Spring 2024

Anatomy of a Bra: THE PERFECT FIT

By Lauren Hurwitz

Are you busting out of your bra? If so, you’re not alone. Laura Burke, Founder of Fit by Burke in Larchmont says only about one percent of women who come to her for a custom bra fit walk through her doors in the proper size. The undergarment guru welcomes customers into her shop right near Metro North for a one-of-a-kind fitting experience that online reviewers have called “life-changing.” 

Burke says, “One of the biggest issues in the lingerie world is that you go to places like the mall, Target, or Kohl’s and think we’re in the right size, but we aren’t paying attention to ourselves. We’re paying attention to our kids or what we’re buying for other people. In the store, maybe there are 40 sizes – but in reality, there are about 200 sizes.” 

Allison Walker, another local bra fit expert who has served as the owner of Lilies and Lace in Armonk for nearly seven years agrees that size is a major issue. 

“People come here to get personalized service and attention – we know our brands inside and out and everybody is different, but not every bra is made for everybody. You need someone who can measure and get proper sizing, knows what is going to work, and listens to you,” Walker says. 

Shockingly, bra bands start at a 28 and go all the way up to a 56, and cups start at AA and travel north to O. “Often times if you have to go down in the band size, you have to go up in the cup size – but the cup actually stays the same, and some people don’t grasp that concept,” Walker shares. She also advises the fit of the bra should be snug sharing, “You get 90% of your support from your band and only 10% from your straps. People think the band is supposed to be super comfortable, but you are supposed to feel the band – that’s how you know it’s doing its job.” One thing that often surprises Walker is the age of the bras her first-time customers come in wearing when they visit her boutique. “Most people don’t know the average bra is meant to last only one year. If you only have one or two bras, and you’re wearing the same one every day, you’re not going to get a year out of it. You need to cycle through a few bras over the course of a year,” Walker suggests.

Burke says a lot of us are being shoved into sizes that are available and that’s not right. The other problem she says is that we were never educated on how bras were fit. Burke says, “As a stylist, I work with hundreds and hundreds of brands and it’s very specific to what that individual needs. What a 15-year-old might need is very different from what a 90-year-old might need, and they’re all being put in the same thing,” she says. So, how does she get the perfect fit? Every appointment starts the same but ends with a customized result, beginning with an in-person consultation Burke describes as an “exploratory meeting where we talk about current fit, the issues you’re having, and the discomfort you’re having.” Then she talks about what the client’s perfect bra wardrobe would look like meaning some people just want everyday bras, some want help with sports bras and strapless bras – it runs the whole gamut. Then, she fits them and puts each client into a lingerie profile including the shape of their breast, frame, close-set or far-set meaning how many fingers are in between your breasts, body type and personal preferences. Clients discuss what styles and fabrics they like, demi versus plunge versus full. The whole process takes about an hour, and then clients get to have fun trying on different bras. Over the next two weeks, Burke goes shopping for that client specifically based on everything she learned about the individual and then the client returns to try everything on. The fee for the services is $200 plus the cost of the bras with most of her findings coming out of the UK, Australia, and Europe. “You have to be prepared to spend about $70 on a good bra but I like to stay between $50-$80,” Burke says. 

A great tip Walker shares for overall bra shopping is to bring a preferred top with you and be open-minded. “You’re probably not the size you think you are. We provide a t-shirt for you to try on, but you can bring in one of your favorite shirts that you wear often to make sure you like the shape of the bra and the overall look with something you’ll actually wear from your own wardrobe.” At Lilies and Lace, bras range from $60 up to about $200 but Walker says something cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not good quality. “Some of the more expensive bras have hand-done elements meant to cater to fuller breasts that require more structure and support, the fabrics are usually different – more structured – and those are things that sometimes make the pricier bras more expensive. As a parting pro tip, Walker reminds all women to visit their local bra store at least once a year for a refit. “Our sizes change all the time even if our weight has not.”

If you’re going to invest in a better bra, it’s important you care for it correctly. Burke says once they have their first birthday they’ve overstayed their welcome. “Wear your bras for a year and rotate them – do not wear the same bra every day. Wash them every 3-4 wears. I like a company called Soak Wash that makes a really nice lingerie wash. I don’t like highly scented stuff. Never put your bra in the dryer – make sure to lay it flat or hang it to dry.” She also says it’s important to start off wearing the bra properly by starting on the tightest hook and eye. “As it stretches, you move in. So, think about it being like every quarter you’re moving on the next hook and eye. By the time you’re on the tightest and you’re not getting the fit integrity you got the first you put it on, it’s time for that bra to go.” 

And what does the right bra do for your bosoms from a medical perspective? Dr. Alessandrina M. Freitas, MD, MPH, double board certified in general surgery and plastic and reconstructive surgery, who practices at White Plains Hospital has some thoughts. “There is actually no scientific evidence that wearing a bra (or not) can prevent breast ptosis (sagging). Breast ptosis is a result of gravity acting on your body and the relaxing of the suspensory ligaments of the breasts that happen naturally over time. However, the good news here is that you can think of your bra in a less ‘medical’ way and choose whatever well-fitted bra you fancy! Underwire or not, material choice, style of cut – as long as they are fitted properly and provide you with the appearance you like – go for it,” she says.