Tuesday, September 11, 2012

From Points B to A: a bra misadventure

What happened to simple underthings???

I decided this past weekend that it was time to embark on one of my most hated purchasing ventures: bra shopping. Oh, I see the pretty magazines where Victoria’s Secret models prance around and tell me how incredible my bust will look when I put on one of their cheetah-printed numbers; but generally I’m into a less fussy set of underthings...and I am so freaking tired of everyone offering to push my girls up, spread them apart, or pull them together. All I’m really looking for is an easy-to-wear, padding-free bra that embraces my boobs gently, tucking them into place and otherwise leaving them be.

Unfortunately, the current trend in bra fashions means that I’ve been wearing foam-cupped contraptions for the past couple years, because the non-foamy choices generally are ugly things. The message is: if you don’t want your bust lifted and enhanced, then you must just want them swaddled tight against your chest in a sea of taupe polyester.

Consequently, I have held onto the few bras I do like, well beyond their recommended life span. It was around Wednesday last week that I realized this might need to be remedied. I was pulling on a rather hot little skirt for work, and Brian made a comment about how good I was looking...and then we both kinda looked at my unravelling, once-white, pilling cotton bra, and I said, “I’m going shopping.” Because it’s just way too early in this marriage for the bad underwear to start.

Mmm, sexy taupe, wide straps...rowr. (Sigh.)
So I headed out to the mall, and I went to a certain nationwide department store where they have a ton of bras and brands. I figured this was a good place to start: lots of options, lots of choices. Surely I would accomplish my goal of finding some non-foam, non-padded, moderately-cute bras. Surely this couldn’t be too hard.

I wrangled a saleslady into helping me, because as I wandered through the aisles I found my pulse racing and my palms getting sweaty; there were just too many options, and I couldn’t figure out what to try. Not to mention, I haven’t been sized in a really long time, and lately I wondered if maybe I’d lost a bit of...cushion...in the chest department. After explaining what I was looking for, the saleswoman approved the choices I’d pulled out, then sent me into the changeroom. I stripped off my top layers, pulled on a cute plaid number, stood up, and realized that I have, indeed, lost some volume in the bust area. The B-cup sat on my boobs like a pair of deflated parachutes, loose and wobbly. I sighed and asked the woman for some help.

She peeked into the room, tugged at the straps, and said, “Well the problem is, you’ve got nothing there.

Yeah, thanks, lady. Saturday afternoon, in a busy changeroom, and you’ve just announced that there’s nothing there.

credit: Ambro
This shouldn’t bother me. I had a breast reduction five years ago—dropping from a DD to a small B, much to the relief of my nerve-damaged back and shoulders—but there was something about the way that she announced my breasts as the problem that just really made my stomach churn.

I stood there in that saggy bra and demanded she find me an A-cup, as this was clearly what needed to happen. If I’d discovered my reduced cup size on any other day, in any other situation, I honestly wouldn’t be bothered by it at all; but now I felt vulnerable, cold, and a little naked. Oh, wait...maybe because, you know, I wasn’t wearing a shirt.

The lady went and looked, and came back to inform me that there were no A-cups out there for my size, in the style of light little bras that I wanted. I thanked her, got dressed, and went to exit; but she seemed to develop a sudden sense of sympathy and instead of letting me leave, she made another suggestion.

“You know,” she said, ”Probably what you should be doing is shopping in the little girl’s section. Go downstairs, and see if they have your size there. It’s probably the best you can do.”

I stared at her open-mouthed, then walked away.

And at the last minute, I turned into the little girls’ section.

The dream, not the reality.
credit: Charisma
With burning cheeks, I checked, and yes: they had my size.

The punchline? All the little girl bras were padded, too. Don’t get me started on messed up I think that is.

I left the mall an hour later with some bust-enhancing foamy bras from a different shop in the mall. I wish I’d found what I was looking for, but in the end these bras are fine and maybe helpful, now that I’ve ‘got nothing there’. You can’t always get what you want...but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.

After this escapade, what I really needed was a stiff drink.


  1. I was a VERY unhappy bra shopper until I gave birth and started breastfeeding. The nursing bras are SO awesome, that I will be wearing them long after I stop breastfeeding. I vow to never step into another mall bra store again :)

    1. Missy, I know nothing about nursing bras. It's kinda funny that my options seem to be bras for Tweens or bras for moms, neither of which am I! What a crazy world.

  2. Have you considered going to a swimwear/bra-specific shop? I'm a D or DD, depending on the company of bra, so going to mall stores for bras has been absolutely frustrating over the past few years. Additionelle occasionally has good stock, but in your case, somewhere like Brio might be a much less stressful experience. At least in a store like that, you're more likely to find competent sales people with tact!

  3. Oh Jordan, as a former DD you should know that there are options out there for all sizes! You should definitely go somewhere that focuses specifically on bras, where the sales staff actually know what they're talking about and don't say offensive things to you about your body. And try finding something like a 34F at Sears! I found a place here called the Boobie Trap (awesome name of course) that specializes in the hard to fit. I'm sure there are places in Ottawa that will be the same, and you won't end up spending the $250 per bra that Brio charges.

  4. We have a lot in common, Jordan. I once went shopping with a large-busted friend, and when we were in the bra dept., she asked "Why do you bother?" Now years later, I am the same size as my 13-year old daughter. Only she's still growing. One option is sports bras. They are not all for the uber-athlete. You can get them at stores like Walmart and they come in fun colours like purple. Stretchy and comfy. I'll go bra shopping with you anytime.