The Owner of Busted Bra Shop on Finding the Perfect Bra

No matter your concern, the right fit is out there.
Busted Bra Shop owner Lee Padget
Busted Bra Shop owner Lee Padget (center) is photographed with store staff holding the Best of Intima Award. Busted Bra Shop was named the Best Store USA in 2021 by The Best of Intima magazine, a bi-annual publication that highlights the top players in the lingerie and swimwear industries. // Photograph courtesy of Busted Bra Shop

The concept for award-winning intimates store Busted Bra Shop was born out of necessity. While working in a coffee shop in Detroit in the early 2000s, Lee Padgett realized the demand for a better lingerie experience.

“You vent to your barista, the same way you vent to a bartender,” she says. “I was meeting people who weren’t satisfied with the retail stores in the surrounding area, especially when it came to bras.”

The dream of creating the perfect shopping experience stuck with Padgett for years to come, persisting as she moved her family to Germany and then to North Carolina. After returning to Detroit in 2013, Padgett finally made her dream a reality and opened Busted Bra Shop’s first location in Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood.

With two locations now in Detroit, as well as shops in Ann Arbor, Rochester Hills, and Chicago, business is booming. Comfort and confidence are key for Busted Bra Shop. The store offers band sizes from 28-56 and cup sizes A-P as well as lingerie in sizes XXS-10XL.

Here, Padgett discusses the importance of inclusive sizing and bra-fitting misconceptions so you can have the best experience on your next shopping trip.

Hour Detroit: What prompted you to carry such a large array of sizes and styles in your shop?

Lee Padget: When I was coming up with the idea for the store and hearing the concerns from women with experiences at other bra shops, it wasn’t anger or complaining, it was sadness. People were feeling hurt after driving to these stores and finding that there was nothing to fit them. It starts to mess with someone’s self-esteem.

I’m a people pleaser, and I want to make people feel good. That’s where my motivation is. We carry things on both ends of the sizing scale and try to cater to all body types, as well as create a comfortable experience. We are LGBTQ+ friendly, and I want to make sure that anyone who comes into the shop is able to feel comfortable in their skin.

Sizing and fashion are so important to us. I’ve noticed that brands with more inclusive sizing often have a lot of amazing fun colors and styles to choose from — it’s so positive. We have curves and we should be celebrating them and building foundations around them.

What are some common misconceptions surrounding bra shopping? And what are customers’ biggest concerns?

A common misconception is that a DD is the biggest or most common cup size. Busted Bra Shop and other shops carry sizes that go way beyond the D cup, all the way to a P cup.

Another misconception is that seams are bad. They are really the traffic cops of the bra world. They help the breast tissue move along into the right spot of the bra for the best fit.

In terms of concerns, it’s all over the map. Some people don’t like to wear wire bras, which is okay because so many wonderful things are coming from the wireless and bralette side of the industry. Some people love wires and want that extra support. Some people work in environments where they only feel comfortable in a sports bra, so we have a large variety of those as well.

There are so many factors that change how a bra can fit, the space between their waist and their shoulders, where you want the bra to sit, etc. It really is such a personal experience for each shopper.

What advice do you have for bra shoppers looking to avoid a stressful shopping experience?

The best way is to just dive in, make an appointment at a bra boutique, be measured, and keep an open mind. If you go in with a preconceived notion of what your size is, you’re just adding unnecessary stress. We see the most happy tears when our customers let go and open up to new styles and sizes and find something they truly love.

Another major cause of stress is when you leave a store, put your bra in the washer or dryer, and end up destroying your lingerie. We try to teach our customers how to care for their intimates in a way that preserves them.

What are your top three tips for finding the perfect bra?

  1. Go see a professional fitter, who is familiar with cups up to a P cup.
  2. The band needs to be tight enough not to ride up your back; 80 percent of the support comes from the band. One way to check for a good band fit [is to] stand in front of a mirror, while wearing a bra, and raise your hands to the sky. If your bra band stays put, then you are good. If the band and cup rise, then you are in the wrong size.
  3. The wire needs to go all around the bottom of your breast and point into the middle of the armpit. As you put your bra on, we recommend doing a move called the Anchor and Sweep. Anchor the bra down by the band, and sweep your breast tissue into the cup. If this causes your upper breast to spill over, try a cup higher.

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This post has been updated for 2024.