Professional seamstress Therese Legere's calling is to give women a comfortable, cradling bra.
"What does a woman want?" asked an exasperated Sigmund Freud. The father of modern psychology claimed that in 30 years of study he had never figured it out. Relax, Doc. Therese Legere, of Shutesbury, says she has the answer.Women want a comfortable bra, and until now it has been almost impossible to find.
Legere, a professional seamstress, is the designer of a new bra she calls ZeeBraz. She sells it over the Internet . Her invention was inspired by her own despair over finding a brassiere that fit comfortably. "I was ready to pull it off by 10 o'clock in the morning!" says Legere. "The band around the chest made it impossible to breathe."
Most cups are made for "a firm breast," she says. "If you have a pendulous breast, you have to compress it, squish it, lift it to fit into that shape. That's why you have to tie it so tight, to keep the breast inside the cup. The lift and push create a lot of discomfort."
Legere spent two years at a sewing school, where she studied everything from haute couture to making men's jackets. In 1987, she made the outfit that musician Yusef Lateef wore to accept his Grammy Award. Legere had a dressmaking business in Amherst for two years, and was the business manager at the town's Fiber Arts Center for 7 years. She makes her ZeeBraz on three industrial machines.
Legere says her bra "cradles" the breasts instead of forcing them into a particular shape. Gone is the band around the chest. Instead, straps form an "X" high on the back, with four adjustments on the back and sides. Legere describes it as a "softer, more feminine look." She says that even women who want a stiffer bra for more formal situations have a place in their lives for ZeeBras.
"There are shoes for work," she says, "and shoes for sports. There are high heels - and there are sandals. This is the sandal of bras." ZeeBraz sells for $50 to $75. Legere makes them in sizes 34A to 50E, in different machine-washable materials and colors.
© 2009 The Republican Company. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Can we talk? First, a pop-quiz for the women in the audience: What's the first thing you take off when you walk in the door at home? Those who answered with a three-letter word for foundation garment, read on.
Two and a half years ago, Therese Legere was traveling to her job as business manager at the Fiber Art Center in Amherst and thinking to herself, not for the first time, "How come we can send men to the moon, and yet, in 2005, we can't make a most comfortable bra and comfortable bras for large breasts?"
Therese Legere works on a most comfortable bra in her studio.
Tired of waiting for the better mousetrap, she decided to make one herself. Well positioned for the task, she had been a weaver in her native Quebec, before a longtime career in clothing design. Jazzman Yusef Lateef was wearing one of Legere's outfits when he accepted his phony" in 1988. From 1998 to 2000, she operated Legere Designs on Main Street in Amherst.
What Legere came up with does away with the band around the chest and has a strapping system in the back in the form of a modified "X," somewhat similar to a sports bra, with four areas of adjustment. The cups provide gentle support, while allowing the breasts to remain in their natural positions.
"It's a wonderful design," said Joan Bredin-Price of New Salem. "You don't have that whole going-around-the-back thing where you can't breathe and just want to rip it off, and you don't have that slipping-off-the- shoulders thing.
"You don't even think about it when it's on," she added. "It's the most comfortable thing you'll ever wear."
"It's the comfort factor," echoed Susan Rice of Shutesbury. "I'm an alpaca farmer here in Shutesbury, so I need to be able to lift a bale of hay and move quickly. It's very comfortable. I really like the back."
Long Island, N.Y. pattern-maker Eileen Lucas tried an earlier version of the bra during Legere's experimentation. "Within an hour, I forgot that I had it on. It liberated me, as a larger-breasted women, to be supported and yet free."
After naming her creation ZeeBraz, Legere made a soft opening this spring by showing it at several Whole Health Expos in New England, where she met with enthusiasm. Now she has a Web site, www.ZeeBraz.com.