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Think Small: The Growing Petite Lingerie Market
#1 Posted : Thursday, August 25, 2011 9:01:59 AM(UTC)

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Posted at http://www.fabfoundations.com/blog/

"Petite” has a different definition in lingerie than it does in clothing. In clothing, petite refers to a woman’s diminutive height. In lingerie, a petite woman is one with a smaller bust – it’s not height related. There was a time when petite lingerie had a narrower definition including a narrow rib cage and small cup size. Recently, the clamor from women with a larger rib cage combined with a small cup size, has led to an expanded definition of petite — and manufacturers have subsequnetly provided more options.

Itty Bitty Bra Company has recently introduced a new “Flatter Me” bra, with sizes that are specifically designed for women sporting a small cup size/larger band size combination. The offerings range from 40AA to 48B – an underserved market.

Petite women (of every band size) often feel disrespected in mainstream stores. These women report being told in stores that they don’t need a bra, or should be shopping in the training bra department. This can wreak havoc on a woman’s self-esteem, leaving them feeling like they are somehow less worthy as women because they are small-busted.

Regardless of size, every woman should be wearing a bra. It’s not a question of appearance or modesty. Keeping breast tissue properly supported is a matter of good health. While it may feel great to go bra-less in your twenties, you can do irreversible damage to the ligaments in your breasts if you go without proper support. Over time, that will lead to more sagging, even for those with smallest busts. But without product being easily available, when petite women try to shop for bras, they often run into fit issues.

Unlike most American women, who tend to wear a too-big band and too-small cup, petite women are inclined to wear bras that are too small in the band and too large in the cup. This stems from the relationship between band and cup size. A woman who might be a 36AA could end up wearing a 34A or even a 32B because she can’t find stores that stock her size. The smaller size band will be her only option since the cup size on the 36AA, the 34A, and the 32B will all be equivalent. But wearing a band that’s several inches too small will be extremely uncomfortable.

For stores, introducing petite bras can expand the range of customers they serve. With brands such as Itty Bitty Bra Company, The Little Bra Company, and Lula Lu Lingerie expanding the marketplace, there’s an increasing number of options and silhouettes for these customers.

While petite bras may fit girls looking for their first bra, the styles and fabrics may not end up being appropriate for younger shoppers, so those markets can’t necessarily be served by the same bras – even if they fit both groups.

Ultimately, petite women want the same thing as any other woman: the chance to look and feel great and develop a positive self-image.

(P.S. I actually became a fan of Ali Cudby after reading this article. It's just so true, especially "petite women are inclined to wear bras that are too small in the band and too large in the cup." BINGO!!)
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