Chihuahuas don't normallywear bras, but with today's sizes they could.

Life is like a box of bras: It’s a stretch to find what fits


Photo of a box of sports bras.
Bra-vo! Mom inspired me to add a few of my own constricting sports bras to the pile.

I recently dropped off more than a dozen brand-new bras at Goodwill. My mother mailed her pile of rejects to me in case there were any I could wear.

She felt a tightness around her ribs. So she kept buying more bras in her quest to find one that didn’t bind. Unfortunately she didn’t vary from her shopping MO, which is to buy minute variations on the clothing styles she prefers without trying anything on. There are a lot of you around, you shoppers who bypass fitting rooms. You say that it saves time. But that’s how you end up with a box of bras.

And that’s why I recommend always trying things on. My hint: Make it fun by including something feathered, sequined or cut down to there. Something inappropriate. Something So Not You. Always good for a laugh. Or – surprise ‑ might be chic!

Mom’s getting the tightness checked out with her doc. But the bras surely were part of the feeling. Petite women run in my family. But these bras were beyond tiny. If a Chihuahua needed a bra these would do the trick.

Chihuahuas don't normallywear bras, but with today's sizes they could.
Not my mother’s bras. Her cast offs would have fit to a T. Thanks to for the visual.

I’m sure my cups would have runneth over had I been able to get that far into the trying-on process. But not one of the bras in the box, all in the small-to-medium 32-34-36ish range, fit comfortably around the circumference of my rib cage. I nearly dislocated my shoulders trying the first three on. Then in like-mother-like-daughter fashion I reverted to eyeballing the remaining bras, holding them up against the ones I’d already tried on. Regardless of what was marked on the tags, these torture devices were the size of wristbands.

Panties these days are similarly mismarked. My mantra is ‘go big or go commando.’ My alleged size is a small, or 5. I upgrade to a 7. Because I don’t like pinching or bulging or creeping into crevices and crannies where no fabric is meant to tread.

And Spanx? No thanks.

I’m not suggesting baggy or droopy. We can all benefit from a little support. One of my favorite bras of all time was a sunset-orange, front closure – I think it was a Bali – professionally fitted at a little lingerie shop in downtown Milwaukee. I was pregnant with my daughter and had amazing breasts. The cost was worth it. After the birth it was a glamorous respite from those old-school nursing bras with the industrial flaps.

It occurred to me, as I added a couple of my own uncomfortable bras to the box, that the assortment of discards is a metaphor for life.

Pink, tan, white, gray, black, tan, bras in every size.
Reportedly a high percentage of women are wearing the wrong size bra. Guilty! And grateful to learn yet another useful lesson from my amazing mom.

Leave Forrest Gump to his chocolates. Life is more like a box of bras … you have to try on a lot of styles in different sizes before you find the right fit. Conversely (perversely) you’ll probably have to get out of your comfort zone to figure out what’s comfortable. Move beyond the Spartan athletic bra to something soft and lacy. Let go of the underwire. Stretch.

Inner contentment like the perfect bra is a delicate balance between form fitting and non-binding. And you can’t find that elusive middle ground without testing different models. Just ask the Double Divas.

Are you ready to ignore the tags, labels and assumptions that constrict your life? To try something new? And be willing to try the new again and again?  Insights – and bra stories – welcome!




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