YOU can only expect this from the best of friends; one big hug and a breathless whisper in the ear: You’re wearing the wrong bra size, dear!
With that one statement, I was officially declared to be among the 80 per cent or so women who strut around wearing the wrong bra size; and we are not even talking about cups, bands or straps yet.
So, okay, it is time I pull up the straps that keep falling off my shoulders and put my hands up and admit to never having had myself measured; not since Mak bought that trainer bra from one of the shops in our small town of Alor Setar. It was then either S for small, M for medium or L for large. No 32B, 34DD, 36FF or other complicated combinations that were more appropriate for opening a safe. Any adjustments needed were made by stuffing socks or tissues. There was nothing that a small safety pin couldn’t do; it could hold the straps in place or serve as an extension of a back band a few centimetres too short.
And there were not many to choose from either, unlike today’s array of fashion which promises to lift not only what threatens to defy gravity but also your spirit. The correct measurement, cups and straps could do wonders for your posture, while giving back that waistline you thought you’d lost forever. Or at least, it gives you the illusion that you have a waist you don’t actually have.
So, it was after this short lecture directed firmly at my fast-deflating bosom and self-confidence that I found myself at one of those expensive stores in Oxford Street, in the lingerie department.
“What’s your size, madam?” asked the salesgirl politely. I mumbled some digits and an alphabet. And like a stern Maths teacher, she whipped out her tape measure and immediately dismissed my answer as wrong. So, I got a few D’s mixed up and for that wrong answer, I was marched off to the changing room.
I remember needlessly mentioning something about having four children, all breastfed, by way of preparing her for what she was about to see.
“I have seen it all, Madam. And so there is no need to be embarrassed,” she said, quite professionally. It was then that I surrendered myself to her expert hands. I even made her choose the pattern and style she thought were appropriate for me for I couldn’t bear the thought of being lost in the sea of La Senzas and La Perlas in their various colours and cups.
She came back with a selection; several pairs of deep plunge, half cups, underwired, sexy and naughty and even sober, schoolmarmish ones. Then I was made to stand with my back facing the mirror. I was then asked to bend down with both hands held out by my side. When the new undergarment was put in place, she started adjusting the bands and the straps. And slowly, quite slowly I felt a truly uplifting experience, right there in that small changing room. It is wonderful what an extra D could do to lift your spirit and more, and I wondered why all this while, like all the other 80 per cent who go around in blissful ignorance about their correct size, why I never bothered to go for a proper fitting.
“Will that be all, Madam?” asked my fairy godmother with her magic tape measure. “And what about these to go with the brassieres?” she added, flashing what looked like hairbands or things they now called thongs.
Er, no thank you, I said politely. Let’s not even go there