10 women on the weird and wonderful experience of buying their first bra
15th February 2023

Love ’em or hate ’em, most of us remember what it was like to buy our first bra. Here, 10 women reminisce about what their experience was like.

Buying your first bra is one of those landmark moments that tends to stick in your mind. For some, it’s an exciting prospect – a sign that you’re officially a teenager – while for others, it might feel embarrassing, scary or simply not a big deal.

In short, everyone’s experience is different, in the same way that we all have different relationships with our boobs. So, to learn more about this unique experience and the emotions associated with it, we asked women to share what happened when they bought their first bra. Here’s what they had to say.  

Vic, 48

“I remember the experience of buying my first bra vividly. I was 11 and lived in a north Lancashire town. My mum took me to the ‘bra shop’ in town where I had a tape measure drawn around my chest and, after a couple of minutes, was given a Triumph Doreen bra in a box. This was over 35 years ago – I don’t know if there were ‘training bras’ back then, but there certainly wasn’t where I lived.

“I remember thinking what a scary-looking thing it was, and it took a long time to get used to the feeling of it. My relationship with my body changed that day; it was now something to be controlled and managed and pushed and pulled into shape. These days, as a hypnotherapist, I help women feel comfortable and at ease in their bodies – maybe part of why I do what I do is tied up in that bra!”

Rebecca, 30

“I hated my first bra – it freaked me out that I needed one, and I was the only person in my year wearing it. It was white and single-hooked at the back. Most mornings I would forget to put it on and then couldn’t be bothered to get redressed. 

“Everyone else in my year had cute crop tops but the woman who fitted me said I needed ‘more support’ and told my mum (standing outside the changing room) that I should have been wearing one for ages. It was the start of a long life of crying in bra fitting rooms, which only really ended in my 20s when I realised that I can wear whatever unsupportive, pretty, nonsense bra I like.”

Ellen, 30

“Getting my first ever bra was a strange experience. I’d noticed my boobs coming in for a while, but was too shy to say anything to my mum about perhaps needing a bra. When I finally blurted out that I wanted one, she rushed me to our local department store and straight to the starter bra section. The fitter took one look at me and said I’d be better off skipping past the training bras and pulling out the big guns. When she measured me, she was right. I was already a C cup.

“Since then, I’ve been pretty good at getting measured regularly, because I learned that your breasts can change quite quickly without you really noticing. I’m always glad when I do pop in for a measure, because the moment I get fitted with the right bra, I feel so much more comfortable… even if that does mean adjusting to the knowledge that I’m now an E cup, rather than the D I’d been wearing for months.”

Angelica, 44

“At just 13 years old, I remember the process of trying to get bras big enough to fit me. I went to Marks & Spencer and had to squeeze my breasts into a DD cup as that was the biggest size available for me. I can still picture the lady who measured me and couldn’t believe the size of my breasts at the age of 13. I was so embarrassed.”

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Amy, 24

“I was probably around eight or nine when I got my first bra. I had an older family friend who would always give me bags of hand-me-downs and clothing she’d grown out of, and in among the big bag of tops and skirts there was a tiny blue triangle bra. It must’ve been like a 30AA or something, and even though I probably didn’t even need it at the time and it wasn’t my measured size, I just remember how grown up it made me feel, especially because none of my friends had one.

“It was like this mythical thing, a signifier that I was mature and cool. When I started wearing bras that were my size (cotton M&S, of course) at around 10 or 11, I just remember how self-conscious it made me feel. I have a distinct memory of being in primary school and lining my bra with tissues or folded-up ankle socks. I’m a 34C now, which is quite a standard size, but the shape is still something I feel self-conscious about.” 

Lauren, 25

“I wasn’t the most confident teenager growing up, so I felt a little bit nervous and embarrassed about the idea of getting a bra at first – although there was a bit of excitement in there, too. I ended up getting a kind of training bra/top from a supermarket to begin with, and I remember thinking how weird it felt to have another garment underneath your clothing, and doubted whether I’d ever get to a point where I’d forget it was there, as my mum assured me I would. It definitely made me feel different than my younger sister, too. She was full of questions about what it was like.”

Tigz, 36

“My first ever bra came from a good old-fashioned British department store. I can’t remember which one, but I distinctly remember there being one side of colourful options, while the other side was a wall of plain white and beige options. I was about 10 at the time and my mum had taken me to get measured, so off to the changing rooms we went and a lovely lady helped measure my chest and bust so that she could bring in some options for me to try on. 

“Something about a certain black bra had really caught my attention, so I was really disappointed with the plain white, soft cup, full coverage T-shirt bra that found its way into the changing room instead. But the fitter was great at her job and gave me a lot of privacy during the trying-on process, which made me, a slightly self-conscious pre-teen, feel really comfortable during the process.”

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Rachel, 52

“I think I was about 13 or 14 when I got my first bra and Iwent to Leeds with my best friend to M&S to buy one. I remember trying to guess what size I was because I was scared of getting fitted, so I spent several years wearing the wrong size. 

“I was already bigger busted than lots of my girlfriends at that age, so I remember feeling very embarrassed about it and certainly didn’t want to draw any attention to them. I wish I could go back and tell that girl to get fitted properly right from the start because it made such a difference to my body confidence when I finally did!”

Jess, 28

“I got my first bra when I had just turned 11. I’d been allowed to go to the shopping centre with my friends and we were acting all grown up looking at bras. I remember ringing my mum to ask if I could get one, because I felt bad doing it without her, and she’d made a big deal about what a step it was. 

“Another girl in my class was wearing crop tops and I felt self-conscious getting changed for PE so we agreed it was time. It cost £9, was baby pink and hideously over-padded, and wasn’t fitted (I just guessed and went for a 28AA) but it served its purpose.”

Vicky, 44

“I don’t think I got my first bra until I was about 15 years old, and it wasn’t because I needed one, I just felt like I should have one on. From memory, my mum took me to a bra shop down George Street in St Albans. I felt very awkward in front of the lady and ended up buying something that looked like a sports bra. I don’t think it looked particularly nice, but it just meant that I had a bra strap like all the other girls.

“I can remember being exceptionally uncomfortable and not wanting anyone to see them or measure me. I think I’d feel differently if I was a 16-year-old in today’s society. As a teen and young adult I was desperate to have a pair of boobs, and it wasn’t until after my second son and I was left with double Ds (that have stayed) that I felt more comfortable.”

Every pair is unique, so find your fit with the M&S bra fit service. 

Image: Getty

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