Getting Fitted: Talking to the Bra Whisperer

The two times I’ve attended BlogHer, I kicked off the event with the Official Canadian Party on Thursday evening. It was a great chance to meet some of my Canadian peeps in a smaller setting that didn’t interfere with any sessions or official BlogHer parties. This year, they included a guide to New York City in our swag bag, with insider tips from some great Canadian bloggers. The one that really caught my eye came from Emma Waverman, who suggested a great place to get a bra on the Lower East Side. My friend Marilyn and I were both sorely in need of some more, erm, support, so on Sunday morning we headed out in search of Orchard Corset Discount Centre.

Like everyone else I’ve read the statistics that say something like 80% of women are wearing the wrong bra size. With numbers like that, I knew I was probably one of them. And yet, I’ve never had a proper bra fitting. I’ve always just gone with what was affordable, comfortable and looked good. I really thought I was doing okay. However, I was sick of wearing old nursing bras when I haven’t breastfed in well over a year, and I had a recommendation on where to go, so the time seemed ripe.

orchard corset
Image credit: Bonnie Natko on Flickr

From the outside, the shop looked small and non-descript. When we opened the door, we found a large Orthodox Jewish man behind the counter. We told him we were there to get fitted, and he asked us to take a seat because someone else was being fitted already. We each took a stool, and I looked around the walls, which were all covered in row upon row of little cardboard boxes holding bras, girdles, corsets and all manner of lingerie. Marilyn compared it to Ollivanders Wand Shop from Harry Potter, and I had to agree.

After 15 minutes or so Marilyn went in. She was in there for all of five minutes, which surprised me, but I didn’t have a chance to ask her how it went because it was my turn. A woman greeted me from the back of the store and asked me to step behind a curtain and take off my shirt. I was standing in a storage room, with even more little cardboard boxes. She came back, and while I left my old bra on she took the measure of me with her eyes, gave me a few discreet pats, and came back with a bra to try on. I tried it on, and the band size was a little bit small so she got me the next size up and I tried that on. This time the size was right (and totally different from what I’d been wearing), but the style still wasn’t satisfactory to the Bra Whisperer who was fitting me.

So many boxes at Orchard Discount Corset

This is the exchange that followed, as well as I can remember:

Bra Whisperer – Hmm. I’m going to get you a bra. You won’t like the way it looks, but you’ll like it once it’s on.
Me – Okay.
Bra Whisperer – You’re very short-waisted, we need to lift you up.
Me – I am very short-waisted.
Bra Whisperer – I just need to create some distance in your torso. You’re so short-waisted.
Me – I know. I have two kids, and when I was pregnant I just shot out to here, there was nowhere for the kids to go.
Bra Whisperer – You have two kids? You don’t look old enough.
Me – I do. I’m actually 36.
Bra Whisperer – Oh, I thought you were a teenager. That changes everything. I’m going to need you to take your bra off, so I can see what I’m working with.
Me – All right, no problem. [I have two kids. I have no shame anymore.]
Bra Whisperer – I’m sorry, I don’t like to have people naked, but I had to see.
Me – Really, it’s all right.
Bra Whisperer – I’ll be right back. [She disappears momentarily.] Okay, here it is.
[I try the bra on, and the Bra Whisperer adjusts it.]
Bra Whisperer – I was having a hard time with you. I thought you were a teenager. I knew what kind of bra you needed, but I thought that you wouldn’t like it. Now that I know you have two kids, I know what to do with you. This material is very thin though, do you have a problem with sticking out?
Me – No.
Bra Whisperer – I’m like everyone’s mother. No one else will tell you you’re sticking out, but I will. Okay, put on your shirt, and see.

Waiting for a bra fitting at Orchard Street Corset

At this point, I put on my shirt. I hadn’t been particularly impressed with the bra she brought me, but then I saw. My breasts were decidedly higher than they had been in my old bra. Like, several inches higher. I’m a woman in my mid-30s. I’ve had a couple of kids. The girls don’t exactly point in the same direction they used to, if you catch my drift. But in this bra they did. But the best part was that it was only $40 (I realize this isn’t exactly pocket change for everyone, but compared to the $150+ I’ve heard of people paying for a well-fitted bra, it’s pretty darn affordable). I bought two. As for Marilyn, she bought four. Apparently, the Bra Whisperer just brought her one bra, and when she asked if there was another one the Bra Whisperer said no. That was it. And it was.

After my bra fitting, I felt the comparison to Ollivanders was even more apt. I also found that wearing a well-fitting bra in the right style has made a huge difference. My clothes fit better, and I feel like I look better. Plus, I have a much better idea of what to look for in a bra the next time I buy one without the help of the Bra Whisperer. It was definitely worth the hot and sweaty trip on foot and on the subway. And if you find yourself in New York City, I’d recommend making the trip to 157 Orchard Street in Manhattan as well, if only for the story.

Have you ever had a proper bra fitting? What was that like – and how far off were you in the size you were wearing? And if not, what’s stopping you?

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  1. I really need to bite the bullet and go do this. My bras now are serviceable enough, but I have a feeling if I were properly fitted by pseudo-Ollivander I might laugh at what I think “fits” now.
    the grumbles’s last post … she keeps moet et chandon in her pretty cabinetMy Profile

  2. Luv that your perfect bra was only $40. A well fitting bra that will keep you lifted every day is worth a lot. Actually I hink a new bra is a better investment than buying new clothes, because everything you already own will look like new on you. I might have done like Marilyn and bought 4.

    And now of course I really want to go to NYC. Anyone have a reco for a bra whisperer in San Fran?

  3. About 18 months ago I ventured into the new bra store in Camrose. The window display was girly and frilly and so enticing, how could I not sneak in one afternoon when I had no children in tow. I had watched Oprah’s bra challenge and noticed the sign in the window offered bra fittings. Like yourself, two kids and mid thrities meant a new bra was in order. I fell in love with my bra. I bought 2 actually. 1 affordable one and 1 very unafordable but delcious bra with matching panties. I don’t do a lot for myself and it seemed horrible frivolous but every time I wear the set I feel extra sexy. Which, after 2 kids and in mid thrities, is a great feeling.
    Heather’s last post … I.C.A.A – my name is Heather and I am an ice cream addictMy Profile

  4. jencloss

    I feel like I need to book a trip to NYC just so I can go to this shop. Hm, maybe it’s not such a bad idea!

  5. This is the best story! The pictures are priceless! I’d do anything to walk between platform whatever and a half to end up with the bra whisperer handing me “the bra”.
    Hillary’s last post … Why I Chose Midwives (Video)My Profile

  6. I tried on one bra and bought it in two colours. So worth it.

  7. I have got to find a place like that! I know my bras don’t fit worth a darn. Let’s just say I don’t look like I did before I had kids. I was hard to fit then too, but I found some excellent ones at Victoria’s Secret that actually fit and which I loved. Now I don’t even fit in them, and even if I did, the shape is all wrong. I need something different and the stretched-out Walmart nursing bra I’m wearing now is not doing it for me.
    Sheila’s last post … What I do every dayMy Profile

  8. I’m totally going there next time!
    Lady M’s last post … Day One, Grade TwoMy Profile

  9. I’m going back the next time I travel to NYC!
    Krista (@kristahouse)’s last post … Counting it All Up ~ 12 Years or 144 MonthsMy Profile

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  1. […] 4. I discovered that life is much better when you have a properly fitting bra. […]

  2. […] It struck me that she would be much more comfortable if she were wearing a well-fitted bra. After my own experience with the Bra Whisperer this summer, in which I realized my bras were two full cup sizes too small for me, I’ve […]

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