I received an email from a woman recently, and she was very upset. “Ali, Can you please help me understand what I’m doing wrong with my bra?” She went on to tell me about a shopping experience she’d had at a specialty boutique. She’d had a fitting, and the concept of sister sizing had come up. The fitter told her the smaller band/larger cup combo was better while the customer thought the larger band/smaller cup combination was more comfortable.
“I just want to know which was the right size so next time I’ll know what to look for,” she said.
The email got me thinking.
While there are often good reasons why a customer might do better in the long run with a smaller band, all I could think about was this woman’s fear that she chosen the “wrong” bra
The word kept buzzing through my head…wrong, wrong, wrong.
For many years, at least since Oprah’s Bra Intervention show in 2006, we’ve been telling women about THE NUMBER. You know the one – 70-85% of women (or 90% or whichever number) are wearing the wrong bra. Nobody really knows where that number came from. When I wrote my book, Busted! and researched the origin of THE NUMBER, I couldn’t find a great source. I used it anyways because it’s so widely accepted…but it’s an aspect of my book that has always bothered me, just a little bit. Where did THE NUMBER come from?
The truth is, no matter which number you choose, you’re right. 70% 85% 90% – heck, 100%! We’re all right. We’re also all wrong, and you know why? Because at the end of the day, anyone can find some fault with the way a bra fits if they look hard enough. Everyone has a different standard for band or strap tension. Every fitter can have their own opinion about which style is right for a woman’s shape. Most of all, only a customer knows what’s most comfortable on her body.
I know THE NUMBER was originally used to inspire awareness – and there are clearly still lots and lots of women running around in bras that are truly tragic. Tattered and in-arguably ill-fitting. So after all of the magazine articles, bra makeover segments on daytime TV and fit blogs, how is it possible that the industry has not moved the needle more substantially?
Maybe there’s still a lack of awareness.
Perhaps product in an adequate range of sizes still hasn’t proliferated into enough markets to make a difference.
What if it’s something else? What if all of the talk about THE NUMBER has had a shaming effect for women who already feel bad enough about their bras, their breasts and their bodies. Despite the best intentions, what if our industry has unwittingly contributed to women feeling worse about themselves, and not better? If that’s the case, then the way I’ve talked about fit may have even been part of the problem.
But no more.
Because the woman who emailed me deserved – and deserves – to feel amazing in her bra. It would have been more valuable for her to walk away feeling great than it was to buy a bra with a band that might have been a little better fitting for a longer period of time.
I’m not saying that fit standards go out the window – far from it. The feeling women have in their bras directly impacts thoughts about their bodies, and fit matters. However, how we talk about fit in terms of “right” and “wrong” matters deeply.
I’m finished with THE NUMBER.
Do you want to help your customers feel even more amazing when they shop with you? Let’s chat about ways to downplay THE NUMBER and uplift the women you serve.
If you are ready to inspire your customers while taking your business to the next level, you can apply for a free 1:1 consulting session with me.
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