Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Brave New Bras

Down to two bras that “sort of” fit, and those shredding more daily, I face facts. I must go bra shopping.

I consider ordering some bras online, but one bra’s stock number was illegible, the other one discontinued. Not to mention I’ve gained… shall we say ten pounds? Sure, ten pounds.

As a professional bra fitter for Maidenform in a former life, I suspect I might have to go up in my band size. There was no way around actually visiting a brick and mortar store. I was going to have to actually try the bras on before buying. And somewhere in the last ten years, I have gone from a woman who likes to shop, occasionally, to a woman who mostly orders not only clothes, but sometimes even groceries, online. Shopping is no longer a pleasant prospect.

As in, I’d rather wrassle a herd of hissing possums than shop.

I brave the traffic for the 20 mile trip to the nearest Kohl’s. They had the best selection in my area the last time I shopped for bras… shall we say five years ago? Sure, five years ago. No one wears bras as old as a first grader, right? Thank goodness Kohl’s still has a good selection, and they still have the super sale rack of the previous season’s styles that I remembered.

I line bras up on my left arm, looping my hand through the hangers as I remember from my bra saleswoman days. Look at me-- I can carry many, many bras! Let’s see, four in my old size, four in the next larger band size. No underwire, beige, rose, lilac, and “walnut” colors, some with tags promising “lift,” some telling me they’ll keep me cool, some sporty styles. Cause I’m so sporty.

To the dressing rooms. Nice, there’s a vacant stall. Hang up the bras. Wait—there are only two hooks on the wall? Where am I supposed to put my clothes? I need one hook for the bras to try on, one for the keepers, one hook for the rejects, and another hook for my clothes. Is Kohl’s so hard up they can’t put more than two hooks in a dressing room? Grumble. Haven’t tried on the first bra yet.

Disrobe the four layers of clothing above the waist (hey—it’s a chilly 40 degrees in the Carolinas, brrr), try to ignore the static electricity sending blue sparks flying, hope the louvered dressing room door is not showing anyone the white-haired lady contorting herself to hook up the first bra she’s tried on in five years. Who thinks it’s a good idea to put louvered doors on dressing rooms anyway? Why do most bras hook in the back and not the front? Are my arms shorter than they used to be? Sheesh.

Okay, it’s too snug. The old band size is not going to cut it. Guess the old bras must’ve stretched out just a wee bit. The cups look funny, too. Gamely, I try on several more in my old size, since there can be variations in sizing between brands. Nope.

Deep breath. Okay, going up a band size is not the end of the world. I try on the first one in the new size. The band fits great, but the cups look like someone is trying to put too much batter in the cupcake pan. So to speak. But this cannot be. To go up a band size and a cup size? Nah. Not me.

I keep trying the different brands, somewhat optimistically hoping there’s one that fits. But, alas. After bra number eight, I bid adieu to the fair boobs of youth.

I re-robe myself in the four layers. Delegate the rejected bras to, as the Kohl’s sign says, the “we’ll put them back” rack outside the dressing room.  

Okay, so it’s the new (doesn’t that sound better than “bigger”?) band size and maybe a new cup size, too. Ouch. I remember as an under-endowed teenager how I longed, really and truly longed for more hoohas to fill a bra bigger than a triple A. Yes, bras do come that small.

Now I understand why my bigger busted friends complain that smaller is better. Never did I dream I’d have bazumbas at this point in my life, but perimenopause, menopause, and beyond have unexpected consequences even for the formerly small busted woman. Big consequences. Why, oh why, so big?

The rest of the story: I find some bras that fit and are moderately comfortable. They still come off as soon as I get home from work, most days. They are new, not stretched out and shredding. I can afford them. My breasts are healthy. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that bra shopping is udderly exhausting. It takes me two days to recover from all that driving, dressing, undressing, revelations, reevaluations, recriminations, and ultimately, acceptance of the body I’ve got.

Dear Kohl’s—thanks a million. See you, five years.