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I need a new bra
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I had been Mother’s primary caregiver for some years, and I thought I was ready for anything. But I was not.

Out of the blue one day, Mother said to me, “I need a new bra.”

While I was aware of bras, in a manly sort of way, I really had never considered how one was purchased. I had to consider bras in a completely different light than I ever had before. Mother’s situation had given me a new perspective, and a new dilemma, to face.

I had no choice—I had to buy a bra. That seems like a small (I mean simple) thing to do, but I learned that bra-buying is rather difficult, even for women. There are big (I mean important) questions one must consider, such as: (1)Where do you go to buy a bra? (2)What kind of bra do you get? (3)Who determines (gulp!) if it fits? and (4) What if you meet someone you know in the store? —all questions of utmost importance. These questions are not academic, but real ones that must be answered to go forward; that is, to actually buy your mother a bra.

Oh, how I wish that I had found the article beforehand – “Ten Bra-Shopping Rules to Follow.”

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This excellent article began with the statement, “It’s practically a rite of passage for an adolescent girl to stand in a dressing room, red-faced, whileMom and the saleslady search for her first bra.” I searched but there was no corresponding statement for a son standing on the sales floor with his mother, while he, she, and the saleslady search for a bra.

The ‘Bra’ article then quickly proceeded with good advice on bra-shopping. The rules seemed rather straightforward, and anyone, even I, could see their practicality. Rule 1: Know your measurements. How can one not see that point? Nonetheless, I think we, Mother and I, disobeyed this very first rule. The article stated that 85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. Their biggest mistake is “not getting fitted.” And “getting fitted once isn’t going to cut it.” Well, Mother’s shape had changed during her 80-plus years, and I doubt she knew her size now. But I didn’t think about refitting. I do not recall that she did.

Rule 2 stated, “Your cups should be front and center.” This made sense. Moving along, the rules in order were: (3)the bra should fit firmly around your frame, (4)account for stretching, (5)pay attention to the seam, (6)wear the right shirt when shopping, (7) strapless bras are a little trickier to fit (I wondered how that worked), and (8)just because you wear a bigger cup size doesn’t mean you can’t have fashionable bras (I had not considered that). As a side note, it was stated that 40,000 bras in G cup were sold last year alone (I did not know that). Rule 9was common sense, stating, “Opt for greater quantity and quality of bras, because, though it will cost more up front, you will end in savings in the long run.” Lastly, Rule 10also made perfect sense—always follow care tag instructions.

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Since I did not have this article beforehand, I had to sort out for myself how bra-buying was done. I discreetly inquired around. It turned out there was a simple answer to my first question—where? There wasa local department store with a saleslady well-versed in, and well-known for assisting with, bra- buying. Everyone I questioned on this matter (and there were several) gave me the exact same answer. Their unanimity on this point was amazing, and maybe unprecedented. So, Mother and I went to the store and found the renowned saleslady.

I said, “My mother needs a bra—can you help her? I will be in the men’s department.”

When I returned, the new bra had been purchased. The saleslady was well pleased with a sale. Mother was well pleased with a new bra. I was well pleased that I did not encounter anyone I knew.

Dan AkinWell, sometime later, Mother told me she needed yet another bra. (Obviously, she had violated Rule 9—the quality and quantity rule.) With success the first time (and still without the bra-shopping article), I was considerably less intimidated. We went to the same store, but found a different clerk. Different clerk! Oh, no! But not to fear.

We strolled in and went straight to the bra section, and I said without trepidation, “We want to buy a new bra.”

The new, young saleslady pointed us to some bras packaged up and lying there on a table. With even less trepidation, I opened a bra box and begin to feel, examine, and evaluate the bra. I began to appreciate, in a way I had not before, the different styles and cup sizes. I gained a good grasp of this subject and related to the saleslady which bra we wished to buy. Oh, yes—this all was done in consultation with Mother.  I must admit some pleasure in taking on a seemingly impossible task, organizing a plan, and succeeding.

With this experience, and now armed with my knowledge of “Ten Bra-Shopping Rules to Follow,” I feel even more confident should I be called upon again. In fact, I am looking forward to it.
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Reader's Comments

Marinelle Teasley says:

Oh, my – can I ever identify with your experience. Even though I am a woman, I was not prepared to help my mother buy a bra. No one had told me about the shifting sands of time.

Mother did not want a sales lady to help her – she was a little shy around strangers. After several stabs at finding the right bra size with some success, the next step was to find the right cup size. Ay”, there’s the rub.”

Once the bra was securely fastened, there was the problem of stuffing the remainders evenly into the cups. If you have ever experienced a half-full bag of sand, you will understand. I would pick up one of the members to be placed; but alas, that is where I encountered the shifting sands. I would lift with my hand and the sand would shift to the other side of the cup.

Apparently not a very good daughter, I found this hilarious, if a little ooky. My mother was not amused. After a while, we finally settled on several bras of the same size. That worked out fine, until the next time…. It never got better.

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