Indelible memories: your first bra

When did you get your first bra?

white braBack at school when we were all growing up at different rates, we had to wait for our mothers to decide if we were “big enough for a bra”. There we were, desperate to grow up, to be allowed tights instead of socks, to wear lip gloss and shiny green eye shadow.

Marks & Spencer was the only shop which stocked bras small enough. Most of them were plain white nylon and elastic things, and if you were really lucky your mother would allow you the ones with pink and blue or yellow and orange flowers. Basically, flat triangles that covered breasts so small my gran called them “bee stings”.

All would be revealed in the cruel nakedness of the sports changing rooms.

The sharp-eyed bully girls would point out the new ones to join the ranks of the recently supported.

“You’ve got a bra on, you didn’t have one last week!” Cringe.

Our PE teachers would stalk us in the changing rooms and sidle up to girls who’d started to bounce uncomfortably around the netball court.

”Tell your mother to get you a bra,” they’d whisper, then spin round and shout, “Get in the showers, Julie!” to someone who thought she’d evaded them.

The woman next door was evil. Her 14 year old daughter was forced bra-less into children’s stripy T-shirts, and she must have been a 36C. My mother was one of the kindly ones; we went bra shopping the moment I fitted into the second smallest size M&S stocked.

28AA, that was me.

What was yours?


Updated September 2016

Sarah McCartney

About Sarah McCartney

I’m a writer, perfumer and yoga teacher, and I like sharing what I know.

  • Deborah Garlick

    I was a very late developer – bee stings forever. But my lovely mum bought me a flat stretchy bra from Woolies. It had a baby elephant on each triangle and matching pants. 28AA would have buried me. I’m going to put it down to being sporty and just too skinny!

  • Nadine Cooper

    I remember my best friend telling me with a wink that she’d “got something”. Apparently it began with a ‘B’, ended in ‘A’ and had an ‘R’ in the middle. She then had to tell me it was three letters long as I still hadn’t worked it out… How naive was I?! I guess it could have been a burka, though there weren’t a lot of those around Yorkshire in the seventies.

  • Vanessa

    15th November, 1974, aged 15 and a half. Size 30AA, very utilitarian white. Slightly padded. Procured unseen by my mother from M & S. She just produced it one morning as I was donning my Cherub vest as usual. Actually I had my eye on one of those Berlei ones with pink or blue floral sprigged pattern, but never did get one. And I was one of the last in my class to get a ‘house’, as bras were euphemistically – and rather oddly – known in our school changing rooms.

  • Did you live next door to me? My first bra was a 36C. I am convinced that not being allowed to get a bra sooner is why my nipples have always pointed at the floor, I would have loved them to point upwards for a while at least.

  • Kitty Wilson

    My first bra was a half cup from dotty p and was a 36 C. My mum grew up in the days when girls were dragged screaming into corselettes as soon as they showed signs of any bouncing around and was determined i’d be free as a bird as long as i could be. I don’t think that it would make any difference when you got a bra as to whether your nipples pointed upwards. thats just an accident of birth. Most of us never look like cartoons regardless of size. It was quite a cool bra. My second was a “front loader” but after that i had years of the god awful Triumph Doreen…..i shudder to think about it. Thank god for bravissimo.