Apparel retailer Jockey says it has reinvented the bra with a patented "volumetric fit system" that does away with the underwire and replaces the 80-year-old alphanumeric sizing format, but is it worth the $60 price tag?
Sue Barton, 60, was fitted for a bra in a Jockey store in the Chicago area and said the "value was terrific," especially for something that feels "custom-fit" for you.
She said she didn't go to the mall looking for a bra but walked away with two, including wearing one out the door.
As a woman between standard bra sizes, she said, "I got the most comfortable fit I've ever had."
Standard bras typically come in cup and chest band sizes AAA through DD, though sometimes going as high in the alphabet as N, says Elisabeth Dale, author and founder of TheBreastLife.com.
Jockey said it is now offering women up to 55 sizes, including cups size one through 10 and seven different band sizes. It's offering three colors (nude, black and white) and five styles including classic contour, tailored contour and classic-soft cup. The company guarantees consistent sizing across styles that will not be discontinued, lest you lose the bra of your dreams.
Shoppers can visit one of about 100 Jockey retail stores in the U.S. to get fitted for its new system, or you can order a Jockey "Fit Kit" online for $19.95 delivered to your home. The kit comes with 10 cups to measure your body and a $20 coupon toward the purchase of a bra, which retails for $60.
"That's pretty pricey for bras in the A to D range, although not so much higher up the alphabet bra cup," Dale said. "What's so special about the Jockey contour bra that a woman should pay double or triple the cost? How does that help consumers?"
Barton, who doesn't recall buying a Jockey bra previously, said the fit process, instead of looking through racks, was "really perfect" for her. She called it an intimate experience in which the store employees "made me feel extremely comfortable."
"You're exposing your body but the way it's handled, there was no discomfort or awkwardness. It's very private and extremely professional," she said, adding that she would return and recommend the experience to others.
Miryha Fantegrossi, design director for women at Jockey, explained that Jockey scanned the bodies of 800 women as part of the process to come up with its bra system.
Fantegrossi said that if you try the bra and aren't satisfied, you get your money back.
"We are so confident that these bras are going to change women's lives. It really does build confidence when you have the right fit," she said.
Dale is skeptical. She hasn't used Jockey's system yet but is planning to try it.
"I don't think Jockey's new system does anything to empower women," she said. "It may, in fact, make them feel worse if they think their own breasts don't fit within Jockey's new size system."
She said Victoria's Secret is an example of a bra company offering limited, "highly-padded" styles.
Part of Jockey's "revolutionary" bra system, the company says, is getting rid of underwire. Its 3-D contour system supports breasts not just from gravity.
"It positions the breast tissue very naturally so the whole wearing experience is that much better," Fantegrossi said.
Dale said women have plenty of choices in sizes, but, "They just don't know what is available or the bras aren't in their budget."
Most bra fitters will tell you that fitting is more an art than a science, said Dale. Personal style preferences, body type, muscle mass are just some of the factors that come into play besides just measuring around the rib cage.
But Dale said the bra-fitting process is "not all that complicated."
"The bra needs to tack in front against the breast bone, enclose all breast tissue within the cup (no spillage over or under the cup), and the front and back need to even (not ride up or down). That is a whole lot less complicated than sending someone 10 different plastic cups in the mail," Dale said.
Dale said women need more customer service, not less, when it comes to purchasing intimate apparel.
"It's bad enough we have to buy 'off the rack' for our racks," she said. "We shouldn't have to go backward and start ordering them the way we used to do from the back of the Sears catalogue. That's not how I measure progress, or my bra size."
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