An Interview with Examiner #1

Recently, we were able to catch up with the effervescent Pippie Flanagan – a long time reader, part time elite blogger at Stylehive, and bra fitter extraordinaire for a major department store – to talk about her latest project, BestStraplessBras.com.

IG: We haven’t heard much from you over at the hive in the last several months.  Have you been working on the new website since then?

PF: I’ve been working on it in some shape or form for much longer than that.  I guess around Christmas time is when I got really busy with my time at the store and also putting things together for BestStraplessBras.com.  I kind of flaked on the folks at the Hive at that point.  Sorry Honeybee!  I felt like my posts were getting kind of stale anyway.

IG: Out of all the different styles of bras, why strapless bras?

PF: I think a lot of women experience frustration with strapless bras.  I certainly do and I see it with my friends and with customers in the store, or just watching random ladies on the street hiking up their bras when they think nobody is looking.  Just about every woman will need to wear a strapless bra at some point, and a whole lot of them are going to be disappointed in the one they get for one reason or another.

IG: So clearly there’s a need for some friendly advice, but what possessed you to build a website about it?

PF: Like many good ideas and a whole lot of bad ones, alcohol was involved.  I traveled back to the Midwest in the summer of 2007 to visit some college friends.  We went to an ultra lounge and I was wearing a strapless bra underneath my strapless dress.  As I was dancing, I kept yanking the bra to keep it from falling down.  As I looked around, I noticed I wasn’t the only one.  Eventually, our feet needed a rest so we actually sprang for bottle service and a private booth.  Let me tell you, if you paid as much as we did for a bottle of Ketel One, you’d be downing a lot of martinis too.  When I started complaining about my bra, we all started spotting the other ladies on the dance floor who were hiking up their bras and then we started making fun of them.

IG: That’s not very nice.

PF: No, it isn’t but it’s not like we were doing it to their faces.  Besides, in the end we were trying to think of a way to help them.  Finally someone in the group – and nobody remembers who- said, “Hey, there should be a website that just tells you which bra to wear.”  Then, a whole conversation erupted about how that website would know which was the best and how the same bra isn’t right for everyone.  Of course, we were screaming the whole conversation because the music was so loud and then there was a whole lot of giggling at everything.  It was screaggling I guess.  Is that a word?

IG: No.

PF: Well, just picture a bunch of twenty-something ladies at an ultra-lounge in the process of downing a bottle of Ketel-One.  It doesn’t matter what they’re talking about.  They’ll be screaggling.

IG: So you drew the whole thing up on a napkin in a club?  That’s mythical.

PF: Oh no, there was no drawing.  There probably should have been.  By the  next morning we had all forgotten about it.  It took another year to be resurrected.  One of those friends got married the next the summer and of course, the bridesmaid dresses were strapless.  So throughout the wedding weekend, the discussion kind of went on amidst all the other stuff that goes on during a wedding weekend.  There were occasional martinis and glasses of wine, but the music was never nearly as loud.

IG: So did you all sit down and decide on the best bras that weekend?

PF: That weekend we realized that each of us had eliminated some bras that definitely did not work for us and we were all beginning to find stuff that did work.  Of course, what worked well for one of us wasn’t necessarily the best for others.  So, basically we decided that it would be cool if there were a website that did most of that process of elimination for women.  Then, we realized that the only way we could really do that would be to actually try and rate as many different bras as we could with as many different women as we could.

IG: That sounds expensive.

PF: It was and still is.  My connections through the store do get me discounts and occasional free product.  We had to extend past the initial group, though.  We started recruiting other friends and co-workers in order to get as many diverse body types as possible into the group.  We settled on 10 women.  We call them “examiners” and everyone has a number.  I’m #1.

IG: We’ve always thought so.

PF: You’re so sweet.

IG: How do the ratings work?

PF: Every bra is rated on a scale of 1-5 stars.  We take the average rating of everyone who tested the bra and round that to the nearest half star.  The bras are then ranked according to that rating.  We only show the top few bras, so you’re not seeing every bra we tried.  As much as can, we try to use quotes from actual reviews to point out potential flaws, or especially nice features of each bra.

IG: We’ve noticed that you’ve also broken the site down into specialty categories as well.

PF: Yeah.  We’ve done backless bras and long line strapless bras so far.  Backless bras are always an issue because the band should always do most of the work in supporting any bra and backless bras don’t really have a band and they typically lack straps too.  So, usually some adhesive needs to be used and there are always questions about how long the adhesive lasts and things like that.  The long line bras are great for larger busted women.  As I said before, the band should always do most of the work in supporting the  breasts, and it absolutely has to when there aren’t any straps.  So, if you’ve got heavy breasts, then a long line bra, bustier or corset is basically giving you a bigger more supportive band.

IG: Is the site finished?

PF: Absolutely not.  We’ve got a few more bras to review and we’ll adjust the rankings once I hear from all the ladies.  We’ll also add a few more subcategories.  That’s all in the near future.  In the more distant future, we hope to open it up to reviews and ratings from the general public.

IG: Well, we’ll keep our eyes open for that.  It’s always great talking to you, Pippie.  We hope everyone checks out beststraplessbras.com and perhaps bra yanking will be a thing of the past.

PF: Or an Olympic sport.  Either way, I think the world will be a better place.

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