Secrets From Your Sister
Secrets From Your Sister, when it opened 10 years ago, simultaneously updated, expanded and dramatically improved the experience and selection when buying a bra in Toronto.
It's only getting better, and more accessible -- as they recently opened a sister location (chortle) at Yonge and Eglinton that complements their flagship store at Bloor and Bathurst.
I spoke with Jennifer Klein, owner of Secrets, about bras in general, and the Secrets From Your Sister approach specifically.
How is Secrets different from other Toronto bra boutiques?
We are different because we really focus on empowering women. All too often even when women are put in the right bra, they have no understanding of what to look for when shopping for their next one. Knowing the whys and hows of what makes a bra fit properly is knowledge that can be taken with you -- when you're shopping at another store, or when it's time to help a friend, or educate a daughter, or even a mother.
Our primary goal is to find the best bra for a woman's body, by adhering to the basics of bra fitting. In an industry run by manufacturers who like to only make bras to DD when they actually go to K cup, it is really important to show manufacturers what sizes sell!
We like to educate on fit, washing, storage and wear, and how to adjust the bra over time so your investment lasts longer. Working one on one with someone is really a treat. Undivided attention until your needs are met. Those are some things that make us stand out.
How many bras do you recommend a woman have? Of which types and colours?
Minimum 3. One light, one dark and one FUN!!!!! I cannot tell you how great it is to have a red bra! No one has to know you have it on but you. It puts a smile on your face when you get a peek of that secret hidden underneath!
How do Secrets employees learn about bras and bra fittings?
The ladies here go through an extensive training program that I designed. A 3-month minimum is required, sometimes more. We conduct additional special training to teach maternity fitting.
What are your favourite lines (right now)?
My favourite bras are European, British, French and German. For fuller cups I'd choose Empreinte and Prima Donna, for smaller cups Betsey Johnson and Chantelle.
Do you carry any local or Canadian brands?
Canada does not make good bras yet! They do not recognize all the sizes at this point. They are a very young industry but I see great things coming in the future.
Are there any styles or "bra technologies" you think are especially cutting-edge?
As far as new technology there are always going to be gimmicks to amuse the consumer. What I think is really important is to build on the memory foams, and the ability to have more convertible options in everyday t-shirt bras. I know this is boring but the cutting edge award will go to the company who can make a comfortable, seamless, convertible bra that is sexy!
I do have to say though that we have an amazing push up gel bra that feels like nothing when you have it on. It is convertible, seamless, low back and plunge. It's awesome!
What is the balance in your store between strictly bras, and general 'underthings'?
I like to have a bit of it all. Right now we carry about 80% bras, then panties, slips, sexy chemises and pjs, followed by hosiery and garter belts.
Where do you stand on trade-offs between affordability and quality?
Quality is number one. Why invest several times over when one quality item can do the job? A bra is an investment but an important one -- it is the base of your outfit, a structural garment. Your clothes will look amazing with the right bra! Breasts up and in, torso lengthened, good round shape, excellent posture and best of all confidence. You don't feel the need to slouch when the 'ladies' are well fit.
We already spend on shoes and glasses, and bras fit in that category as well. They are a highly engineered garment with a serious function. Try your best to find a good quality bra. Take proper care of it and you will see why you paid more!
But p.s.: There are options for those on a tight budget, we work with you and your needs and just explain the differences.
What prompted opening a second store at Yonge and Eglinton, and how are you finding the neighbourhood?
I had a customer clientele there, and their needs weren't being met the way they wanted. Our flagship location was extremely busy and I thought a shift would be warranted. I love the new neighborhood. The women are wonderful, warm, welcoming and incredibly supportive.
How do you know when a bra fits properly? When it doesn't? Any tips?
It's best to work with a fitter as every bra fits differently depending on style, cut, company, sizing etc. I cannot stress this enough. When there are over 100 sizes there is no room to mess around, no time, no money to waste!
If your wires rest flush against your breastbone when your breasts have been lifted into the cup and there is no spillage above or on the sides, that's first and second. The band needs to be snug, not tight, not loose -- snug to hold the bra to your body.
Your skin will appear above and below because you are wrapping elastic around your body. The snugness gives support, it relieves the shoulders from having to do all of the work. The band must rest parallel to the ground on the loosest set of hooks so you can ease the bra in as it stretches out.
Signs of a poor fit include if the bra rides up in the back; you always want to pull it down; the straps are digging in; there is a lot of looseness in the cup; or you feel back or neck pain.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know about Secrets?
We host Bra Fitting Parties which are a riot! The host of the party organizes friends, food and beverages, and all the women receive a discount of 15% on their purchases. The host gets more of a discount with every new party she brings in. The women can shop in an after hours environment, privately and have a really fun time. We have bridal parties, bosses bringing their female staff out, friends and family. It's a great experience.
We also sell gift cards which is a really good gift to offer a woman or girl. Our 'wishlist' system makes gift giving easy because you can find all the bras you like and their size, we'll document it so someone can come and shop for you!
All photographs of Secrets From Your Sister courtesy of Patrick Smith.