Bras can be a NIGHTMARE when you've got small boobs - straps slipping, gaping cups and all sorts of struggles to find the right size and shape. So, we gathered three bra experts who specialise in the small boob department to give us a few pointers.
For beautiful bras at bargain prices, some of our faves are b.tempt'd (who go down to a 30 band) and Boux Avenue (who go down to a 28 band). b.tempt'd bra expert Suzanne Pentland and Boux buyer Lisa Annand agreed to share their wisdom, as well as Sarah Jenkins from the slightly more treat-yourself-it's-payday Mimi Holliday.
1. GET FITTED!
We cannot stress enough how important this is. You might think you're a 34A, but you could discover you're more like a 30C, for example. "We recommend you have a bra fitting at least every 6 months just to ensure you haven't changed size," says Suzanne Pentland from b.tempt'd. "Diet, stress and exercise and hormones all effect our breast size so ensure you get fitted regularly."
2. SO WHAT SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR?
"A correctly fitting bra should sit firmly but comfortably around the body," explains Suzanne. "The underwires should lie flat against the rib cage, and contain the whole breast. The breast should be contained within the cup with no puckering or bulging in the cup fabric." Mimi Holliday's Sarah Jenkins adds: "Buy a bra on the loosest hook and eye to account for stretch; throughout its (long!) life you may want to take it in to the tightest setting."
3. DON'T BE RESTRICTED BY WHAT'S IN THE SHOPS.
Srsly. If you're quite petite on top (take note if you're usually a size 8 or below in tight tops), chances are you might be a 30 or 28 band, which you won't find stocked in most underwear shops. But there are a whole host of brands that will cater to your size and trust us, you'll be grateful you're in a comfy bra, even if it means you can't just buy a standard high street set.
4. MATERIAL CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE.
Certain materials like lace can fit tighter than stretchy synthetic fabrics, so if you find a brand you LOVE but it's just a tad too big, try a style in a different fabric. "Rigid lace and embroidered bras can fit firmer, but some bra styles also feature stretch lace fabrics," so lace isn't always tighter, explains Suzanne. Sarah agrees: "A heavier lace will tend to fit a little more tightly and provide more support than a thinner lace with more stretch."
5. MAKE A PADDED BRA WORK FOR YOU.
"With padding, make sure you're scooping your boobs into place on top of the padding. You don't want the bra just sitting on top like a pillow," says Boux Avenue buyer Lisa Annand. "Some bras will have the boost at the bottom, so you will need to lift your boob upwards and sit it on top of the pad. This is common in balconette style padded bras, which create a 'shelf effect' cleavage, where your boobs are pushed upwards. Whereas, padded plunge bras often have padding at the side and so you will need to scoop your boobs in towards the centre of your chest and sit them in place. This will create a nice central cleavage."
6. YOU MIGHT EVEN NEED TO GO UP A CUP.
Sarah says: "Check the fit closely - is it sitting smoothly and snugly around the body and no overspill on the cup? (Yes, overspill can happen on a small bust too!) Buying a padded bra can mean going up a cup size - never think your size is concrete."
7. GETTING GAPES? TRY ANOTHER STYLE.
From our humble experience, if you're getting that annoying gap between the top of your cup and boob, it could mean a few things. But most likely, either your cup is too small or the band is too big. "If a bra is heavily padded, you will need to ensure it is a firm fit at sides and back to prevent the padded cup standing away from breast," explains Suzanne.
8. BUT ALL BREASTS WERE NOT CREATED EQUAL.
"Small boobs still have variation in shape, so try try try until you find a bra that's perfectly you!" says Sarah. "Certain styles will just suit more than others, so experiment with shapes."
For example, in our experience, if your boobs are further apart, plunges and push-ups will be ideal to create cleavage. But if you have a fuller, rounder shape and find straps dig in around your armpit, try a multiway or triangle style, where the straps sit further in and can be adjusted more easily. Or if you're getting a lot of gaping, it may be that your boobs just don't suit a standard plunge or T-shirt bra, especially if there's more volume at the bottom of your boob than the top. Try a half cup or balconette design instead.
9. WHEN IT COMES TO STRAPLESS AND BANDEAU STYLES, MAKE SURE IT GRIPS PROPERLY.
"Silicone strips around the band help to provide extra grip, so your bra sticks to the skin slightly and it won't be as likely to slip," says Suzanne. "Silicone is the best," agrees Sarah, "but it can be uncomfortable. If you can get away with just elastic (on smaller cups) I'd recommend this."
10. BRAS WITH BONING IN THE SIDE CAN ADD STRUCTURE AND SHAPE.
"It pushes the breast to the centre of the chest for great shape, and can help maintain the longevity and structure of the bra, too," says Sarah. Suzanne adds: "Side boning anchors the bra to the frame, preventing the sides from collapsing helping you to feel supported."
11. TIRED OF PUSH-UPS BUT WANT SOME CLEAVAGE? TRY CONTOURING.
Start off by using a slightly darker powder or bronzer, a couple of shades darker than your natural skin tone. Brush this from between your boobs out and around the top in an outward C-shape (basically outlining the shape of your boobs). Then, apply a shimmer or illuminator to the rounds of your boobs and on your décolletage to catch the light and create a 3D effect.
12. PUCKERING AT THE NIPS? TRY A FEW IN THE SAME SIZE.
"The majority of bralets are single layer fabrics, which are very unforgiving when trying to fit," says Lisa. "This makes it very hard to get something to fit skin tight and can result in creases and puckering in the fabric. This could either mean there is too much space (or not enough, depending on the cut), or that the seam is slightly too long. Try a couple of different bras on if this happens as each garment could alter very slightly."
13. STRAPS KEEP SLIPPING OFF? THERE'S A FEW REASONS WHY.
"Always look out for bras with fully adjustable straps," says Suzanne. "Your bra straps should be tight enough that you can put only 2 fingers underneath the straps. If you can pull your straps away any more then they are too loose." Lisa agrees that the first port of call is to try tightening them or to position them closer to the neck to reduce the strap slipping off the shoulder.
14. BUT A RACERBACK MAY BE YOUR BEST BET.
"Some people with narrower shoulders may experience slipping straps, especially in smoother fabrics," says Boux Avenue's Lisa. "This is because the strap can't anchor itself on the shoulder. In this case you could try a T-back bra, which are also good for reducing strap slippage." Suzanne agrees: "Racerback and T-strap styles are really versatile for wardrobe and help to give increased support."
15. IN FACT, YOU CAN TURN ANY BRA INTO A RACERBACK.
"You can invest in a racer back converter," adds Lisa "These pull the straps in at the centre back and stop the slipping." Feeling thrifty? A simple paperclip (softer plastic ones are safer) can do the same job:
16. IF YOUR STRAPS ARE DIGGING IN, YOUR BAND MIGHT BE TOO BIG.
Yep, another sign you may be in the wrong bra size. "If the straps are digging in then they will need to be loosened," says Lisa. "The straps are there to keep the bra from flopping down, they are not the main support. The main support comes from the underband and the cups."
17. EVEN SMALL BOOBS NEED SUPPORT.
"Research has shown that even the smallest amount of movement (we're talking millimetres) can cause the elasticity in the breast tissue to decrease, leading to sagging," explains Lisa. So, while going braless is a massive small-boob perk, just don't do too many star jumps while you're at it, okay?
18. AND YOU STILL NEED A SPORTS BRA.
"Regardless of breast size, a well-fitted sports bra can make the world of difference to your workout, as well as your general health and well-being," says Professor Joanna Scurr. Dr Nicola Brown, a senior lecturer at St Mary's University, adds: "A good sports bra for A cup-sized women will reduce breast movement by 53% when compared to not wearing a bra."
19. SPEAKING OF SAGGING, TRY A CREAM FOR SOME ADDED OOMPH.
If you just want to give your boobs a bit of something extra, try using a lotion that'll help tone, lift, plump and tighten. Mio Skincare are great for this and while it can't promise an extra cup size, it can help firm and brighten your cleavage.