BY: CARA BUCKLEY 2010
Whether they resemble Olive Oyl or Jessica Rabbit, women of all degrees of buxomness have found the right fit thanks to Linda Becker, a k a Linda the Bra Lady. Ms. Becker, 60 (“but I look like I’m 40”), started her first shop 23 years ago in Lafayette Hills, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia, and opened a store in New York in 2005. She sells 200 sizes of bras at Linda’s Bra Salon, on Lexington Avenue, with a second shop scheduled to open in Murray Hill this fall.
The beginning: My children were in school, I was bored, I had to do something, and I read that women’s lingerie was the fastest-growing industry in the country for women. I thought, “That’s something I would have fun doing.” When I opened up the lingerie store, I thought I’d be selling robes and nightgowns and pretty slippers. Shortly after, the American Cancer Society asked would I go to school to learn to fit bras for prostheses and bras for mastectomies, because no one was doing it in my area. And I said sure.
Eye-opener: I took the course. It was a week long, and after that I realized I had the wrong bra on. I thought I was a 32B at the time. But I was really a 34A. And I realized everyone that walked into my store had the wrong size bra on, too. I thought: “This is more important than selling nightgowns. Everyone that’s coming in needs bras.” I tell you, that really opened my eyes.
Current bra size: 34F. Six years ago, the industry changed the sizes. If this was six years ago, I’d be a 36D. Twenty-three years ago, I weighed 102 pounds. Now I weigh 142 pounds. Some people gain a lot of weight in their breasts, which I do. All through life your breasts change. You work out, you have babies, you have a condition, you lose weight, you gain weight, you’re lifting weights, your back gets bigger. Sometimes you do none of these things and your breasts change. I always say breasts have a mind of their own. They’re like two bad kids. If you don’t control them, they’re out of control.
Why size matters: The wrong size bra is very uncomfortable. It’s the same as the wrong size shoes, and you know how much that hurts. Women are walking around every day in the wrong size bras, sometimes their entire life.
Ever tempted to stop women in badly fitting bras on the street? All the time. Sometimes it’s so bad I want to give them a bra. It’s so hard to look at.
Most popular size: An H cup.
Largest size sold: A 54N, on our online store.
Number of bras sold in a week: About 4,000.
Most expensive bra sold: $129.
Most inexpensive: $29. A lot of places have bras that start at $80, $90, $100. That eliminates a lot of women.
Bra school: I teach a class for my employees. It’s all about how you behave and talk to the customer. When you’re fitting women for bras, you see everything. I see women who’ve had reconstruction, who have no nipples,who’ve been treated for cancer or who have no breasts. Or who are very, very uneven. You have to be very conscious of being sensitive to the customer.
Size of shop: 370 square feet. It’s very, very small, with bras from the floor to the ceiling. We’re looking for a new space. It gets so busy we now have those round discs that restaurants give their customers, that buzz when it’s your turn.
Source: The New York Times