We’ve all heard the statistic: Seven out of ten women are wearing the wrong bra size. Here’s the catch: That miseducation starts in our teens.
Launched in 2017, BRABAR was designed to educate the girls of Generation Z on fit, beginning with that very first bra. Then, eventually, the brand instructs her in how to measure so when she becomes a woman, she feels empowered to get it right on her own.
“These seventh graders walk straight into Victoria’s Secret Pink and pick up a 32AA when they’re really 26 inches around,” said BRABAR founder Wendy Herman. “Right at this critical point in their development, they’re bombarded with this overly sexualized messaging. In school, they raise their hands, and the bra band rides right up over their chests. It gets exponentially worse from there.”
With a teenage daughter of her own and a lingerie biz background, Wendy gets it personally and professionally.
“Especially with girls developing younger and younger—as early as 8 or 9—it matters more and more. You see the girls start to hunch over, they stop playing sports, they compare their bodies and their bras to their sisters and their friends,” said Wendy, whose mission is to change the conversation around that first bra and all the anguish that usually goes with it: “It’s not even about her physical self, it’s about the essence of who she is at this time in her life.”
A veteran of the lingerie and sleepwear industry—she rose through the ranks at Calvin Klein, Nicole Miller, Tommy Hilfiger, Lucky Brand and Yummie—Wendy noticed the hole in the market: “There’s nothing to buy out there! Believe me, I tried. The right products don’t fit their teenage bodies—they’re narrower around in circumference, their breasts are set closer than the women these bras are designed for, they hate the more mature aesthetic. I felt like I had a rare lens into this issue. I don’t want these girls growing up the way we did, not feeling confident about their bodies, their mothers not having a clue.”
“I don’t want these girls growing up not feeling confident about their bodies”
Traditional training bras are padded, which is uncool, Wendy said. The bigger cup sizes you can find aren’t teenager-approved in terms of style or fit. The options aimed at teens in a big box or department store tend to be lacy cut-and-sew bras for coverage but no compression, or seamless, which resemble more of a crop-top and offer little in the way of support.
Enter BRABAR, a “starter bra” that’s on-trend, easy to wear and supportive for those who require a smaller band and larger cups. The name was inspired by the fun of a place like Dylan’s Candy Bar. The four styles come in just two size groupings (28-32 and 32-36, accommodating those from AA to DDD) to help make sizing less fraught.
“So many girls are wearing bras under their soft bralettes,” noted Wendy. “I watched my 16-year-old do it.” So Wendy had her daughter and her friends wear-test the prototypes at sleepaway camp. “That’s how I knew I was on to something. BRABAR is like if a bralette and a sports bra had a baby. Bralettes aren’t supportive enough, and sports bras have too much compression. It should feel snug like a hug.”
“We’re starting a conversation about something that’s been hush-hush for so long”
Unlike a training bra, double-ply fabric lends compression and support without padding. The T-back and open-back halter styles “make them feel grown-up,” said Wendy of the 15 to 21-year-olds she designed BRABAR for. “We’re starting a conversation about something that’s been hush-hush for so long.”
FIRST-TIME BRA SHOPPING ADVICE
1. Forget about size for now.
“Comfort is the foundation of confidence,” Wendy said. “This is about the bigger picture: showing her how to take control and care of her body.” This is just your opening move, too. There’s still plenty of time to get into underwires, push-ups, sports bras and the like.
2. Start at home.
Skip the embarrassing trip to the department store for a fitting with a total stranger. “Your child wants to feel like a big girl,” said Wendy. “Getting her measurements taken is not the priority; comfort, confidence and modesty are.” Instead, put together a small assortment of options online, which removes a lot of the stress from the equation, then let her make her own choice.
3. Take emotions into consideration.
“This is a pivotal moment. Treat it with sensitivity and care. It’s a potentially embarrassing milestone, like getting her period, so don’t make the conversation horrifying, don’t let her overhear you on the phone talking about it with a friend. This is just between you two.”
FIRST BRA SHOPPING LIST
b.tempt’d by Wacoal
Cleo by Panache
The Little Bra Company
OnGossamer Bump It Up
Calvin Klein Modern Cotton bras
Calvin Klein Memory Foam Push-Up
SPANX Pillow-Cup bras
SPANX Front Close bras
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