On Bra Shopping

Bra shopping is demoralizing. Fortunately, it’s only half as demoralizing as bathing suit shopping. At least when you’re bra shopping you can keep your pants on. That’s what you call cold comfort.

I recently found myself shopping for an over the shoulder boulder holder which means I recently found myself fairly demoralized.

My old faithful bras had reached their end, you see. Lumpy. Stretched out. No elasticity. Much like their owner, they’d seen better days.

It was time to shop for a new bra.

That’s how I came to be standing in a dressing room, half nekkid, with a bored young woman wrapping an ice-cold measuring tape around my torso. I didn’t really want to be there, and neither did she. Not a recipe for success.

She determined my size — a size I’ve never known myself to be. I told her I wanted something plain. She wandered off to find me some suitable choices.

While she was gone. I contemplated my torso in the harsh, fluorescent light. It seems that my breasts have spread out around my rib cage. There’s practically as much under my arms now as there ever was out front. Is there a four-cup bra for people of my age, I wondered. All those years of tube tops and string bikinis came back to haunt me.

Those were the days. The days when you weren’t worried about underwires and support. The days when you didn’t need “smoothing” bands and push up.

The sales lady returned and knocked on the door jolting me back to reality. Apparently she doesn’t define “plain” like I do. She handed me a beige and black number with some sort of flowery appliques all over the cups. “Just try it for size,” she said. Apparently despite her blasé demeanor, she had noticed my surprise at her choice.

She left, and I tried it on, bending over to shake everything into the right place. Sometimes gravity is your friend if you want your bra to work with you instead of against you. The bra, despite it’s appliques, actually did fit pretty well and looked decent.

Then I looked at the price tag.


For one.

Now I’m happy to pay for quality. And a bra is something you definitely don’t want to skimp on. After all, we women wear the damn things from sunup to sundown. But $140 is a bit more than I had in mind.

I asked for something that didn’t require a second mortgage, and she came back with a grey/green number with white stitching. Reasonably plain, but I nearly dislocated my shoulder trying to get it on. Then there was the bright purple one. Not plain in my world, and it had a bunch of lacy stuff that would show through clothes. The royal blue one came next, but its cups were inadequate. No one likes to be spilling out over the top of the bra. Then there was a cream one. Again, lots of pattern, a bow, and an odd-shaped cup made it unacceptable. Then came a brown one that was covered in lace and featured a hot pink, polka-dotted bow. This one was pretty comfortable, and I even entertained the thought of straying from my otherwise plain Jane undergarments, but the price tag — Lord have mercy, I should start sewing my own bras and selling them!

“That’s all we have in your size,” said the exasperated sales lady. “We’re waiting on a shipment. A shipment of plain ones. Come back next week.”

By this time, I was exasperated too. And hot. And not at all happy with the way I look. And a little sweaty. And a lot hungry. So I resigned myself to my stretched out, worn out brassieres and went home.

Now men complain about having to wear ties from time to time. I’d wear a tie every day of the week if I didn’t have to wear elastic and wire chest armor. In reality, it’s like a bullet proof vest, except instead of preventing bullets from getting in, it prevents even a hint of nipple from ever showing. Oh the horror!

And that’s why I’m still on the quest to be perfectly lifted and separated, as Jane Russell used to tell us when she was spokeswoman for the Playtex Cross-Your-Heart bras. We must be lifted and separated. Truly. That’s a thing. Only what I need now is to have my spirits lifted and not be separated from so much of my money. The hunt continues.

(As an aside, I realize I just said “nipple” in print. If you listen close enough, you can hear Mama somewhere saying “Oh, Audrey!” That’s a constant refrain in my life. I say or do something shocking, and she says “Oh, Audrey!” Like the time we were driving through town and passed a bridal shop called Bustle. I went on a little tangent about stores with one ironic word as a name. Now Mama has heard me say I don’t know how many vulgar things in my life and mostly doesn’t bat an eye anymore. I like to cuss. Love it, really. Anyhow, I said, I’m going to open a bra shop and call it “Boob!” to which Mama replied, “Oh Audrey! That’s so vulgar!” I can drop the “f-bomb” every day of the week and nothing. I say “boob” and it’s offensive. It’s not like I said “titty.” Go figure.)

17 thoughts on “On Bra Shopping

  1. LOVE this. Once I tried on a “bodysuit” bra-type thing in one of those places, without a sales person present. The straps were NOT adjusted for a person of my stature. I got it halfway on. And then …I was stuck. It wouldn’t pull up, I couldn’t pull it off. Just a little PANIC IN THE DRESSING ROOM. I feel you girl!!!

    1. Hey There, Are you the Deddy Radford who studied ballet at BSC years ago???? Yvonne Wood Sides

  2. Audrey, I think I have never read a more accurate account of an experience in my entire life!!! Brilliant!!!

  3. Been there, done that and have the psychic scars to prove it. Finally found a reasonably priced, comfortable model that doesn’t look like it was designed for bordello use. (And if that irritates my husband, he can go jump in a lake). Buzz me if you are interested. I have information to share.

  4. When I finally found a new bra I could tolerate, I told the salesgirl I’d wear it home. As to what to do with the used one, I told her to enroll it in kindergarten. “It’s certainly old enough to go.”

    Love your stories, Audrey.

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