The Soft Touch

A new boutique turns the usual hassle of bra shopping into a far more pleasant experience.

Brava Bras,
1600 Kapi’olani Blvd.
For an appointment, call 941-0884, or for more
information, visit

Stepping inside Brava Bras, a boutique in the Pam Am building off Kapi’olani, you feel like you’ve entered an exclusive spa. Tea is brewing, candles and chocolate are for sale and bookshelves hold tomes with such positive titles as Learn to Dream. The décor features soothing, feminine colors. The store, which opened in March, is owned by Cynthia Surrisi, a partner in a Honolulu law firm, and Marty Woodward, a human resources professional.

Clients visit by appointment only, an arrangement created to maximize privacy. It also allows the staff person helping the client to do thorough measurements before one-on-one assisting with the shopping. Brava carries about 50 different sizes of bras, with prices averaging about $40. “We’re trying to create an environment where you’re not worn out [bra shopping],” says Surrisi. “Where you’re having fun.”

Photo: Gina Finkelstein

The shop also stocks products for symmetry correction and post-surgical needs. Pro-sthetics come in a range of styles and shapes to help with everything from smoothing out the bust line after a lumpectomy, to a full breast prosthetic for use after a mastectomy, and several options in between. Bra alterations are free with the in-house seamstress, and there is even a modesty cape available if you are feeling self-conscious.

While the store is also a great place to shop for comfortable, pretty bras from brands you usually can’t find in Honolulu, it’s a good destination to shop for specialty bras, including those for moms-to-be, nursing women, full figures (up to a 54 J/K) and very small-framed women (A and AA cups and small band sizes). Arthritis sufferers will appreciate the models with large hook-and-eye closures in the front of the garment. Many of the bras are perfect for use here in the tropics, as they are sewn in light, moisture-wicking fabrics.

In a society where breasts are a highly charged subject, Surrisi comes across as refreshingly candid and matter-of-fact. “I’m an advocate of the whole process,” says Surrisi. “I can help someone in 45 minutes to fix a problem that they’ve had for 35 years.”