Eight days ago, I made the dreaded march down the grey hallway of the Penney’s dressing rooms to face my mirror. I had admitted the chafing I suffered around the hoist line of my bras was not completely due to dry skin but to their being stretched out. The season had come again, as it always does, for my mandatory hunt for the sling things we call braziers. Bra shopping was inevitable. I’ll elect this as the most heinous of our female obligations above even the yearly pap smear and boob-a-gram.
You have a reason to resent your maker when you make this trip into the dainties department. No matter how nice the lighting or how well the mirrors are distorted, you’ll be treated to a nice long look at yourself in the mirror. Maybe you’d avoid this if your personal shopper told you how fantastic you looked as she helped you in your swanky dressing room in your Beverly Hills mansion. But mirror mirror on this wall wasn’t telling me any lies that fateful day a week ago when I stripped from the waist up to try on whatever styles this year the manufacturers were hawking.
This task brings about the proverbial moment of truth. My forty-four-year-old-had-a-baby-at-thirty-eight-but-never-lost-the-weight-belly was staring back at me, defiant and droopy. My new horror is the weird sagging gelatinous texture of my skin as the collagen evaporates. Expensive prescribed narcotics could have softened the blow. Although, being slumped in the corner and giggling would have made all manner of things “nice” and “fine” including the bras, I had adult decisions to make about which bras I could go steady with for a year. I have a collected remembrance of these hardships and that’s why I have developed a strategy.
My first tip is to never go alone. Even better if your compatriot is bra shopping too because you’ll both want to cry but won’t for the other person’s sake. This year, I enlisted the help of a woman who was exactly the right person to ask. She was willing to exchange all the bras I’d picked out for the D cup versions. Apparently when you get bigger and droopier, your cups runneth over. If I had had to put my clothes back on and go back out on the floor to look for more styles and colors, I probably would have walked out. Honestly buying her lunch and sending her a thank you note wasn’t nearly enough to express my gratitude.
My second tip is that the sixth bra you try on will be the first one that actually works. Adjust your expectations accordingly and you’ll waylay the loosing it part of the program. If you don’t bring your own runner, my next suggestion would be to get that professional bra lady to help you actually size yourself correctly. These department store damsels have their certificates of knowledge and legitimacy hanging on the dressing room wall. I read a statistic that said the majority of women are cruising around in a wrongly sized bra. Like me with the C cup. Go figure. Although my friend read her credentials aloud and offered her up, I had not adjusted my expectations to include her services this trip. I declined this time. And lastly, it seems self-explanatory to suggest you not attempt this when you’re PMS and bloated and ready to cry any second now. It’s bad enough.
The bras were BOGO bras; “buy one and get one” half off. This means I paid twenty four dollars a piece. I went ahead and bought six because I suspected that, like shoes, once you get them out of the store and take them for a test drive, something won’t feel right. And it’s an experienced paranoid person that thinks this way. Sure enough, the only black one I had gotten received the first veto. My rack was slightly wider than the outer most width of the cup holders. Didn’t ever think of that dimension. There should be a spread width as well as a cup size and a rib circumference.
The next to get the bums rush back to the shopping bag were the wired and padded things. I’d impressed with myself by saying yes to the leopard pattern. At the end of wearing each of these identical bras, and after making every effort to adjust wherever possible, I felt like I was being poked and prodded front and back. I can put up with only one annoying pinchy stimulus at a time. The eyehook flap cover was rubbing. And there was a jabbing sensation on my shoulder blade. Sayonara and see ya’ later.
Fifty percent of my bras were back in a bag where I had carefully placed the tags when I’d cut them off in anticipation of their failure and betrayal. And I am trying to be pretty sure the others are OK. The padded push up is actually fun and mostly comfortable. And the underwire with fabric in nude and white were just this side of right. I wondered if that would change if I lost the weight I have been intending to lose. And I figured, if I do lose that weight, I’m buying myself a whole new wardrobe and going to Disney World on the same credit card that bought the blessed bras.
Wish me luck in my returns. I will get my money back one way or another or a pound of flesh. I think I’ll trade them in for one of those foundation garments that hold my tummy in otherwise known as a girdle. I’ll still keep up with my ab-sculpt video, I promise. They’re only like forty bucks and I’m thinking a girl should take the help anyway she can get it.
Your “girls” are going south for the winter. But, other than you, the only one that has to know and see this is your husband and the ladies at the Y pool. Having bras that fit and flatter you and that are comfortable and not dingy make a difference in your posture and esteem. Do not give up, good and true bras do exist. In some cases, they cost more and in others, more patience will be required in their procurement. Yet, they are a necessary evil. Prepare for the battle and you can come away bleeding but victorious. Maybe a new pair of shoes will ease the pain.