Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cheryl Shops with... Linda the Bra Lady

I think it can be safely said that by now we've all seen, or at least heard about, the infamous "Bra Revolution" episode of Oprah, in which it was revealed that 8 out of 10 American women are wearing the wrong size bra. I'm fairly vigilant about getting measured, so I was pretty confident going into my appointment with Linda the Bra Lady today. After attending a mastectomy bra-fitting class years ago, Linda Becker spent 20 years taming the ta-tas of Philadelphia women; five years ago she moved to New York and opened a shop at 828 Lexington Avenue. Her newest store, at 552 3rd Avenue (36th & 37th Sts.), where I had my appointment today, just opened on Saturday. Both locations stock some 250 bra sizes, and if for some reason they don't have yours--and, really, if they don't have it, who will?--they'll special-order it for you. They also sell matching undies and swimsuits in all manner of sizes as well. (Fun fact: her best-selling bikini tops are size 32 G, for "young, thin girls with nice full breasts," says Linda. "They come in and snap them up!") There's a chic waiting room in front, but, really, the magic happens in back.

While some "expert" bra fitters can claim to know your bra size just by looking at you, Linda uses the tape-measure method, which is more precise and results in far fewer returns. She measured around my ribcage, right under my breasts; the rule of thumb is to add 3 inches to that measurement to get the proper band size (4 inches if the number is even). Mine was 29-1/2, which Linda said means usually I'm a 32 but sometimes a 34 in brands like Wacoal, which run small--true on both accounts. Linda eyeballs cup size, and she guessed mine correctly--to preserve my modesty, I won't tell you what it is, but Linda did accurately assess that my right breast is a full cup size bigger than my left. She said because of my, er, unique situation, I should look for stretchy cups to accommodate my shape--non-stretchy cups will gape on the smaller breast and cause the bigger one to spill over. My other fitting challenge is that I have very sloped shoulders, so my bra straps are constantly slipping down; Linda addressed this by bringing me racerback and adjustable-strap styles, neither of which I'd ever tried before. I settled on a style by Chantelle (which happens to be my favorite bra maker), very similar to the above Icone Basic Spacer--the straps can crisscross, but even better for me, I can make them taper in at the back so that they don't slip off my shoulders! So while I was, in fact, wearing the correct size, I was wearing the wrong type of bra, which was just as bad. Problem solved!

As a bonus, Linda peppers her fittings with all manner of tips. I learned how to properly put on a bra (straps first, then hook, then lift your breasts into place--never yank the bra), that one should rotate bras daily and wear them 3-4 times before washing (preferably by hand), and that bras should be replaced every 6 months, especially if worn on a regular basis. For more tips, I highly suggest checking out the Linda's Bra School section of her website, which is rife with all manner of mammary-related (sorry, couldn't resist) information; there's also more on the Linda Unhooked blog, which is written by Linda and her staff. And while, of course, you can shop on Linda's website, I highly recommend making an appointment with Linda or one of her bra experts, all of whom receive at least three months of Bra School training. (Appointments are highly recommended but not required; all the stock is kept in back, so you can't really walk in off the street, pluck some bras off the rack, and go try them on.) A note for the modest: My fitting involved lots of toplessness, and Linda did help me adjust my girls several times in a true  hands-on manner--all par for the course when it comes to bra fittings, but worth mentioning for the uninitiated. It's literally a transforming experience--I can't wait to wear my new bra tomorrow!

FTC full disclosure: My new bra was gratis, however I will definitely be back to Linda's for a new bikini come summertime.

1 comment:

Glinda Cauthorne said...

Yes, 80% it is! With this news, women would have an idea of what size bra they actually have. There are many shops today that offer proper fitting and appropriate sized bras for every woman. It's actually good to know, right? Some women also feel more comfortable using their real size.