Monday, February 28, 2011


Bra Shopping. Two seemingly innocuous words but when said together create a most undesirable condition to find yourself in.

I was in desperate need of a strapless bra, and for the last month or so the quest had been a failure. Due to an upcoming event in which my body will be displayed in a revealing ensemble, the need to hold up the girls became of utmost importance. At first I was unconcerned thinking that it was the least of my concerns. The more pressing issues were the dress, shoes, hairdo, jewelry, makeup, clutch purse, airfare, hotel, etc. Little did I know that the strapless bra hunt would be the most time consuming affair.

There were days in which I spent an entire hour, HOUR in a fitting room. I would select a few styles and get frustrated and ask for help and then the salesperson would bring in bra after bra. Each bra had the tags on and after you try on a few they scrape against your skin. Some even caused a rash of red to appear. Very sexy stuff. In the stores that are worried about theft, they have sensors connected to the bras which DIG into your back or ribs. Not to mention that fitting rooms tend to have lousy heat.

So there I was standing in a chilly room wondering if my breasts looked right in various bras and doing a shake or bounce test to see if they stayed in place. The two problems that kept happening were these: the strap was too tight around the back and caused shmushing of my back skin, or the cups didn't do anything. Like they existed only to look pretty and not hold up the goods. Those push-up ones were the worst with that problem because there was so much of me floating about on top, I actually thought it looked like breast soup. No need for a shake test there.

My efforts to spend less than the going rate on strapless bras proved fruitless and I was going to have to go to a real place and get fitted. This meant that there was no chance of spending less than $50, and since the dress is black, the bra has got to be black. It's not like I can use the black bra for every occasion that I'd need a strapless. I'd have to get a nude one in the future for other outfits. Fantastic.

Nearly convinced that I was going to the event braless, I went to Nordstrom and was introduced to the fitter. She escorted me to the room where I would showered with bras. The first thing you do is get measured. She asked what size I had been wearing and I said 36B. I didn't know that I'd be undressing and getting topless in front of this woman. Once I took off my shirt she said: "Oh dear. You are definitely not a B. Were you ever fitted before?"

I had been fitted at Victoria Secret 2 years ago which is where I got that size. I was a 34C for years but the back strap started pinching me. The sales people at VS didn't um, examine the merchandise as I tried it. Nor did they poke at me to show why what I was wearing didn't fit properly, but this woman did. She said that either my upper body is a bit slimmer to fit in the 34 now, or they improperly measured and I kept buying the 36 because of the comfort, therefore the bra wasn't doing anything. The B has some boobie left over on the side near the armpit and some lifting out of the middle. Frankly I thought that was how it was supposed to fit, but no one has given me any feedback on this before.

Next was a "fit test," which means you have to try on a few bras from a company that is generally good for everyone. The woman brought me a 34D and 34 DD. Double D? I asked if the natural progression of things would have me in a C, and shouldn't I try that first? She refused. She insisted that I was a natural D and that I had the wrong coverage this whole time. I tried on both bras and I thought they looked absolutely ridiculous. It was more like outfitting someone for a backpacking trip. Thick straps were across my shoulders and a gargantuan three hooked back strap made me feel like I was in a harness and ready to unleash a parachute. That is, with out a shirt on. The cups themselves looked like they came up to my collar bones, something any grandma would wear but NOT ME. I like the demi, lacey look and feel and this was far from it.

She insisted that I was the 34DD, to which I insisted that there was NO WAY I could be that big. I'm just not. So she brought out a bunch of styles to try on in that size to prove her point and they all were completely silly fly nets on me. She conceded that I was right and a bunch of 34D bras came at me next.

They fit, um, better and one was really good, but I just didn't understand the whole situation. I felt myself all harnessed up with bras holding my ribs in and pinching my shoulders, but the breasts settled in with a listless flop. Is that doing anything for me? The larger the size that I tried, the more the breasts looked like they were triangular in shape and moving toward my armpits. Aren't we trying to avoid that?

I bought the one that fit nicely, but wasn't entirely convinced. I don't see how I could be a D. They're not that big! At least, I hope not. I sought out a second opinion and since Victoria Secret may have lead me astray, I wanted to see what they would say.

The fitter there was quick and used actual measurements rather than checking me out. She said I was probably in between a 36C and a 34D, but for strapless you should get the smaller strap size to be held up properly. I was shocked. I told her that just two years ago I was a 36B and that they couldn't have possibly grown that much! I kept saying that I'm just not that big, but alas, they also had a 34D that was a perfect fit.

So I bought that one also to compare and try them both on with the dress. I also bought a regular bra in that size to see if I liked the feel better than what I already have. I sincerely don't have any idea how these things work, since I don't feel much bigger on top. It's possible that there isn't a ton of cup variation in the category I am in. Regardless, it's not like I can stock up on a favorite style because in two years I could hit that 34DD. Maybe two years after that I will be a 32G, in which case I will jump off a bridge.

Before ending the undergarment shopping extravaganza, I realized that I also needed nylons for the event. Five hours, 3 bras, and one pair of nylons later, I spent $175. And this is why the man should pay for dinners out; because our mere existence is so much more costly than theirs.

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