When you wish upon a bra...
June 28, 2016 12:17 PM   Subscribe

 
. . . or my husband, who is slow to read underwear code and quick to make yet another doomed attempt at chapter 438 of Wolf Hall, falls unwittingly asleep.

Confirmation that David Mitchell is not just a character on my tv screen.
posted by Think_Long at 12:21 PM on June 28, 2016 [24 favorites]


Eh. I shove my bras into drawers because they aren't returnable. I don't discover that it has underwire that jabs me in the armpit or a scratchy clasp until 4 hours + into wearing it.
posted by Stonkle at 12:24 PM on June 28, 2016 [10 favorites]


Boy, that's like pitch-perfect Polly Filler or Phillippa Column. I would have expected more from the Grauniad.
posted by chavenet at 12:28 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Most women do this? Says who?
posted by agregoli at 12:28 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


When these lacy bras don't appear in most stores in your size -- a size that some women pay heavily to have installed aftermarket -- it suggests that you're not worthy even of the fantasy.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:30 PM on June 28, 2016 [25 favorites]


I think she has an unrealistic expectation for rice cookers; they aren't really that good for making risotto.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:32 PM on June 28, 2016 [42 favorites]


I have paid a lot for beautiful bras which is a rarity as a busty woman. And I don't wear them because despite being pretty and full of support, they are horrible to wear. I have four bras that I wear regularly that still have some support, but even then, I want to just go to the most comfortable one all the time.

I just came over to the boyshorts side of underwear recently. Having my ass encased is much better for me than trying to tell myself that thong or bikini underwear was a: comfortable, and b: surely sexy.

I have made many purchases in which I envisioned some ideal night or vacation in which I would wear these things and go, "yes, that's exactly it. I have done it!"
posted by Kitteh at 12:33 PM on June 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


It all comes back, as always, to the relationship between shopping and self-image. I’m afraid this is a predominantly female condition; it does apply to a certain sort of metrosexual man but, in the main, men still think in a straightforwardly acquisitive way: “I want a burger… I need socks… I feel thirsty… I’d like to grope a buttock.”

Ah yes, the buttock store, located in the groping district. I have spent a lot of money there over the years, she's got me there. And what am I to do with all these buttocks I have purchased for groping?
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:33 PM on June 28, 2016 [19 favorites]


early 30% of women, despite owning several bras, wear only two of them.

So how many times do women typically wear the same bra before washing? Is it not like other underwear items that you wear once and wash?
posted by gyc at 12:33 PM on June 28, 2016


I think she has an unrealistic expectation for rice cookers; they aren't really that good for making risotto.


She's probably rich enough to afford one of those fact Zojirushi ones that can do everything. And I mean *everything*.
posted by gyc at 12:34 PM on June 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


Seriously, Countess Elena. I've been plagued lately by "Look at this cute strappy bra!" ads on Facebook. Never do they have my size. Not many fancy bras out there for people over a C cup.
posted by agregoli at 12:35 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


So how many times do women typically wear the same bra before washing? Is it not like other underwear items that you wear once and wash?

Here's where I raise an embarrassed hand in that I absolutely do not wash them enough. My sports bras get constantly cleaned. I'm not saying I'm not a horrible person, but I am also saying I am super fucking lazy.
posted by Kitteh at 12:35 PM on June 28, 2016 [32 favorites]


There is nowhere within a three hour drive of me that sells bras in my size. I own bras that I don't wear because I have to buy all of my bras mailorder, without trying them on. There are lots of tools out there to help you do that, but sometimes I still mess up and buy a bra that I don't like.

Also, I love my rice cooker and use it almost daily. But I've been eyeing an Instant Pot, and that's probably an example of what she's talking about.
Is it not like other underwear items that you wear once and wash?
I wear them a couple of times between washings. I try not to wear the same one two days in a row.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:36 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


The one independent bra store in my downtown area closed two months after I purchased bras there. I now have to go back to mail order or make trips into Toronto.
posted by Kitteh at 12:37 PM on June 28, 2016


Can't y'all return mail order bras on the left side of the Atlantic?
posted by Leon at 12:38 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is it not like other underwear items that you wear once and wash?

Rockefeller van Carnegie over here
posted by griphus at 12:38 PM on June 28, 2016 [44 favorites]


I gave up. I have an E cup and I hate frippery. Sports bras 4 lyfe.
posted by asockpuppet at 12:39 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Speaking as the one who does the laundry, I can confirm that the missus, in fact, wears all of her bras.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:40 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Can't y'all return mail order bras on the left side of the Atlantic?

I bought a bra once online; it was a style I liked, it was my size, and yet...when I wore it, it felt terrible. The underwire dug into my ribcage like it wanted to pierce my lungs, among other things. I spent nearly an hour on the phone with the company I purchased it from, assuring them that I wasn't delusional or nor a masochist, this was simply a Wrong Bra.

That bra is still in my closet drawer. That fucking bra.
posted by Kitteh at 12:41 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Bras sound like shoes that hardly anyone ever sees.
posted by clawsoon at 12:43 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'll take that as a no. My wife buys two or three and keeps the one that fits. Praise be to the Distance Selling Regulations (2015).
posted by Leon at 12:44 PM on June 28, 2016


If there is one surefire way to up the empathy in your spouse, it is his wincing upset face when he sees the red lines pressed into your ribcage and shoulders after you really make the best of it wearing a bra that does everything it's supposed to do except be comfortable. I have lost enough weight in the past seven years where my once overwhelming desire to have breast reduction surgery has abated, but I am always always painfully aware of how busty I still am.
posted by Kitteh at 12:44 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Be Honest: How Often Do You Wash Your Dirty-Ass Bra?

Pretty much everything in VCM's article rang true to me. I've never had more than two actually bearable bras at one time, and the one time I thought I'd be clever and buy 4 more of the one I liked, they'd changed the design to something painful and then my one good one immediately broke. I own aspirational bras - the bra of the woman I wish I was, not the woman I am - and emergency bras (usually related to some kind of fancy dress, usually left me with physical damage) and I-swear-it-fit-in-the-store bras.

I don't take shit back. I don't even use libraries because I know how that's going to end. If it doesn't fit, it circumnavigates my bedroom for 6 months before finally getting thrown in the closet, wanders through the good drawers and then the bad drawers and then a box and then maybe a donation bag or probably thrown away.

I did end up buying a dozen bralettes - housebras - that don't have any of the stuff that's so fiddly to wash - no lining, no padding/shaping, no hooks, no wires. Those are much easier, mentally and in actuality, to jam in a lingerie bag to wash, throw over the bar in the laundry room for a day (or two weeks, whatever) to dry and then get used again. Still, I'm not washing them every time I wear them because I am not made out of either time or money.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:47 PM on June 28, 2016 [25 favorites]


As a dude I know better than to comment on the bras but god help me I can't just let this go without saying something:

risotto simmers gently on the stove

Good lord you gotta stir that shit constantly.
posted by bondcliff at 12:48 PM on June 28, 2016 [54 favorites]


Dear reader, many have asked why it is that I, redsparkler, am blessed among the bra-wearers.

The story goes as told: Once upon a time, a much younger redsparkler saved her meager pennies and bravely entered the Nordstrom lingerie department, where a kindly old woman bestowed upon her the knowledge of bra sizing and found for her a single bra that truly fit well and comfortably. $80 later, redsparkler happily left the department, glowing in newfound bra happiness.

The story does not end there, though! Months later, young redsparkler once again entered the Nordstrom lingerie department, but this time, what she found astounded her! For there on the clearance racks hung a legion of her well-fitting comfortable bra in several basic colors, marked down to incredibly low prices.

Reader, she bought them. In black, in beige, in white, and in great quantity. And in the many years since, she has never had to give another thought to the matter of bras, for verily, they are always with her. And she hardly ever washes them, because who has time for that shit?
posted by redsparkler at 12:51 PM on June 28, 2016 [137 favorites]


Never do they have my size. Not many fancy bras out there for people over a C cup.

This. OMG this. It is one of the great mysteries of life that people PAY MONEY to get the same DD cup that I wear, but that basically nobody sells a sexy bra to fit that size.

That being said, I buy my (basic, beige, all alike) bras at the Lane Bryant Buy 2 Get 2 sale, and swap out half my bra stock each year. I'm 60% of the way through my expected lifespan, but I finally have enough bras to wear a fresh one each day of the week, plus a couple extra.

and I wash them in the washing machine, god dammit

I think I probably have a couple of old bras stuffed in a drawer somewhere (pretty sure I never threw out my nursing bras, for example) but not tons -- mainly because I pitched out about two dozen a few years ago and have been ruthless since.
posted by anastasiav at 12:57 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Is it not like other underwear items that you wear once and wash?

hahahahahahahahahahahahaha god no

Let me lead you through the BRA EXPERIENCE

1) You need a new bra. You go to the store. If you go to a good store, you will go into a dressing room with someone probably being paid minimum wage to measure your weird boobs sans bra - the poor woman - who then returns with 18 bras to see if you can find the one bra that will fit your cup size, your band size, not make your cups runneth over - why is there only one titty that always runs over while the other needs a refill - and finally you will come out, triumphant, with one bra. At a good store that bra can run you 60 bucks plus. If you're super busty and you wanted a GREAT bra it can be even more expensive. If you're not at good store you will go through the entire process all by yourself. Either way will take hours and you will leave depressed and hating your body.

2) Your new bra! You wear it. yay! Except. . . maybe the straps are a little loose? Is this the same bra from the store? What the fuck - what hooks placement did the woman from store have you in? You don't remember the underwire poking into you. And why do you suddenly have overflowing armpit fat?

3) You can't return the bra. And your other bras, let's face it - you've already stuffed them deep into the garbage so that the guys who go through the dumpster don't pull it out and all your neighbors know you were not wearing a bra but what looks like a horse blanket from the Horse Marines.

4a) You go to wash it. GOOD NEWS! It's HAND WASH ONLY.

4b) You go to wash it. You can't dry it, and you should wash it in a mesh bag.

4c) If it's hand wash, yes, you do. . . until, like one day when you need a clean bra and who has time for that shit and/or hand washing hasn't really got that funky cleavage sweat out. In the machine it goes.

5) Either way: HOOKS! Elastic straps! Elastic band! Underwire! THESE ARE NOT THINGS THAT WASHING MACHINES TREAT WELL. Even if you've got that little mesh bag. After a few months/weeks/days your $60-80 purchase is starting to fray. The elastic is starting to not be elastic. Your underwire is more pokey with each washing.

6) You need a new bra. Goto 1 and repeat. Only, you don't have 60 bucks. So you keep wearing it, and start to treat it carefully, but man it's getting bad, until one day you're reaching for something at work and you hear the distinctive sound and feel the distinctive feeling of your strap tearing away from the bra and one of your boobs is now Sad Saggy McGee in your shirt - but just one, of course - and you're wandering around asking all the women in sotto voce if they have a safety pin.

I can buy underwear for 12 bucks. I can buy socks for less. I can buy them without going through the horrors and misery of fucking bra shopping, and shit yeah with feet and groin sweat and other fluids they're going to get washed all the time. But wash my bra after every wearing? WHO HAS THE TIME AND THE DIME TO DO THAT.
posted by barchan at 12:58 PM on June 28, 2016 [99 favorites]


I have five bras. I wear them all regularly I got them all on the clearance rail. One is purple and showy and push-uppy and his name is Count Rackula. I wash them on the gentle cycle and hang them dry, one wearing per wash. My turnoffs are female writers who hate other women and look down on them for not being more like men.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:01 PM on June 28, 2016 [36 favorites]


Yup, I have two bras that are actually wearable and I don't completely hate. They are not even slightly cute or sexy. 34G.
posted by workerant at 1:06 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


So how many times do women typically wear the same bra before washing?

once a week in a round bra bag, it just goes right into the machine because who gives a fuck anyway
posted by poffin boffin at 1:14 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


wash them on the gentle cycle and hang them dry, one wearing per wash. My turnoffs are female writers who hate other women and look down on them for not being more like men.

I don't think she's asking us to be more like men. She's asking us if she's not the only one who can't be arsed to wash a bra on the regular. And as from many other comments in this thread, she isn't the only one.
posted by Kitteh at 1:17 PM on June 28, 2016 [14 favorites]


"Whatever the label says, and whatever I promised myself at point of purchase, I know in my heart that I’ll handwash a pair of pants the day my doctor tells me I have a thousand years to live."

This person understands me.
posted by delight at 1:18 PM on June 28, 2016 [31 favorites]


Is it not like other underwear items that you wear once and wash?

As someone who grew up doing the whole families laundry, starting in elementary school(and then did lots of roommates laundry later on)... As far as i can tell bras are made out of either antimatter in a thin shell of matter, or in a constant state of quantum flux.

Any bra can explode at any time in a laundry appliance. So they're washed as sparingly as possible, and only within special explosion-proof bags(Have you seen those things they inflate semi truck tires inside of? same concept).

Nothing has ever really ever disproven that explanation, given to me by my dad when i was like 8.
posted by emptythought at 1:21 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


It's not just the bigger cup sizes that department stores don't carry, it's also the larger (and by 'larger' I mean anything over say 38) band sizes.... I've gotten all my bras mail order only for more years than I can recall. And no matter what, anything over skinny & B-cups means what I can only describe as industrial styling, the only colors offered are white or beige, and they all look ugly as sin.
posted by easily confused at 1:21 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


She owns 30 to 40 bras and wears only 2? I am over-fond of my 2 faves and looking for the same model, but the only reason I don't wear a bra is if it doesn't fit, or the straps don't stay adjusted. They're hella expensive.

so, some years ago, my friend mentioned date underwear. I grew up in hand-me-downs, and it was a new concept to me, one that I took to right away. You wear date underwear on a date, not because it will be seen, but because it makes you feel good - pretty, sexy, confident. You can wear date underwear any day you want. I once wore a zebra-patterned bra on a day I went to the doctor, and those 12 years of Catholic education made my face so red when I removed my shirt. But better a snazzy bra than a ratty one.

Expensive underwear with elastic does not go in the dryer. ever.
posted by theora55 at 1:23 PM on June 28, 2016


I finally found a beautiful electric blue bra in my size last autumn. It fit so wonderfully and felt so great that I thought, "Yessss! This is amazing! I will go ahead and stock up on them!" And then I looked at the price tag. So I have this one really great electric blue bra....
posted by Kitteh at 1:24 PM on June 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


There have only been so many joys to becoming middle-aged, but having the money to shop at (formerly Intimacy now) Rigby and Peller has been one of them. Beautiful bras in a G cup and higher? That fit well? It is possible that I've never bought a shirt as expensive as some of my bras, and I'm ok with that. Because a well-fitted bra is JOY.

I only have 4 I wear regularly because they're so expensive, but it's gotta be cheaper than 30 she never wears, right?
posted by ldthomps at 1:27 PM on June 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


I don't buy anything because of some narrative. I buy hummus because I like hummus. I buy foundation garments because I prefer the way my body looks when I'm wearing them. I never have, and never will, buy underwear because of how I think my husband might like it, or because I want to look sexy or whatever. Does it fit? Is it comfortable? Can I afford it? Is it cut low enough that I can wear a V-neck shirt with it? Those are my criteria.

Yes, I know it was supposed to be a funny, cheeky article. It's just...I don't know man. It's stuff like this that reinforces the belief that women are silly and mysterious and never happy with themselves and shop shop shop.

Maybe I'm just grumpy today. Maybe my grumpies would have been lessened if she had said "some" women instead of "most" women.
posted by cooker girl at 1:32 PM on June 28, 2016 [26 favorites]


Every non-underwire bra I can find has some kind of weird bagginess in the nipple area, (or padding that I Do Not Need) it just never looks right. But I hate underwires.

Do you know they will come right out? You can feel the little plastic-tipped ends of them through the fabric. Cut a tiny hole in the band on the inside and slide those suckers out. Tighten the straps up. Live your life mostly free of pain.

I have also been known to take out the little sideboob-wires on occasion, but sometimes they're ok and don't poke.

I have 4 good ones now and two "industrial-looking" backups that are straight out of Grandma's Underwear Drawer 1977 in design terms. For days when I am definitely not wearing anything with straps.

I wear 'em for 2-3 days then wash them/air dry. It's fine. Unless I forget and leave bras hanging everywhere when company comes over.
posted by emjaybee at 1:35 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Bras aside, who buys a coat they aren't going to wear? Or a bicycle? That's a lot of money privilege.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:37 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's not just the bigger cup sizes that department stores don't carry, it's also the larger (and by 'larger' I mean anything over say 38) band sizes....
Also the small band sizes! I think it's hard to find bras in general if you don't wear between about 32 and 38. And if, like me, you are blessed with needing both a small band size and a large cup size, you are pretty much fucked. Also, I think the stakes are probably higher with large-cup bras, because there's a big difference, both in terms of how I look and in terms of how I feel, between a comfortable, supportive bra and a bad bra. I don't know if it matters as much for people with less there to support.

You can return bras here, by the way. I just usually don't. It's kind of a pain in the ass, and you have to pay return postage, and you only get store credit, and I usually manage to convince myself that the bra is good enough, and then I wear it a few times and realize that it isn't.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:39 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


I found one great bra and I bought several. I continued to buy a few of that same bra, now and then, for years. I have a whole drawer full of that same bra. Over time they made it in many colors so I got an assortment. Unfortunately, my husband took over the laundry and I cannot get him to remember, no dryer! I wouldn't mind so much, I'd just buy more - my bra was not spendy. But last year they stopped making my bra and I can't get any more!

They replaced my bra with a terrible simulacrum of my bra. It has an extra layer and the hooks dig into my back, and the fit is wrinkly. I only bought one and will buy no more.

So now I am looking for a new bra. So far I haven't found one. I have found a few that I can wear once every two weeks or so before they start chafing me. I wear them in rotation, and the rest of the time I keep wearing the overstretched and torn old ones.
posted by elizilla at 1:42 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bras aside, who buys a coat they aren't going to wear? Or a bicycle? That's a lot of money privilege.

I have at least two dresses, one coat, one pair of jeans, and a really nice t-shirt that I don't wear. Over half of those were on sale and were bought in a fit of potential weight loss optimism. The t-shirt makes me really sad because I bought an extra large--to make sure there was enough for my boobs--and somehow it fits wrong. It's super tight. And I can't return it because the cool vegan shop I bought it from didn't have dressing rooms (it was a specialty grocery) and is in London.

I usually manage to convince myself that the bra is good enough, and then I wear it a few times and realize that it isn't.

Yup, I have two that are like that I have stashed away. I'm self-conscious enough as it is, so truthfully, returning a bra would make me burst into tears. (I did in fact once burst into tears at QC mall bra store because the ladies there were so rude but foisted bras on me to buy anyway, and I didn't know French well enough, so I bought them. My husband returned them for me because I was so upset. Also, he is perfectly bilingual.)
posted by Kitteh at 1:44 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


I recently went on vacation with my mom and during the packing process she said, "I'm going to have to buy more bras, I only have eight and we'll be gone for ten days." I was stunned into silence. Mom. What normal person has eight bras and only wears them one time before washing.

I don't even know how long I go without washing them. Usually when it seems like it's been a while I haul them all out of the drawer and throw them in at once.
posted by something something at 1:46 PM on June 28, 2016 [16 favorites]


Oh man I have to share my bra success just in case it helps someone else!

Lane Bryant FTW. I wear a 42G/44F and I own like six of them and they are perfect. The underwire ones are so comfy that I literally wore one on a three day backpacking trip and have no red marks or regret.

As far as washing - throw them in the delicate cycle in the evening, then hang dry them over the shower rod. At least the Lane Bryant soft under wires are fine, and they're lacy looking as fuck and have zero damage.
posted by corb at 1:46 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


This part cracked me up because it's so damn true:

Women, however, think: “I’m going to be the kind of person who has hummus. I will buy a tub of hummus to effect this.”

I've actually been thinking about bras a ton lately because I need new ones. The ones I have now have finally gotten too stretched out and I feel like my boobs are sitting lower on my chest as a result. But then I think about getting a bra that actually fits around the ribcage and locks those puppies in and I'm just not sure that I'm ready for that level of discomfort again. So then I do nothing and am vaguely annoyed whenever I happen to notice my boobs in the mirror.

Honestly, we need something better. Something that doesn't dig grooves into our shoulders and doesn't lock onto your ribcage like a fucking tourniquet. I'm still vain enough to want to keep the illusion of perky, luscious breasts - but comfort is really starting to beat vanity lately. I'm starting to replace all my sexy heels with platforms and wedges too. And I'm letting my gray grow out.

I'm really rethinking what concessions I'm willing to make for vanity. I guess that's what turning 45 does to you.
posted by widdershins at 1:47 PM on June 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


I've hit the slim pickings of bra-fitting on ABraThatFits to the point that I'm either going to have to win the lottery to pay a lingerie tailor and/or start importing from Poland (mild NSFW on links). ABTF has nonetheless been helpful for discovering why so many bras fit disastrously. "Here are descriptions for all the many varied facets of breast shape! Now pick a bra that fits maximum TWO of those facets comfortably at a time."
posted by nicebookrack at 1:49 PM on June 28, 2016 [9 favorites]


I will say: the absolute, unmitigated joy of taking that bra off at the end of the day is almost worth having to wear it the rest of the time. My husband has said he feels a bit jealous that he'll never get to experience how clearly amazing that moment is for me.
posted by something something at 1:50 PM on June 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


Oh, I stopped even trying to fool myself in thinking I was a high heels person years ago. I have great legs and nice feet, but the discomfort is not worth it. Flats and sneakers all the way. Knee-high boots with low chunky heels in winter. I really want to be the kind of person who can wear super cute dresses and skirts on the regular, but I always end up in jeans. At least I am now comfortable enough to stop buying baggy jeans and find ones that flatter and fit for once.
posted by Kitteh at 1:50 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


Bras aside, who buys a coat they aren't going to wear? Or a bicycle? That's a lot of money privilege.

Confession, I hardly ever wear my bicycle.
posted by the_blizz at 1:51 PM on June 28, 2016 [31 favorites]


I check the underwear clearance whenever I'm in a store that sells clothing. If there is a bra that looks like it will fit me at a really good price, I buy it. That way I'm never in a position where I'm in need of a bra and have to pay full price or go without.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:51 PM on June 28, 2016


I don't buy anything because of some narrative. I buy hummus because I like hummus.

I would believe that many people buy hummus because they just like hummus.

I don't believe there's anyone (men included) who doesn't have *something* they buy because of some narrative.
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:52 PM on June 28, 2016 [24 favorites]


I pretty much do laundry once I run out of underwear, which is about one a month. I have probably 10 bras and wear 6 on the regular. That's a big step-up from a few years ago when I had 1. The big reason for the change was I made more money so I could actually buy new bras.

I have a couple fancy ones that I dont wear as often but I probably have a way higher proportion of blouses and dresses that I bought and never wear than I do bras.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:54 PM on June 28, 2016


This Chantelle C Magnifique bra my current go-to big cup bra. I have one in beige and one in red I wear mostly every day. I have a few other bras that I do rotate in occasionally but the C Magnifique is so comfy and not scratchy. (My breast reduction took me from a JJ cup to an E cup so I actually am pretty happy with the colors and choices now open to me, just not the scratchiness of "pretty" bras.)

I wash my bras about once a week with shampoo in the shower with me, or in the bathroom sink. It's an old habit since the days when my mom's top loader used to wrench all my underwires out of shape.

I don't buy anything because of some narrative.

I actually do! I know this was a silly article and needlessly generalized but I have been challenged all my life with aspirational shopping inclinations. I just tried on a floaty white lace minidress this past weekend despite not being at all a floaty white minidress type of person (probably the opposite) because it sang me a song of a lovely breezy beach vacation and being young and fit and happy. There's no beach near me and I don't have vacation plans this summer, but I got sucked in long enough to take it into the dressing room.

My clothes aspirations are never status or brand name oriented, but more in the realm of fulfilling fantasies about myself? You know, I too will be street smart tough cookie (and not a dumpy 48 year old lady) if I buy a coat just like Jessica Jones has! (Sourced it, but didn't buy it.)
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:54 PM on June 28, 2016 [30 favorites]


Women be shopping, amirite?
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:56 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Small breasts make it hard too. Seriously, underwire in a double A? I'll be picking the wire out of my nose the first time I raise my hands. Paying $60+ to cover a couple of nipples in the name of propriety is galling, and then the damn things never fit.

A few years back I found Fruit of the Loom spaghetti strap sports bras, three to a pack, $17 + tax. I have about 15 of them and toss them in the wash after every wear. I will never buy a fancy bra ever again.

Also, once when I was short on cash I splurged and bought a long, red, wool coat to make myself feel better. Wore it almost never. Last year I cut it and the sateen lining up and made a phoenix costume for my kid for Halloween and then upholstered my hand made cat tree in some very nice red wool. The cat appreciates the coat very much.
posted by Cuke at 1:58 PM on June 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


I don't see this article as a sexist indictment of women, I saw it as a reaction to the marketing that asks women to shoot for an impossible, idealized lifestyle. And part of that idealized narrative is having lots of beautiful but fragile bras that you lovingly care for.
posted by delight at 2:10 PM on June 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


Fuck that shit. Couple of months ago I got myself some chest binders. Never looked back.
posted by New England Cultist at 2:11 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I check the underwear clearance whenever I'm in a store that sells clothing. If there is a bra that looks like it will fit me at a really good price, I buy it. That way I'm never in a position where I'm in need of a bra and have to pay full price or go without.


Which is great if you're someone for whom bra shopping is a doddle and not someone with anxiety and an uncommon bra size. Again, the day I am able to go into a department store and find a comfortable supportive bra in my size on sale is the day I have definitive proof of God.
posted by Kitteh at 2:18 PM on June 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


It was gamechanging for me when I finally went to a fancy bra store and did the thing where I was topless in a dressing stall with an older woman who eyeballed my boobs, measured them, then found me some bras that fit! And the store even had seamstresses on site who did minor adjustments! It was worth the $75/bra or so.

The upside: I have found a great bra. The downside: in contrast to some of my less busty sisters, there appears to be literally only one brand of bra that fits me, and only two of their styles at that. So I've got only super functional Elomi bras in black,beige, and sometimes when things get really exciting, a different solid dark color! Sigh. Washed after one one wear in the summers (I sweat a lot and am prone to rashes) and significantly less frequently than that in the winter (sniff test).

Thus, my recs for my fellow plus-size large-boobed sisters: Elomi for daily wear and Enells for workouts 4lyfe!
posted by TwoStride at 2:19 PM on June 28, 2016 [7 favorites]


It all comes back, as always, to the relationship between shopping and self-image. I’m afraid this is a predominantly female condition; it does apply to a certain sort of metrosexual man but, in the main, men still think in a straightforwardly acquisitive way: “I want a burger… I need socks… I feel thirsty… I’d like to grope a buttock.” Women, however, think: “I’m going to be the kind of person who has hummus. I will buy a tub of hummus to effect this.”
In the most general sense, many purchases that people of all genders make are partially about buying self-image. There is no such thing as an entirely practical new-car purchase. Did you really need that last smartphone upgrade, or was it the sort of thing you imagine forward-thinking, connected young people would have?

But even in the narrower case of "buying an idealized self-image and getting stuck with a physical reminder/manifestation I have no real use for," I think men do that all the time as well. Sometimes I even realize that I've done it. Not with underwear, but with tools, gadgets, sports and athletic equipment, gym and club memberships, alcohol, and sometimes with clothing.

It may be easier to recognize the process in another than to spot it in yourself.
posted by Western Infidels at 2:19 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh yes, I call this woman 'Fantasy Me'. She is responsible for any underwire bras, thongs, heels, cute shirts that have to be ironed, etc items that show up in my closet. Also the tunic sweaters and leggings that were last year's attempt at fashionability. I am and always will be a jeans, T-shirt and sneakers sort of girl, despite the best efforts of Fantasy Me.
posted by lemonade at 2:25 PM on June 28, 2016 [22 favorites]


"I have been challenged all my life with aspirational shopping inclinations."

This is the entire premise of the J. Peterman catalog. I do mostly acquisitional shopping, but the Peterman catalog helped me understand the allure of shopping aspirationally.

Women, however, think: “I’m going to be the kind of person who has hummus. I will buy a tub of hummus to effect this."

This line immediately made me think of the song "Mysterious Woman" by one of my favorite, sweet/funny, folk-singer artists, Christine Lavin.
posted by LEGO Damashii at 2:26 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


That's how marketing works. A totally rational person would pick the cheapest bra/hammer/cargo shorts that would be effective in holding up boobs/nailing nails/covering your butt and containing cargo. Most people are making decisions based on what they feel, not rationality. This is why there are 20 different flavors of Tide, multiple different wines when most people can't tell the difference, and this plus sexism is why women's clothing sucks so much to shop for.
posted by blnkfrnk at 2:28 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Bra sizing in the US is screwed up. Reddit, which is typically a swamp of fedora-wearing neckbeards, surprisingly has solid advice on ACTUAL bra sizing at https://www.reddit.com/r/abrathatfits and it's pretty decently curated and not creepy.

I read the advice and thought it was hokum. Surely I cannot be (size). That seems irrational. My boobs are not that big. Srsly, I have pretty modestly-sized boobs. I can't even make cleavage with duct tape. I am in no way (size). (Size) is for HYOOGE boobs, the which I do not have.

But, having read the instructions and done the measuring and trotted off to Ye Olde Bra Emporium, I am, er, apparently (size). So, now I have bras that fit. You'd think this would mean I only had bras that I wore. Not true. I have four that are in the regular rotation... two I REALLY like, two that are workable but meh. And then I have the "Looks good for sex, but honestly too frou-frou for everyday wear and also fits weirdly" bra, the "Looks really good for sex but a bit tight and uncomfortable" bra, the "I need to lose ten pounds to wear this bra again" bra, the "I loved this bra but the underwire snapped in half and I'm Not Throwing It Away Yet Because It Was Eighty Damn Dollars" bra...

As for washing... I wash 'em once a week. Since there are four that I wear regularly... you do the math. When they are not being worn, they are hanging up on a doorknob (do not judge) to air out.
posted by which_chick at 2:29 PM on June 28, 2016 [17 favorites]


I recently had breast implants removed. I got them in 2010 after I had breast cancer and a big lumpectomy, and they were a pain in the ass for five years and then last August I had them replaced and that was better but there was still work to be done. When my surgeon told me that rather than doing the modifications as an in-office procedure, she was going to do a full on operation, I gave it some thought and then asked that they be removed. My breasts look like fuck and if I'd just left them alone after the lumpectomy they would look way way way better than they do now HOWEVER (and this is the point of this post) after all is said and done, I don't need to wear a bra. I need a little cover up for "modesty" but most of the time I just say whatevs and blow it off or maybe wear a "bralette" and once in a while I'll wear nippies or something of that nature but NO BRA for like the first time since I was maybe FIFTEEN YEARS OLD.

Can you tell I love it? I LOVE IT. I had 60 bras, most costing over $100, and I wore most of them, much of the time, but putting them in a pillow case and drop them into a donation bin made me a happy woman.
posted by janey47 at 2:36 PM on June 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


My buying narratives involve muumuus and cocktails* by the pool even though I (a) don't live somewhere with a pool; and (b) have a job I have to do that I can't do by the pool (and (c) my husband isn't ready to become my pool boy). But every time I see a muumuu, I think of what fabulous cocktail I would drink while wearing it. I did end up buying a vintage kimono and a silk jacket for this narrative but I haven't succumbed to a muumuu (yet, but I am going to Florida this summer).

*Or weird heels and cocktails. Or vintage dresses and cocktails. Basically in my dreams I'm always swanning around with a cocktail** in my hand looking amazing.

**Specific cocktails for specific outfits, naturally. A muumuu-cocktail isn't appropriate for a cocktail-dress-cocktail. Now when I admire an outfit my husband will ask what I want to drink with it.
posted by hydrobatidae at 2:38 PM on June 28, 2016 [12 favorites]


This blog post revolutionized my bra-buying a while back. I had been unhappy with the modern padded-cup bras I'd been wearing, especially because I wear a lot of vintage and vintage style stuff. They didn't really give that much support, the straps stretched out quickly, and they weren't terribly comfortable.

So I ordered a few of the blogger's suggested bras from Amazon, and one (the Bali Flower, for the record) turned out to be a winner. I returned the others, got a couple more of that one, and it is now My Bra. It actually provides lift, it's comfortable, and the straps have yet to go weird and saggy. Hooray!

Earlier this year, though, I came across some actual vintage bras that were miraculously my size. They're white cotton from the 40s, made without underwires or elastic, and they are fucking MAGICAL. Everything just stays the fuck put, they're even comfier than my modern 40s-style bra, and they somehow achieve nuclear-powered lift-- again, without an underwire. I love them. I wear them sparingly, because I know I'll never ever be able to replace them. I want 10 more just like them.
posted by nonasuch at 2:53 PM on June 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


Having a million bras that you almost never wear is less about aspiration than it is about implementation of any single instance of Bra. There are so many cuts, fabrics and colors, so many brands with their own approach to fit, and so many "occasion" bras.

A given bra needs to fit properly in order to do what it's designed to do for your body. Bras have jobs: look nice, feel nice, lift/separate/hoist/compress/prevent putting an eye out. Some need to make it through an evening of cocktails for two. Others need to make it through a marathon, (literally).

For women who are non-standard sizes, the available selection of bras is a lot smaller.

My life-changing bra moment? Finally schlepping into a Victoria's Secret last year, finding a sales associate, and explaining what I wanted the bra to do and not do. It needed to provide support, shaping, and a silhouette free of bumpy decorations that might show under fitted tops. It needed to be soft and comfortable, free of tags and scratchy things. It needed to not gap at the top in a way that suggested that there should be more of me than there is.

Twenty minutes later, I walked out with a $48.00 bra that changed my life. In the coming months, I bought four more. I also bought cylindrical mesh bra-washing bags because clean bras are life, and hand-washing takes time I'd rather spend doing other things.

A year later, I still notice and appreciate the fit, the look, and the simple happiness of having something that I use all the time do exactly what I need it to do.

We're not looking for bras that make us into someone else. We're looking for bras that are capable of honoring our bodies. That's why we buy more of them than we end up wearing. It's like the search for true love: you have to kiss a lot of frogs. :)
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 3:05 PM on June 28, 2016 [8 favorites]


"My clothes aspirations are never status or brand name oriented, but more in the realm of fulfilling fantasies about myself? "

I bought this absolutely beautiful market basket that I was always going to carry to the farmer's market when I went to buy my fresh seasonal produce in my gorgeous environmentally friendly market basket. But then I didn't go to the farmer's market very often. And when I do go I carry regular reusable grocery bags that are a lot easier to wash than a woven basket. But the IDEA of being the sort of woman who goes to the farmer's market every week and stuffs her market basket with fresh greens with the dew still on them was so seductive I kept that damn basket taking up a whole shelf in my limited closet space for TWELVE YEARS before finally admitting I was never, ever taking that basket to the farmer's market and giving it to a friend of mine who is utterly convinced she is going to take it to the farmer's market every week and stuff it full of fresh produce with the dew still on ...

I suppose I need to go through my bras and pick out the ones that "You never wore ANYWAY and that was BEFORE you started getting pregnant and breastfeeding and changing sizes four times in a year as a result and now they don't even FIT so they're sitting there being hateful AND not fitting and somehow still taking up drawer space!" I suppose after that I probably need to submit to getting fitted again so I don't have to try on three from among my motley crew of mixed pregnancy/breastfeeding/normal bras before I find one that sort-of fits.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:16 PM on June 28, 2016 [23 favorites]


(The aspirational market basket is good for not squishing very ripe peaches and plums, if it is shallow.) Why they can't make a non-squishing bra is another question.
posted by puddledork at 3:25 PM on June 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


Bras are fucking stupid, expensive, and uncomfortable as shit, and I don't fucking understand why anyone with non-giant tits voluntarily wears them on a daily basis. I hardly ever wear a bra anymore, and if anyone is scandalized by my occasionally-visible lady nipples, they can go fuck themselves in the butthole with a bucket of wasps

FREE THE NIPPLE
posted by a strong female character at 3:30 PM on June 28, 2016 [19 favorites]


I gave up on 'normal' bras over a year ago after constantly trying to buy ones in various sizes and try them on and having to return them because my size apparently doesn't exist in local retailers. Sportsbras forever! (But not the ones with separated cups and little molding things. WTF.)

Now any bra I buy is one that I'm using to turn into a dance costume. And even then trying to get those to fit is a nightmare. (I've given up on trying to buy dance costume bras because once again, my size is almost impossible to find under for $500.)
posted by sperose at 3:34 PM on June 28, 2016


This is why there are 20 different flavors of Tide

I have never shopped for bras (this whole discussion has been deeply interesting!) but one thing I can say with confidence is that you truly should not be concerned about the flavor of your detergent.
posted by psoas at 3:50 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


And if, like me, you are blessed with needing both a small band size and a large cup size, you are pretty much fucked.

Amen to this. Having been through IVF my bra size has gone from 32FF to 34FF and has finally settled (thanks to two separate fittings from a very patient lady from Intimo) on a 32G. How many bras come in that size? Not many, let me tell you.

And thanks to IVF I have bought about 10 bras in the last three years and yes, I wear exactly two of them.
posted by prettypretty at 4:15 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


My very favorite bra (sea foam green with teal polkadots) passed away last week while I was on campus. I was sitting in lab, minding my own business, and all of a sudden I had a wire trying to stab through my underboob. It turns out that the wire snapped in half? Alas. Fortunately, its burgundy and hot pink polkadoted sibling survived.

I bought those two bras in a 3-pack - the third bra is hot pink and zebra striped. I have worn it exactly once: when I went to the hospital with what turned out was malaria. I ended up stuck there for a week with only that bra and a hospital gown and hospital underpants, as far as clothing goes. I was so embarrassed to be in the hospital wearing a hot pink zebra striped bra, and I told the (very cute) nurse, "I don't usually wear hot pink zebra striped bras!" and he told me, "That's OK. Neither do I."
posted by ChuraChura at 4:16 PM on June 28, 2016 [14 favorites]


A vast number of women, from those with "giant tits" to the modestly endowed, spend huge amounts of their money, time, and emotional energy on bras out of the desire to not spend most of their active days in ongoing discomfort under clothes, unhappiness with their appearance, or actual physical pain. If y'all think that women put this much effort into bra-shopping because it entertains them or because women haven't been properly awoken into a bra-free, capitalism-free state of enlightenment, then y'all are out of your goddamn fool minds.
posted by nicebookrack at 4:20 PM on June 28, 2016 [61 favorites]


Seriously. I was well into my third decade of life before I realized I could sleep without a bra. I need support. Hell, I need cantilevers.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:23 PM on June 28, 2016


A++ to Rigby and Peller. I miss having access to London. Make an appointment, drink some champagne, have an older woman stare with concern at your boobs and declare them "wide-set". Walk out with expensive but wonderfully fitting bras. Be chuffed that you've just purchased underwear the same place the royal family do. How good is that.

I have fortunately managed to find their last good recommended bra at Nordstrom in the US as well, so while the shopping experience is less fun, at least I have the good bras. Which reminds me, it is coming up on time for new ones.

But yeah, after years of Victoria's Secret telling me I'm a B-C and then finding out I'm a D.... revolutionary.
posted by olinerd at 4:40 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I gave up on bras and now I just wear large size bra top camisoles from Uniqlo. One for each day. One day I just decided I never wanted to wear or even try on a bra ever again. They hurt, too expensive and too time consuming. I could probably use better support aesthetically but comfort wise these do me just fine, and my boobs are not small. I am lucky that I can get away with deciding not to give a fuck about this. I know not everyone is in a position to. But I just feel like. Nobody is supposed to be looking at my boobs so why should I inconvenience myself.
posted by bleep at 4:48 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh and if the author really thinks men are immune to buying things aspirationally she is delusional. There are whole industries devoted to making men feel like "the right kind of man".
posted by bleep at 4:57 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


out of the desire to not spend most of their active days in ongoing discomfort under clothes, unhappiness with their appearance, or actual physical pain

Except for, you know, all the responses to this thread saying that the bras themselves cause physical discomfort/pain. I know I'm not the only one who finds wearing a bra every day to be physically painful.
posted by a strong female character at 4:59 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


The only thing for me more painful than wearing a bra is... not wearing a bra. It's lose-lose.
posted by TwoStride at 5:06 PM on June 28, 2016 [21 favorites]


But the weird thing is that, if I get a new really good bra that fits great and is comfortable, the weaker of the two bras I was wearing is instantly demoted. Using logic, it should follow that buying another bra means that one now has more bras to wear. Nope. Same two, day in, day out. All other bras get shoved to the back of the underwear drawer, never to be seen again.

Today I actually avoided wearing a white top because I didn't want to pull one of my "flesh colored" ones back into rotation.
posted by Sara C. at 5:07 PM on June 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


Oh and if the author really thinks men are immune to buying things aspirationally she is delusional. There are whole industries devoted to making men feel like "the right kind of man".

No kidding. $80 for a bra is excessive and unrealistic? Let's take a look at the automotive industry.
posted by Autumnheart at 5:16 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


I would really love a companion piece written by David Mitchell about his aspirational shopping.

(Hint: between my fiance and I we have three copies of Infinite Jest.)
posted by Sara C. at 5:19 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I just discovered those Uniqlo bra top camisoles, too. I ordered one on a whim, it was amazing, I ordered several more that are presently on their way. Fingers crossed that the fit of the first one was not a manufacturing accident! (And probably not a good option for anyone beyond an A/B cup.)

But, yeah, so many purchases are just about some aspirational lifestyle. Especially hobby gear - so much easier to buy the things rather than spend the time. Bras are not in that category for me, so I don't totally get where the writer is coming from. I do understand how hard it can be to find comfortable garments off the rack.
posted by stowaway at 5:42 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm a D/DD FWIW
posted by bleep at 5:45 PM on June 28, 2016


n-thing /r/abrathatfits. I know a lot about proper bra fit before finding them, but they've been great at helping with rather obscure problems that require extensive knowledge of boobs, bras and physics.

Honestly, we need something better. Something that doesn't dig grooves into our shoulders and doesn't lock onto your ribcage like a fucking tourniquet. I'm still vain enough to want to keep the illusion of perky, luscious breasts - but comfort is really starting to beat vanity lately.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately. I struggle to wear bras due to a back/nerve issue, and it started about 3 years ago. Wearing a bra started to cause a lot of pain, and my ability to wear bras decreased steadily, first I just couldn't wear for a long time, then sports and compressive bras had to go, then regular but fitted, then the crappy, "soft bras" until I couldn't tolerate anything anymore. Here is the thing- I've heard it claimed that bras don't prevent sagging. I say they're fucking liars. Maybe the rapid decline of my breasts, in more ways than one, has been in lock step with the lengthening periods of time I would go braless, with the worse occurring over the past year that bras have been intolerable. I know, annecdote isn't data. But I f gravity is what stretches out the skin and ligaments, then wearing a bra which counteracts gravity some of the time is going to slow that change.

But on the engineering part, I have been thinking about this quite a bit too. There has to be some alternative to the rib cage as a support structure. I dunno, do I build scaffolding from belt to boobs? I've experimented with using t-shirts tied in clever fashions that use my neck as the support structure, which causes it's own problems. I've fanticized about breast implants filled with helium. I've seriously considered talking to our local hack space and seeing if I could get volunteers to help design a bra that doesn't require support to come from the rib cage and shoulders, or to spread out the area of support over a larger area and thus requiring less construction. This is a selfish goal to eliminate the discomfort from my thoracic radiculopathy, but you can be sure as shit I would share whatever we discovered.

But out of all this comes an appreciation of how fucked we are with larger breasts and how they really might not be so natural or normal after all. Breast sizes have been growing across the population, and it isn't so simple as higher weight across the population. It's girls hitting puberty younger, giving breasts more time to be exposed to estrogen which causes them to enlarge. And it's hormonal birth control, and it's plastic residues mimic estrogen, along with foods like soy that mimic estrogen, and meat and dairy which is a source of dietary estrogen. I think there was more. But the breasts we carry today are not the breasts of our mothers. Going sans bra, if you're moderately to large breasted is problematic too- it pulls your upper back and neck forward and rounds your shoulders. It causes neck, shoulder and upper back strain and may even be responsible for spine injuries.

There was a study about breast reductions done some years back, and the results were that the majority of women in the study experienced relief of symptoms related to back, neck and shoulder, and had better posture and body mechanics. Some had relief from additional symptoms they weren't even concious of until they were relieved. The paper was followed up with an opinion response that went something along the lines of "if we are to believe this, we would have to be giving breast reductions to every woman!"paraphrased, of course. (I don't have the cites handy; I dug these up one night during a fit of boob rage. If anyone cares, I could probably dig through my history for them.)

Bra buying is ugly business. Not wearing a bra is ugly for different reasons. The extra bras in the drawer are not some desire for a better you, they're the carnage from the atrocity of life as a breast owning human.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:51 PM on June 28, 2016 [11 favorites]


Why don't people return bras that don't fit??? Just mail them back. I'm a Huge cup so I mail order stuff when it's on sale but if it doesn't fit I want my money back! Bras are expensive!

All the people saying they can't find cute larger cup bras try Felina, La Mystere, Freya or Panache. Curvy Kate has some decent stuff too. You can order 10 from Amazon and return them for free. Thank god for the internet
posted by fshgrl at 6:23 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


In my case, there was one subset of Elomi bra that felt AMAZING for the first two or three wears. And then on wear #4: UNBEARABLY itchy. I have no idea what went wrong, but at that point it's unreturnable.

As many people have pointed out, bras are hard to assess until they've actually been worn for hours, at which point their warranty is voided, as it were. Hence the drawers of unworn bras.
posted by TwoStride at 6:31 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


There has to be some alternative to the rib cage as a support structure. I dunno, do I build scaffolding from belt to boobs?

Long line bras? I know the one I have (that I wear instead of a normal strapless bra) that ends up sitting around/having most of the support coming from my waist.

In re: small band/large cup sizes, I feel like the options have slightly improved over the last couple of years, at least where I've been looking. This natori is my current favorite; I originally got the beige and I feel like they had that, a black, and maybe a brown? Last time I went into Nordstroms*, they had purple! And blue! And pink!

It was very exciting.

(*Which, echoing above. If you have the means, and a Nordstroms is near you, get thee to there for a fitting. Your boobs/back will thank you.)
posted by damayanti at 6:53 PM on June 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


She is married to David Mitchell whose fashion aesthetic is "to be unnoticeable" literally. His memoir is a pretty good audiobook for walking (it's basically a collection of essays about walking) and he talks about clothes and shopping with deep puzzlement. Plus this is a light humour piece, not a serious statement.

(AND THEY HAD A BABY! I am absolutely delighted that the coverage in the Daily Mail on the baby is pixelated pictures of the baby and restrained polite 'bless your heart' coverage of them through gritted teeth)

I wish there were ways to order like a basic shell of a bra - I love balcony bra structures - and then pick fabric on top. It's the basic black/white/beige that's dull. A/B gets to have gingham and polka dots and cute prints.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:59 PM on June 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


So I have a bunch of bras that I'm not wearing. I do have maybe 4 or 5 bras that I wear regularly, so I feel unusually lucky. Some of them are even cute for a size DDD. However this is less because of aspirational buying (at this point anyway) and more because a bra that fit me 2 years ago when I weighed the same but before I gained and lost 10 pounds, doesn't fit me the same now.

I do have a ton of aspirational shoes. Despite the fact that I am a clumsy ox on anything higher than 2 inches, I have those shoes in my closet and I cannot bring myself to let them go.

And dresses. I have dresses for occasions that may never ever come up. Just because when I tried them on I had fantasies of being at a cocktail party or at an opera. Maybe for me the takeaway is: put the dress back on the rack, and go buy some opera tickets.
posted by bunderful at 7:43 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


Just wanted to add--I have no disdain whatsoever for people who feel like bras REDUCE their overall discomfort and pain. It's just that I feel like I encounter a lot of women who wear bras primarily because they just feel like they have to/it's inappropriate or rude not to. It really sucks.
posted by a strong female character at 7:53 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Bras are like fingerprints...this explains the incredible lack of "YOU MUST BUY THIS BRA" and instead the "I bought this and I'm so grateful for it's existence" tone of the conversation happening. Few (okay...zero, really) comments above have stated "Are you tired of saggy/flat/huge/tiny/wide/narrow/inverted nipple/triange-tit/post-/pre-baby/boringly even sized boobs? THIS WEBSITE IS FOR YOU!"

One of my dearest, oldest friends has a two/three cup difference in boob size... her husband chalks it up to "Well, I'm not missing out on anything!" She is way less impressed. Buying (and wearing)bras sucks for her, anyway, despite a husband devoted to both boobs, and two well-fed kids. Still sucks. She'd prolly pay anything for someone to make her just one bra that fit her in her life. If I ever get rich, I'm making her a kick ass bra.

I was blessed with two big, even, quite nice but mostly useless boobs (body won't stay pregnant, yes, I'm okay now) that have never had a gig beyond sexy times and pushing up all my shirts uncomfortably forever always. Anti-gravity shirt re-distribution units, mostly. Not nearly enough sexy times to make the lame shirt migration worthwhile. And the bouncing around while on a tractor and forklift and even driving or walking fast or...no not running. I don't run. Point is- big. Bold. Boobs.

I have a fantasy life where I "eat hummus" (I totally MAKE hummus but don't do yoga or wear skirts or make-up- same idea) and wear nice bras. Sue me.

When I did the "follow your path...to joy and brokefulness" life-journey, I started buying bras on Amazon for $15-20 bucks, and I found this One Magical Bra.

One Bra to lift them all, One Bra to mind them, One Bra to bring them in, and in the darkness bind them

I will never stray. I sleep in this bra because I can only sleep on my stomach and g-d couldn't imagine where these "gifts" might meander, but I can. I could choke, or lose feeling if it got stuck in my armpit. I could smash one up and one down and end up...snoring. Who knows???

Bras are a BFD. I enjoyed this article for distracting me from the end times, thanks for sharing. And, thanks everyone for taking a BOOB/BRA stance.
posted by metasav at 8:23 PM on June 28, 2016 [6 favorites]


I find that fit is not about cup size or band size for me. I'm built pretty wide across, but thin front-to-back, so 95% of bras try to squish my breasts together in ways that are uncomfortable and look unnatural. I think they're built for people with a more cylindrical girth. If the cups were shiftable, string bikini style, it would work out much better for me.
posted by mantecol at 8:36 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


"I wish there were ways to order like a basic shell of a bra - I love balcony bra structures - and then pick fabric on top. "

You can do this on etsy. I have not done it myself but I know people who have; a lot of independent lingerie designers sell through etsy, and the prices are surprisingly comparable to mass-market name-brand bras at Victoria's Secret or Nordstrom. I feel like I'd want to find a bra enthusiast group online somewhere where they talk about their favorite indie designers and who's reputable and well-made, just because there's a lot lot lot of stores to sift through and probably people have already done the hard work of finding "larger-size custom made bras in colorful fabrics" and have six shops to suggest.

When I looked, it seemed like a mix of younger/smaller American designers still making a name and with very thin margins, and Eastern European designers who can work more cheaply and want to reach an American audience, which is why the prices aren't crazy high. (Which is also more or less the mix of what you see for high-quality indie handmade jewelry on etsy ... Americans establishing themselves, and established Eastern Europeans who can command a higher profit by reaching an American market.)

Anyway, people I know who've gone this route have nothing but good things to say about it, if you have the patience to put in the research to find the right shops and designers. Which currently I do not, personally, but my friends have made me interested enough that one day I might. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:40 PM on June 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I feel like some people in this thread really need r/abrathatfits. You can also check out bratabase.com, which allows you to specify a variety of boob traits- wide/narrow root, projection, distance between breasts, etc etc - to recommend bras similar people found comfortable.

There are solutions out there! My own bra journey took a few years of discovery but was worth it.

(how I order bras - I order ten-twenty online in a shot-- multiple sizes of anything I like - and then keep what fits, usually ending up with 4-8 new bras. I once, but only once, had to return all of them, which was depressing. I use brastop.com, extremely loyally-- they have more than earned the loyalty, their customer service is fantastic. Also, imo, their bras. And their sales.)

I do not bother with physical stores. They never have my size, but they always refuse to acknowledge this and try to fit me in bras that are so badly fitted it is laughable.
posted by Cozybee at 9:42 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


(uh, just to clarify - it took me a few years because I was deeply in denial about my size and also (once not in denial) because I spent months avoiding the option of ordering online because that terrified me -- it definitely does not need to take that long!

... Although it is a process, because if you've never worn a bra that fits before, the only way to find what works for you is to, with an open mind, try on a variety of sizes and brands of bras.)
posted by Cozybee at 9:51 PM on June 28, 2016


A lament for those of us with a large band/small cup combo and a modest budget who don't especially want to look juvenile and/or live in sports bras.

(Can't we just have nice things?)
posted by Space Kitty at 10:33 PM on June 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


I have been actively playing, "hunt the narrative" lately before buying things. If I can spot an aspirational narrative behind my purchase, I try not to go ahead with it. Unfortunately this means I almost never get to buy office supplies and organisational supplies anymore.

Also tattoos. I'm glad I recognised this about myself at an early age. I would like to be the sort of person (or what I stereotype as the sort of person) who has tattoos. I want to be strong and funky and original and not afraid of what people think. But I don't actually want a specific tattoo. I'm not sure I want something on my skin at all. I just want to want one.

There are a few insidious similar shopping traps to the aspirational narrative too - like things that are super cute when you see them all lined up in multiples, especially if in different colours, but actually are a bit blah when you see them on their own. This is the case for crayons, mugs, little boxes or tins, sometimes shoes or clothes. It's easy to be seduced by how cool they all look together in the shop, and then disappointed when you get them home.
posted by lollusc at 11:05 PM on June 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


I'm a 30E.

I have one plain utilitarian, one pretty-yet-practical thanks to being lightly-lined, and one lace-cup that is too nipply for work but sexy as shit. They're all comfortable and fit right. I schlepped to a Nordstrom to get things to try on, and I'm keeping an eye out for the exact same styles online so that I can buy some duplicates.

I wash them periodically, like, every couple of weeks? No, not every time I wear them, WTF, what for?

I don't buy a bunch of satiny FAIL, and therefore I don't beat myself up about it via a weird set of meandering projections.
posted by desuetude at 11:48 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


All I can say is I miss Victoria's secret now that I'm living in Prague.

They would have good sales and I had their credit card and got crazy discounts. I stocked up before I came. Only the Body By Victoria fits me. No other bras they have. And they are most durable awesome bras I've ever had.

Here I had trouble finding a bathing suit top in my size and I'm a 36DD which is not unusually large. That was a normal size back home.

I haven't had to go bra shopping here yet but I'm almost encouraged to actually exercise more just so bra shopping is easier. I'm not, but I think about it.

(There is a nice store that sells Real Bras in Actual Sizes but I'm afraid of the prices. I'm gonna have to end up there tho. Sigh.)
posted by sio42 at 12:09 AM on June 29, 2016


Men are encouraged to shop aspirationally too, but under the guise of utility or connoissuership:

"utility"
the tent that weighs 5 oz less
the V8 instead of the V6
the copper bottomed pan, or the cast iron pan, not the stainless steel pan

"connoissuership"
the 1st issue of the superman comic, not the 1500th
the 60 year old bottle of wine, not the 6 year old bottle of wine
the rarest bootleg, not the rare bootleg

Not that people can't legitimately enjoy old wine better than new or whatever, but when men are marketed to it's along these lines. They're encouraged to imagine themselves as people using the best tools, having the best taste. Whereas women are encouraged to imagine themselves being very admired.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 1:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


Why don't people return bras that don't fit??? Just mail them back. I'm a Huge cup so I mail order stuff when it's on sale but if it doesn't fit I want my money back! Bras are expensive!

Because returning bras to Europe from Australia costs almost as much as the bra did in the first place. I'll make more money back by selling the bra on to someone else but ordering a bra online will always result in a loss to me if it doesn't fit.

However, I buy them anyway due to there being literally no other option. My size, currently around a 36KK in British sizing, doesn't really exist in Australia. And definitely not in a style that actually suits my breast shape. Some other commenters have brought this up already but I'm nthing that Poland is the place to go for pretty, quality bras in the less common sizes (including underwired AA cups). Ewa Michalak and Comexim are lifesavers.
posted by imaginary_mary at 2:23 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I do understand how hard it can be to find comfortable garments off the rack.

Enough sewing and understanding of how garments are put together to be able to alter ready-made clothing seriously cannot be underestimated as a valuable life skill. My accomplishment as a seamstress is nothing compared to my mother's, and hers is nothing compared to her mother's (who made her own bras from scratch), but as a woman who rarely fits a standard size in anything I'd have to spend a fortune on clothes and alterations if it wasn't for the sewing machine.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, but you also have to factor in the free time to do these things. I too have aspirational dreams about finally learning to use the durable tank of a sewing machine my MIL gave us. But with a full-time job, schoolwork, two radio projects I do on a weekly basis as well as regular life maintenance, this isn't going to happen anytime soon. I can't even imagine how much less time people with kids have.
posted by Kitteh at 3:58 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


"But I don't actually want a specific tattoo. I'm not sure I want something on my skin at all. I just want to want one."

This is why God gave us the temporary-tattoos-for-adults market. It scratches this particular itch for well under $10 and you can change it up every week. :D (See also, temporary hair color.) These are good reliable cures for me for "I want to want this thing, but when I actually see it in action on my body, I am pretty meh about the result and it's good I didn't spend $150 on the real thing."

Actually I think the thing about clothes (including bras) is that while you SHOULD be able to say while trying it on, "Eh, this is a cute peasant dress for floating about outdoor music festivals but truthfully I'm not going to end up doing that and it's not so cute I want to live with it," but trying clothes on is SO FRUSTRATING and involves so much body-related frustration and emotion that it short circuits the part where you briefly enjoy the aspirational outfit and then decide you will not actually wear it. By the time you're there you're just like "OKAY JESUS CHRIST IT FITS AND I DON'T LOOK LIKE TRIPLE-BOOBED CIRCUS PERSON, SO WHAT IF I NEVER GO SURFING, LET'S JUST BUY SOMETHING AND LEAVE!" And that's how you end up with terrible bras.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:03 AM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


In my house, any article of clothing that does not survive a washer and dryer does not enter the house. My bras get their hooks hooked before laundering (which bra laundering maybe happens once every couple weeks unless there was a significant underboob sweat event, which must soak the band in order to be considered significant) but no mesh bag, no air drying, I do not have the mental energy to do that shit.

After reading so many times that I needed to go to Nordstrom to learn what my actual bra size was, I went to Nordstrom where the lady did the tape measure thing and I ended up with some bras which may or may have not fit any better than my previous half-assed self-selection. They may have looked better under clothes but holy fuck were they uncomfortable. Still, since they were 60 bucks each, I wore them and carelessly laundered them until they started falling apart.

Then I got a few of the house bras from this AskMe (THANK YOU A TERRIBLE LLAMA) which were both cheap and more comfortable, and did not require a trip to the store because yay Amazon and now those are the only bras I wear forever and ever amen.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:12 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to remember (overall in my life and when posting) that what works for me is not universal, and jumping into conversations saying, "Why don't you just (do what works for me)!" is a really good way to make other people feel invalidated. "Why don't you just...." always makes me cringe.

So, for instance, I've had good experiences with Nordstrom - they helped me find the Chantelle bras after my reduction (which really changed my breast shape!) But for rabbitrabbit, not so much. And wearing only sports bras might be a great solution for one person, but not work for another person, based on personal preferences or the shape of their breasts or the style of clothing they prefer. Pretty underwire bras, and binders, and bralettes, and sports bras are all equal worthy solutions if they work for you.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:07 AM on June 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


I have to second ldthomps about Rigby and Peller. I got a fitting there and it turned out that I actually had been wearing the wrong size all my life.

This is not because I have never had anyone jump out at me in a mall and shove a mike in my face and go, "DO YOU KNOW 80% OF WOMEN WEAR THE WRONG SIZED BRA?!?" to which the obvious answer is "EGAD, NO. NOBODY HAS INFORMED ME OF THIS EVEN ONCE IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!"

Of course I know 80% of women wear the wrong sized bra. There is no possible way I could not know this since the feminine press reminds us of it at 5-minute intervals if not more often. It's the feminine-culture equivalent of a Soviet propaganda poster slogan, like "MIRU MIR" or "SLAVA SSSR".

Well here's a thing I bet you never knew, DID YOU KNOW 80% OF BRA FITTERS SELL YOU THE WRONG SIZED BRA?

But you know what I hadn't experienced, until I visited Rigby & Peller? Someone ACTUALLY MEASURING ME ACCURATELY and PROFFERING THE RIGHT SIZED BRA. Turns out I'm not a B cup after all, I'm in between a C and a D cup. This is very subtle but it's made the difference between a lifetime of fiddling with Creeping Underwear, and being Perfectly Fitted Bra Woman Who Clearly Has Her Life Together.

It's not like I wasn't getting measured before, after all. In the 90s, when bra cups were all unpadded with a prominent seam down the middle, I would get measured, told I was a 34B, then take the bras home with their poofy baggy cups and do the best job I could of tucking down the extra material and stitching it down while I was wearing the bra. Since there was already a seam there, my clumsy stitching wasn't making it any worse, at least. It was a big relief when moulded cups hit the market, but that still didn't compensate for the fact that the cup didn't really fit me.

But anyway, the reason we're all wearing the wrong size is because we're getting measured wrong. And it's like dieting - the right answer exists, but they want you to be permanently dissatisfied and forever returning to them, wallets agape in the hope of one day finding a satisfaction that will forever elude us. Simply because they won't tell us the right answer.

As for washing - protocol is about once every three wearings, and the best way (that I've found) is to soak it overnight in body wash, which is good at dissolving body oils so supposedly cuts down on the built-up grubbiness. Though honestly I've had good results with dishwashing liquid and baby shampoo. Then rinse and towel dry the next morning and it'll be ready to wear again by the next day. As someone who washes that day's hand-wash-only items as part of the undressing process because letting hand-washing pile up (and then never doing it) is even more of a pain in the ass, I don't particularly mind this, but YMMV.
posted by tel3path at 7:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


Alas, I do not live near a Rigby & Peller, but if anyone wants to pay for me to go back to the US to get measured and buy bras, that would be rad.
posted by Kitteh at 8:15 AM on June 29, 2016


Yes, but you also have to factor in the free time to do these things. I too have aspirational dreams about finally learning to use the durable tank of a sewing machine my MIL gave us.

It's not so much that I have the free time to do it, as that I don't have the money not to do it. When they even exist, which isn't often, ready to wear clothes that fit my weird-shaped body are simply out of my price range. If I didn't alter the cheaper clothes, I'd be pretty screwed. When I started wearing bras, for example, my options were either cut down the hand-me-downs I was given from my much larger relatives, or do without. It would have been great if I didn't have to stay up all night sewing instead of studying or sleeping, but that's the way it was. Things are better now, but I'm still not in a position where I can drop $80 on an undergarment.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


A lot of people are recommending r/abrathatfits but I would also like to point to this thread about bra sizing previously on the blue - it was pretty eye-opening for me.
posted by R a c h e l at 8:50 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


And more on topic, I started thinking about my "aspirational" goods and I just can't stop coming up with things. Among the list:
-cocktail shaker for my sophisticated at-home happy hour
-reusable travel mugs that I will carry to replace my endless disposable cup habit
-skincare products for my future 10 step nightly routine
-many many supplies for various creative/crafty endeavors (adult coloring book, yarn, knitting needles, washi tape)
-beautiful pyrex food storage containers for the leftovers of my multipart dinners
-any sort of scented bath products
-beautiful eyeshadow palettes for the days that I actually put on more than mascara
...and this is what I have AFTER konmari and dozens of apartment moves.
posted by R a c h e l at 9:01 AM on June 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


I learned about r/abrathatfits here, thank you thank you whoever made that comment, and it changed my life - it turned out that my bands were way too large and my cup sizes too small - but that didn't mean I can easily find bras in my new size, either. *snarls*

Thinking about the aspirational point of this article and the discussion here I was startled to realize I can trace my own personal upward mobility via where I buy my bras, and nothing else tracks in my life tracks that mobility so tidily. I went from bra shopping at thrift stores/Wal-mart to Target to JC Penny to Macy's to Nordstrom's over a 20 year time span, and it really re-emphasizes to me that like so much of everything else, the ability to buy a great bra is a privilege. And I shouldn't be so miserable about it and instead count myself fortunate.
posted by barchan at 10:18 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


I learned about r/abrathatfits. Their calculator had me wearing a 26E or some ridiculous nonexistent size. While saving up for a trip to a Legit Bra Store to get measured for the 26E bra of my dreams (lol), I needed a "Mr. Right Now" sort of bra and went to Victoria's Secret. Where I bought a selection of 30 D bras that fit perfectly and cost about a third of what any of the Fancy Unicorn Bras would.

I'm not sure I'd accuse r/abrathatfits of being some grand conspiracy theory forcing women to buy ungodly expensive bras they don't need. And, hey, if you really *do* need a more complicated bra, it's great that this service exists. But there's a weird one size fits all mentality that I find frankly more annoying than the ill-trained minimum wage bra measurers at VS.

I know what size bra I wear. It's definitely the right size. Yes, even though it's a size that exists in regular stores. No, I'm not interested in paying triple the price for the cred of acting as if I have special snowflake boobs.
posted by Sara C. at 10:26 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


No, I'm not interested in paying triple the price for the cred of acting as if I have special snowflake boobs.

I may not know much, but I for sure don't think anyone in this thread who has struggled with sizing, comfort, self-esteem and frustration want well-fitting, comfortable bras for "cred".
posted by ersatzkat at 10:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [16 favorites]


But there's a weird one size fits all mentality that I find frankly more annoying than the ill-trained minimum wage bra measurers at VS.

But that is exactly the mentality of places like VS. Hence, why it's hard for a lot of women to shop there.
posted by Kitteh at 10:55 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


ersatzkat, that's not a reaction I have to folks in this thread, who are obviously just talking about their own experiences. It's more the mentality at r/abrathatfits, where they are laser focused on no other place other than a specialty bra store or maybe Nordstroms being an acceptable place to buy bras, and if you wear a size that is sold in mainstream stores, you're doing it wrong.

It's just another iteration of mainstream = bad and the sort of aspirational connoisseurship that has been described elsewhere in this thread.

But yeah obviously if you *really* find that only 38F bras fit you, you should do what it takes to buy that 38F bra.
posted by Sara C. at 11:06 AM on June 29, 2016


I'm rotating between four bras right now, all Bravado Blisses because I'm nursing. I have two each of 32DD/E and 34DD/E and I switch between them depending on how they fit, since postpartum life is like the first few chapters of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and I am constantly getting bigger and smaller and wider and narrower. I will wear one of these four bras every day for probably the next year or so. They are ugly, unsexy bras and they make my boobs look pointy. But they are also comfortable enough to wear to bed and don't aggravate my clog-prone milk ducts, so.

I wash them pretty often since they get a lot of milk on them. But when I'm not nursing I basically never wash my bras.
posted by town of cats at 11:11 AM on June 29, 2016


You know, I'm ok with saying that, when it comes to women's clothes, mainstream is bad. Because mainstream assumes things about women's bodies that are untrue. We are allowed to exist in a very narrow range of sizes and shapes, and if we don't fit into that narrow range, we're treated as exceptional. I have a really hard time finding clothes that fit me: I can't buy bras in the mall, and I need to get all my pants and jackets hemmed. That's not because I'm a hipster. It's because the clothing industry assumes that you should be tallish (but not too tall) and slim and perfectly proportioned and medium-boned and medium-busted, or you are a freak. That's their problem. I'm just trying to figure out how to deal with it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:12 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sure, but we're also pressured to spend $90 when $30 would do just as well.

Any messaging about women's appearances wherein the easy and affordable choice is bad tends to nudge my antifeminist spidey sense.

Yes, I want it to be easier for more women to find bras that fit. But I also feel like the "abrathatfits" subculture is about a lot more than just women finding bras that fit.
posted by Sara C. at 11:30 AM on June 29, 2016


Oh, forgot to mention messaging about women's appearances where the default narrative is that most women's bodies are strange and unknowable.
posted by Sara C. at 11:32 AM on June 29, 2016


My body isn't strange and unknowable. Stores could easily carry clothes in my size. They could stock 30 bras in sizes other than A and B. They could stop treating petite and plus like outliers. They could offer free hemming the way Uniqlo does. They just don't, and I don't think it's antifeminist to point that out.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:37 AM on June 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


Where is this hidden cache of easy and affordable bras that do just as well as the luxe varieties, because I WANT THEM and I guess ABraThatFits has been hiding them from me? I mean, I'm all for ABTF being revealed as a brainwashing bra cult if I get some comfortable bras from it; ABTF has only helped me in a limited way anyway, because my fat person measurements break their calculator. "Your size estimate may be inaccurate because you are too squishy." And mournfully back to Lane Bryant/Cacique I go.

Seriously: the cheap, mass-produced, well-made, nice-looking, easily-obtained bras for squishy people: what are they?
posted by nicebookrack at 11:42 AM on June 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm feeling slightly baffled at some of this conversation. I'm a 32 F or G, and while, yes, I have a few aspirational bras in my drawer, I don't have that much difficulty finding cute, sexy, bras in a variety of colors, on sale. 90% of my bras are from HerRoom or BareNecessities, always bought on sale, and they send out endless coupons and sale codes. My latest obsession are Claudette bras. So for those F, G, and larger cup sizes out there -- keep looking! No need to settle for beige.

Which is not to say that marketing to women isn't aspirational sexist bullshit, because it is.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:48 AM on June 29, 2016


A lot of cute bras may go up in cup size, but not band size. As a 44E, it's often really depressing to see bra sizing cut off at 38 or 40...

Meanwhile, a question for those who wear lacy bras, or bras with not-smooth cups (seams or embrodiery, etc running across the front etc): how do these not show though your shirts? Are you always wearing a cami under your shirts? What happens in summer? I have one bra that I love, with lots of embroidery on the cups. But when I just wear a polo shirt or a t-shirt, it looks like my breasts are deformed/have weird growths etc. I feel like this is some secret girly knowledge that I'm missing.
posted by TwoStride at 11:54 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


HerRoom search for bras in 32G: 427 results
28G (smallest available band size): 52 results
58G (largest available band): 2 results
42G (one band higher than Victoria's Secret offers): 214 results
44G (mean band size): 144 results

Band sizes are the killer. Except when cup sizes are the killer.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:07 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


TwoStride: those weird breast embroidery lumps are what smooth T-shirt bras are meant for, if (if!) you find one you like.

Yet another reason women accumulate multiple bras is that some bras can't be worn under some styles and materials of clothing, unless you don't care about the bra being visible and/or lumpy.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:14 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes, I pretty much live in t-shirt bras and smooth cup designs. But I'm facinated by those who seem to carry off the fancy embroidery/lace/seams on a daily basis!
posted by TwoStride at 12:16 PM on June 29, 2016


Where is this hidden cache of easy and affordable bras that do just as well

Look into "sister sizes". As measured, I'm a 26E or somesuch. But a 28DD or a 30D would fit me just as well. Theoretically, a 32C or 34B would also be worth trying, depending on the specifics of one's body shape and willingness to replace your bras a little more frequently. (I can do 32C but after six months or a year they get stretched out and aren't as nice.)

So I go to a normal store and I buy the 30D and am happy with my bra that fits about as well as can be expected unless you're up for spending double or triple the price and blowing an afternoon on a professional fitting.

Obviously this isn't going to work for every person (a lot of potential sister sizes just don't work or aren't findable in mainstream stores), and yes, I think regular stores should carry a wider and more realistic run of sizes.

But as a person who can totally wear a Victoria's Secret bra without catching on fire, I prefer to do so as a money and time saving measure. Contrary to r/abrathatfits' message.
posted by Sara C. at 12:18 PM on June 29, 2016


My sister sizes are also in hard-to-find squishy person sizes, but thanks anyway.

As a general rule, satisfied people comfortably fitting into mass-produced Victoria's Secret bras aren't the same people going onto ABraThatFits etc. looking for help with bras. I wear cheap socks from Target that fit fine; I've never needed or cared to look for a community of people frustrated with their sock fit. I'm not the intended audience, so why should I care if the online sock community denounces Target socks?
posted by nicebookrack at 12:33 PM on June 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


To me, the issue of stores stocking larger sizes/a wider size range is a totally different one from the r/abrathatfits MO, which is more about how the size you're wearing is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

You know, unless it's not. Or unless it's perfectly adequate and preferable to blowing a lot of cash on an Artisanal Brassiere Experience.
posted by Sara C. at 12:42 PM on June 29, 2016


But as a person who can totally wear a Victoria's Secret bra without catching on fire

So, so many people in this thread can't shop there because of VS size limitations - awesome for you that you can. If "mainstream retailer" is already not an option for these women, offhand comments about the choices they do have as "special snowflake" choices is kind of not cool. I get that you say you weren't "reacting" to their stories, but they can all hear you reacting.
posted by ersatzkat at 12:42 PM on June 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


Yeah, we get your point. You don't like that subreddit, despite however many women on here having said it helped them. It didn't help you. It might not help me (I have never been there). You can buy your bras at a popular retailer and not have to break the bank. That's great. A lot of us have to and it sucks and as bizarre as it sounds, you're kinda mocking our non-VS boobs.
posted by Kitteh at 12:46 PM on June 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


how do these not show though your shirts? Are you always wearing a cami under your shirts?

I am, in fact. For many years, as a H or J cup, a t-shirt bra was an impossible unicorn. Big cup bras were mostly constructed with a ton of seams across the front. For this reason (and insecurity about showing cleavage, and trying to smooth back bulges, and needing to cover big beige straps in wide neck shirts, and hiding my bra and skin in case of button gap) I developed the habit of wearing a tank top under virtually everything.

I don't have all those problems these days, but the cami reflex is still strong with me.
posted by Squeak Attack at 12:53 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not quite sure why I was expecting a professional poker player to be better at shopping than this. Anyone would think that bras existed to make you look good while lying around half-naked rather than supporting the girls when you're going about your business. It's not like Victoria's Secret are trying to undermine our self-image so we'll keep buying expensive crap and throwing it away when it doesn't do what it's supposed to.

Oh, wait.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 2:10 PM on June 29, 2016


I used to be a 32D. It was glorious, I bought Calvin Klein bras on sale and all was good for many years. Then I changed my birth contol and went up to a 32G. Just a couple inches, no biggie right? Ha. That was pre internet and it was a fucking pita. And costly. It's like having size 12 feet when almost every brand stops at 11.

Again, thank god for the internet.
posted by fshgrl at 2:44 PM on June 29, 2016


I must have 40 bras. I wear most of them, I should probably purge the rest. I just bought two new ones and while they are super comfortable, I'm not crazy about how they look-- they remind me of the old playtex bras from the 70's. Still I wear them in rotation because every morning I go out into the steamy hot jungle hell that is NC in the summer and I garden for two hours. Then I come in and jump in the shower still wearing my bra which is dripping with sweat. I wash it with shower gel and then remove it. Then I put on the comfy, sexy bra so that my husband can enjoy an eyeful. Later in the day I put on one of my gym bras to go to the gym. I also have other bras which are neither utilitarian nor sexy which I wear for running errands.

I also have numerous sexy uncomfy bras that my husband has gifted me over the years. They get worn for short periods of time but I take them off as soon as poss.

Last year I went through the whole rigamarole of fitting myself for the new line of Jockey bras where they ditched the ABC cup size for a number. You bought a sizing kit, which included cups of every size and a tape measure for $20.00 and then that money was refunded on your first purchase of a $60.00 bra. I was excited to try my new bra having fitted myself very carefully but alas...It just didn't work out. The band was too big, the cups slightly too big, and the straps kept falling off my shoulders. The bra made my breasts look very odd according to my husband. Even though it was touted as the perfect minimalizer to make you look more streamlined it ended up making my breasts look farther apart than usual. All around a failure. I should probably toss it. It makes me mad that I wasted $60.00 on such a major fail.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:11 PM on June 29, 2016


> Where I bought a selection of 30 D bras that fit perfectly and cost about a third of what any of the Fancy Unicorn Bras would.

30D is not a "normal" size, it doesn't exist at Victoria's Secret or Macy's or most mainstream department stores.
posted by desuetude at 10:43 PM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have always returned bras that don't meet expectations after a few wearings. Are non-returnable bras a thing? Or do people just assume that they can't return one?

I am not a big returner of things and I often feel icky about returning makeup or a swimsuit but the stores have always honored my returns.

Am I just lucky? Is it a myth that you cannot return bras or is this actual policy in some stores? If you aren't allowed to return a bra because it is a bra that seems all kinds of wrong and discriminatory (exceptions being clearly labeled close out items or final markdowns etc) when you can return almost every other item on the planet.
posted by futz at 10:48 PM on June 29, 2016


In many places you can't return used or opened stuff, fullstop. In my country swimwear and panties are specifically non-returnable unless they have a defect or something, and bras only if unused, with tags left on.
posted by sukeban at 3:52 AM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think the "everything is returnable" idea is pretty uniquely American. In the US, stores will take back almost anything (even if they can't re-stock it) and if you buy with a credit card, the credit card companies typically protect what few purchases stores won't take as returns.
posted by R a c h e l at 6:05 AM on June 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am an idiot. Thanks for the reality check.
posted by futz at 7:55 PM on June 30, 2016


Meanwhile, a question for those who wear lacy bras, or bras with not-smooth cups (seams or embrodiery, etc running across the front etc): how do these not show though your shirts? Are you always wearing a cami under your shirts? What happens in summer?

I find I can wear them under thick fabrics, fairly crisp fabrics that don't hug the body so much - sometimes I can also wear them under a busy pattern where the pattern obscures the lace underneath. And of course if I'm layering a blazer or cardigan on top that I don't plan to take off.

Under a tee shirt or something similar, I can't really pull off the lacy bras.
posted by bunderful at 12:38 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


YMMV, but I have found wearing Uniqlo Airism camisoles under t-shirts in summer feels better than just wearing a t-shirt. Plus I can bear whatever bra I want underneath.
posted by needled at 12:45 PM on July 1, 2016


Being a large fat American, I will never know the wonder of Uniqlo (meaning they do not deign to sell to people of my size.)
posted by Squeak Attack at 5:26 PM on July 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Have any of you tried the BreastNest? One blogger I read loves it for topless days around the house.
posted by brainwane at 9:42 AM on July 4, 2016


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