Today I offer a certain “errant blog post” that I wrote last year, but which I never published. At the time it seemed too personal and too risqué. But after two weeks in Paris … well, what the heck. Enjoy.
I generally don’t mind shopping, with one singular exception: I hate shopping for bras. Hate it!
I’ve been spared this special torture since about 2001 because I had the foresight to hoard a small army of Maidenforms when I found a style that fit.
But one by one I’ve culled their ranks, until this morning I concluded that the last of the Maidenforms had to go. Its grayish hue reminded me of cheap bratwurst, and its once-resilient elastic straps now fell limply off my shoulders, like overcooked spaghetti.
So I went back to the original point of purchase.
“Can I help you find something?” asked the saleslady. “I’m looking for Maidenform model 2586,” I said, proud of myself for knowing. Her face went blank. I described my quarry but she shook her head. “I don’t think we carry that anymore,” she said, and soon confirmed it with an online search.
My bra had been discontinued.
She offered to help me find an alternative, but I demurred. I was still blushing from the last time I’d had a “personal fitting.”
I grabbed some styles that more or less resembled my dying Maidenform and headed into the fitting room.
Before I continue, let me say this: I’m a small woman, and everything is pretty much proportional. So I accept that (short of major surgical intervention) my breasts will never look like cantaloupes. And I’m OK with that. Really!
But I was dismayed to try on the first bra and see that instead my breasts looked like bananas. (Specifically, plantains.) Billed as a “natural cup,” this double-jock-strap-like contraption somehow actually managed to passively-aggressively create an elongated silhouette worthy of National Geographic. Um, no thank you.
The second bra promised a “smooth contour.” It had enough foam to re-cushion a small sofa, but I gave it a shot anyway.
Alas, the molded cups had an unnaturally conical shape. Worse yet, they pointed disconcertingly upward, like missiles awaiting their launch codes. Again: Thanks, but no.
The “T-shirt bra” dug angrily into my ribs, creating ugly lumps of dreaded Back Fat. And the athletic bra pushed my girls toward the middle, squishing them into a shapeless uniboob. (Finally, I had the cantaloupe of my dreams! Alas, there was only one …)
Only one bra remained, and I was dubious.
There are two kinds of underwear: There’s the functional kind, which pretty much does what underwear is supposed to. Then there’s the ceremonial kind. Ceremonial underwear isn’t intended to be worn, so much as it’s designed to be admired and then quickly—breathlessly—removed.
My last option fell into this latter category. It was lacy and frilly and covered with ridiculous little ribbons and tiny embroidered roses. But if it fit well, who cared? No one was going to see it anyway, I reasoned.
It fit well, alright. I practically swooned with delight as I pulled on my blouse to check out the overall effect.
It was then that I discovered the last of the fatal bra flaws: Through my blouse I could see the contours of absolutely every ribbon and tiny embroidered rose. Were I to wear this in public, there would be a very real possibility that someone would mistake those tiny protrusions for Braille and try to read my boobs.
I stood there for a second, weighing my options. I could follow the instructions and “ring bell for assistance.” Or I could put on my bratwurst-gray Maidenform and go home.
I rather like gray, I decided in the end …