“Whose itty bitty bra is this?” shouts my mother from the hotel bathroom. The hotel room that I’m sharing with her and my youngest sister Mary.
“Whose idea was it to have this road trip?” I wonder as I respond.
“It belongs to the daughter with the itty bitty tits!”
“Oh honey, I’m sorry.”
The bra. Whose idea was it anyway to create this little delicate piece of clothing that has taunted me since I was what, 13?
My mother decided that I should wear a bra under my school uniform so I would fit in with the other girls.
My nickname in junior high was potato chip because I was flat all over. I really didn’t need a bra. At one point my sisters and I were looking for a long jumprope and we couldn’t find one so I looped all of my bras together to create one and we used it to jump rope in the front drive.
One of the neighbors; well, she didn’t complain but she couldn’t help from commenting.
My mother was miffed. Those things cost money. Yes. Yes, they do.
As I got a little older they were necessary, kindof, because I was a long distance runner and I played tennis. The little jolt of the breast as I sprinted for a ball or finish line could be painful, even for me. I delighted in the sports bras when they were invented because they could just go down over my head. No hooks and eyes. Why do most bras close in the back? I have always had to hook them in the front and then swing the thing around tits forward if you will and then put my arms through the straps.
Archaic and expensive and you were supposed to line dry them. That really stunk when you were sharing a flat with other people and had only one bathroom.
When I started working in offices I would often wear a camisole over the bra so that I looked ladylike. Having your bra show through a sheer blouse was not ladylike.
So, I’d have the bra, the camisole and the nylons. I was dressed before I got dressed! And since I continued to run, almost daily, there was a constant little group of bras hanging here and there in any flat I shared with others.
Between the nylons and the underwear I barely had enough money to buy any clothes, for years.
Shortly after the roadtrip with my mother and sister, my mother sent me a care package with what they were calling wonder bras. Wonder bras were so overpriced that a man in my hiking group said that they secured his retirement. He ran a chain of women’s lingerie stores. So the wonder bras that my mother sent me were knockoffs, of course, she might have even bought them at the dollar store. One of them was gold lame, one of them was a weird wine color and one had a tropical bird print! To their credit, they did provide a more balanced sillouhette under knit dresses. Camisoles were a must have if I wore these bras under anything else as they showed through EVERYTHING. I was wearing the tropical bird print bra when I went to get a checkup and the, young, very young, doctor came in before I had completely changed and he said “All for me?” when he noticed the large tucans dancing across my torso. He started blushing as soon as he realized what had come out of his mouth. “I sure as hell hope not” I said as I shrugged into the paper cover up. He was too embarrassed to do the breast exam.
I heard that Frederick’s of Hollywood had very good bras for really busty women. Some of the ladies at a woman’s group I belonged to used to share the catalogue and order in bulk. “You just have to slip the padding out” I was told by one and she continued, “But, then again, maybe you wouldn’t think about that.”
And bras are expensive. It is not uncommon for them to run 30, 40, 100 dollars and for what?
The bralet, I find intriguing, is that for women’s titlets? What function does it serve? It’s not a money saver.
Now, after a long run, I would go up to my husband with my arms over my head and have him pull the sports bra off. I would be so sweaty that it would be sticking to me like a wetsuit. It was just easier for him to remove it. And listen, nothing sexy going on here because once that thing was off it left behind little welty rings like a sausage casing might.
Once, after swimming at a local pool with my friend Julie, we were getting dressed in the locker room and she had forgotten to put a bra in her sports bag. I said, “that’s ok, you can wear mine” as I had on some bib overall shorts that covered the offending front area. Julie, tried to wrestle herself into this front closure bra but she couldn’t get the front clasp to work. I didn’t have my glasses so I was useless in trying to help. I remember her looking down and saying “this is just beyond the pale.” She was going to pick up her kids and she just took a towel from the locker room to drape over the breast area so as not to be unseemly in public.
A couple of years ago I found what was pretty close to the “perfect bra.” It was quick drying, you could rinse it out and it would be dry in an hour. It didn’t hold odor. It was comfortable. I was initially so thrilled with this bra that I bought one for my daughter in law and my mother, my sister and a couple of friends. Ok, you had to hook it in the back, but still pretty good. It provided stellar support for sports. You didn’t need a camisole with it under blouses but… but… if you were doing sporty things, under a tshirt, or running shirt, the onerous nipple outline is revealed. Nipples are unladylike, I knew this by the time I was five when I had to wear a shirt even if it was really, really hot out and by the time I was 13 well, the bras for under the school uniform. So my perfect bra was almost perfect except for the nipple reveal and the back closure.
It’s a conspiracy to keep us poor. The women’s lingerie conspiracy. My perfect bra costs $50.00.
I’m thinking of this as I pick out the fabric for a bra I’m making for a friend of mine who is having a breast biopsy next week. She’s scared. She likes bras. Maybe I’ll figure out how to do a workable front closure. I thought I’d make her one with a retro print. The purpose of this bra is to make her feel loved and this is something I can get behind.