's practical and reasonable for her to wear a bra on most days. However, in recent years the trend in bras has been for seemingly everything but sports bras to have a layer of stiff "smoothing" padding in the front, and for various reasons we would like to buy bras that are less like that. Most of her collection is like that now, and it's getting on time to replace them.

So, disregarding sports bras, are there inexpensive, normal, utilitarian, everyday wear bras for young girls that aren't padded? We're not asking for saucy lingerie, here. In fact, she's not terribly into lacy frippery to begin with. She still needs some measure of support, as this isn't a "training bra" situation at all.

Keep in mind, she is a preteen girl. This means adult bras will all be too big around even if they match her cup size -- chances are a bra line marketed to normal adults or petite adults won't offer a size appropriate for her at all.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (20 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I feel your pain because when I went shopping for my nine year old daughter's first bra I was completely shocked at the sexualisation of preteen bras. I had luck finding boring ones in bricks and mortars "discount" shop (called Zellers in Canada, Kmart would be a similar shop in the US). It did take a lot of hunting through the racks.
posted by saucysault at 9:12 AM on October 20, 2009

It would be helpful if we had a cup size plus band size to work with.
posted by crankylex at 9:13 AM on October 20, 2009

I always had good luck with Jockey. They make fairly simple cotton bras like this one and this one (which, admittedly, is 'moulded.'). They also have a "lightly padded" girls' bra, which might be better size-wise.
posted by sueinnyc at 9:17 AM on October 20, 2009

crankylex is right, a band size would be helpful! Gilligan & O'Malley (available at Target) does unpadded bras, as does hanes (also available at Target). However, because you're having an issue finding ones that aren't too large around the ribcage, you might want to look at yoga and dance supply stores for a camisole bra top. Most are pull-on, but I have one or two that have hook & eye closures, you just have to look around, unfortunately.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:18 AM on October 20, 2009

Have you tried Justice (which used to be called Limited Too)? They have some soft-cup bras with removable pads that might work. There are also sports bras and padded ones on this page, but the soft-cup section might be ok.
posted by bedhead at 9:20 AM on October 20, 2009

What about the Maidenform "Teen Bra" line? Some of them are a little frippery-ful, but others - like the triangle racer back, or the bralette, or the "Cotton Molded No Wire Teen Bra" may work for her needs.

Unfortunately, the smoothing padding is pretty much standard for bras, I think - it almost seems *more* demure, since it avoids any unintended...poking out.

(And wow, it's surprising how creepy it can feel to google image search "teen bra." Yipes!)
posted by harperpitt at 9:21 AM on October 20, 2009

This is not a recommendation for a specific brand, but I highly recommend going to Kohls if you have one in your area. Kohls is hands down the best place to shop for foundation garments (I love that old school term). It carries everything from Jockey to Playtex to Bali to Champion. Plus, most bras and panties are 20 - 30% off. Make sure that you ask a cashier if there is a coupon for the day that you are shopping.

My mother took me to Sears for my first "training" bra. I was so embarrassed. But not nearly embarrassed as when my mother took me to a department store to buy "good cotton" bras before I left for Air Force basic training. Long story short, she dragged me and my 11 y.o. brother to customer service where she berated the manager (in front of other customers) because the saleswoman in bras had commented on the eventuality that my boobs would someday sag. Nearly thirty years later and I still shudder at the memory.
posted by Juicylicious at 9:29 AM on October 20, 2009

You might try something from American Apparel in a size XS. They are designed for adults, but their XS is tiny, unpadded, available in plain cotton, and not *too* expensive. To give you an idea of their sizing, I wear their crossback bra in a S, and I usually have trouble finding bras, because I wear a 30A.

They also have some that halter style bras that tie in back, making them extremely adjustable. Those won't be practical with all styles of clothing, but will definitely fit, and can be had for ridiculously cheap right now.
posted by dizziest at 10:04 AM on October 20, 2009

Most of my life's underthings have come from Marks and Spencers and they totally meet the requirements here. I know, I know -- from overseas? [Making location assumptions here] But if you need underwear for the rest of the family or Xmas presents, they do free int'l shipping on orders over Ā£90...
posted by kmennie at 10:17 AM on October 20, 2009

Seconding Kohl's. They have a lot of bras.
Also, try the children's departments. Some stores stock bras for children separately from the grown up stuff. (e.g. Target about 9 years ago when I took my daughter bra-shopping for the first time)
posted by SLC Mom at 10:17 AM on October 20, 2009

My petite niece swears by Lily of France, which are really inexpensive on Amazon.
posted by Peecabu at 10:23 AM on October 20, 2009

Another recommendation for Kohl's -- I used to work there, and did some time in their intimates department. However, my advice is that you check the girl's department specifically; the 'house' brand of SO carries something called day bras: cotton, wire-free, no padding. If I remember correctly, you should be able to get a couple of them for under $10.
posted by alynnk at 10:25 AM on October 20, 2009

Came in here to recommend (on preview, thirding) American Apparel or Victoria's Secret Pink Cotton bras (the ones in stores, as the online selection seems like it won't fit, but I've seen plain ol' cotton bras there that could fit.). But a band/cup size would've been helpful. At age 12, I was 5'2" and a 34B, while my cousin was a short skinny rail. Adolescents vary - a lot.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:30 AM on October 20, 2009

It sounds like, as others have voiced, that your best bet would be going to some sort of department store. Sears or JC Penny would work just as well as Target or Kohls or Kmart or whatever else is near you. As with most shopping, she'll have to try on a few brands in different stores as well as different sections of the stores (young girls/juniors/womens) but with any luck you'll find something pretty easily. My best luck with bra hunting has been in Target and Kmart...
posted by lucy.jakobs at 10:38 AM on October 20, 2009

I don't know what you mean by "inexpensive," but Decent Exposures offers girls' bras for $15-$20. I love, love, LOVE Decent Exposures bras; they are solidly made, they are garments of function not of form, and they are so comfortable I can sleep in them. They are mail order only unless you live in Seattle, but they are very good at the mail-order bra business. Seriously, they're pretty much the best bras ever.
posted by KathrynT at 10:52 AM on October 20, 2009

I know you asked for non-sports bras, but I wear these Fruit of the Loom spaghetti-strap sports bras most days. I'm an A/B cup, and they work great (especially the straps). Plus, they're super cheap -- I get mine at Walmart, since Target doesn't seem to carry them where I live.
posted by Maarika at 11:19 AM on October 20, 2009

this looks comfy and teen-ish.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:27 PM on October 20, 2009

I feel like I've seen a sizable selection of preteen bras at Target.
posted by ishotjr at 6:18 PM on October 20, 2009

Came in to (fourth!) AA bras. They're all slip-on, but they're stretchy and comfy and have no padding.
posted by NoraReed at 8:16 PM on October 20, 2009

If you measure her for band and cup size, you might be able to find something appropriate in an adult line. I don't get what's different about a pre-teen from an adult here, for that matter, but I was small-chested enough to wear the same bras straight through from 13 to 23 (although I did have to go up a band size and half a cup size when I started taking the pill). Alternatively if her size is just plain hard to find many lines have more sizes available online than in stores (although this does make it harder to try on, and every line of bras is going to have some variation in size/shape/fit).
posted by Lady Li at 11:24 PM on October 20, 2009

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