In the back-to-school spirit, we sat down this week with our senior and freshman Bra Fit Experts. Jeanette (top right) is the longest-serving Bra Fit Expert on the customer service team, with five years under her belt. Christianne (top left) is the newbie: She’s been at Bare Necessities three months now.
What has Jeanette learned the hard way that she wishes someone had told her from day one? What does Christianne bring up from a Millennial perspective that changes how we shop for bras? What questions do they both field all day long, and what do they wish women knew?
Listen in for a few insights from the women you’ll find on the other end of the phone—or screen.
Q: What was it like to first start out as an Bra Fit Expert?
Jeanette: A friend brought me on here. I used to be a museum curator! I didn’t know what to expect when I started. I thought bra size was a knowable quantity, a science, a calculation. Now I know it’s not. It’s trial and error. Once I learned what proper fit really looked like, everything changed. Even with all the right measurements, you still always have to try on a bra for fit.
“Even with all the right measurements, you still always have to try on a bra for fit”
We got extensive training—homework, even, at that time. I can talk return policy as easily as size and fit. Now, new hires shadow the Bra Fit Experts and listen to calls. We learn how to do fittings on chat and by phone, we study every bra brand and individual style, we’re taught how to handle policy questions…. At first, it can be overwhelming.
Christianne: For two weeks, I sat with other Bra Fit Experts who explained everything as it came up. I started during the last VIP event, which was total trial by fire. Some very interesting scenarios arose. People were either really nice, confused or irate, so I’m glad I got to see what it’s like during a super-busy time. It helped prepare me. So did the Bra Fit Expert training manual, which standardizes everything we need to know.
Jeanette: I have learned so much patience in this job. The best thing to do is always just to listen. With fit, I try to troubleshoot, but sometimes when you tell someone her size is so far off from what she thinks it is, it’s too foreign to accept so, at some point, we have to move on. The customer is always right, and you have to go by what she wants to do.
Christianne: If I’m ever not sure about something, I’ll put the customer on a quick hold and ask what another Bra Fit Expert has done before or is allowed to do. I’m a quick learner, and I always want to get it right. I came from a job in social media, so one of my strengths is my ability to go with the flow.
Q: Everyone who works here has a bra fitting of her own to see firsthand how it goes. What was yours like?
Christianne: Already, I’m talking to my friends about how I was in the wrong bra size before I started here. They’re like, “WHAT?! There’s no way you went from a 32DD to a 28F!” But it makes sense to me because I never felt comfortable in a bra before. Now they’re interested in doing a fitting, but they don’t want to be told they’re, like, a 40Z! I say to stop paying attention to the letter and the number. How you feel in the bra is the most important thing. When you get home, if you immediately rip your bra off, it’s time for an intervention.
“When you get home, if you immediately rip your bra off, it’s time for an intervention”
Q: What are you most passionate about?
Jeanette: I’m passionate about helping people and making a difference. Women come to us for help, so I like to impart confidence. I live for positive feedback.
Christianne: I like growth and learning new things, so I enjoy every day here because it’s never the same. It all depends on who you connect with.
Jeanette: You’ll eventually get people who ask for you. It’s a pleasure getting to know so many awesome women, being a part of something bigger—there have been so many positive changes on barenecessities.com recently, like the Convert My Size tool for anyone who’s a DD-cup or above, and all the new brands and styles we’re carrying. That a bra can be life-changing sounds dramatic, but it’s true.
Q: What’s changing in your world?
Christianne: We try to work smarter, to cut out steps so we can spend more time on the end result. We’re a very diverse team of Bra Fit Experts, and we capitalize on that. Each of us plays to our strengths and our skill sets, and we come together whenever possible. Customers are open to new things, like using FaceTime to do a fitting or sending a snapshot or video. It’s a quick, easy and effective way of seeing what we do and don’t like about how a bra fits.
“Customers are open to new things, like using FaceTime to do a fitting”
Jeanette: I mostly do chat. I’ve learned to multitask and how to create a relationship with the customer so she’ll come back and tell her friends. It’s different connecting over chat—there’s no voice, no emotion. I have to rely a lot on emoticons and exclamation points. Talking to brand reps and doing vendor trainings over the years has also taught me so much. Seeing styles in person helps you relate to her when she calls because you know what you’re talking about from experience.
Q: Answer the age-old question for us: What do women want?
Jeanette: All shapes, sizes and ages just want to be comfortable and feel supported.
Christianne: And everyone wants T-shirt bras! Younger people prefer to connect over chat; they want colorful or nude bras. Older women prefer ivory and white bras and would rather talk on the phone.
Q: What are the most common questions you get?
Jeanette: They’re all about fit—how snug is your band supposed to be, why does the band ride up, why do my straps slip, why do my straps dig, why am I spilling out of the cups? Also, how many bras should I own? I think five makes the ideal bra wardrobe.
Q: What’s the most game-changing thing you’ve learned so far?
Christianne: That the band should be doing most of the work. The gore of your bra needs to tack flat to your chest. My mom would just buy me bras before, and I never questioned them. In college, when I was on my own, I had to pay more attention. I fell into the Victoria’s Secret trap of wearing too big a band so I could fit into their smaller cups. Eventually, I got so tired of the bras and how they felt that I stuck with bralettes until I got here. Now, the Cleo by Panache Hettie balconette bra works best for me.
Q: Despite being a fit expert, do you have any vexing bra issues?
Jeanette: Fluff in back. Everyone has it, but please don’t go up in the band to sacrifice support! I’m a big fan of smoothing bras like the Chantelle C Ideal Back Smoothing T-shirt bra.
Christianne: It’s hard to find small bands with larger cups so sometimes I look at my sister size, which is a 30DD. A lot of T-shirt bras don’t work for me; learn what styles are best for your body. Go ahead and try lots of things, but stick with what works.
Q: What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out as a Bra Fit Expert?
Jeanette: Be patient, don’t hesitate to ask for advice and ask as many questions as you can.
Q: Any questions you want to ask your most senior team member?
Christianne: I ask her questions all day long!
Jeanette: Please do. Always.
Chat or call (877.728.9272, x4) Jeanette, Christianne or any of our Bra Fit Experts for an over-the-phone bra fitting or shopping advice.
Brooke is the editor of this here blog. In a previous life, she was an editor at Good Housekeeping and O, The Oprah Magazine. Brooke has written for Glamour, Travel+Leisure, New York Magazine and more. She’s into concerts, travel and her exceptionally adorable daughter and husband.