What a Difference a D Makes

I wish I could figure out how to show these pictures side-by-side because I think it would show the difference more clearly. In case you can’t tell, the top one is the 36DDD. The bottom is the 36DD–more lifted and even smaller looking, without being a minimizer. Much less saggy-feeling. Both are the same Wacoal Bodysuede style.

Bra Fitting at Linda’s Bra Salon

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve purchased bras from Linda for several years now, and I adore her. She’s even given me advice in thinking about my business.

Linda sees the big picture. For instance, when you go into her little dressing rooms (that don’t feel as tiny as Intimacy’s because they have curtains instead of wooden doors), you’ll see a tank top and tape measure hanging on one of the hooks. What’s the tank top for? To show you what you look like with clothes on over your bra.

Of course the tape measure is for traditional measuring. According to Linda, I’m still a 36, but I’m not the DDD that Orchard Corset prescribed. I’m a DD. Take a look at the photos in my next entry, and you should see a difference.

There was a steady stream of women coming into the shop yesterday, and everyone wanted to be fitted by Linda, so there was no time for leisurely conversation, but I did get to ask her a few questions from my other fittings. I’d read that the center of your bra should lie flat against your chest, but one fitter said it could be as much as an inch away. Linda seems to be in the latter camp. She showed me how her bra lies flat against her chest, and mine does, too, but said that everyone is different. And she confirmed that there’s no hard and fast rule on weight loss. Some women lose band size only, and some women lose cup size, too. I’d also heard that when I raise my arms above my head, my bra band shouldn’t move. Linda said there’s always a chance of movement because a bra is clothing, and she sometimes needs to adjust her own band after certain movements. It sounds like some of the rules I’d heard can be good guidance, but they don’t necessarily apply all the time to everyone.

The biggest challenge facing Linda’s Bra Salon is that Linda can’t be cloned. Linda is passionate about helping women get the right fit that makes them look great. She won’t make you feel odd or un-helpable. She even found a spaghetti-strap bra for me once, and those of us used to industrial strength straps know what an accomplishment that is. When I stopped by last January to buy a bustier in time for my wedding dress fitting, however, I felt distinctly un-helpable by the assistant. Assistant A had told me over the phone that something was available in my size, but when I got there, Assistant B coldly assured me that the only thing available for me had to be ordered online (Assistant A was apologetic). I’d made the trip, so I asked to try on what they had. Assistant B had an I-told-you-so attitude as she worked with me because of course nothing worked. When a tiny Asian woman walked in off the street to ask about a certain AA cup bra, Assistant B matter-of-factly told her they didn’t have it. I’m pretty sure that Miss Double A felt pretty helpless that even a store that advertises being able to fit everyone couldn’t help her. Assistant B didn’t seem to understand that women can be vulnerable when they shop for bras. Linda does.

I love walking into Linda’s Bra Salon, and I think you will, too. It’s tiny, feminine and packed with beautiful bras. Sometimes when I stroll by the store, I’ll notice the latest styles on the mannequins and feel pleased that I could probably wear them. Once I’m on the other side of the glass door, I feel like I’m in a special club for lucky women who get to buy and wear pretty things. Unlike traditional stores where the fitter chooses what to bring to you, here the customer is free to browse the racks. Everything is clearly organized by size.

Linda’s Bra Salon
West side of Lexington Avenue between 63rd and 64th (828 Lexington)
www.lindasonline.com or www.lindathebralady.com

Business Briefing

Every week or so, I’ll give you an update on Red Violet LLC, the company I’ve created to bring you shirts in 2009.

If you’ve checked out my profile, you’ll see that I’m an attorney. Currently, I work as a corporate associate in the New York office of a large non-New York law firm, but thanks to the economy, that’s going to end on January 15. If I hadn’t been thinking and planning my business for the past 2 years, getting this news in September might have been devastating, and admittedly, it is disquieting (if anyone knows of a meaningful, part-time legal position available, let me know), but it also has freed me to concentrate on next steps.

Right now I’m looking for a fit model. I think I may need to post an ad on craigslist, but I’m afraid of hearing from crazy people. I’ll be sure to share my stories if I do. If you live in or near NYC and would be interested in earning some extra money trying on my prototype with my patternmaker, please let me know!

For the past two months, I’ve been taking evening non-credit courses at FIT. The most helpful, “Costing”, ended Wednesday night. The instructor filled in many of the blanks that I’ve been facing. He showed us how to reduce overhead costs to a ratio that we multiply against the cost of materials and labor to come up with the wholesale price we should charge retailers. He explained how to calculate fabric waste. And Wednesday night, he talked about labor. Evidently, everything in sewing is measured in time. Because there’s a limit to how fast a given product can be sewn, manufacturers have turned to sewing contractors in countries with low hourly wages–compare New Jersey’s minimum wage of $7.15/hour to China’s 50 cents/hour. I’m not against manufacturing overseas at some point. I grew up in Vietnam and would love to return there, but because I’m trying to get the hang of the entire process, this isn’t an option for me right now. So it looks like the cost of making my shirts will start out pretty high.

Hopefully the cost won’t be prohibitively high. I’m entering a business plan competition that’s giving me the discipline to look at the numbers. No hiding my head in the sand, although I’d really like to.

What’s Right with This Picture?

This is a size 12 shirt by Mandy Farrow at www.erisapparel.com,  and I love it.
First, it fits. I look slimmer when I wear this shirt because of the princess seams and the absence of ballooning fabric around my middle. When tucked in, you can actually see that I have a waist. If it were proportioned for petites, it’d be perfect. Second, the buttons are close together to ensure no gaping, but even if they weren’t so close, I’m not sure there would be a problem. I never think about pulling or tugging when I’m wearing this shirt. Third, it’s a classic style that goes with almost everything.
My only criticisms are that the fabric is a bit stiff (although the 70/30 cotton/polyester blend doesn’t wrinkle much throughout the day) and the sleeves can be a little tight in the biceps. I’d also have shirttails (vs. straight across).
I’m thinking about trying a size 10. I need to order fast, though, because I’m not sure how many of these she has left.