Click to listen to this post.
Alethea Hohenberger owns Love Letter, a lingerie shop at 153 Main St. in Cold Spring that offers bra fittings. It opened last month.
What led you to open the shop?
Bras are one thing I feel passionate about and they were hard to find in this area, especially bra-fitting services. Our bodies change so much throughout our lives, and I felt this was a real need. I’ve been a professional photographer for a long time, but I also wanted to do this, so I went to bra-fitting school and I have a mentor who’s a bra whisperer. It’s an art. We have A through H cups; sizing varies from brand to brand, so you need to do it in person, with care, attention and time.
I’ve had women in their 70s who’ve never had a fitting come in. The other day a young girl came in for her first bra fitting. I look forward to serving everyone in between because there are days when you just don’t want to be thinking about your bra! Some days, maybe it’s a focus, and that’s lovely, too. The fitting is a joyful exchange for me and my customers.
Why do so many bras feel great for the first few hours, then turn into instruments of torture?
They don’t last forever. When you are being fitted, select a bra that you can wear comfortably on the last hook, so when it stretches out, you can tighten it. With the pandemic, and people favoring less-restrictive clothing, a lot of people are getting away from underwire, so I source bras that don’t need it to feel supported. It’s good to have five or so bras that fit you well. All manner of things can come from an ill-fitting bra: your back can be hurting, or if you’re wearing the wrong band size, it’s sliding down all the time.
There are times, I confess, when I hold a bra up and think: “This little thing costs this much?” Help me understand.
Although I stock some indulgent items, my main goal was to make this shop affordable because it’s not something that should be an indulgence. Some of the brands I carry, particularly the European ones, have been in business since the early 1900s. They are experts in the construction of a well-made bra, but make affordable bras you wear every day. We’re also looking at sustainability. One brand from Denmark manufactures its bra materials from recycled bottles.
With gender fluidity, has there been an expansion in the range of sizes and designs for undergarments?
Yes! In fact, I’m talking to a company I work with about developing a boxer brief that will be comfortable for people who were designated female at birth. That has been hard to find. I carry bras that are suitable for all people. Love Letter is a place for everyone to come and feel safe and welcome.
Who do you think gets more delight from lingerie: the person wearing it, or the person looking at it?
Wow. I would hope both would derive equal pleasure.