Tag Archives: bras

The Wacky World of Bras

Statistics are showing that women shop for lingerie (bras, panties, etc.) more than any other type of clothes and at least five times a year. So much so that Mark’s (once Mark’s Work Wearhouse) plans to add lingerie to their line so that they can draw more women into their stores. And to guys bras and bra buying are a mystery.

Some young men work on their technique of undoing a bra one handed and others are befuddled by the fasteners, especially if they’re front fastening. Maybe this is why so many guys go into engineering. Of all garments of clothing a brassiere is the only piece that a man doesn’t wear or have an equivalent garment. Even skirts are simulated in kilts and Uitilikilts. As well a skirt covers the same part of the torso as shorts or pants, and a shirt or blouse cover the upper torso but men don’t wear bras…usually.

So this piece of apparel and women’s propensity for it is hard to fathom for many men. As one male friend told me, “I buy ten pairs of socks and ten pairs of underwear all the same and when they wear out I get more. But women may have from one to twenty bras and matching underwear. Because of the way our tops, blouses and shirts fit with scoops, V-necks, boat necks, square, low or high, it means that sometimes the bra might show and if the color blends it’s better. And if you’re wearing a form-fitting top you don’t want the stippling or seams to show through so you need a smooth cup but if you want something a little sexy (the only aspect of a bra that men might truly understand), you might want lace or ruffled edges.

Then there are sports bras, ones that will hold everything in place when you’re jogging, and strapless bras so you still have support and form even under an evening gown without the gauchness of showing the straps, or bras with crossed straps or thin straps for various styles of top. There are molded bras and ones with removable padding (especially helpful should a woman have breasts of uneven size and we all do to some extent). There are push-up bras and unlined bras, super support for the big busted gals and demi bras for those low-cut tops. So, it makes sense that in fact women don’t just have five white bras but a host of colors and styles and materials.

The opposite side is the women that do only have one or two bras that are older than their college aged children. The purpose of a brassiere is support and cover, as well as fashion and shaping. When I’m at the gym there are often these middle aged to elderly women wearing bras that sag more than their breasts. At that point, they may as well toss them. Their bathing suits often match in the baggy  department. It defeats the purpose on all fronts of having a bra if it’s old and doesn’t fit.

Bras are probably one of the most synthetic pieces of clothing that we wear. There are cotton bras but they’re often padded with something synthetic. You can get shirts, pants, skirts and dresses that are all natural fibers but you’ll be hard pressed to find a bra that is and they have all the forms to shape us and make us more than we are. And as it turns out, 8 out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size; usually too large a band size (the strap that encircles you) and too small a cup size. I can say from experience that I was doing the same thing.

Part of the problem is, as Wikipedia lays it out, there is no standardization between one brand and another nor on how they size bras. Some companies just add 4 or 5  inches to the band size to make the cup size. Some pad their numbers so that women think they’re buying a smaller band size. The bras of yesteryear, from the 50s and 60s were holdovers from the war era when rubber (and therefore elastic) was rationed. The bras didn’t fit that well. Torpedo bras rarely matched the human form. Sure the nipple might be pointed, sort of, but we don’t tend to have cone-shaped breasts.

With more elastic, polyester and other synthetic materials, bras took on many shapes with pad, water filled pouches and other ways to enhance the female form. Where Playtex bras of the 60s advertised “lift and separate” today’s bras are all about push together and up. Of course our shapes have changed, not because we’re evolving but because we’re having silicon and water and other odd chemicals injected or implanted into our bodies. Breasts are not torpedo cones, nor are they a melon cut in half and placed on the chest.

So, if men are baffled by women’s bras, considered that women have man shapes and sizes of breasts. Some are perky, some flattened by offspring sucking the dry, some lopsided, some full, some pendulous. And breasts change as we age, as we gain or lose weight, as we exercise and during the month. I tend to have different sizes/types depending on whether I’m ovulating or not. As long as bra sizes tend to be arbitrary wish fulfillment on the part of manufacturers women will continue to shop for lingerie most of all, because it really is a guessing game on finding the right fit.

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Kansas: Vignettes

It’s late and the workshop begins in the morning so this will be things I noted along the way, perhaps in order.

I found out that your bra can set off the airport security system. Seriously. I took off all my jewelry (except my rings which never set off the alarms) and I still buzzed the thing twice. They said, something up high is setting it off and when they ran the little wand over me it was the wires and clips on my bra. I bought it on sale but it’s well made.

I sat beside a horse rancher who had fingers the size of breakfast sausages and then some. Several fingers were bent to the side and I didn’t know if that was just from arthritis or from breaking horses all his life. He was a nice guy and we chatted about geography, him showing me the copper mine by the great salt lake (which I certainly wouldn’t have noticed) and talking about how the land had changed and cities come up. We talked about floods in Iowa and about the land flying over. He told me if I talked about sports in Lawrence I couldn’t go wrong as they called it the “sport city.” I guess the college basketball team has won championships.

I’ve flown often enough and never fail to love looking down on the land and seeing its great scape and what tales it tells of time passing. The was the first time I saw a truly awesome alluvial plain. I could see where there had once been a great river, wide and high and lake like in its middle, how it pushed might torrents of water along and through the land, carving out veins that branched and branched, growing ever smaller. The dark lines of those veins and the rivulets, even now long dried out, were still there to tell the tale. It was amazing. Then as the land flattened past the Rockies, there was evidence of a great lake, where the banks were still built up and the water had overflowed, pouring down one side, then eventually shrinking in on itself, smaller and smaller over thousands of years until only a few streams and possibly rivers remain.

We then hit the flat farm fields of Kansas, beautiful in the chequered pattern of greens, golds and browns, quartered and sectioned. Even through the farmlands the evidence of rivers still reveal themselves. Those branches and veins still flow with life-giving water, and trees delineate and embroider the shapes of the rivers. This was one of the best histories of geography that I’ve flown over and I’ve flown into the British Isles, India, the Himalayan foothills, Mexico and Cuba.

Oro, one of the short fiction workshop folk who lives in Kansas City picked me up at the airport and gave me a ride. We got lost at first, going north instead of west. Oro apologized and for the fact his car didn’t have air conditioning but I just said, hey, it’s an adventure. I’ve amazingly looked at all the travel delays with pretty good humor, which is a good thing. In some cases I would get downright bitchy so maybe all that work I’ve been doing on my brain is paying off. I just took everything as part of the whole grand adventure.

The dorms in Lawrence are…well, dorms, but way more spacious than I thought. Rhea and I are sharing a room, which actually turns out to be a room with a wide kitchen space and bathroom in the middle and another room at the other end. If we were college students we would have another buddy in each room but we have the rooms to ourselves and doors to each bedroom. I nearly froze the first day because I hadn’t figured out the esoteric air conditioning.

I’ve met all the workshop people: Lane, Barbara, Jerry, Larry, Stewart, Eric, GS (and Rhea) for the novel portion, and Mannie, Mallory, Eric, Chuck, Kent, Oro, Ben, Robert, Jean, (Carolyn who I met the next day) for the short fiction portion (though I think I’m missing a name). Barbara, Larry and Jerry are doing both. And of course there is Chris, Kij who is teaching the novel portion,and Jim Gunn, saying what they wanted to get out of the workshop. I of course want fame and riches. But seriously, it’s great to brainstorm and get other perspectives and see if there’s something I’m missing in plot.

I drank some homemade limoncello by the novel workshop Eric. Very nice and strong stuff, actually better than the store bought, which doesn’t have enough tang for my tastes. Last night we ate at a Greek restaurant (the only one in Lawrence), which also serves falafel and pasta. It’s the first time I’ve ever had a Greek salad with lettuce in it. They asked me if I wanted the olives and I said yes. I was given a whole two. We then took a walk around a wee park and a wee-er Japanese sort of garden, then meandered along a street of cool shops. Last night was very pleasant and it was great to meet fellow writers tonight where we ended up talking new technologies, conservation, pollution, etc. My brain is happy.

I’ll soon be doing some poetry editing for Chizine so Sandra felt obliged to actually get to my poems before I come on board. She accepted “Trials of Lemons,” a poem about bitter fruit and dragonflies. I’m not yet sure when it will be up.

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