Why yes, as a matter of fact it IS another post in the ongoing saga of my vexatious breasts!
Yesterday, my mom and I went bra shopping. I’m three days shy of forty, so I don’t *need* my mother to come shopping with me, but retail therapy has long been equated with quality bonding time with us, and we just don’t get enough time to do it together any more.
I’ve been wearing my nursing bras even though Lucas has been weaned for a couple of months now
out of sheer laziness because I’ve lost enough weight that my old bras don’t fit anymore. You might remember, too, that I toyed about this time last year with breast reduction surgery. While I haven’t completely written off that idea, I have put it on hold for now. Losing 30 lbs overall (and perhaps weaning the baby) has reduced both my band and my cup size by enough that I’m no longer as uncomfortable as I was at this time last year.
I’ve been looking forward to getting a grown-up bra for a long time now. Back in early 2007, not too long after my last miscarriage, Kerry and I wandered in to the fancy high-end bra shop near our office building one lunch hour on a whim and I had my first encounter with a bra that cost more than a hundred dollars. I scoffed. A hundred bucks? Why the hell would I pay more than $100 for a bra? And then I tried one on and instantly lost 15 lbs. Ohhhhhh, that’s why! And so I promised myself that as soon as I’d finished losing the extra bit of pregnancy and grief weight, I’d buy myself a fancy bra. A girl deserves at least one grown-up bra, don’t you think? But before I could buy that bra, I was pregnant with Lucas.
More than two years later, Bra Chic has moved from Sussex Drive to Westboro, and my mother and I walk into its friendly brightness one late weekday morning. The owner, Marianne, greets us even as our eyes are adjusting from the glare outside, before I have even had a chance to take in the rows of lacy finery hanging on the walls. “What can I do for you?” she asks, and I blurt out something about weight loss and weaned babies, and the first thing she says is “Congratulations!” which disarms me even more. She asks me my name and hustles me in to a change room in the back, and I realize that this is not going to be like my usual experience of locking myself into a change room at The Bay with sixteen styles in five sizes, aiming for and yet often unable to achieve the lofty goal of merely functional and acceptable.
She asks me what I want out of my bra, and the question completely perplexes me, enough so that there is a long pause before I start to stutter out my band and cup size, and she says no, she wants to know what I expect out of my bra. Oh, now I understand. “I want it to do its job and stay out of my way.” A faintly knowing smile plays across her lips.
As a big-breasted girl, I learned at an early age that bras were functional, not fun. Not for me the flowery little A-cup bits of flounce from La Senza, buy four get three free. Bras are about function and form, about keeping the girls under lock and key and as far out of the way as possible. Bras have bones, or latches to let the nursing baby in. Bras are a necessity, and shopping for bras is an exercise in demoralizing misery, to be endured only when absolutely necessary.
My tank top is soon discarded, and she measures my band size, asking me to exhale fully and inhale deeply. I expect her to measure my cup size next, but she’s obviously been at this a while and doesn’t even bother. She steps away and comes back with a beautiful silky cherry red bra and I have to bite back a snicker. I can see she has registered the look of commingled amusement and trepidation on my face, and she says “It’s a lovely colour, isn’t it?” I tell her that my existing bra collection covers the full spectrum from white to cream to beige, but once I had a black one to which I was quite partial. She laughs, all the while fitting hooks into eyes and tugging straps and jiggling things into place. I can only stand with my arms akimbo and wait for her to finish her ministrations. I have never been fussed over in quite this manner, but it is not in the least bit unpleasant.
She steps back, and I look in the mirror. Whoa! Lookit them all way up there! I’m surprised my breasts aren’t getting vertigo at that elevation! My nipples, usually hanging around somewhere near the bend in my elbow, have climbed up to a perch near the top of my bicep. I pull on a t-shirt, and parade outside for my mother’s inspection. She admires my lofty silhouette, and raises an approving eyebrow when I flash the cherry red strap at her. I promenade around the shop a bit, and my jiggly bits are jiggle-free. I even feel taller. I am in love with this bra.
I try a few others, one a nice chocolate brown with pink trim and an extra detachable bit that I don’t entirely understand, intended as a bit of arabesque that ties behind my neck when I’m wearing something with a plunging neckline. Since I fancy neither plunging necklines nor bras with bits I can’t account for, I pass on that one. I learn the difference between a full cup and a balcony bra as various styles come and go. They don’t all fit, but the shop owner is a whirlwind of fastening and unfastening, clothing me in different styles and sizes while I stand rather like a dressmakers’ dummy, completely submissive to her expertise.
I am more than happy, almost giddy with relief, to hand over what for nearly 30 years has been a consistently onerous and unpleasant experience to her capable hands. I begin to wonder — to wish — about other unpleasant tasks in my life that might be farmed out to more obviously capable hands. To simply have the responsibility of bra shopping taken out of my hands is more than worth the (as yet undisclosed) price of the bra.
I finally remember to ask about the cost, and manage to swallow the cringe of dismay when she tells me the cherry red beauty will set me back a little more than $150. I look in the mirror and know that I am more than worth it. To see my girls — my only girls, as it turns out in this lifetime — sitting so jauntily high on my chest makes me want to weep with gratitude. If only I’d known ten years ago!
I fuss briefly over whether such a “playful” bra is appropriate for every day use, and the shop owner clucks knowingly. “This isn’t a particularly playful bra. Shall I show you a playful bra?” I nod rather timidly, fearful of what she might bring out. Playful, it turns out, is less silky cherry red and more black and white patterned lace with metal bits whose purpose I can’t quite fathom but am too embarrassed to ask about. Suddenly, subtle cherry red seems entirely appropriate for my largely plain cotton knit wardrobe.
In the end, I buy two bras. Well, I buy one and my mother insists on buying one as a birthday present. I take home the cherry red beauty with the full cup, a bra I knew in my heart I had to own the minute I saw it on me, and a demure beige balcony cup half in soft, supple lace. (No wonder my old bras never fit properly. I’d been wearing 36 DD to 38D when I should have been in a 32F.) I learn how to lean forward into the bra as I put it on, how to slide two fingers inside the cup to lift and separate my breasts, how to tug and shake the bit of bra just above my sternum until my breasts settle magically into the perfect spot. I am delighted with my perky new silhouette. My mother opines that I look like I’m 18 again, and I reply that I don’t think they were this perky at 18, either.
$150 for a bra? You betcha, baby. I figure 50 cents a day for a year of looking like I paid thousands for a breast lift is a more than worthwhile investment. And I’m worth it!