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ISO perfect-fitting bra? App avoids in-store awkwardness

Tuesday - 6/17/2014, 9:16am  ET

ThirdLove (thirdlove)
ThirdLove uses a smartphone app to make measuring and shopping for bras possible at home (ThirdLove)

WASHINGTON -- Most women will agree -- shopping for bras can be both unpleasant and boring. Others call it embarrassing, depressing and expensive.

Heidi Zak agrees. The co-founder of ThirdLove, a lingerie company that uses smartphone technology to ensure a perfect fit, says her personal experience was a driving force behind starting the company.

"I would say [it was] my dread of bra shopping, and bra fitting -- the whole experience," says Zak.

ThirdLove's free iPhone app and camera act as a virtual tape measure, which Zak says provides a precise fit: "We're getting the same measurements that a woman would get by using a measuring tape in a fitting room in a store."

While ThirdLove's bras aren't exactly made to order, Zak says they fit better than off-the-rack bras.

"We actually created half-cups, so we have cups between an A and a B, a B and a C, et cetera, to give a woman a really, really great fit," says Zak.

How can an iPhone app measure a woman's bra size?

After downloading the app, Zak says, the fitting process takes less than five minutes.

"A woman puts on a tight-fitting tank top, and she stands in front of the mirror, and she takes two photos of herself," says Zak. "From there we're able to calculate her exact measurements."

Zak says one photo is from the front, directly into a mirror. The second photo is a side angle.

The app makes sure the photos are correctly taken.

"There will be someone walking you through the process, through the phone -- we call her the personal fit assistant," says Zak.

The app uses built-in sensors in the smartphone to make sure the woman is holding the phone properly. "So she's talking to you, saying, 'tilt it away from the mirror,' and she gets a woman into exactly the correct position," says Zak.

She says the virtual assistant takes over when the woman has positioned herself and the phone correctly.

"She says 'freeze' and she actually takes the photo for you. So, the phone vibrates, and then the photo is taken," says Zak.

The ThirdLove brand of lingerie ranges from frilly to sporty. Bra prices start at $39, panties at $9.

Here's how the ThirdLove sizing process works:

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