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Does Your iPhone know your Bra Size Better than You Do? Ask ThirdLove.

Disclosure: This lingerie was sent to me free of charge for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

Editor's Note: Please also see our earlier review of ThirdLove's bra fitting app here.

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

What has technology done for your breasts recently? Mine have been enjoying the comfort and support of a ThirdLove bra, all thanks to ThirdLove’s innovative bra-sizing phone app.

I probably shouldn’t admit that I’ve worn the 24/7 T Shirt Bra for five days of the last seven, but I’m willing to accept a dent in my immaculate public image in order to share this evidence of my love of ThirdLove.

ThirdLove, founded in November, 2013, is a San Francisco-based lingerie company specializing in bras (they also sell panties). Their current offering is lean, with six bra silhouettes; three main panty silhouettes, both in various colors and fabrics; and one cami. This tight collection makes sense; their distinction as a company is not based on product assortment, but on sizing. ThirdLove brings two innovations to bra sizing: technology that uses an iPhone app to size customers, and bra cup half-sizes.

In our race toward seamless living, we are led to feel that technology should be helping with all things, and that it ought to be better than we ourselves are at them. In my two years of iPhone ownership, I’ve become a frequent techno tantrum thrower, having lapped up the promise that technology will solve all my problems, only to find that reality delivers far less than Apple ads have suggested.

The fashion and retail industry has advanced in huge leaps from seven or eight years ago, when brands may not have even had websites, let alone webstores. But even though online shopping interfaces have become more seamless and sophisticated since then — now programmed to know before we do what else we might like to add to our carts, which are ready to be bought in just one click! — we’re still missing the vital tactile connection to product that we have when shopping in three dimensions at brick and mortar shops.

Several apparel companies are taking the lead in imagining fixes to this glitch. There’s the Jockey Fit Kit, which has a customer buy a bra cup fitting kit that is mailed to her home.

In menswear, Acustom Apparel uses a 3D body scanner to take custom measurements which are then used to tailor a suit. ThirdLove aims to customize the bra fitting experience by allowing a woman to size herself in her own home with the help of a mirror, a snug tank top, and an iPhone.

During a phone call I had with ThirdLove founder Heidi Zak and head of design Ra’el Cohen, Zak said she was driven to create this company by her “dread of going lingerie shopping” and her recognition that a lot of women don’t have access to bra fitters or they might not feel comfortable with the fit process.

How did my virtual fit experience go? I downloaded the app and followed instructions carefully, ponytailing my hair, changing into a minimal bra and tank, and removing my iPhone case. I then posed facing the mirror first, and then sideways, holding the phone in the predetermined position. Several times in each position I was unsuccessful and was instructed by the app’s voice to tilt the phone a certain direction or move it up or down so that it would be angled correctly to capture the photo. It was a little frustrating to keep getting the alignment wrong and to keep having to try again, but I was spurred on by the novelty of it all, and the optimism that it would eventually do something groundbreaking -- which it did! The technology uses the already-known dimensions of the iPhone as the “measuring tape” for getting the measurements of the person’s ribcage and bust. In the end the app confirmed the size I usually wear, and I went ahead to order the new 24/7 Memory Foam T-Shirt Bra in nude.

It is offered in black and nude for $55. Microfiber jersey wings with hidden elastic are snug and feel seamless at the back; the hook and eye panel is padded so there's no chance of metal digging into skin; straps are set at a width that keeps them from slipping off my shoulders; and the memory foam cups provide smoothing for modesty without creating an overstructured look. Overall, it felt lightweight and supportive, and like it fit to my body without any points of discomfort.

Design details like gold hooks and pleated straps give the garment a feeling of polish which most nude t-shirt bras lack. It is a practical bra that doesn’t settle for looking mundane. This is exactly what I needed, and since I’ve gotten this bra, it’s pretty much all I’ve been wearing.

I think I've grown attached to it in the way people rely on their morning coffee or love their Sunday night TV show. There is nothing spectacular about each individual experience of wearing this bra, but I find it comfortable enough and invisible enough under clothes that it has quickly become part of my routine of dressing. I don't have to go through the morning exercise of picking a shirt and then digging through my lingerie drawer to find the bra that will be least badly suited for it, since many of my bras have novelty details like sheerness or visible seaming or T-back or bright colors. This bra simply integrates into my life, and relieves me of discomfort and decision-making. It's not going to replace all my other bras, which I love for different reasons and wear to evoke particular moods, but it is a great default -- as the best of T-shirt bras should be.

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra


ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

ThirdLove 24/7 T-shirt Bra

It is good value for the price if you're looking for a bra you can get a lot of use out of. Affordable luxury is another of ThirdLove’s marketing points. Cohen said, “we think that every woman deserves to have beautiful European inspired lingerie that has great fit,” and explains that the company is able to offer more for less because their direct-to-customer sales model eliminates the middleman of a retail store, which would otherwise tag on overhead and margin.

The bra has a hangtag that reads, “Luxury doesn’t have to be expensive.” I wonder a bit at the use of the word “luxury,” which to me is not quite the applicable descriptor of my experience in the 24/7 bra, which, after all, is meant to disappear under a T-shirt and into one's day, not to celebrate sumptuous rare materials. The company has an abundance of marketing angles, as well as great product, and to me, the luxury message was the one that seemed superfluous.

ThirdLove hangtag

ThirdLove hangtag

Half-cup sizing, on the other hand, is an offering worth shouting about. I am solidly a C cup, so I’ve never had a need to half-step, but for women who may be in between sizes, this is a great boon in getting a perfect fit. Especially for women in the small size range, where there is less breast tissue, a half size may be the right incremental step. ThirdLove currently offers 32 sizes from 28D to 38D, with more coming soon.

I had a few more questions for the ThirdLove team.

How accurate is the sizing app?

Zak said that it is accurate to under 1/2, as accurate as a measuring tape, and that the majority of women complete the fit process successfully. Customers can call a fit assistant if they have difficulty.

Are they planning to make their fitting technology available to non iPhone users?

Yes, they are working on a version for Android, but it is more complicated because of the variety of Android phone sizes.

What happens to the images we take of ourselves during the sizing process?

ThirdLove's PR contact, Abi O'Donnell, answered, "I’m glad you asked about this, because it’s something that’s important to ThirdLove – they take privacy and security very seriously. ThirdLove has undergone a series of extensive security audits to ensure customers’ information is safe and protected. Customer data moves via the highest level of encryption, 256-bit and Verisign. ThirdLove uses customers’ photographs for internal sizing purposes only. The images do not appear on a customer’s Camera Roll or anyplace else on their iPhone, and the photos are only accessed by ThirdLove customer service representatives if there are sizing issues or problems."

In the end, I'm not sure I particularly benefitted from ThirdLove's two advances, the iPhone fit app, and the half sizes. I am a designer, so I can wield a tape measure with fierce accuracy and find it simple to measure myself, simpler than using a somewhat picky app. I also am not a half size, so I don't have a need for the smaller-increment size offerings. But I appreciate that ThirdLove is proposing answers for all the women out there who are missing the right size bra for them. I imagine that the way fashion companies use technology will become more robust and nuanced in time. Maybe one day we'll be able to home 3D print the perfect  bra, molded exactly to our bodies. For now we are just wading into the possibilities, and ThirdLove is well positioned to lead the advance. Plus, did I mention I've been wearing this bra for the past six days out of eight?

Did you try the ThirdLove sizing app?  Please share your experiences, as well as your thoughts about technology and half sizing.

Laura a.k.a. Lola Haze

I’ve loved lingerie since before that was reasonable. I taught myself drawing, designing, and sewing, and after graduating from Harvard with an English degree, immediately went to work disregarding it and following my passion for fashion. After a few years designing for a big company, I went off on my own and started Lola Haze TM, (named after the title character in “Lolita,” my favorite book). Lola Haze is playwear for the bold woman who loves fun and dresses for herself! I feel happy and lucky that I get to love my job so much, and am thrilled to share my lingerie enthusiasm with The Lingerie Addict!

9 Comments on this post

  1. kim says:

    I’ve finally upgraded my phone and have tried the app 3x today on myself with no success. When I create the account, it asks what size of bra I am. To put it through it’s paces, I’ve entered 3 completely different sizes and it’s suggested those same sizes back to me. I’m not convinced.

  2. Shadia says:

    Funny, I recently felt the same way about another brand/bra… I wore it for five days in a row just because I could not believe how much I liked it. That bra was Miel Sisters’ Nana bra, so I totally hear you.

  3. Marianne says:

    You’ve inspired and intrigued me to try out the app, although, like you, I already have a usual bra size and know exactly what’s up with a tape measure.

    • Cora says:

      I’m really interested in what other results people would get from this. I know their size range is limited, but it would be great if people outside the range tested the app anyway to see if it’s accurate for their bodies/fit preferences.

  4. Hi Julia. Thanks for your comments and I see that some things have struck a nerve. I would like to address some of your concerns. To start with, it was not my choice nor TLA’s to name the bra “nude.” The color name was chosen by ThirdLove. I myself am mixed race, and I agree that companies should not suggest that one color fits all. If you find ThirdLove’s use of the word “nude” appalling and want to see it changed, you would have more sway addressing your concerns to them. Each blog post, and every piece of writing, must have some limitations of scope, and not every related issue may necessarily be addressed; the exclusion of a topic is not an endorsement of its status quo. Second, this article was about my experience, not Cora’s, not other women’s. Throughout the article, there is a tone of ambiguity about how helpful technology really is in day to day life, and in the end, I conclude that this app’s technology did not actually help me find my size. It did not know my size better than I do, but I like that it is a front-runner in introducing technology into fashion and retail. For women who may have different needs from mine (who for example may not be able to find their own size for any number of reasons, like distance from a fitter or disability), the technology may be a boon and may help them have a convenient, comfortable–and maybe even empowering–experience fitting themselves in their own homes with their own phones. I do not suggest in this article that fitting technology is either empowering or disempowering; I reported on my experience and leave it up to other customers to decide if this technology is right for them. But perhaps my own mixed experience with the technology, which is discussed throughout and at the end of the article, was not reflected in the declarative sentence structure of the title, so I have changed it from “Your iPhone Knows Your Bra Size Better than You Do, Thanks to ThirdLove” to “Does Your iPhone Know Your Bra Size Better Than You Do? Ask ThirdLove.” Thanks for reading and for your thoughts.

  5. Julia Lambert says:

    While it’s interesting to see what technology offers, it’s always suspicious when a company tells me they know my problem (one of which I was unaware) and only their product can fix it. The headline of this article, “Your iPhone knows your bra size better than you do” is pretty inappropriate (and insulting: women can absolutely figure out their bra sizes, when they’re not being misinformed) considering that Cora advocates for women’s empowerment, confidence in their bodies, and right to self-expression in what they choose to wear on their bodies. “Your iphone knows your bra size better than you do” is not particularly empowering, nor does this article discuss the many issues that consumers, including Cora herself, have had with the app and the similar Jockey Fit Kit that might contradict the headline. Finally, is it appalling that this article uses the term “nude” to mean “beige” without any caveats or explanations, after Cora’s tireless work to promote visibility of women of color and decrease the perception of white skin as the true “normal” nude. I’m not against bra fitting technology, especially when it might be incredibly helpful to women who don’t live near lingerie retailers with much selection, but several things about this article’s discussion of it seem out of place and poorly chosen for this blog.

  6. Thanks for your comments. Yes, I think this is a step in an interesting direction, and hopefully in time technology will be especially able to help those with hard-to-size sizes.

  7. Bess says:

    I was all excited about doing this but they don’t actually carry bras in my size (42DD/E) yet which is a bummer :( It sounds really neat though!

  8. Kristina says:

    Thanks for explaining the ThirdLove process in such detail – I’ve been curious about them for a while! Sounds like this process is not going to necessarily become the holy grail of bra fitting (will there ever be such a thing?) but it sounds like they are helping to pioneer the way which I can really appreciate. I do hope they expand their sizes soon because it’s often the larger cup sizes who have the most difficulty getting an accurate sizing.

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