Sunday, December 31, 2006
Orchard Street Corset Center - Lower East Side
It's easy for those with small perky breasts to buy cute bras. From Victoria's Secret to JCPenneys, to La Perla, every mall and high street is brimming with them. Likewise for buxom gals built like prison matrons, with big proletarian backs and large motherly bosoms. They can find the appropriate Cross Your Hearts at any Mervyns, KMart or JCPenneys. But what about those of us who have normal size backs but larger-than-usual fronts? Even Nordstrom doesn't special order anymore.
Orchard Street Corset Center to the rescue. It's one of two places I can find bras in my size, the other being M&S. This old fashioned merchant is not for those who like slick merchandising and a leisurely browse to see what styles are in. The bras are hidden in boxes, in shelves lining the walls. The fitting room is a curtain, strung up across the stock room. All is overseen by Ralph, the king of customer service, and his wife the chief fitter.
When customers walk into his shop, Ralph sizes them up and tells them if they are wearing the wrong size brassier. One one shopping trip, I dragged my modest sister-in-law, Angel, in. As she was mumbling her size, Ralph stopped her and said. "No, this is the size you are." She tried to disagree but he countered with an authoritarian "I see everything," held a suitable size up and called for his wife to sweep Angel off to try on the proper bra. He was right. While she has not ventured back to the shop, Angel does admit that the bra she bought that day is the most comfortable one she owns.
One thing I should mention: The owners are Hasidic, so the shop is closed on Saturdays.
157 Orchard St., Between Stanton Street and Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002-2214