MEMOIR from a BRA boutique

By Lori Stepner Battaglia Proprietor, Aphrodite’s Lingerie Boutique
Illustration by Dina Pielaet

Lori Stepner Battaglia’s bra fittings have become somewhat famous in the area.
Her downtown Ventura lingerie shop has become an open forum for women’s issues,
from breast bouncing to breast feeding to breast cancer. As an editor, I receive all manner of press releases and product literature, but this little memoir really gave me a chuckle and felt most appropriate for this edition.
~ A. Jones

When I was a kid I never thought, “Wow! I am going to grow up and do Boobs!” Getting into this business was a fluke. Other than a brief background and passion in psychology, a lifelong quest for figuring out relationships, and a ton of sales experience, I had no experience in lingerie. Heck, I got my bras on sale at Macy’s or Mervyn’s twice a year, and when they discontinued my style I freaked out! I had never had anyone help me find a bra since my grandmother took me for my first bra when I was twelve.

After I had my third child and was quite large all the way around, I went to look for something sexy for my anniversary, you know to spice up the mundane “cook, clean, sew, make the flowers grow” child bearing years of marriage. I was self conscious; my sales person was snobby; the shop couldn’t fit me. Sans bra, I slunk away. That was that, except I thought to myself that I would have done a lot better about helping women of any shape and size get the bra they need and have fun doing it. Fast forward a few years, and I opened Aphrodite’s, my lingerie boutique.

I have never found a body I could not fit. I really enjoy dressing people and making them feel good about themselves. After nearly ten years in this business, I am pretty confident about what I am doing. I was putting women in the “Oprah Bra” seven years before she found it. Now, more often than not, I tell the customers to hush up and let me do my job. We laugh
together and the women are comfortable.  I am not a “10” myself. I have the love handles going on and childbirth roadmaps stretched across my stomach, and the passage of menopause under my belt.

In my shop, everyday, all day is about women - women’s talk, bodies, identity, issues. A typical discussion might touch on something like this little secret: By pulling back fat into your armpits, you can turn that extra armpit into “tit.”  Yes, there I said it, and I will say it again - pit to tit.  Pretentious and proper I am not. Real, that’s what I am. So are the majority of customers I work with - real women with real issues and real words!

Being a woman is no easy feat; we are cursed and blessed constantly and without warning. We start with hormones during puberty, mood changes. I think our culture lacks a right of passage to honor and help girls switch over to being young adults. Being a woman means being responsible, responsible for your choices and your body at a very young age. Being a woman means accepting yourself, feeling blessed with the beauty and choices of straight hair, curly hair, one piece or bikini, speaking up, or laying low, feeling feminine and batting your eyes or feeling challenged and batting a ball.  Being a woman is so complex with continuous changes in our emotions, goals and bodies.  Through menstruation we get a little bloated; our breasts tend to get tender and usually a little bigger. A pregnant woman can go from a 34C cup to a 38F in the course of 9-months. That’s the difference between an apple and a watermelon!

In my shop, at least one woman a day swears, “I have been a 36B my whole life.” Well guess what, nine out of ten women are not wearing the right bra size. I call it D-nial. As we get older, our ears, noses and breasts grow. Gravity takes its toll.

The best advice I can give to any woman on finding a bra is this: if someone comes at you with a tape measure...RUN. You can line up four women who all wear a 38D. However, they will all do better in different styles. Boobs and bodies are so different; at least half of the women in my shop are a lttle uneven if not really uneven in breast size. With the big run on augmentation, most women end up a size bigger then they thought they were getting. I also hear about the “sister size” that means if you are a 32C you can get away with a 34B, but with the correct 32C (which most people don’t carry), you get a better fit and a longer life for your bra. When you lift your arms, your boobs won’t fall out of the bottom of your bra, and it will stay snug around you without riding up your back. If you are a 32DDD, you may be a 32E in some lines, or even a 32FF in another.

You will not always be the same size in every style, manufacturer, or line. NEVER buy a bra unless you try it on first. GET FITTED! You get fitted for everything else; go to a professional; get through it and get it done. A good bra, a good pair of shoes, a good purse, everything else you can improvise. For new fittings, I have this process I call the “drop and swap.”  That means I will have you in and out of 10 bras in 3 minutes, so I can find the styles that best fits you that you love. I can help take ten pounds and ten years off you in thirty seconds with the right bra. For your first time in we usually start you with the “tight white T-shirt bra.” Then we move on to the ‘Pretty’s.’ We don’t just do bras by the way, we have it all.

“YOU MEAN YOU HAVE THAT IN MY SIZE?” I hear that everyday. Women who came in for bras, have often left with a corset, garters and stockings, a flattering nightgown with some support, a couple of gorgeous camisoles for under business suits, and sometimes even a little something fun from upstairs that requires two double a’s, and we are not talking bras here.

From 30A to 44H, sizes from P/S to 6X, I love dressing people. You will always get a card when you leave with the styles and sizes that work best for you, so you don’t have to go through the “drop and swap” again for a while. Or you can pass that card on to your significant other (hint hint). I love my store and my job. People joke that I have every man’s dream job - I get to play with boobs and talk about sex all day!  I get high on making women feel good about themselves, encouraging them to try something new they never thought would work. That’s what Aphrodite’s is all about; regardless of mood, size or budget, we work hard to keep Ventura County women perky while getting in touch with the goddess within.  


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