In which my vexatious breasts get a makeover

by DaniGirl on July 29, 2009 · 44 comments

in It IS all about me

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!

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 UberGeek July 29, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Congrats for being one of the only women to ever make me blush at work.

Oh and I fully expect to be treated to the fashion show at breakfast.

2 kgirl July 29, 2009 at 2:09 pm

I really hope that UberGeek is your husband. Or at least your boyfriend 😉

3 kgirl July 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm

p.s. may I just say? Your measurements? Impressive.

4 liz July 29, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Squeee!!!! You went specialty bra shopping!!!! We’re practically size sisters!

5 Shawna July 29, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Perhaps I’ll check out Bra Chic when I wean my little guy. I’ve been exclusively in sports and nursing bras for a couple of years now and kind of miss real, cute bras. Maybe a back-to-work splurge is in order.

6 Chris (Mombie) July 29, 2009 at 2:56 pm

I was fitted for a bra at Secrets From My Sister in Toronto a couple of weeks back. It was an awesome experience, I look fantastic and all my clothes fits me entirely differently. So very very worth it.

7 colleen July 29, 2009 at 3:13 pm

I bought a bathing suit a few weeks ago at Marianne’s at Westgate. This is also a specialty shop for bras etc. The lady in front of me spent over $400.00 for 2 bras. I will admit I was jealous to see whispy lace all wrapped up for a woman even older than me!

8 Lana July 29, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Yay! I can’t wait to wean the little guy now!

9 Julie July 29, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’ve been dreading bra shopping for a little while and now I need to go! Bra Chic during lunch sounds great.

10 andrea from the fishbowl July 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm

It must have been hard for you to spend that kind of cash on yourself, but you are worth it!

That shop is just down the street from me. I can’t deny its existance any longer. You totally sold me! I hate the whole bra shopping experience and am in dire need. Normally I go once ever 18 months or so and buy a bunch of bras. As a result they all end up totally shredded at the same time. In my pre-child days I was a C, while preggo I was a DD, now after approx 25lbs of weight loss I’m somewhere between an A and B. Maybe a B minus? Gah! Sooo frustrating.

11 Amber July 29, 2009 at 5:08 pm

I am still nursing, but I think that the moment I wean the baby I need to get myself a grown-up bra. I have taken one too many trips into the change room at the Bay myself.

12 Mac and Cheese July 29, 2009 at 5:45 pm

32!!! F!!! You’d never find that size at the Bay! Yes, it’s worth it. I’ll be making the same trip to the store very soon. I did spend $120 on a bra with my first pregnancy, but after a while I found that it kinda hurt. Not only that, but it’s an E due to pregnancy growth, thus it no longer comes close to fitting. Do people sell this sort of thing on Craig’s List?

Ha! My captcha is “Flattops”.

13 Jen July 29, 2009 at 8:47 pm

You so deserve it, and you’ve so got me sold on going there! Well, once this baby is out and finished nursing… it’ll be a while, but still! :-)

14 Ari July 29, 2009 at 9:04 pm

F??? Holy wow! well, glad you found some that work on you, although I can’t afford $150, I’d love for her to find me a bra that fits me… I’m no F (I’m barely a B) but my girls don’t wanna stay in their cups for some reason.

It’s such a violating experience though, being measured.. lol! At least to me, maybe cuz I’m a prude.

15 WhitePineLane July 29, 2009 at 9:42 pm

Love it, love it, love it! You go girl! (I need to find a shop like that around here….)

16 Nat July 30, 2009 at 6:21 am

I am so frustrated with my breast/bra situation… I am going to see the Bra Chic (where in Westboro.)

17 DaniGirl July 30, 2009 at 6:38 am

Hmmm, I should have asked for a commission on referrals!

Nat, it’s on the western edge of Westboro, Richmond just west of Roosevelt in the same block as the Starbucks. Ari, it’s totally not violating if you go to the right person — too bad you’re no where near Ottawa, it’s almost worth the trip!

And FWIW, UberGeek is neither husband or boyfriend, but one of the few men in my life I’m rather comfortable talking bras and boobies with over breakfast!

18 Meg July 30, 2009 at 7:47 am

My CHANTAL bra is my best friend! I splurged a few months ago at Marianne’s and have not regretted my $100 purchase. Just make sure you take care of your new bra……HAND WASH! The other piece of advice is rotate your bras. Three is the magic number and they only last a year or so. It’s an investment.

19 Sara in Montréal July 30, 2009 at 8:33 am

Now I totally have a bra envie. It’ll be a while before it’s worth spending that kind of money (more then two years if I estimate it from previous experience), but I’ll remember to indulge when time comes.

20 Chantal July 30, 2009 at 10:43 am

Well since Meg says there is a bra named after me, I must find it! After I am done with this preggy/nursing thing of course.

BTW I had my ultrasound today! Its a boy!

21 Dee July 30, 2009 at 11:31 am

Please tell me you bought matching undies…. ;o)

22 Brie July 30, 2009 at 12:45 pm

There is nothing like a good bra. I will always pay more (and I hate shopping) if someone can ensure a good fit and a good look.
Congrats on the bra!

23 Meg July 30, 2009 at 1:52 pm

oops it’s Chantelle and its from PARIS!

24 smothermother July 30, 2009 at 9:34 pm

I would have never thought you were big chested when I met you at BOLO. I`ve heard a lot fo good things about Bra Chic. As soon as Marty finally gets a contract I think I might treat myself. That probably won`t be for another year of two though. So my giant boobs (I never lost my pregnant boobs, ugh) will have to suffer in cheap bras for a little longer.

25 Mary Lynn July 31, 2009 at 10:06 am

Ya gotta love stores that have bras in a large range of sizes. I remember going to The Bay to look for a nursing bra after my daughter was born. When I asked a sales associate for a bra in size 38-DD she said, sounding rather alarmed, “do they come in that size?!?”

I just gestured to my chest and said, “Well I hope so, because THESE come in that size!”

26 BeachMama July 31, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Yay Dani!!! I think we had a conversation about proper fitting bras and clothing not that long ago. Now with a bra like that, you need a great sweater to go over it and hug it just so.

p.s. did you get the matching panties??

27 julie July 31, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Good for you, girlfriend! I have always choked on paying more than $40 per bra. But like a good bathing suit, I’m sure the ones over $100 are far better and much nicer on my self-esteem. I’ve just had my last baby and definitely NEED new bras. I’m heading out to that shop too! (You really should collect a commission cheque!).

28 Rebecca July 31, 2009 at 11:39 pm

this is a great investment. Once I’m done nursing I am going to do the same. Where else can you get such a great return on investment for items you wear almost every day? 😉

29 Sara August 4, 2009 at 10:56 am

I drive past that store twice a day and keep meaning to stop in. I think the girls definitely need to be treated well! ; (I’ve nursed three kids.. they have done their time 😉 )

30 Judy August 5, 2009 at 9:13 pm

BraChic rocks! The owner is fabulous and knows her stuff. I bought a great bra for $150 before our baby arrived and I am just waiting to lose some of the weight before going back.

Worth every penny. And supporting a local business!

31 Jody September 1, 2009 at 11:55 am

That is fantastic! I had a similar experience when I went bra-shopping back in 2004. That moment of, wait, I could have had this silhouette for years?!

Worth every penny and then some, as far as I’m concerned.

32 babycakes September 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm

thk u thk u thk u thk u!!

i never knew this place existed and now i am SO EXCITED to take my friend there……. she’s been telling me a bit about all those “boobs issues” but i didnt rly understand…. but reading some of ur posts rly is making me more sensitive to her struggles u know.. i hope she comes w me!! 😀
..i am so glad u talk about stuff like that :DD thk u for putting urself out there, it’s rly awesome :DD

33 Prynsus September 9, 2009 at 2:46 am

I came across your blog in trying to find the number for BraChic and stumbled upon the “In the News” section. I can’t agree more with how you feel after trying on a bra there. The owner and staff are all so friendly and make you feel like a million bucks (even when you’re half naked in front of them), and really make you love every bit of yourself. I was lucky enough to have walked in there last year around this time and can’t turn back now!
I hope you keep treating the ladies to well deserved attire :)

34 Anne Marie September 22, 2011 at 5:49 pm

I can’t afford to go, but I can’t afford not to…. Department store cup sizes stop somewhere between a C and a DD in the 32 band size, and as near as I can tell I’d be a 32 DDD in most brands, although I’ll see if the ladies at the store agree. I’m tired of wasting money on bras that I think are passable, only to find they are very painful or don’t support me after one wear. I’ve found one that looks good and is supportive, but I think it was a manufacturer’s fluke… and even then, it chafes more at the end of the day than I think it should. Quite frankly, if you are hand washing, bras last long enough to be worth $150. And I might as well get used to boutique shopping before I, hopefully, have babies in a few years and it’s even more necessary!

35 Jes July 20, 2013 at 11:39 pm

A bit late, but great read.

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