Tag Archives: Mark’s Work Wearhouse

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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Booty and Buying Jeans

I’m one of those gals with booty, as they like to call it. Or a bigger ass than is the norm. However, I must really wonder what the norm is. We often think we’re the only ones with an issue or a problem, but mention it and it turns out it’s common for a lot of people.

Like booty. My hips and waist have quite a difference in ratio. First I must get them over my hyper developed calves, (not the ones mooing in the fields), then over the larger than average thighs and hips to the smaller than average waist. Should I get them all the way up, I usually have enough room in the waistline to cart a baby around. Suffice to say it’s extremely hard to find any pants and I revert to skirts more often than not. Yoga pants are fine because they stretch.

You would think that pants that fit below the waistline would make it easier because there is less disparity between upper hip and lower hip. But oh no, this is not so. Often when I try those pants on they give me plumber’s crack and that ain’t attractive on anyone. Now it’s easy to think that I am some misshapen creation but when I’ve talked with other female friends who I wouldn’t consider overweight at all and some even very skinny it turns out most of them have the same problem.

They say they can’t get them over their thighs or if they get them over their hips, they gap in the back. These slim women, like me, cannot find pants to fit. Interestingly, tall women can’t ever find pants or shirts long enough. Now if you are of genetic Asian heritage your waist to hip ratio on average will be less than those of European or African heritage. You’ll have to ask an anthropologist for the difference in people’s physiologies because there are books written about the subject.

But suffice to say, for the average North American woman (that’s you and me and not all the anorexic models) we come in a variety of sizes. I remember being at a new year’s party once and we got talking about clothes and the whole booty problem. When I looked around the room, all these beautiful women had what many would call a slightly bigger than average butt. The media goes on about J-Lo’s booty and I can’t see anything wrong with it except that it looks like a nice curvy butt.

Media and fashion, the bane of every normally sized person. And just who is it that the fashion industry makes all those clothes for anyway? Sure there are “average” size people, according to those sizes but many of us are curvier. I went shopping last week for a new pair of jeans. I hate shopping for pants because it’s trying on size after size, often with no luck in getting anything even up to the hips, and by the end you feel fat. My jeans are always pretty near to skin-tight because if I go for a larger size, it’s far far too large for my waist. So I’m always wedging myself in.

Last week’s excursion saw me in about seven different stores; Sears, Bootlegger, Stitches, Le Chateau, Suzy Shier, American Eagle, Zellers even. In some there were not enough jeans to try on, as in the legs were too skinny or the sizes too small to even start the laborious process of struggling into fabric and getting overheated. Stitches seemed to have nothing but 00, 1 and 3 sizes. Zero isn’t a size and it certainly wasn’t even ten years ago, but hello, anorexia. However, this told me that Stitches was catering mostly to the tweens, the young kids before hormones wop them and give them breasts and leg hair and shape.

After negating several stores just for sheer similarity in jean sizes and one place that had $98 pairs (I won’t pay over $50 for just jeans), I tried on about 40 pairs of jeans. I developed a system for measuring the narrowest part, the knee, and if it wasn’t as wide as my hand I didn’t even take the pair in to try. Of those 40 a few only got as far as myknees. Most of the others I pulled all the way on, a few with jumping about, and did them up. But between plumber’s crack and gapitis none worked. I think there was one pair but they didn’t look good. There”s no point buying something that fits if it doesn’t look good on you and you end up not wearing it.

Tired and hot, I gave up and headed out of the mall. But I happened to pass Mark’s Work Wearhouse. I think of them as work clothes, overalls, muckin’ huge boots, that sort of thing. But what the heck, I went in. Not only did I find pants that fit I found that they had four styles: contemporary, classic, modern and curvy. Contemporary fits slightly below the natural waistline; classic fits at the waistline, modern fits below and curvy fits below but designed not to gap.  They didn’t have a lot of the curvy style in but they fit me and they didn’t gap. I ended up finding the only one left of another style with a modern waistline, and they were on sale. Thank the gods for curvy and recognizing that there are those of us who have hips.

Many of my friends, when I posted my yippee on Facebook, wanted to know where I found them. Stores that decide to cater to more than boy-hipped girls would probably find their sales going up as many girls with booty would worship there.

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