For Montclair Local


In “Robin’s Nest,” columnist Robin Woods goes about town to observe and comment on Montclair life. Got a suggestion for her? Write to us at

Montclair’s Deborah Furr, owner of Johari, could be called “The Boobs Whisperer.” Many women are wearing the wrong size bra, and have been doing so since the first stretchy training bra went on over their heads. As you walk into the newly relocated shop, a sign outside says, “We know you’re wearing the wrong size bra. Let us fit and lift you.”

Looking around, I wondered whether she was spying on me from inside the shop. I had a professional fitting a few years ago when I found out that I was indeed wearing the wrong size bra. In my case, I had high hopes about my size, and discovered that an “A” is not the highest grade one can achieve in lingerie. Some fitters use measuring tapes, but it’s more of an art form. Julianna Keys has more than three decades of experience gauging the right fit, and she can do it just by looking at you. She looks at your back and the expanse of your rib cage in the bra that you’re wearing and finds the perfect foundation for the clothes you wear. I am skeptical about that, but she could be right most of the time. I preferred to have Deborah use a measuring tape on me, and my bra was two inches too large in the band and two letters too large in the cup.

I never thought of bra size as being an issue of self esteem, but many of the customers are unhappy to hear that they need a 38DD instead of a 34C. My cups definitely don’t run over, and I think I would probably fall on my face if I had a humongous rack. Once again, I was wrong. Deborah and Julianna let me work with some of the customers in the store, who wear from size 28 AA to 46K. (Until now, I thought a K cup was just for coffee making.) Some of the most petite and slimmest women had a much larger cup size than one would guess, since it depends on breast mass, muscle and fatty tissue.

Other than for medical and surgical reasons, women want to wear the same size bra they’re used to. Excuse me, but I would be thrilled and surprised to find out that I was a 34K instead of the much smaller cup size I measured. No one needs to know what size bra you wear, and unless you put it on over your clothes with the size tag visibly displayed, no one will ever know.



I also wanted to know how to fit someone for a bathing suit. I am a fan of those wonderful retro looking one piece suits which suck you in and make you look curvier.

Good luck with that. This year, it’s all about the butt and tiny two piece bikinis, sold as separates. Swimwear companies decided that we are all buff and work out for hours each day, rarely if ever needing a traditional one piece suit. Not even with a C section bikini cut or bikini wax will I ever be able to wear one. I shall eschew a swimsuit this year so I don’t scare the children, but learned that your bra size is the way to go for the top, and underwear size correct for the bottom. If I change my mind, look for me at the pool wearing a string bikini under a full length rain coat, lounging on a chaise.

Hipolito Pollantis works with Robin Woods at Rrefurbish. ROBIN WOODS/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

While in a fitting mood, I had a lesson in custom-made garments by Hipolito Pollantis, owner of Rrefurbish Fashion. He also alters dresses and suits already made and works on them to make them fit better. Even though he walks around with the ubiquitous tape measure around his neck and pins in his mouth, Hipolito doesn’t see himself as a tailor who just cuffs your pants. As with lingerie, clothes need to be fit your particular size and body shape.

Through some kind of designer and tailor magic, Hipolito brought out a soft, flowy black dress with colorful small print for me to try on, made to order for a customer needing a final fitting. I was shocked at how close he came to finding me the right size, as clothing manufacturers tend to pick out a cookie cutter pattern they believe fits all. Once he took in fabric from the shoulders, which is a starting point, he also fit me better under my arms and adjusted the neck opening. He’s been sewing with relatives ever since he was a little boy in the Dominican Republic and also studied in France and Italy. I will have my first custom fitting for my dress in four to six weeks and will choose fabrics for other seasons. Alterations take from 30 minutes to four hours, depending on the complexity.

An antique sewing machine at Rrefurbish. ROBIN WOODS/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

Both women and men come into the shop, which carries softer fabric choices for women, but fewer options for men. Men usually choose custom made suits, vests, shirts and pants. There are many more styles for women, long and short, formal and day time and dresses, skirts, shirts and coats. I took pieces of sample fabrics to learn how to measure for a man’s shirt, and wrote down neck, shoulder size, sleeve length, bicep width, stomach girth and chest. So, be ready to wear lingerie and cloths that suit your body type and anatomy. Let it all hang out if you wish, and be happy in the size that you are. Don’t worry if you see me walking around town wearing a tape measure. I’m just sizing you up for the future.

In this column:
76 Church St.

Rrefurbish Fashion
344 Bloomfield Ave.