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Intimate Garments for Every Body at the Busted Bra Shop

Aug 31, 2023 ● By Sheila Julson
Headshot of Lee Padgett.

Lee Padgett. Photo courtesy of Lee Padgett.

When Lee Padgett became frustrated by the lack of options to purchase bras in the Detroit area, she decided to open her own size-inclusive specialty bra boutique. Since the first Busted Bra Shop opened in 2013, she has gone on to open three more locations in Michigan and two in Chicago, in the Hyde Park and Lakeview neighborhoods. Busted Bra Shop carries an array of brassieres in multiple sizes for all body types, along with lingerie, panties and accessories. “It’s easier to fit shoes than it is to fit bras,” Padgett says wryly. “There are many different nuances to consider. Each body is so different, and we have to take that into consideration.”

Busted Bra Shop carries cup sizes from AA through P, and band sizes 28 through 56. Bras are available in multiple colors and styles, ranging from sporty to sexy. They also carry nursing and mastectomy bras, and can special order most products they carry. “We have trained fitters in every store every day to measure, fit and provide the customer with what they need,” Padgett says. “We fit traditionally, but then determine what is best for each customer. Product knowledge is important for our fitters, because every company has its own sizing.”

Padgett explains that Busted Bra Shop fitters take into consideration the customer’s shoulder width, the length from under the bust to the top of the shoulders, styles that work best for their body type and whether a customer wants an underwire. “We’re here to do the shopping for you and remove the frustration of finding well-fitting intimates. When people come in and talk to us, we listen, and we will find them something spectacular.”

Padgett curates the Busted Bra Shop inventory by attending shows and conventions throughout the country. She tours showrooms and factories, and considers current trends and what is in demand in each store. Each location’s inventory is defined by what customers in those areas buy and request. Busted Bra Shop also offers lingerie up to size 4X, bodysuits, shapewear and Soak, an eco-friendly detergent formulated for undergarments. They can also order prosthetics for mastectomy patients.


Promoting BodyPositivity In an Inclusive Environment

Busted Bra Shop is woman- and veteran-owned. Padgett served in the U.S. Navy, and holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. For about a decade, she and her family moved frequently for work and school, but eventually returned to Detroit, where Padgett opened a coffee shop/art gallery, Café de Troit, in the early 2000s. There, she met many customers that were stymied by the lack of bra shopping options.

By carrying offerings for everyone, Busted Bra Shop promotes body positivity. “We’re here to support you and help you find what you need to feel your best in the body you are in,” she says. The boutique works with and supports the LGBTQ+ community, and people of all shapes and sizes are shown in the store’s advertising and on their social media. “Each body is beautiful, and we’re all wonderful human beings,” Padgett affirms. Padgett also coordinates offsite pop-up events with organizations, churches, sororities and private clubs, where her staff will bring a curated selection of Busted Bra inventory and offer bra fittings.

Padgett has ventured down many paths from military service to jobs in science and retail, but she finds operating Busted Bra Shop the most rewarding. “I employ 39 people, and we provide products in a welcoming, safe space for the bra-wearing community and for our employees,” she says. “I love working with new designers, taking care of customers and providing a positive place for people to work.”

Busted Bra Shop is located at 1013½ E. 53rd St., Chicago (Hyde Park, 773-952-8875); and 3148 N. Lincoln Ave., Chicago (Lakeview, 773-697-9199). For more information, visit