The Personal Hell of Bra Shopping: A Survivor’s Guide

Ali Solomon
Written by Ali Solomon

Like attempting to thread your own eyebrows with dental floss, shopping for bras is a feminine rite of passage. Did you know that, according to Oprah, 85% of all women are wearing the wrong bra size? That’s a lot of misplaced jiggle. Wearing the wrong size can lead to excessive exposure, paralysis, and a rare condition known as nipple chafing.

Having owned at least 3 bras over the course of my lifetime, I am an expert. A brassiere connoisseur (I’m so knowledgeable my title is all in French). And, like when I discovered in middle school that they don’t make bras for concave chests, I’m resourceful. Follow my guide, and you too can have the best curves money and synthetic materials can provide.

Step 1: Get yourself measured.

The best place to get this done is by a professional at a bra store. These stores usually have French names, like Le Corset, Lingerie Depot, or La Femme Nikita Brassieres, and are located directly next to stores your former high school crushes shop in. But you don’t want to be an Oprah statistic, so suck it up (and in) and go.

Measure under your bust. Use measuring tape, or if you don’t have any, use your excess eyebrow dental floss. You may think that the larger the number, the bigger your chest. This is incorrect; the larger the number, the flabbier your ribcage is. Next, measure around the widest part of your chest. Do not round up or down; you’re not fooling anyone, especially Gwen, the attendant from the Lingerie Depot, who can spot a false B-cup from across the parking lot.

Step 2: Choose a bra style

Remember, the type of bra you put on each morning sends a message to all the people imagining what you’re wearing under your Peach Pit After Dark t-shirt. Some examples:

Leopard print: you learned about sex from watching Empire.

Racerback: You’re running a half marathon this weekend, bitches!

Push-up: You will not be paying for your own drinks tonight.

Nursing bra: Perfect for feeding a baby in public, and also for lazy foreplay.

Padded: You want a bra that can double as a floatation device in case your plane goes down.

Underwire: Your S&M tendencies are in direct conflict with your religious upbringing.

Bralette: Like a Thanksgiving cornucopia, your bra is not functional, just decorative.

Strapless: Um, your dress has no straps. Also, you can shoot lasers out of your aureola, but don’t want anyone to know.

No bra: You are over 65 years old, and honey badger don’t care.

In addition to a bra’s appearance, you do want to consider its functionality. While your eye is drifting to the camisole made of memory foam, keep in mind that this garment is going to have to actually support your bust while you’re “seat-dancing” at the next bar mitzvah. The ideal bra can lift, separate, sort, fold, and do taxes.

Step 3: Make the bra fit

Sure, you were meticulously and invasively measured by Gwen, and purchased several bras in your correct size. But breast size can change on a dime. Perhaps there’s a chill in the air. Or you’re nursing a baby and your feedbags fluctuate like a balloon being inflated by an asthmatic. Or you’ve lost a few pounds and karma detracted them from your decolletage. You’re not going back to the goddamn store again, so let’s make this thing fit.

Start by adjusting the straps. If that doesn’t work, use masking tape to stick the straps to your shirt sleeves. Lean forward and nudge your breasts into the cups of the bra. If it’s too tight, slingshot some grapefruits around until the bra stretches out. If it’s too loose, stuff some old socks in there, and throw on one of those shapeless tunics your friend convinced you were “slimming.”

As you move through your day, double-check the efficiency of your new bra. Do your breasts flop out on either side of the cups? If so, is Brad from Accounting looking? Wait, now he is. Drop your pencil again.

Do some jumping jacks. If your entire chest leaps out of the top of your bra, it’s probably too loose. And also, maybe wear a higher-cut shirt at the gym.

If you make it through the day without a nip-slip, indecent exposure, or weird marks appearing on your upper torso, then congratulations! You are one of Oprah’s lucky chosen few who are wearing the perfect bra. Bye-bye, back pain, bad posture, and frumpy silhouette! Your bra has changed you, and will continue to do so as long as you never ever wash it ever.

So go, take that thing off the second you get home, and celebrate.

About the author

Ali Solomon

Ali Solomon

Ali Solomon is an art teacher and cartoonist who lives in NYC with her husband and two daughters. She likes to draw cartoons of babies. Sometimes babies draw cartoons of her. You can find her on the Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, McSweeney's, and numerous other parenting sites. Read more of her nonsense at http://wiggleroomblog.com or @Alicoaster.

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