The Battle of the Bra

The Battle of the BraBra shopping is a necessary evil. You absolutely need them – at least at this age – and they don’t magically appear in your drawer. Anybody who has watched Oprah – and I’m not saying I did – knows that the right way to buy a bra is to go to the underwear (excuse me, I mean lingerie) section of the store and have some stranger measure under, over, and around your breasts. How much fun is that?

The same stranger starts handing you undergarments, popping her head in the dressing room to see if you’ve wrangled yourself into one yet (after all the touching, her mere presence seems much less intrusive than that same behavior would have seemed the day before) and pulls, snaps and adjusts to ensure that you have a productive bra-fitting session. The price tag is very discreet – they don’t want you to focus on the fact that your selection will pay the day’s wages for your personal expert.

The wrong way to buy a bra is to go to a store and buy the same style and size you’ve worn for the last two decades. Never mind that the hoist factor doesn’t seem to be what it was – it’s the size you’ve always worn. Can it get ‘wronger?’ Yes – buying from a catalog without even knowing what the crisp factor is on the cups. While catalogs have been a blessing in my life, this is not the best method for bra shopping.

So I finally ventured into a store to do it right. I was in my forties. My level of modesty is such that if my best friend and I change in the same room we turn our backs to each other. And one reason I know I will never get divorced is because there is no way I’m starting all over again with the angst of someone seeing me naked for the first time. So the experience for me was one step up from having a pap smear.

But I persevered. And that is how I ended up with my first underwire bras. I invested in four. Two of the upper end (“this is what Oprah wears!”) option and two cheaper (but not cheap) models that could serve in a pinch if I had to go a couple of days without doing wash. I was shocked when the bra expert told me, with a very serious expression, that the life of each bra was “a good nine months.” I was quite sure that, for those prices, they would last much longer than nine months.

Which is why today every one of my bras has only one underwire. When they poke, they get yanked. Until they poke, you can’t get the damn thing out. So everyday I greet the world with one well-supported breast and a smashed potato at it’s side. I alternate between left underwires and right underwires to keep people guessing as to what my problem is.

Even if I were willing to go through the experience of buying new bras again the right way,  I’m pretty sure my once super-fitting model will no longer be available. I might just try that catalog option again – whether the fit is good or bad, at least both breasts will present at the same level.      -El

The Battle of the Bra


  1. I can’t get past the $1.59 price tag on that bra… I got measured out of necessity last year and discovered i was a C. Which means that I had been a DD before I lost weight, but I didn’t know it. I had the best rack of my life and was completely unawares of it!

    1. lol – it may have been too well hidden to really appreciate! I went into the measurement thinking I was a particular number and letter and came out saying “there’s really such a thing as that many letters???” – EL

  2. This article had me laughing…been there & what is really crazy is when they measure you & then you end up being a different size( band & cup) for different styles of bras……really!
    And for the prices they charge mine definitely see more than nine months of wear…..

  3. Mari can’t get past the prices of the bras, but I can’t get past the points on them! One day my mom was looking at some ads for bras. The models were all about 100 lbs. and obvisously “augmented” up top. Mama said, “That’s ridiculous. Real breasts don’t look like that.” Well, I’m pretty sure back in the day, breasts didn’t come to a point so sharp they could put out an eye, either.

    1. I bet there was many a person that had trouble getting past those points, Dee Dee – and I mean literally! What do you want to bet women weren’t designing bras back then?? – EL

  4. Ugh…now I have to go for a bra fitting…thanks so much…I think. 🙁 I just grab one and go. I always figured if there isn’t much to be held up, I shouldn’t worry.

    1. I agree with the adage: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Unfortunately for me, while things weren’t exactly broken, they looked a bit unsteady. Finding a good bra took care of that. Until, of course, I recreated the original problem by having only one underwire per bra! – EL

  5. huh-larrr-eeous! So good, LOL! And please can we find great bras for $1.59 again?

  6. Too funny. Years ago, a co-worker used to wear these old-style pointy bras. They must have been what inspired Madonna. Yes … bra shopping is a necessary evil. Thanks for bringing some humor to it! 🙂

    1. I don’t think I’ll ever get the whole pointy bra thing – you would think hugging would have been painful! OK – the light just clicked on: somebody’s FATHER came up with that design with his teen-aged daughters in mind! – EL

  7. I am rolling with laughter! I actually went hooter-holder shopping this week out of frustration that none of mine seem to keep the girls where they should be anymore. The sizes/styles that have worked for years no longer do, so I bit the bullet and did the “right way” route. (Story in this post resonates; you left out that the helpful salesperson is looks like a teenage model.) I came home with two that cost me what I used to pay for five or six. Yep, different band/cup sizes…my only consolation is the girls are no longer resting on my menopooch — at least for the time being. 😛

    1. “Hooter-holder shopping?” That’s quotable, N! If you could afford two at the same time you are either very wealthy or by the end of the month you’ll be very hungry! – EL

  8. I read this when you first posted and had a good laugh! I’m completely horrified at the thought of someone fitting me for a bra.

    Crisp factor on the cups? Never heard of such a thing. 🙂

    I’ve tried reading online how to take my own measurements, but even armed with this information, I rarely get a good fit. As my last good bra only has two working hooks, you’ve motivated me to give a go again. I’ll be shopping soon.

    1. You may have to get used to a whole new shape! I was delighted to find that there are now cushy straps, too. If one HAS to wear one (for me it’s kind of a public service thing) it might as well be as comfortable as possible! -El

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