Claire Dumican, the owner of Butterfly Collection, an online lingerie shop based in Canada, and creator of the amazing cup size comparison chart I highlighted a while ago, recently posted a really beautiful article on her blog about the shop’s Skype bra-fitting services.
I have to admit, when I first heard about the service, I was intrigued but also perplexed. If you were wearing the wrong size, how could the fitter determine the correct fit via Skype without a range of sizes on hand for the customer to try on in person? How could a fitting by Skype possibly be better than an in-person fitting?
I’m embarrassed to say that this is the kind of tunnel-vision people in New York get (rightly) blamed for all the time. I am fortunate to have many boutiques and shops available to me in the city itself, and shipping something to New York City isn’t a problem for most international retailers. I’m able-bodied and childless, so there’s nothing preventing me from skipping down to the subway after work and traveling an hour if there’s a shop I want to visit in another borough. I’m also internet-savvy and have the time and resources to dedicate to online research to find what I need. It’s beyond presumptuous of me to assume that all women enjoy the same conveniences of location, availability, and resources that I do.
Reading Claire’s post reminded me of my good fortune, and also reminded me of the importance of sensitivity when it comes to women and their boobs. She’s offered Skype fittings for about a year and a half, and she reports that her customers seek out Skype fittings for three primary reasons: the Embarrassment Factor, the Physical Factor, and the Emotional Factor.
Guys, I was embarrassed about my boobs for years. Years. Over half my life. I’ve gotten to the point where I can laugh about them (“Sweets, are you okay? You totally whiffed that pole trick.” “Yep, my boob just got in the way, c’est la vie”), but it was hard, and honestly writing this blog for the last three months has done a huge share of that work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we as women are bombarded with messages about how our boobs “should” be, from size to shape to color to consistency (seriously). The embarrassment can be compounded by misinformation (“a D-cup is OMG so huge”, models wearing the wrong sizes, etc.), insecurity, and uncertainty, to the point where a woman dreads going to buy a new bra. Many women who feel a deep embarrassment or shame about their boobs might feel more comfortable and more at ease in a one-on-one situation in the privacy of their own homes.
Location, on the other hand, is a problem that never occurred to me, again because I’m spoiled and live in a super-accessible area. Claire has Skype-fitted and sent bras to a woman who lives over 1000 miles away from the nearest lingerie boutique, in a town with a population of 400 people, and her bras are flown in by helicopter! This fact delights me to no end. It’s like James Bond and the Queen sky-diving at the Olympics Opening Ceremony. No one will destroy my mental picture of bras being delivered by a secret agent, but also, seriously, what a gift a virtual fitting is for this woman and others in situations like hers.
Finally, a third customer base Claire mentions is women who, for whatever reason, are house-bound, and the sense of safety and security a Skype fitting provides, with the assurance that a caretaker or loved one can be present to assist with measuring and any emotional needs, is such an enormous gift to these women. Or what about a woman who needs to spend her daylight hours taking classes, working her demanding job, or caring for a family member? What about a woman who uses a wheelchair and might not find every store or dressing room accessible to her? What about a woman who is ill and suffers from physical pain, or a woman with developmental difficulties? Taking the time to travel to a store and try on bra after bra is likely outside the realm of possibility for her, and it leads to situations where a woman (understandably) would rather choose a size at random and pay for it without trying it on, because she thinks it’ll probably work, than undertake a near-impossible shopping trip.
If you don’t feel great about your bras, and if you are unable to get to a store for any reason whatsoever, I’d strongly recommend investigating Butterfly Collection’s Skype bra fitting services (if you or a loved one live in Vancouver, you can even schedule at-home fittings). The store specializes in bras over a D-cup, since they are harder to find in North America, but even if you think you may not wear a D-cup bra and you still feel a bit lost, I’d recommend reaching out to Claire.
In addition, the website’s Bra School aims to demystify the fitting process and empower a customer to feel confident about fitting herself. If you feel like you kind of get how a bra should fit, but you still have questions, the abundance of information here is a real treasure trove!
Butterfly Collection’s “About Us” reads “We want to pass on the wonderful sense of confidence that comes from feeling great about your curves. Our unique figures are something to be proud of and celebrate.” I really don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the work Claire is doing is humanitarian. The right bra can be so much more than just “sexy” or “daring” or “hot”. The right bra can mean self-confidence, self-acceptance, comfort, and well-being, no matter a woman’s size.
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A few more little tidbits:
Busts4Justice ran an interview with Claire last year; check it out!
Claire recently wrote a great article for the Huffington Post, complete with a slideshow of some of the lovely bras her store offers.
Lyla at Quest for a Perfect Bra recently secret-shopped Butterfly Collection, testing the online fitting consultation and Skype services while wearing an ill-fitting bra. She had great results, and I recommend checking out her post about her experience.
I’d also be remiss not to mention that Bravissimo offers telephone fittings. Again, I was skeptical, but I called once because I knew I wanted to exchange a bra and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what adjustments needed to be made to get into the right size. The women on the phone are charming, friendly, kind, patient, and have a really phenomenal ability to ask the questions needed to make sizing recommendations. They also have super-charming English accents, which always sway me, so, you know, there’s that.