Tag Archives: Le Mystere

Intimate Insight: Backstage with Bra*Tenders

10 Jan

Alan and Lori Kaplan are very serious about the business of bras.  Their boutique, Bra*Tenders, is a quirky and vibrant shop with a Broadway-theme tucked inside The Film Center Building on Ninth Avenue in NYC’s Theater district.  This hidden gem is not your typical bra store.  There’s no store front.  Passersby would never know it was there.  Non-theatrical clients (civilians like you and me) are required to make an appointment.  And they do very little advertising.  They don’t need to….  Alan and Lori carved out their niche nearly thirty years ago and have maintained loyalty to the clients that supported them in those early days when they hand-delivered undergarments to Broadway Theater stage doors from their home in Brooklyn.  They have built their business by catering to “theatrical clients” in the entertainment industry.  Over the years they have provided undergarments, stockings and other unique intimate accessories (like the “Houdini” for men) to thousands of performers in showbiz. 

Bra*Tenders

Besides the occasional listing in a Playbill, Alan and Lori get little credit for the work they do.  But they have vowed to help all of their customers find the undergarments that help them look and feel their best.  This commitment to providing impeccable customer service sets them apart from other intimate apparel shops in the area.  They dedicate a full hour to every customer that comes through the door.  This is why non-theatrical clients are required to schedule an appointment.  Professional Fit Specialist, Cristal Gordon, sees a client every hour of every day, five to six days per week.  She says, “Every hour is a different boob; and that’s a lot of boob!”  Dedicating a full hour to every client ensures a loyal customer.  As Cristal says, “Finding the right bra isn’t an easy task.”  The unique store often sees brides-to-be looking for a solution-type undergarment to wear on that special day, full-busted and full-figure women that are “hard to fit,” and simply women that are struggling to find a great bra that fits properly and feels good.  The store has held private bridal parties, bachelorette parties and even “Bra-Mitzvahs!”  Bra*Tenders carries every brand imaginable including top-sellers such as Wacoal, Fantasie, Freya, Chantelle, Panache, Cleo, Le Mystere, Simone Perele, The Little Bra Company, and b’temptd.

Bra*Tenders- Racks & Racks of Bras

Although this is plenty to keep any lingerie aficionado satisfied, what really intrigues me about Bra*Tenders is what goes on “behind the scenes.”  Bra*Tenders has a team devoted to filling orders for the shop’s theatrical clients.  Wardrobe supervisors and costume designers are not required to make an appointment.  They often walk in with a cast list as long as your arm.  They provide the Bra*Tenders staff with their requirements and a list of measurements and the team gets to work filling the order.  Behind the “stage door” are racks and racks of bras and other specialty undergarments and accessories.  And there are half a dozen people picking and packing undergarments for shipment or hand delivery to theaters and studios around the globe.  Bra*Tenders has such strong relationships with their theatrical clients that they often send out garments on “memo.”  This means that the staff will select a handful of styles and sizes that they think will suit the performer.  They messenger the garments to the client.  She (or he) tries on the assorted styles and picks the best ones.  Then, they return the balance.  The cast members never have to set foot in the store!  And, Bra*Tenders keeps track of each performer’s prior purchases and sizes.  So when they’re performing in their next show, the wardrobe supervisor simply asks Bra*Tenders to check their records.  This level of service is unheard of in the fast-paced environment we’ve all grown accustomed to.  But Lori says, “Our theatrical clients come before everything else.  I don’t know how to do it any other way.”  I can see why the Kaplan’s have dedicated their business to serving this unique client…..  A typical performer goes through a dozen pairs of pantyhose a week!  By providing undergarments to theater, television and film, Alan and Lori have built a “Broadway Bra Empire.”  Further attesting to their dedication, although the shop is only open from 10am-6pm, Alan and Lori are available 24 hours a day to solve a costume emergency or wardrobe malfunction.

This highly unique bra boutique will play the role of “host” in Bra La Mode’s Debut Intimate Affair on Sunday, January 29, 2012 from noon to 4pm.  The in-store bra fit event will provide women of all ages, shapes, and sizes the opportunity to receive a free bra fitting as well as education on the importance of a proper fit courtesy of Bra*Tenders. Various designers, authors, photographers, and “Bra-lebrities” will also be on hand to showcase everything from newly released books to the classic white work shirt.  Attendees will snack on champagne and cupcakes while they mix and mingle with the hottest lingerie professionals in the New York area. The event is sponsored in collaboration with the world- renowned French lingerie brand, Chantelle Paris, and in association with the leading lingerie trade publication, The Lingerie Journal. 

The event will include a trunk show by Darlene Campbell of the full-busted clothing company Campbell and Kate.  Darlene will be showcasing her innovative“CEO Shirt for the D.E.F. Woman” which ensures that all women can own a classic white shirt that fits them beautifully all over.  Author and bra-fit expert Ali Cudby will be signing copies of her recently released book “Busted: The Fab Foundations Guide to Bras that Fit, Flatter and Feel Fantastic.”  Professional photographer Michael Steele who is known for “capturing the female form” will be snapping candid shots of guests enjoying the soiree.  Guests will be treated to champagne and cupcakes courtesy of M Squared Sweet and Chic Treats.  All sponsors of the event have generously contributed product for giveaways and/or gifts with purchase.

The highlight of the Intimate Affair will be the raffle for a Grand Prize basket that is estimated as having a value of over $600.  Contributors to the raffle prize include Bra La Mode, Chantelle Paris, The Lingerie Journal, Campbell and Kate, author Ali Cudby, Ann Deal of Fashion Forms, international intimate apparel brand Anita, photographer Michael Steele, and “Bra-lebrity” Jene’ Luciani.  Additional sponsors of the event include the wholesale buying platform Monkey N Middle and guitarist Alan Brace.  All guests at the event will receive one entry into the raffle and guests that make a purchase of a bra at the event will receive a second entry into the raffle. Attendees can purchase a third entry for the raffle by donating to pediatric rehabilitation at a prominent NYC medical center, supporting the non-profit Intimate Apparel Square Club and their fundraising efforts.

Guests are encouraged to RSVP for the Intimate Affair at: www.bralamode.eventbrite.com

Bra*Tenders resident feline "Phineas" at the "Bra Bar"

Bra*Tenders is located at:

630 Ninth Avenue at 44th Street, Suite # 601

New York City, NY

Intimate Insight: I’m How Big??!! (And Other Lessons I Learned From My Bra Fitting) by Enid

6 Dec

Curvy Gal Enid

When Moira first suggested that I go for a bra fitting and write about my experience, I started thinking back on my bra shopping history and realized that except for one time as a teenager when my mother took me to a department store for a fitting, I’d never been properly fitted.  In fact, I’m not really sure how I knew my size.  I know in college I was a C cup and after that my next recollection is of some girl younger than me wrapping a paper tape measure around me at one of those chain lingerie stores and declaring me a 42D.  Otherwise it seems that I would just stay with the same band and cup size until they didn’t fit anymore, and then I’d move up until something seemed to work and stick with that until they stopped fitting; basically bra size by trial and error.

So when the bra style that had formerly been so dependable started failing on me, I decided it was time to be properly fitted and, on Moira’s suggestion, I went to the Wizard of Bras in Monrovia, California.  I figured that they would confirm that I was pretty close to the size I had been wearing previously….and I was more looking forward to finding some new bra styles to wear.  Instead, I got quite an education on how to find the right bra.

Lesson #1: I’m a 40G… or sometimes 38H??!!!
I remember going to a Halloween party with a woman who was a J cup and had to have her bras specially made and being thankful I was only a D.  So when the woman doing my fitting told me my cup size, I couldn’t believe it.  The stores I usually shop at stop at double D and they seemed to fit… except for the boob slipping out under the underwire or through the front neckline in my plunge cut bras.  But still, a G cup seemed so… large!  Are my boobs really THAT big?  And why the two sizes?  Because…

Lesson #2: Just because it says it’s your size, doesn’t mean it is.
Just as women’s clothing sizes are not consistent across stores or brands, bras that say they are your size (in my case 40G) may not actually fit.  When they don’t fit, the solution is to either go up one cup size and down two inches or vice versa.  So for some of the bras I tried on, I found that 38H’s fit better than 40G’s. (Warning: if you do go up a cup size, make sure that the underwire isn’t digging in to your armpit.  It won’t feel uncomfortable at first, but four hours later you’ll want to rip the darn wires right outta the thing.)

Lesson #3: You’re putting it on wrong.
For my entire life I’ve put on my bra the same way.  Arms through the straps, hook it in the back and adjust boobage as needed.  The problem with doing it this way?  By putting the bra on straps first, I allowed my breasts to be pushed down in the front so that when I was hooking it in the back, the band was now slanted.  If the band is on a slant, it can no longer do the job of holding the girls up.  I always thought it was the straps that held everything up, but in reality it’s all in the band.  The proper way to put on a bra?  Hook it around you first just above your waist like a belt, then pull it up to just under your chest, keeping the band horizontal and making sure that the band stays below your shoulder blades. Then put the straps on and lean forward to adjust your breasts to make sure they are fully in the cups.  Also, when you first get a bra, start hooking onto the outer most loops first, not the inner ones.  As time goes by, the band will stretch out more and then you will slowly work your way to the next set of loops and so on.  If you start with the innermost eyehooks, you have nowhere to go when the band stretches and you end up shortening the useful life of your bra.

Lesson #4: As with clothing, some styles will just not come in your size.
One of the frustrating things about having such a large cup size is that the cute styles I love and want to wear often don’t go higher than a D cup.  Even finding colors in my size can be a challenge.  I used to have a bra drawer that was all colors of the rainbow and now just trying to find a red bra to match my cute red underwear has turned out to be an impossible task.  Fortunately, as I’m starting to find online, it is possible to find some cute styles and colors in sizes for the more well-endowed. While my local mall may be lacking in all the colors of the rainbow, the internet and a credit card can bring it all to my door and all while I’m spending my time doing something more worthwhile… like working out at the gym or getting a massage.

Lesson #5: Finding the right bra is like finding the right pair of jeans.
You have to do the footwork and try on a lot of different styles, cuts and sizes until you find the one that fits just right. And sometimes the one that seems to fit great at the store, may stretch out or take on some other personality quirks a few weeks later that may give you buyer’s remorse.  So if you find one you like enough to buy, don’t buy a bunch that same day.  Give it two weeks and see how things go.  If you still love it, go back and stock up on a couple extra.  Other times, the bra may be almost perfect, but it just needs an adjustment.  I try to avoid bras that have those bones in the side wing because they always end up bending and then drilling into my side.  If I end up with a bra that has those stays, I always cut them out right away.  Another bra I bought ended up taking off some skin because of some sort of adhesive used on a seam in the band that had become rock hard.  I was able to cut part of it off and then have a seamstress cover the rest up with a bit of fabric, and now it fits great without torturing me.

Here are some of the bras I’ve gotten so far:

Le Mystere Dream Tisha # 965
I’ve always had a thing for molded bras, but am told they are not common for my size so I was happy to find this sexy little number.  I have had to adjust the straps some as I’ve continued wearing it, but the support is as dependable as ever.

Parfait Jeanie Plunge # 4801
I have some low cut shirts that I enjoy wearing so I was really happy to find this style.  And for once I don’t suffer from three-boob syndrome that used to be common when I was wearing a smaller cup size.  How you adjust the straps on this one is definitely important to get the right fit.

Elomi Hermoine # 8120
This is another great fitting bra.  It has some slight molding in the cup that makes it great for under T-shirts and the straps fit great.  Just be sure you get the correct cup size.  I was originally given a GG cup and after a couple hours, the underwire in my armpit started to make me feel like someone was shoving wires into the skin.

Fantasie Esme # 2471
This bra is my favorite to wear and the most comfortable.  It’s not good for low cut shirts, but fits great under everything else.  The straps are comfortable and I barely notice I’m wearing anything under my shirts.  I‘ve even slept in this bra.  I have two of these and wish they came in more colors.

If you live in the Los Angeles or Orange County area and are fed up with ill-fitting bras, take a trip to the Wizard of Bras in Monrovia, California.  And if you are a large breasted gal like me, I hope the lessons I learned will help you on future bra shopping excursions.

Resources:

Creative Woman- The Wizard of Bras

www.WizardOfBras.com

Follow @Wizard_of_Bras

Intimate Insight: The Sweetest Thing by Liz

9 Nov

I live in a great town, with a main drag and side streets full of stores and restaurants, shops and bars.  It’s toted as “the Hippest Town in NJ”, but that moniker makes it seem a little square. 

Downtown Red Bank, New Jersey

In any case, it’s a destination.  Are you ready for this???  People actually move out of NYC to live in my town!  Shocking, but true.  And those that don’t actually move here… apparently they drive in for the day or night to take advantage of all that the town has to offer (if the license plates and the line at Starbucks can be believed.)

I am in our downtown five days out of seven, as I drop off and pick my child up from school mere steps from the action.  Part of that time I spend running errands in my town.  I’m into shopping local.  I like parking and walking, and I enjoy local shopkeepers and good old-fashioned customer service.  I will pay more for a CD from the local record store; I will run through the rain for something I can download at home for less money.  I’m dedicated.  Still, I’d never been inside the local lingerie shop.  I walked past this store time and time again, preferring my mad dash through Target for my undergarment needs.  Why?

Simple.  It didn’t look like me.

To me, this local, attractively merchandised store screamed two things– “money!” and (forgive me, Angie) “mistress.”  Oh, you know what I mean.  The kind of store that sells high-priced lingerie to women who are skinny, rich, having an affair, or possibly splurging for a marriage rekindling 25th wedding anniversary trip.  I assumed they would not have anything that I could afford or that would fit me.  So I walked by.  Time and time again.

When Moira took her mom for a fitting, I asked if I got to go for one, too.  I’d already picked out the store I wanted to try, a well-known lingerie boutique in Soho.  Clearly everything in the city is better!  They would know how to fit me.  Moira replied that, yes, it was my turn, but we were going to a store in our hometown.  We were going to the very store I’d told her, in an impassioned conversation over coffee, wasn’t for me.

I knew my local store, Sweetest Sin, had won a Best of Intima award for Best Store, but that didn’t mean anything to me.  What do I know of industry awards?  Target, sometimes Kohl’s, maybe Victoria’s Secret if I’m feeling indulgent… To say I’m not aware of the industry is possibly overstating things.  So instead of relying on an award, I made my friend Moira promise me.  She swore she wouldn’t let me buy anything that wasn’t perfect for me.  She promised that if this store was indeed what I’d thought of it, I could leave.  If at any moment it turned snooty, awful, or embarrassing, I could skeedadle.

"The Ladies" at our Sweetest Sin "Bra Fitting Party"

We gathered some other ladies for a “bra fitting party” and set a date.  There was wine, there were snickerdoodles (don’t knock that combo until you’ve tried it) and there were bras.  And bras.  And more bras.

First off, the store was not what I’d expected.  Yes, it was nicely laid out and had pretty things and I’ll be darned if I could have found something on my own.  But it wasn’t the intimidating  monster I’d thought it would be.  Maybe it’s because I had a friend at my side, and more friends inside.  Maybe it was the owner, Angie, who, yes, was young and skinny and wearing impossibly high heels, but who was just so open and friendly and normal.  She didn’t make me feel like a schlubby mom who should head back to the discount rack.  Instead, she made me feel like I should have nice bras and it was just a matter of finding the very nicest one for me.

Moira told me ahead of time that most women are wearing the band size too big and the cup size too small.  I believed her, but only in the general way.  As in, yes, you have lots of experience, I am sure you are right…but not about me.  I didn’t think it applied to me.  I’m different, and special…hmm I wonder where my seven year old gets that from!  Well, right away Angie said my band size was too big.  The space I’d thought I needed wasn’t right at all.  More give in the band means less support for the girls, and why wear a bra if you’re not going to hold them up?  Also, I was wearing my straps way too loose, a common problem.  And, naturally, my cup size was too small.  Hmm, I guess I’m not so special!  Back to average woman for me!

Sweetest Sin Boutique's 2011 Best of Intima Award for "Best Shop"

Angie brought out a huge selection of bras for me to try on.  I never would have thought there could be this many – in my size, or in the store!  It made me realize how much we settle for the “fits most” approach we get with so many things, from bras to shoes to jeans.  What works for me might not work for you, and at every stage in our lives, something else might work.  I tried on many bras, but unlike most shopping trips, it didn’t feel depressing or exhausting.  It felt kind of fun.

I soon discovered that the idea we have in our heads of cup size is completely irrelevant.  Completely.  Actually, most of what we think we know about sizing and clothing and certainly intimate apparel is way off base, but for now, let me assure you that your idea of a D and an actual D are not the same thing.  You have to let all that stuff you think you know fly out of your head, and you have to be in the moment.  You have to be in your body, seeing what’s in the mirror and not your interior image of yourself and your breast size.

I also learned where your breasts were supposed to be.  I’ve always worn bras because that’s what you do.  It never occurred to me to think about where bras placed my breasts…in truth, I think very little about my breasts, or my lingerie, or my intimate apparel.  I think a lot about what to make for dinner, and if we can get a babysitter for Saturday night, and how much homework my child does or doesn’t have.  But not a lot about something which I guess I should know.

A good bra, it turns out, should place your breasts front and center –  not off to the sides, or too scrunched up in the middle.  They should look rounded and soft, not pointy and hard (unless you’re going for the 40’s pin-up look, in which case I think you’ve got that covered without my help.)  A good bra fits snugly, because as time goes on it will stretch out.  You should be able to hook it on the very last hook, and as you wear it you will stretch it until it needs on be on the first set of hooks.  A good bra has straps that lay flat on your body and those straps should be a bit tighter than I bet you are wearing them.  Mine for instance, were way down and then I’d be annoyed they slipped.  There should not be gaping or riding or any movement at all.  Think corset.  No, really, a good bra makes you feel like it’s holding you up.  You stand a little straighter, a little taller.

Also, there is this essential trick that I managed to go 37  years without learning; you have to place your breasts in the cup.  Yes, its true.  Lift them up and put them in the cup, and see the difference!  Wow.  Totally changed how I tried on bras.

In the end, after my glass of wine and a few snickerdoodles, I bought two bras.  One was Lace Tisha by Le Mystere in Natural and the other was Rhapsody in Lace by B.tempt’d by Wacoal.

So my advice is this: get yourself to a local lingerie store, stat.  Give yourself a few hours, and a realistic budget.  Don’t rush this.  Make an appointment, and bring a good friend.  Choose this friend wisely: not too critical, truth telling, but complimentary.  Go in with an open mind and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.  And let me know how you do!

Jodi and I in our new bras – fully supported and ready to go out!

DSCN0910

Resources:

Sweetest Sin Boutique – Red Bank, New Jersey

www.SweetestSinBras.com

Follow @SweetestSinBras

Intimate Affair: Bergdorf Goodman Hosts Bra Fit Event in Collaboration with Intimate Apparel Site ILOVEAGOOD

24 Oct

Bergdorf Goodman hosted their first Bra Fit Event on Saturday afternoon, October 22, 2011 in the intimate apparel department on “6” in their midtown Manhattan store. 

Bergdorf Goodman Foundations on "6"

The Intimate Affair was co-hosted by intimate apparel stylist Jenny Altman, and chic operating officer Danielle Black, from ILOVEAGOOD, the site that aims to change the way women share, shop, and view intimates.  In preparation for the in-store event, Jenny Altman hosted a “live tweet” session on Friday afternoon which gave consumers the opportunity to ask their most intimate questions in an open and supportive forum.  On hand at Bergdorf’s were the merchandise coordinators for brands Commando, Hanro, Le Mystere, Spanx, La Perla, and Myla.  Along with Jenny, Danielle, and the Bergdorf’s sales associates, the merchandise coordinators were available for fittings, styling, and to answer any questions the shoppers may have had concerning their intimate apparel needs.  The women that took advantage of these services were quite pleased as the insights of these Intimate Insiders are invaluable.

Danielle Black (left) and Jenny Altman (right) from ILOVEAGOOD

As the bulk of my experience in the intimate apparel industry has been in mass market, I can be intimidated by high-end specialty department stores.  I imagine the average American consumer may feel the same way.  However, the level of customer service at a store like Bergdorf’s is unparalleled and I was made to feel right at home in the intimate setting.  The product assortment is exceptional.  I saw brands and styles that I do not have the opportunity to see on a regular basis such as Myla of London, Stella McCartney, and Josie Natori’s Couture collection.  The styles, the fabrics, the prints, and the embellishments are exquisite.  It was a real treat for me to spend the afternoon surrounded by some of the World’s finest foundations, lingerie, loungewear, and sleepwear.  And I was pleased to see that they carried more affordable brands including Cosabella, Le Mystere, Chantelle, Spanx Haute Contour, Commando, Hanro, Jonquil, Wolford, and my personal favorite, the Eveden brands Fantasie and Fauve.  In addition, they carry styles which have been designed exclusively for Bergdorf Goodman by Patricia Fieldwalker.  I am glad I attended the Intimate Affair as I was able to experience something new.  And, now I can feel comfortable recommending Bergdorf Goodman’s intimate apparel department to anyone.  They carry everyday foundations and shapewear, specialty lingerie, elegant sleepwear as well as classic pajamas and robes, underwear in all styles, shapes and sizes, as well as a wide assortment of bridal pieces.  There is something for everyone at Bergdorf’s.  I commend the store’s buyer for putting together a very well curated assortment.

Jenny Altman from ILOVEAGOOD said, “Women buy a dress and often forget how important it is to consider what to wear underneath.  Even a Givenchy will look terrible with panty lines.”  I asked Jenny what she was hoping to accomplish at the event and she said, “I want to spread the word about Bergdorf Goodman’s intimate apparel department.  Women should buy a dress (or other ready-to-wear) and then head right here to “6” to purchase their foundations to go with it.”  After spending the afternoon with Jenny, Danielle, and the rest of the Bergdorf’s team, I will certainly add Bergdorf Goodman to my list of “go-to” retailers for intimates…especially when looking for a gift or something “extra special.”

Josie Natori Couture Printed Caftan

I made two discoveries at the event that I want to share with you.  Caftans!  I know it sounds crazy….  But I cannot finish this piece without commenting on the Josie Natori Couture caftans.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it…  They carry dozens of them.  And each one is more ornate than the next.  In my next life, I hope to be a “lady of leisure” so I can lounge around in Josie Natori Couture caftans every day of the week.  The silk fabric, the embroidery detail, the beading… to die for!  Unfortunately, they’re out of my price range… But a girl can dream, can’t she?? 

Josie Natori Couture Embroidered Caftan

Josie Natori Couture Silver Embroidered Bed Jacket

And secondly, the Bed Jacket!  My mom always wore bed jackets.  There was always something so elegant and sophisticated about it….  She would sit up in bed and read a good book while wearing a bed jacket.  At times, it can be much more practical than the robe and certainly sexier.  I had forgotten about this intimates wardrobe staple.  I hereby declare bed jackets as the next trend in intimates!  Mark my words.  So elegant!  Bergdorf’s carries a satin silk Josie Natori Couture bed jacket in silver color with hand embroidery.  I was fawning all over it.  This bed jacket is on my list of “must-haves” for 2012.

What are you wearing underneath?  With the Holiday season upon us, let’s make a commitment to spend as much time shopping for our foundations as we do shopping for that perfect cocktail dress to wear to the next Intimate Affair.  Follow Intimate Insiders Jenny and her partner Danielle at ILOVEAGOOD for expert advice on everything intimate.  Between the two of them, they have tried out, tried on, and squeezed into pretty much every bra, panty, and piece of shapewear in the business.  They did it—so you don’t have to.  You’ll get honest answers from them, because they love talking about underthings!  At ILOVEAGOOD, they’re not afraid to say “boobs,” or share that first bra experience (these are not dirty little secrets!).  It’s about time somebody talked about them!

Resources

Jenny Altman & Danielle Black

ILOVEAGOOD

Follow @ILOVEAGOOD

www.ILOVEAGOOD.com

Bergdorf Goodman

Follow @Bergdorfs

www.BergdorfGoodman.com

5th and 58th– the Bergdorf Goodman Blog

www.blog.bergdorfgoodman.com

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