My favorite bra sprung a wire the other day and there was a big sale at my go-to plus-size clothing store, so I ordered replacements. This post chronicles what happened when I picked them up. Stay tuned for frank talk about boobs or, you know, click away if that sort of thing makes you uncomfortable. And a bit of truth telling about me. *deep breath*
Some background for those who don’t wear bras
For any of you reading this who don’t wear bras, you may not know that they cost more than your car payment. Like all clothing, bras depreciate the moment we cut the tags. But unlike cars and some clothing, bras aren’t good for ten years. Most bras don’t make it through a full year.
Stop and think about that. How long does most of your clothing last? Longer than that? Mine sure does.
Again, if you don’t wear bras you won’t understand why something so expensive doesn’t stand the test of time (mine are between $40 and $60 unless there’s a sale). See, to keep our breasticles from skimming our knees, we need elasticized bands and underwire. Yes, that means there’s an actual wire in our bras that curves under our boobs. That also means the wire can, and does, cut through the fabric, becoming a wonderful surprise for our armpits in the middle of the passing lane on the freeway during rush hour. And as you know with the old ass, holey boxers you refuse to toss out despite being skanktastic, elastic doesn’t keep its firm stretch forever. So those bras we paid $50 for quickly lose their smooshitude (yes, that’s now a word. I dare you to complain) and hang down below our hips just like those Spiderman boxers you bought in college.
Some sizing information so that you’ll understand what I’m on about later in the post – there are two parts to a bra, the band size (the number)—that’s the number of inches around our chests directly under but not including our breasts. And then there’s the Cup size (the letter). We work out the cup size by doing a mathematical equation. There’s a zillion resources that explain this better than I can. Go find one of them instead of listening to uninformed me.
Okay, now that I’ve explained how bras deteriorate to the uninitiated, let’s move on.
Bras are magical devices designed to violate the laws of physics
I don’t actually know how bras work. I’ve seen episodes of the now defunct What Not To Wear and heard them describe how bras are supposed to fit and how to size yourself for them. And when the television hosts claimed the fabric/underwire was supposed to touch your skin/body rather than have a gap and that the support should come mostly from the band, not the straps, I guffawed for a good two point six seconds. I pointed at the fairly trim lady they’d sized and said, yeah, maybe if your cup size is under a D that’s the case.
I sized myself last year with the help of my ex (you may remember him from “Chat’s with MG” fame). We looked up how to size for a bra on the Internet, I coached him through it, and using my seamstress tape plus math (he did the math because I’m hopeless!) we decided I was a 42DDD.
Let that sit.
A 42DDD. That cup size was the kicker for me. I’d been wearing 40C for ages, and then went up to 40D, but my boobs were always getting a muffin top type overflow that was super unattractive. Hence the need for sizing myself. I was hesitant to go larger than D because a D-cup is one of those socially unacceptable things to be unless you’re a porn star and you’ve made yourself that way. So a 42 TRIPLE D? Something to be ashamed of. And I was. I didn’t want anyone to know because it’s just another marker of weight. But this year is all about self-discovery and learning to accept myself. So screw what other people think (hey, um…what do you think?).
Off to pick up my order
Okay, so back to the whole “the wire is supposed to be snug against the skin…unless you’re a D-cup or above” Turns out I was wrong. As I mentioned way up at the start, I ordered replacements for my favorite bra—a soft, comfy underwire T-shirt bra in 42DDD. I headed into the plus-sized clothing store, grabbed my Internet order, and then dragged the contents into the fitting room to see if I’d have to return them. The saleslady offered to size me and I gave a noncommittal answer, putting her off.
As I wiggled the band of the first bra around my torso to the back (uninitiated: we hook the bra in the front and twist it around to the back. You’ve seen it in movies, except where the hot blond does one hook, plus-sized ladies like me get to do four.) I heard a mom and daughter pair getting helped by the same sales lady. She sized them both and grabbed them bras to try. Through the mirrored dressing room wall next door I heard, “The girls haven’t been up here in ten years,” from the mother. I swallowed a laugh. And then I asked to be sized.
Sizing a.k.a. needing a little goosfraba in front of the register
Standing in front of the register in my old bra, T-shirt and jeans, in plain sight, the sales lady grabbed her tape and wound it behind me. “I’m Gloria,” she said as she reached behind me. “I always like to introduce myself when getting close like this. Now pull up your bra straps so I can get under there.” I dutifully pulled up my straps. “You’re going to be really surprised by this,” she said as she pulled the tape around my middle. “You’re a 36 band.”
I legitimately screamed, “WHAT??? NO WAY. There is NO WAY. If I’m a 36, my cup size is like G!”
Gloria told me they didn’t have any 36 bras in store that would fit me, but that I’d also be a 38G. A THIRTY-EIGHT WHIPLASH INDUCING G! Seriously, I thought triple D was bad?
Deep breaths, Anya, deep breaths.
So Gloria explained to me how sister sizes worked. If I’m a 42DDD, the sister size a band lower is 40F, and then 38G. So if they had a 36 that would fit me, I guess it would be a 36H. H! H for holy shit in a gondola filled with bit-tittied harpies.
Count to ten, Anya. Or, you know, count to thirty-six flipping H.
Gloria explained that if my band wasn’t snug, what would happen would be that the front would sag down and the back would ride up. Exactly what happens to my bras thirty seconds after I put them on. If that wasn’t supposed to be what happened to a bra, then I knew I really needed to listen to her advice and try other sizes. No matter how socially unacceptable the cup-sizes were.
Gloria flitted about the store tossing bras at me to try. I tried on everything above a DDD she could find. Some fit all right, some fit well, some weren’t in styles and colors I’d wear beneath my predominantly black wardrobe. In the end I had her order me a 38G and I went home with a 40F.
I’m wearing the 40F today and my boobs are up to my ears. My band fits snugly around my torso, though I guess it could be snugger by…four inches? Apparently I’m not meant to breathe.
So if your bras are brand new and they sag in the front and ride up in the back, consider getting sized. You may be shocked by the results, just allow yourself at least an hour to go on a crazy-bra-testing journey.