Fitting way to find the perfect bra

Help is nigh for women who reckon the bra to suit their shape doesn't exist. Lucy Lethbridge reports
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The Independent Online
June Kenton, corsetiere to the royals, has a vision. In her ideal world, no woman will ever have to suffer the indignity and discomfort of biting bra straps, of flesh straining to break free of overstretched grey elastic held together by a single hook. "It is my crusade in life to persuade women that, no matter if they are an A-cup or an H-cup, they need a good fitting."

It's all very simple, she says, and she should know. As owner of the Knightsbridge corset-makers Rigby and Peller, Mrs Kenton has been in the discreet business of fixing women up with hand-fitted or, more exclusively, handmade undergarments for more than 30 years.

Rigby and Peller prides itself on being the only company in the country to offer handmade lingerie. While most department stores offer some kind of fitting service, no one will offer you a bespoke basque or bra. Even their fitting services, according to Mrs Kenton, are "usually just a tape measure round the outside of the clothes and that doesn't tell you anything. Every bra needs to be individually fitted."

Despite the recent surge of interest in sexy corsets and the fact that the average post-war bust size has gone up from a B-cup to a D-cup, most women haven't got the message: they are still "wandering around wearing the wrong bra size".

"One of the only things I know of in the world that's free is a bra fitting," says Mrs Kenton with evangelical zeal. Indeed, a fitting at Rigby and Peller is absolutely free and delivered with utter discretion by assistants trained to deal with any idiosyncrasy of the female form. All the sacred mysteries of female underpinning are here displayed: there are bras in half-cups, underwired bras, strapless bras, padded or halter-necked; there are boned velvet corsets and filmy French knickers; there are hooks and eyes and buckles and strips of Velcro.

Despite doing battle against the ubiquitous chainstore product ("We will mention no names, but there is a well-known store where women can buy a meal for one and a bra for pounds 10.99"), Rigby and Peller's services are flourishing. A sumptuous made-to-measure basque with dozens of enticing little bows and a maribou trim may set you back pounds 450. A handmade bra starts at pounds 200, while an ordinary, everyday bra starts at pounds 25. Pricey, definitely, but, as Mrs Kenton so persuasively points out, "Girls have drawerfuls of cheap bras that they can't wear. What's the point of buying 10 bras a year when you could have three really comfortable, good-quality ones for pounds 30 each?" Why indeed?