Saturday, June 14, 2008

Searching for the Right Cup

To the few male readers I have, a warning: You probably don't want to keep reading this one. The ladies, most likely, already know what I'm going to be talking about, and they likely agree with me.

Right, ladies? Right.

Okay, then.

About a year and a half ago, I went on a shopping mission. It wasn't a fun shopping trip (you know, that kind that's full of, "Oh, look. Cute shoes!"). It was the absolute worst kind of shopping. And no, I don't mean for swimsuits, because as miserable as that is, one suit will generally do the trick for years, so it's not something that bears repeating very often, and frankly, during the process, your middle section (the area with stretch marks and bread dough) is covered.

Bra shopping, however, must be done a bit more frequently. And it's a hideous, hideous experience. You'd think that all the sizes would actually mean something, that the shape and style wouldn't matter all that much.

You'd be wrong.

This time, I had put off the dreaded trip too many times, to the point that my current supports were flimsy and really . . . . well, not doing the job, shall we say. I finally gave in and dragged my toddler—and a feeling of impending doom—to the store.

I wandered the aisles, looking for sizes and shapes that I thought would work best. With about ten different bras in hand, I went to the dressing room, jaw clenched, eyes narrowed, much like facing a lion in its den.

The first bra one was a definite no-go. I tried the second. Same thing. Frustrated (but not surprised), I went for the third. Meanwhile my little girl was getting bored. She began belting the alphabet at the top of her lungs.

After getting her to shush (and nearly swearing because bra #4 didn't work either), I tried on yet another and another, and another. Each one had its problems, which I'll leave up to your imagination, because you women know what I'm talking about, don't you?

Thought so.

None of the ones in the stack came even close to doing the job. I got dressed, and we trucked back out to look for more.

I spent time investigating the displays, managed to gather another armload of potentials, and dove back into the dressing room. This time my daughter noticed feet on the other side of the divider and decided it would be neat to crawl underneath and say hello to the other women on either side of us.

With one arm in a strap and one out, I quickly grabbed her and pulled her back into the booth, trying to explain why there are times we aren't friendly and go out of our way to say hello to people.

In the end (after some two or three hours), I managed to find a bra that worked. I wanted to sing! In such cases, you buy multiples, because you never know when you'll find another one just like it. But there wasn't another of that style in my size. But since I also know that you can tweak sizes just a bit (increase the band size and the cup is a bit smaller, or vice versa), I got another one in the same style and a slightly different size. It would have to do.

Turns out that after wearing either of those bras for about an hour, the result is the "quad effect." I won't describe it further, but again, I'm sure the ladies know what I mean. It's been a frustrating experience. I don't know what I could have done to know this beforehand except for wearing them and staring at the mirror in the dressing room for an hour.

A couple of months after this bra-shopping expedition, I began taking a particularly nasty medication that didn't address the reason I was taking it and instead caused my brain to fall out of my head. Another side effect was making me nauseated all the time. As a result, I lost a bunch of weight. Remember this post?

At the time, I had lots of people wishing they could take the same pills and lose some weight. Yeah, right. And feel as if you're in your first trimester but you're not making a baby? And not even chocolate sounds good? And you're moody and can't think or focus, to the point that not only can you not write, but you're unable to add 6 + 4 without the aid of your fingers? (You think I'm kidding.) It was a miserable period.

So after about three months, my doctor and I decided it would be best to go off the medication. (Very good decision, by the way. Yes, the weight came back when I actually ate food again, but I'm a much happier person.)

But I had lost weight everywhere. So I bemoaned in the doctor's office, "I just bought new bras. I'm going to have to go buy some new ones."

Assuming he knew my concern, he said, "Oh, don't worry. When you go off the medication, you'll get your full size back."

Who cared if I lost a cup size or so? I just couldn't face racks and racks of brassieres and the accompanying trauma that comes with bringing them to the dressing room.

Save me now!

In the end, I just waited for the weight to come back so I wouldn't have to go on another 3-hour torture quest.

But the time has come again. I really need to face the dragon, as the "quad effect" is becoming a real problem.

This time, I'm leaving everyone home and facing the misery alone. To calm the trauma afterward, I'll be treating myself to some chocolate. It's the least I can do for myself.


Unknown said...

hi annette --

i hate looking for new ones, too. ugh, can relate. i would love to have less cup size, too.

but here's something cute you reminded me of. and yes, i knew immediately what your post was about :)

"good friends are like good bras. they always support you and they always are close to your heart."

peace, kathleen

Sandra said...

You really would think this would be easier. And why each and every time do we have to be remeasured? Do they really change the sizes on the bras inbetween shopping trips?

Try Victoria's or Nordstroms. A bit pricey, but well worth it in the end.

Jenna said...

I'm racking my brains, but I cannot figure out what the "quad effect" is.

I had this same problem bra shopping until I went to a pricey department store and got professional measured. Turns out I had been wearing the wrong size all along and what a difference knowing my correct size made! I'm with your other commenter...go to Victoria's or a department store and don't buy a bra that's less than $30. Good luck!

Annette Lyon said...

Sandra, Definitely! I've got both stores relatively close to me, and it would be worth the trip and the gas to get a darned good bra.

Jenna, Just for you, I'll describe the "quad effect," since this is the comments and not the post itself (as if that makes it better? :D)--It's when you spill into the center (not that the bra's too small or too big, but that you are--or at least, *I* am--situated more center than the cups are) so you spill out a bit. The edge of cup cuts a nice line down the middle of each, so it almost looks like you've got four instead of two. Unless I'm wearing a baggy shirt, I spend half my day readjusting myself, pushing them back to the sides!

Come to think of it, some of the problem may be because of the nursing factor. I doubt there was nearly as much movement possible, say, 13 years ago, before kids entered the picture.

Stephanie Humphreys said...

I just figure all the bra shops should have free chocolate to make the whole experience a little less painful.

Marcia Mickelson said...

Ugh! I just had the unfun experience last night, but it was made better for these reasons: I was by myself, Kohl's was open until 11P:M. It was ten o'clock, the store was empty, there was no one in the fitting rooms, and there was a huge sale. I practically had the whole department to myself. That made the whole ordeal a lot better. I highly recommend shopping at 10 o'clock at night

Blondie said...

Two words for you: Victoria's Secret.
My sister has always sworn by their bras but it wasn't until last year that I even tried one on because they are so expensive. But as the saying goes: you get what you pay for. Their bras are divine!
I had the sales lady measure me and everything. (I actually made her do it twice because I honestly didn't believe her the first time--I know breastfeeding had wreaked havoc on "the girls" but seriously, where did they go?!)
I used to think it would take a village to raise this chest but it turns out all I needed was a little underwire and some padding!

samiam said...

I had a bra shopping trip at the end of 8th grade where I went from an almost A to a C and D. I was in the dressing room crying and my mom had the giggles (which I didn't think was very nice at the time). It's sorta felt like that ever since!

Ines said...

I'm so with you! For years I only shopped at Victoria's Secret until my sister told me about the brand "Barely There". I love this brand even more (available at Kohl's or other department stores). I found one that's a perfect fit :) and will never go back. Good luck and may the force be with you!!!

Julie Wright said...

haaaa! I just did this last friday. I had to pick up my nephew from my sisters and decided on the way home that I had no idea when I'd bein the city again. I dragged the poor boy with me. He stayed in front of the store, staring furiously at his ipod and hoping none of his friends would come by. I finally decided to do the whole get measured and make sure it fits right thing. I don't care if it costs more, i no longer have the quad effect and I don't hurt at the end of the day from wearing the wrong size.

Larsens said...

Go to Dillards, Nordstroms or Macy's and get one of the ladies who is a bra-fitter to help you. You will get out of the store quicker than you can believe with bras that really fit you well. (I was a bra-fitter at Dillard's many moons ago).

Annette Lyon said...

This is making me laugh! I posted this more as a way to share a common (funny, I thought) experience. Never expected such advice to be poured out!

And just so everyone knows, I have been measured and know all about the mechanics of what makes a good bra. It's not QUITE that simple. :)

An Ordinary Mom said...

Looks like my advice has already been offered many times over (going to a nice store where they bring you bras to try on) - sometimes I hate pouring over racks so why not pay a few extra bucks and have someone else cater to your needs for an hour ... and then go get that chocolate :) !!

Anonymous said...

I'm commenting anonymously, although people who know me will know who I am because I complain about this a lot. I lost over 150 lbs, and I swear half of it was in the chest area. So I now have V.S. helpers. But even with that, I cannot find a bra that works.

I was professionally measured. I'm a 32 C (with the helpers). NO ONE STOCKS THAT SIZE. I've been unable to find anything under $70.

I want wide straps, wide chest band, and full coverage, with padding. Any suggestions?

Annette Lyon said...

Anon (whom I think I know, but whose name I won't reveal:), If I had advice, I'd give it. I'm still trying to find a good home for my own girls. Later this week, I hope to make the journey. Good luck, i your own quest. Let me know if you find success!

Josi said...

I went to Dillards about a year ago and got measured. It was way embarassing, though I kept my T-shirt on (it was thin) but I about choked when the bras she brought back were like $60 a piece. However, once I put them on and put my clothes on, my posture was better, and I looked slimmer because I was lifted in all the right places. A year later, they are still in good shame and held up well, held me up well, and I will be getting new ones in a couple months. I highly recommend getting an actual fitting. I told this to my two teenage daughters and I guess I had forgotten the embarrassment of the whole thing, they about died at the very mention of someone measuring them out. So I still buy their bras at Wal-mart, but in a year I spend almost as much on the cheap things that lose their spring as I do on the nice ones I bought and are still doing well.

charrette said...

Okay, I'm only adding my comment on this one because my advice is basically the opposite of everyone else's. I always used to buy my bras at VS, Nordstrom, or Gap Body. Then my friend read in consumer reports (of all places) that no matter the size and shape of the woman, or the expense of the bras tried, the winner hands-down was the Gilligan O'Malley $11 Bra from Target! (Go figure!) I was in utter disbelief. My friend is a DD, and has been to the most expensive bra shop in L.A. Hating the whole bra-shopping nightmare myself, my daughter and I gave Target a try. We bought a few in our respective sizes and tried them on at home and they're perfect. Who would have guessed?


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