We Try It! Intimacy Bra Fittings

A few weeks ago, I was nearly incapacitated by extreme shoulder pain. I was unable to lift my left arm to even shoulder height, every time I had to twist a dial or turn a knob, fire shot up my arm, and I was reduced to removing my coat through a series of shrugging motions. I had once torn the rotator cuff on my opposite arm and the pain was similar but without an obvious explanation. I went to bed one night fine and woke up the next day to Shoulder Hell. This went on for nearly a week as I tried various tricks to alleviate/source/explain what was going on while my left shoulder showed no improvement and my right one started throwing out cries of its own. And then I remembered; I had bought new bras.

I’ve been a big boobie-haver since middle school. My breasts were large when I was skinny. They were larger when I was fatter. I’m familiar with back pain and weird sleeping positions and bra-related rashes. I resigned myself long ago to never wearing fitted button-up shirts or buying reasonably priced bras. In short, my boobs mean that I suffer a bit just for having them and occasionally fantasize about having some sort of magical breast reduction surgery that doesn’t involved cutting, pain, or recovery time. But this was the first occasion I’ve ever felt incapacitated by them.

Let’s back up a bit. I recently lost a sizeable amount of weight. Enough weight, in fact, that I was falling out of my old bras. During the course of any intimacylogoday, I’d have to disappear into the bathroom to tuck them back into the bra cups. I needed to be careful when I bent over or I’d lose the whole shebang. Finally, I caved to the miserable under-the-shirt situation and took myself to Lane Bryant, whose deep-V plunge bra had been my jam for years.

“I need to be measured for some new bras,” I told the nice saleslady. “OK,” she said, and then pulled out a tape measure in the front of the store, loosely wrapped it around my breasts – again, out on the floor of the store – and pronounced me a 42, or maybe a 44, triple D. “Are you sure?” I asked. “Oh, yes,” she said. And I was sent off into the dressing room to try on various 42 or maybe 44 sized bras. “Do you think this fits right?” I asked her, throwing open the door to the changing room and tugging at the bra strap. “Oh yes,” she said, and then sold me four new bras.

The shooting pain started within 24 hours. It seems my 42 or 44 sized bras were not right for me, and I was stuck with four new, not-exactly-cheap-even-on-sale deep plunge bras. Oh, and fiery, fiery, shooting pain. Did I mention that yet?

Coincidentally, that same week Jezebel.com happened to run a piece about bra fittings. I pored through the comments looking for suggestions for a full-figured gal such as myself and stopped on a post about Intimacy Bras. “They’re really expensive,” the commenter warned, “but they’re the best bra fitters around.” In desperation, I grabbed ahold of my credit card and waved it around. “I don’t care how pricey they are,” I told my credit card bill, “anything to end this hell!”

bra_optIntimacy does not have many store fronts. They seem to exist, mostly, in expensive shopping malls where consumers don’t blink at spending a hundred bucks on a bra. I am not one of those consumers, but for this situation, I was willing to pretend to be one. I booked a bra fitting – the fittings are free but appointments are requested – at my local high end shopping emporium and rubbed tiger balm on my shoulder.

On the day of, I brought my mother – a small boobie having, no bra wearing woman – along with me for moral support. We were escorted into a lush changing room. “We do holistic bra fittings,” the saleswoman explained. Holistic isn’t a word I normally associate with bras, so I was perplexed by the description but it basically meant I undressed to the waist in front of this very nice woman who looks at stranger’s naked breasts for a living. She pointed out the flaws in the bra I had on – the brand new “of course it fits” Lane Bryant bra. The band, which is supposed to do the actual supporting of the breast tissue, was riding up my back, forcing the shoulder straps to do all the work and therefore transferring the weight onto my shoulders. The cups were the wrong size; I spilled out under, over, and around.

“OK,” she said, and left the room to get some bras to try on. Both my mother and I looked at each other in confusion. The sales woman hadn’t even attempted to measure me. If someone with a tape measure could get my size so wrong, how could this woman even guess at what was the right size?

Let this piece stand to show I really know nothing about fitting bras.

My saleswoman returned with a dozen beautiful bras. Just lovely things with lace and bows and decorative details that aren’t usually found in Oh My God, Your Boobs Are Huge sizes. And even though she hadn’t as much as touched a tape measure, every single one she brought into the room fit. My boobs didn’t fall out, over, or around the cups. The band was a straight line across my back. When I mentioned that the band felt tight, she pointed out it felt tight because all the bands on my other bras didn’t do any supporting. She showed me how to properly position my breasts in the cups and how to tell if they were big enough. Pro-tip, the underwire should rest on your torso, not actually on the breast. We slid a t-shirt over one of the bras to see how I looked in clothes, and the difference was glaringly obvious. My breasts hovered at breast height, my back was straighter, and I could lift my arms up. My mother swore my rack even looked smaller. Oh, and that triple D cup size I was sold? I was really fit into a G cup.

The warning about the prices turned out to be entirely true. The cheapest bra in my size was $98, and many of them hovered in the $120 range. The saleswoman didn’t hard sell anything, and she was polite and understanding when I expressed some concern about the prices. Intimacy offers lifetime bra care – should the straps fray or the band need adjusting, you can bring the bra back to the store, where for a small fee, they’ll adjust the issue. With some months of weight loss still to come, this was the kind of assurance I needed to make this kind of investment.

I went home that day with a couple of new bras and explicit care instructions. Don’t wear the same bra two days in a row. Hand wash with baby detergent only. Never put in the dryer. Within a few days, the lingering shoulder soreness went away. My upper back doesn’t hurt. And my breasts look great. This is the first time in memory I can say that I’m not suffering from upper back soreness.

I’m not going to hedge around the fact that their bras are a serious investment. Women who are in more conventional sizes maybe be able to find their sizes online cheaper, but for me, bras in my range start in the $60 range and most are found in the $100+ department. But for me, and lots of other women, the proper fitting and help in choosing at least an initial bra is worth the investment that’s worth the cash outlay. This is one investment I’d make all over again.

Oh, and my mother, the small breasted, bra hater? She was so impressed by my experience she got fitted and walked out with new bras herself.

Intimacy does have an online sales section to their website. To schedule a bra fitting, use their find a store option.

Published by

[E] Slay Belle

Slay Belle is an editor and the new writer mentor here at Persephone Magazine, where she writes about pop culture, Buffy, and her extreme love of Lifetime movies. She is also the editor of powderroom.jezebel.com. You can follow her on Twitter, @SlayBelle or email her at slay@persephonemagazine.com. She is awfully fond of unicorns and zombies, and will usually respond to any conversational volley that includes those topics.

44 thoughts on “We Try It! Intimacy Bra Fittings”

  1. I think I may be the only woman in the world who has been fitted at Intimacy and was not pleased with the outcome. The fitter was perfectly nice but my major issue with bras is that the band rolls on the sides. Every bra they put me in was nice and my breasts looked fine but as soon as I started moving, so did the band. I was prepared to spend the money if the bra they gave me was better than the ones I owned but if I can get a bra that “kinda” fits for $30, I’m not going to pay $80 and it still just “kinda” fits. The saleslady seemed surprised that I opted not to buy but she couldn’t solve my fit problem so I really couldn’t justify the purchase. I may try them again in the future but I was totally underwhelmed.

  2. I went to Intimacy sometime last year and my life changed. Seriously, I was so hesitant and scared and considered day drinking (when do I NOT), but then I was in Long Island and it was so close, I just bit the bullet and did it.

    I did laugh hard when the fit specialist told me I was a 34HH or 34J not a 38DD, proving that I know nothing about bras. The whole posture, lack of pain thing is so true and yes, in my euphoria in that moment I spent way more than I wanted on bras.

  3. Oh goodness, I’ve just been through the horribleness of bra buying and having to do it online, too. What was interesting (or swear-word-inducing-levels-of-frustrating) was putting my measurements into the size calculators of different stores and getting consistently different results. One even went “oops”. After that, I went in search of different info ( http://www.007b.com/bra-fitting.php ) and finally found decent bras – not the size I was “meant to be” – that fitted. It’s really lovely to hear, then, of a store that is capable of doing really good fittings!

  4. Anybody in the UK, get thee to Bravissimo. They do the same kind of fittings – no tape measures: they look at your current bra, then get you a range of sizes and styles to try and they assess how they fit.

    I had been wearing a 34E and thought it was totally fine… yeah, turns out I’m a 30G/FF (depends on the style and the brand). I had sized myself at least 2 sizes wrong in both dimensions.

    Yes there is momentary awkwardness that someone you don’t know is assessing you with your bra on and tweaking the fit of the new ones, but it’s nothing they haven’t seen before. And you will feel so much better with bras that fit.

    Bravissimo bras are in the £25-50 range so not too bad. http://www.bravissimo.com/

  5. I hate reducing bras though. I have wide hips, so I like the fact that with the right bra and shirt I can kid of visually balance things. I feel like a triangle when I wear bras that press in in the cups too much.

    That said I need new bras like woah. The one I wore yesterday lost the underwire a while ago and one of the straps is held on by a safety pin instead of, ya know, one of those plastic doo-dads.

    1. If I go I’ll have to wait for my next NYC trip. My closest store is in King of Prussia I think, and that’s… 5 or 6 hours and since I don’t drive, It’s not like I can stop on my next Philly trip. But I have family outside of NYC and I could probably get my Aunt to come with me. She likes the whole shopping thing, though it’s hard because she is skinny an has no idea how the plus size shopping thing works.

    2. None of the ones I bought were actually reducing bras. I think by getting the right sized cup, they just sat properly and hense looked visually smaller. The saleswoman also suggested that I buy bras with an extra panel on the side — a boob gusset, if you will — and that helped position the breast tissue properly.

      If you decided or manage to make the KoP store, I can meet you there! That’s where I had the fitting done.

  6. Nice article. Funny at times, yet very interesting!!! Wish the lady that looked me over for size would have been as informative as your young women. Glad to hear that they are helping you, and your pain has gone away. The credit at the store is now yours to use. Have fun with it!

  7. Glad you had success. I went to be fitted at Nordstrom’s because everyone said it was the best around here. I had a hard sell clerk. She brought me dull nude bra. I left with one because I “had to” and HATE IT. The damn thing doesn’t fit, it cuts into to me and I am having nightmares…true story…about the damn piece of poo.

  8. I got fitted at Intimacy, and then again at this house of horrors known as Linda the Bra Lady (where I was abused and treated like an imbecile, then sold a bra that didn’t fit right), and Intimacy did a far better job. Knowing your real size and brand you can look around online, too. I get a lot of bras from figleaves.com. What I do is order a few and then return what doesn’t work. It’s a little time-consuming but you can get some good deals. Plus my experience at Linda’s was downright traumatic and made me never want to go near a fitter again.

    (Seriously, NYCers, avoid that place.)

  9. “Just lovely things with lace and bows and decorative details that aren’t usually found in Oh My God, Your Boobs Are Huge sizes.”

    I love you. This made me laugh loud enough to scare my cats. I’m going to have to see if they have this store around me! I go to Nordstrom’s now and quite honestly no price is too high for bras that feel good anymore. It’s just not worth the suffering. I need more I only have one I like right now.

    1. I was going to go to Nordstrom’s, but I figured I’d give these guys a shot. (And in my mall, they’re literally next to Nordstrom so if I hated it, I could just walk in there anyway.)

      And, girl, you’re right. It is not worth the suffering. I came home and tossed all the bras I had, most of which were years and years old and way too small. That was a little scary. But worth it!

  10. I am so happy for you that you found the right fit!! I used to be a 36 G and I’d literally cry when it was time to buy bras because they were so impossible to find and hideously expensive to boot. I actually had a breast reduction 2 years ago after my final baby weaned. My doctor took almost 5 pounds of flesh off of me! Now I’m back to where I was at 14 – a D cup. But the years of back pain and shoulder agony taught me that nothing beats a good fitting bra, so (even though I can buy “off the rack”) I still look for higher priced, better fitting, more supportive bras.

  11. YEAH GIRL. I wear an E to F cup in proper bras and only buy them from one super-fancy boutique in Toronto. Right before we moved to AB I bit the bullet and spent over $400 on 5 brand new bras to hold me over. They are unbeatable and beautiful and oh so comfy.

    1. I doubt I’ll be able to get bras in my size where we’re moving, so I fully expect to drop about the same amount on bras before I leave too. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only person who felt the need to pre-emptively stock up on over the shoulder bolder holders.

  12. Boobs are tricksy things. I was so proud of my 38B-since-high-school set. But all of a sudden last year I couldn’t find any that fit any more. So I got fitted and found out I’m a 36D. I was horrified by their sudden growth spurt. I think I may have said, “What the hell, ladies?!” The attendant was weirded out by it. Boyfriend was extraordinarily pleased by the news. Because he’d called it two months earlier. A gross and yet hilarious party trick.

        1. Hahaha yeah… The thing is, most of my problem is that I have a wide ribcage because I have broad shoulders, ever since birth (which my mother never fails to remind me of). So I think even if I were a bit thinner (I’m a size 12 or 14 depending on the brand/piece of clothing) I think the smallest bra size I’d have is a 36B.

          These broad shoulders also make finding good jackets that fit well a pain.

      1. Yes, Sara, I’ve discovered the same thing. But, I also learned from the wonderful young bra fitting specialist at my local Victoria’s Secret, that I was supposed to be a 36C instead of 38B and she found me a wonderful bra style that is oh, so comfy and helps me fight gravity.

        Alas, no Initmate shops in the Pacific Northwest. I’d have to move back to the L.A. area to shop there.

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