The Best Bras For Small-Chested Women

Ellen Hoffman
Refinery 29 UK

It's a misconception among women that bra shopping is easy peasy when you have a small chest. But, sadly you cannot wear "literally anything" because your cup measurement is AA. In truth, women with small boobs have a host of lingerie gripes — slipping straps, rising back bands, that awkward space between one's bra cup and actual breast. It can be a whole lot of ugh all around.

Seeing this as a challenge rather than a throw-in-the-towel-and-go-commando sort of situation, we spoke with the bra-fit experts from Aerie, Cosabella, and The Little Bra Company for the scoop on what styles are best suited to small boobs. "Just like full-figured or larger-chested women deserve a better-fitting bra, so do smaller-breasted women," Emily Lau, founder and owner of The Little Bra Company, tells us. We couldn't agree more.

To that end, we highly recommend a professional bra fitting if you've never had one or it's been a while; you might be surprised by your results. Once you've crossed the fit hurdle, it's time to shop. Ahead, we're sharing gorgeous, functional bras that cater specifically to the small-boobed set. You've never felt this supported.

Lightly Lined Bras

A lot of people — hi, nosy sales staff — falsely assume small-chested women don't need to wear a bra. “I've had many customers tell me that they’ve had terrible experiences when shopping for a bra, because a salesperson told them their size didn't exist, directed them to the teens section, or told them that they didn't need to wear a bra at all,” Lau tells us. “Another misconception about bras is that small-chested women don't need any support. On the contrary, bras for petite cup sizes need to have support in the right places in order for them to stay in place and create natural-looking curves.”

To that end, Aerie fit and style expert Jenny Altman recommends “lightly padded bras for a little extra oomph with a very natural amount of padding.” Cosabella designer Kristin Ulrich echoes Altman, adding that this style “provides definition and shape” where there might not be a ton to start.

“Light padding all over the cup is referred to as ‘lightly lined’ and does not add any volume, but creates a more even, natural shape while also providing ample nipple coverage,” Altman explains. “If you want volume, go for padded bras that have the padding at the bottom of the cup. The amount of padding in the bottom of the cup is what makes you look feminine versus whoa!”

"A lot of padded bras out there have very little support in the back, which causes the riding-up effect," Lau explains. A general rule of thumb for discerning shoppers: "The more padded a bra is, the more support there should be in the sides and back."

L'Agent by Agent Provocateur Vanesa Padded Bra Lace Half-Cup Padded Bra, £44, available at John Lewis

"It’s so important to put your bra on the right way each morning," Altman explains. "Adjust the straps before you put your bra on, and then scoop your breasts into each cup. Small-busted women, especially, want any and all breast tissue in the cup, rather than at the back, under the arm, etc. The SCOOP is the biggest wow moment you will ever have!" We hope you're taking notes at home.

H&M Microfibre T-shirt Bra, £9.99, available at H&M

Calvin Klein's simple, T-shirt bra is very light on the padding — it's really just a thin layer that refines the shape of your boob. After all, the last thing a small chest needs is a heavily padded push-up that looks as just as unnatural as it is uncomfortable.

Calvin Klein Modern Cotton T-Shirt Bra, £27.30, available at Figleaves

"This is a great solution for girls who just want to feel a little more feminine in their everyday bra without looking at all like you’re wearing padding," Altman says. The light lining is also a perfect solution if you prefer to keep your nipples under wraps.

Negative Essaouira Demi Bra in White, $80 (£64), available at Negative

Racerback & T-Strap Bras

It could be that your straps are always slipping because they’re too loose. If that’s the case, Ulrich advises tightening the straps to prevent them from falling onto your shoulders. That said, she explains, “Over time, straps stretch along with the rest of the bra, and it could be time to replace it altogether.”

If simply adjusting your straps doesn’t prove a quick solve, it might be time to consider different bra styles that’ll complement and work with your petite chest and delicate shoulders. A small-chested woman herself, Altman champions racerback and T-strap bras: “If you’re constantly reaching into your shirt to pull your straps back onto your shoulders, you MUST switch over to a racerback or T-strap. They are just so practical! Life changing for some people.” The positioning of the straps makes it impossible for them to slip — it’s pretty much a no-brainer solution to the nagging issue.

You can even shopping this handy bra-converter clip to turn your existing styles into racerbacks. Now, how convenient is that?

With caged details this triangle bra is so pretty you'll want to wear all-sheer-everything to show it off.

Topshop Floral Applique Triangle Bra, £26, available at Topshop

The problem with just tightening your standard bra's straps, according to the small-chested staffers we badgered, is the back of the bra tends to ride up really high, which can be extremely uncomfortable. Thankfully, the solution is an easy one.

Baserange Triangle Bra Bamboo, £38.14, available at Baserange.

"Racerbacks and T-backs are a great basic to have in your closet and can be worn under most tops," Ulrich says.

Lonely Lulu Strap Bra, £34, available at Revolve.

There's little comfier to lounge around in (or wear all day while running errands!) than Marieyat's seamless cotton bra.

Marieyat X Tank Top, £39, available at Marieyat.

With padding hidden beneath a seamless exterior, this black racerback cupped bra offers the shape we love from padding, without that chasm of a gap between bra and chest.

Urban Outfitters Plunging Seamless Lace Racerback Moulded Cup Bra, £20, available at Urban Outfitters


You’d think going strapless would be easier when there’s less breast to support. This isn't always the case. While in theory this bra style is very useful for the summer, that's only if you can get them to stay up. That requires you to be discerning in the dressing room or when reading online product descriptions: “When shopping for a bandeau, make sure to look for details like silicone on the inside band instead of just elastic to ensure there is no slippage,” encourages Ulrich. “Side boning will also give your chest a little support and shape.”

Hanky Panky's strapless, soft-cup bra offers light support and lots of lace — just think about how fun it'll looking peeking out of tank tops.

Hanky Panky Bandeau Stretch-Lace Soft-Cup Bra, £45, available at Net-A-Porter.

While we're all about a bra that places a high premium on functionality, sometimes pure pretty just wins out. We love that back detail!

Free People Essential Lace Bandeau, £18, available at Free People.

"Cosabella's Never Say Never Flirtie Bandeau bra is pretty in an all-over lace, but has details like silicone on the inside for no slipping, and side boning to give a little support and shape," Ulrich explains. "For the girl who really can’t live without her padding, the Trenta Padded Bandeau bra is perfect — it's fun, comfortable, and lays smooth in a gorgeous flat lace."

Cosabella Never Say Never Flirtie Bandeau Bra, £41, available at Cosabella.

This longline bandeau in a sheer lace will make you feel amazing, especially when paired with the high waist matching briefs.

Asos Mya Lace Bandeau, £20, available at Asos.

Get that extra bit of support from underwiring with a bandeau, like this pure white corsette by Else.

Else Petunia Underwired Strapless Corsette Bra, available at Else Lingerie

Triangle Bras

Triangle bras are a popular fashion item right now, but in truth, they’re made for smaller cup sizes. It’s good news for you! While they don’t offer much in the way of support, depending on the brand, some can actually give you a great shape. They have a bit more definition to them than a bandeau, and they have greater sex appeal than a sports bra.

“Pretty triangle bras are perfect for women who embrace their small chests,” Ulrich says. “They provide coverage with minimal support, and the added benefit of no discomfort from underwire.” Altman reiterates Ulrich’s sentiment, adding, “Padded bras are genius if you want to look more curvaceous, but the amount of padding one wears is very personal. The completely natural shape offered by a triangle bra is just as feminine and beautiful as a push-up.” Well said, ladies.

& Other Stories' selection of underwear is among the best on the high street, the velvet spot detail is the kind of bra you want to be seen.

& Other Stories Velvet Spot Soft Bra, £25, available at & Other Stories

This off-white front hooking triangle has barely there straps, while remaining adjustable. The quality italian lace will make you forget you're even wearing it.

Noe Alex Front Hook Bra, £96, available at Undone

This V-front V-back style is perfect if you prefer a sporty shape.

Cos Mesh Twill Bra, £19, available at Cos

In pastel green this Stella longline bralette is delicate and luxe with satin straps.

Stella McCartney Naomi Gliding Soft Cup bra, £95, available at Stella McCartney

Talk about alluring — this barely-there underpinning will look edgy under a slightly-sheer white top.

H&M Non-Wired Lace Bra, £12.99, available at H&M

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Here's Your Workout Wear Shopping List

16 Pieces Of Jewellery To Add Sparkle To Your Winter Wear

Why I'm Not On Board With Black Friday