The right bra changes our lives. It lets us play sports–and life–unselfconsciously. It gives an emotional lift at least as great as its physical lift. No wonder a properly fitting bra stirs more passion in the hearts of busty women than any other piece of clothing.

With so many busty women delighting in the intricacies of good fit, it seems like a Perfect Fit for All must be just around the corner. But then there are the rude awakenings.


When I took a friend swimsuit shopping last summer, the Cleo Lucille molded balconnet looked absolutely adorable on her. However, the 34G was a little too big and the 34F gave her a slight quadraboob, so we asked for the 34FF. “It doesn’t come in that size,” the saleswoman told us. I wondered if Panache had done something unusual with its sizing in this style, but a quick internet search showed it hadn’t.


Renee Lowry used to be a bra fitter for a plus-sized retailer. Anytime her company didn’t carry a customer’s size–especially in smaller bands with large cups–she’d send the customer to a different retailer known for its wider selection. Finally, Renee decided she’d like to work for the other retailer instead. She’d referred so many customers to them that they already knew her name, so of course the interview process went well–until Renee told them that she likes to educate her customers. Her interviewer visibly flinched. “Oh no!” she said. “We want our customers to believe in the magic!”

(Along the same lines, in Butterfly Collection’s recent post about how to change the lingerie industry, Claire recalls a well-established retailer who told her that she “should stop giving out free fitting advice because only bra fitters should have that knowledge”.)


It’s easy to feel disillusioned when passion for proper fit crashes into the hard wall of retail practices. I hold back from giving fitting advice because I dread the inevitable “Where should I go to buy a bra?” It shouldn’t be such a difficult question to answer in New York City.

Fortunately, other women don’t shy away from the challenge. For the past few years, I’ve been hearing about what I think of as a “shadow bra industry” where individuals take the place of brick and mortar stores and meet privately with customers or hold events and classes. There are women venturing out on their own (or as part of a franchise) to help other women in ways that physical stores and online retailers can’t.

I’ll be writing about some of these ventures in upcoming posts.