October is breast cancer awareness month, and if you have you ever felt like your bra is strangling your body, or you have dents in your shoulders or welts under your arms, then it’s time to go for a bra fitting.
Wearing the correct bra is important and no one knows this better than co-founder of the Mowbray-based PDL Distributors, Penny Parolis. Penny, who has lived in Constantia for 35 years, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. And although she escaped a mastectomy, having breast cancer has strengthened her and now she wants to empower and help other women.
That’s why she is offering complementary bra fittings during October. “Every year a woman’s breasts change, from childhood, through to menstruation, weight gain and loss, pregnancy and menopause,” said Penny.
In 1993 Penny, and son Dimitri, took to the road selling hosiery from Italy. Their business evolved to include swimwear and then lingerie. They worked from a backroom in a Mowbray flat owned by Elli Parolis, the mother of Penny’s husband Laki, also known as Harry.
Their daughter Lexi, who was working in the corporate world, was called in to help while Penny underwent treatment for breast cancer.
Five years later she is very much part of the business.
PDL Distributors, named after Penny, Dimitri and Laki, has a warehouse on the ground floor and offices and a showroom upstairs. In fact we sat around Elli’s dining room table, next to her refurbished dresser, beneath a lamp burning in her memory in what was her bedroom.
The whole family is passionate about bras, swimwear and shape wear and that’s why they opened their stores, offering women a professional and personal experience in the fitting and styling of all intimate apparel.
“We believe in the ethos of embracing the diversity and beauty of every woman,” says Penny.
“There’s a bra for every problem and we prefer to solve problem areas through professional fittings where possible prior to women considering surgery. We’ve had women coming into our stores with dents where underwires have dug into them and dents in their shoulders where straps are too tight,” says Penny.
Lexi speaks of how being fitted with the right bra changes a woman’s psyche, of how their eyes light up. “They often walk out of the shop wearing the new bra, throwing the old one in the bin. Being fitted is all about comfort level, well-being and health,” says Lexi.
Picking out a few samples she discusses the importance of the underwire – the foundation of a bra and giving support to the breast. “The strap is there to guide the breasts into the right place,” says Penny.
And then there’s padding. “It moulds the bust and for smaller breasts there is more padding underneath to push them up. But it’s not just about size but also the shape,” says Penny holding up Andora, a bra to die for.
“Every minute in the world someone is buying one of these,” she says, holding it up to the window to show how translucent it is, which means that it breathes. It’s no wonder that there are 52 components that go into the structural feat of many bras.
Asked about cost, Penny says that with the right care, a bra can last for years. Hand-washing is good but she said they can also be washed in the shower, on your body, with the soap one uses to wash your body. “If well taken care of, the only reason to buy another is to expand your collection of bras. Shaping, sculpting, contouring, once a woman starts wearing the right bra, she won’t go back. They are so comfortable that when she takes it off she’ll feel that she still has it on,” says Penny.
Inner Secrets Lingerie is offering complimentary bra fittings at their Cavendish Square, Sea Point and Waterfront branches in an effort to promote healthy breasts.