Time for a "Change"

Women who depend on bras for support realize that when the garment feels unnoticeable on one's body, it has likely lost its effectiveness. I got the message from a three-way mirror, and put replacement somewhere in my Errand Brain—months ago.

Walking by the lingerie boutique Change on last Sunday afternoon, a 40% off sign beckoned, and in I went, remembering that my friend Susan especially likes the brand. Those of you who wear Change know their sizing is proprietary, and nothing like any other brand. A conventional C becomes an F in their system— is this vanity sizing run amok? I have a friend who's an F and there is no way, in the usual universe, I am too.

The fitter put me in a bra so tight that I looked like a trussed chicken in a yellow straitjacket and pronounced it perfect. ("Perfect" is the millennial's sales buzzword now.) "How does that feel?" she asked. I could not speak.

Change "Dita"
She grudgingly permitted one band size larger, and, now able to communicate my approval, I re-upped, in all senses of the word. Later, on the subway, I sat across from a woman who, though not big-busted, was at past 4 p.m. on the intimates clock, and I thought, Buy a new bra! I remembered a now-defunct company's ads stenciled on New York sidewalks: "From here, it looks like you could use new underwear."

I got to thinking about how buying lingerie is a purchase that's so easy to put off. If it's only you you're pleasing, you might decide to wait for a sale, and then forget about it. If anyone else admires you en déshabillé, that person is probably more attentive to your charms than the function. But one day you see yourself in a top and think, "There's something funny about the cut of this"—but, it's the underpinning.

I did a little checking after I brought the Dita home, and found women hold opposing opinions about Change bras; I'll see how this one holds up. I also reordered my usual black and nude Olgas, because thanks to my online customer order history, I saw just over a year had passed since my last purchase.  

A few friends are lingerie collectors who delight in building a raffish assortment, but I won't drop $400 on a wisp of La Perla. Occasional indulgence with French lace happens, but my everyday are in the Change category, there to do ten hours' work while looking pleasantly pretty.

I said the other day to Le Duc, "There is a point when 'broken in' passes into 'shabby'." (I was reminding him to replace a decrepit pair of shoes, another thing that can feel so comfy, but be shot.)

I've heard that as our bodies change, getting re-fitted is important; some online sites recommend every six months. It will be an improvement for me to simply keep abreast of the state of my lingerie's elastic.

As built-in reminder to turn that new lingerie leaf, I've chosen May Day, an apt occasion to keep up the front, and go forth uplifted. 


LauraH said…
So true and so funny. I get fitted at Secrets from Your Sister here in Toronto and am pleased with what I've bought from them. Bras are expensive, have to admit I like pretty colours and a bit of lace.
That Change bra looks lovely! We do not have that store out here in the West but we are fortunate enough to have several lingerie shops that carry a wide range of brands. I like Bali and Olga for everyday wear and have a couple of Chantelle bras for what I consider special occasions as they are more delicate.
Funny you should mention noticing women who could use a new bra...I recently noticed a woman whose balconette had collapsed into her lap!
diverchic said…
I noticed that all the Change bras (on the site) have straps to the side. Those side strays, while pretty, always slide off my shoulders and it is so indecorous to keep pulling your straps back in place. I had a grade 5 teacher who did that all the time, to the fascination of both the boys and girls in the class. She also kept kleenex up her sleeve. I like straps that are positioned over the (dare I say it?) nipple. Also with at least three hooks, not two and strong, wide bands. I've found that most fitters do exactly what yours did - make the band too tight. My best bras have come from Walmart or Sears. I would love to wear those charming balconettes and I'm not willing to suffer for that joy.

My sister brought a lot of clothes back from "specialty shops" in Florida and mum and sister-in-law were trying them on in the living room last Sunday . Not having a mite of modesty, our family strips anywhere. "Oh, what a lovely bra!" the ladies said, remarking on my shaped t-shirt grey silk bra bought two years ago at Sears. I didn't think it was anything special, but it does have a very wide band. The shaping - just short of padding - works well for my aging figure. I've always admired your bras. Is that too much information?
I'm glad to see this topic. I've lost weight, and am happy about that (the mild winter really helped, as I could keep up long walks and even the cycling season was much longer than the year before) but really need a new bra, and finding one is a horror show for someone as busty as I am. Those department store bras simply don't fit me - they go up to (very) large band sizes for women with broad backs, but there is nothing above a dd or ddd.

I was looking forward to trying at the Change boutique (is that at Rockland?) but if the straps are over to the sides they won't work for me either, as I have narrow, sloping shoulders. Sears carries bras in large cup sizes, but they have to be ordered from their (online) catalogue, and I have no idea how they fit. One thing I most certainly don't want is any padding.
materfamilias said…
Your writing is hilarious here -- so many spot-on observations. I've got bra-shopping on my list at the moment, although it will have to wait a few more weeks. I'm looking forward to the whole experience -- a shop with a wonderfully trained staff who have been there for years and years. They require only a few adjectives and before I know it, I'm in a comfortable change room being handed a series of choices. The fitting was a bit startling the first time, more, erm, "hand-on" than a neophyte might be prepared for, but it's also very effective, and it can be illuminating to see what size one really should be wearing. Not just illuminating, but flattering as well.
The other night at dinner with a friend a VERY large busted woman walked by and we both commented "She's got on a GREAT bra." A not so effective bra would have had those breasts resting on her waist and looking fat, which she wasn't. A good bra REALLY makes a difference if you are large busted. Us flatties have a little more leeway but still...some days I look in the mirror and think "aren't those puppies supposed to be higher?" That's when it is time for a new bra.
Nelson, the problem is that it is very hard to find a "great bra" that isn't an instrument of torture. It is quite the engineering challenge.
Sisty said…
So......can we consider a more radical approach, like going without? I swear, two years ago I would have scoffed at this, but lately any bra I wear just tortures me and I can't wait to get it off as soon as I walk through the door at the end of the work day. This is true of my heretofore faithful Prima Donna Madisons, sports bras, and wireless bras from Soma, to name just a few.

(I have the strap slipping issue, too, and found that silicone pads helped...until I got a 2 1/2 inch blister from one of them!)

I'm pretty busty -- a 36F or G. The thought of going without a bra would have filled me with horror, but now I'm filled with horror when I have to put one on.

Today I went to the office wearing only a shelf-camisole under a mariniere, with a light jacket over. Of course it doesn't look as nice as the lift I get from an underwire, but I'm 59 and am wondering whether to just embrace my soft pillowiness and say goodbye to bras forever. And no one has looked at me sideways (or commented, either).

In fact, Duchesse, I was planning to write to you after the muffin-top series to see if you would entertain this topic.

Kristien62 said…
For the past two days, I have gone without a bra. Just a small rebellion, but, oh how lovely it was. Of course, I had to wear a flowy sweater wrapped across the front so no one would know, but it was heavenly. The past two times I was fitted for a bra, the band sized differed so, at this point, I have no idea which size is correct. So I guess it is time to do it again. The Soma brand has worked well for me in the past.
Duchesse said…
LauraH: I too have always loved a pretty bra and it makes a difference to my mood!

hostess: Now that I had waited too long, I see this everywhere, among mature women.

Nelson Bartley: Bette Midler once said of a character she played in a short-lived TV series, "I play myself, but with a better bustline".

lagatta: IRL, I am a C, and sometimes a C's too roomy, so the Change size is completely their system. I suggest you hit the link provided to check their size system and then see if they carry things you can wear. One of my friends who is very full-busted swears by Freya. They are gorgeous bras, but pricey. However she refuses to wear ones that aren't appealing. I bought the change bra at their boutique in Place Mtl Trust.

diverchic: Come visit and we'll go lingerie shopping! I like the centered straps too but with wider necklines I need at least one to accommodate them.

materfamilias: In my dreams I go to Lucille Cadolle in Paris and get fitted for a custom-made bra (about $1000 for the first one, which includes the pattern making). One of my friends did that and said it changed her entire torso.

sisty: One day, I'll compromise with the sports bra all the time, which my mother discovered, to her delight, past 90. I like more fitted clothes and going without makes them look odd. Of course, you may wish to abandon yours, but beyond the A cup, on a mature women, it is not going to stay unnoticed.

Duchesse said…
Kristien: Meet Sisty! I think your nascent trend would make a fabulous episode of "Grace and Frankie" but neither is busty.
Tiffany said…
I've been putting off bra-shopping but I think you've now motivated me. I was wearing a favourite jacket the other day and thought 'hmmm, that doesn't look quite as good as usual' and then realised, as you say, that it was about the underpinnings. Sigh.
Julie said…
Buying a new bra is in the same category as bathing suits and jeans. It's darn hard. I'm not busty, but definitely fuller than when I was young. What I wanted then, I'm not so crazy about now. Flat was easier. Guess I have extra pounds everywhere.

Even in specialty shops, what I want is limited. No underwire, no padding - it's too hot, limited seams, no lace - rashes. And like all fitters, they must be trained in torture. They insist on a 32, are surprised when even they can't do it up, wedge me into a 34 and then finally concede to let me try a 36. Don't tell me it's perfect when it's hurting me. I've broken down and bought their suggestions and regretted it.

It's time for me to venture out for replacements. Dread it.

Too bad fitters in specialty stores don't have to display their training and experience. One gal didn't measure and brought me sleep bras, etc.
Swissy said…
Well, first the muffin and now this timely piece. I spend as much on my underpinnings (well, bras) as my other clothing. I have a wonderful shop not so far away in Northampton called Gazebo, to which establishment I take myself once a year. My 34C has become a 34DD over the past few years with no weight gain. I was wearing a Chantelle mesh affair and now find the comfort of Wacoal, with padded underwire and wide straps more appealing, if not so...pert, I guess. Thanks for the post.
Barbara said…
I'm similar to Julie, not busty but a bit fuller now.
Still have some Chantelle underwire Bras in the drawer which I don't like anymore (does anyone feel that itchy and scratchy lace on their skin?) At home or for sports I don't wear a bra, I simply don't need one.
My daily underpinning (love the word!) is this:http://www.hanro-shop.de/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/imported/1824/hanro-touch-feeling-bustier-1824-101-weiss_1.jpg.
Very comfortable and does his job and I love the simple and clean look. There is another model with a wider band.
Unfortunately Hanro does only three colors like shown in the picture, that's my only critism.
This is a very timely post because I too am a fan of "Secrets from your Sister" here in Toronto. I put off getting a proper fitting for way too many years - especially considering how busty I am! Finally wandered in there about 3 years ago and I've been raving about them ever since - what a difference!
The first thing I noticed was that I looked as though I'd lost 10 pounds - and then I noticed that I wasn't noticing things - like straps digging into my shoulders or underwire digging into my sides - I spent a small fortune on 5 different bras on that first visit. Expensive - yes - but so worth it. I don't really track the brands but I do know that they tend to be European makes, sometimes I have to wait a few weeks for the proper colour to arrive but I'm willing to be patient. I tell all my friends, big and small that its one of the best things they can do for themselves.
Leslie M said…
Agree this is a timely post. A good bra can make you feel so much better. I have had a lot of luck and comfort with Prima Donna Madison bras. After a breast biopsy decreased one breast by almost a full cup size I found the Madison's stretchy cup to fit both girls in the same bra. I don't wear anything else, anymore. Perky at 57 with a 34DDD is hard to pull off, but the Prima Donnas work for me. Barbara, you are right about those scratchy Chantelle bras. Pretty, but life is too short.
Jane in London said…
I'm an E cup and have never looked back since I discovered Freya! They do what they describe as a 'sports bra' which is actually a carefully-structured and designed smooth, modern bra. It comes in nude or black and the effect is fab - a neat, youthful outline. I also use their proper sports bras (the ones with the extra hook on the strap to create a racer back) for running, and they are wonderful.

On bra fitting, I remember being fitted many years ago at Jenners in Edinburgh by a woman who looked and sounded exactly like Miss Jean Brodie (film version). Terrifically strict, but effective and I flew back to London that evening with a great profile!

Duchesse said…
Sisty: Glad you mentioned that- I got a silicone reaction from my FitBit bracelet. When I showed it to my dermatologist (there for other reason) he said, "Yeah, we are seeing silicone reactions often". It looks so soft and non-irritating, but some skin reacts.

Barbara: I adore Hanro! But their bras aren't best for women who need extra support or the larger cup range. Still, nearly anyone can wear the other items in the line, and what marvelous quality. I have one Chantelle, but it is a specialty cut so I don't wear it often.

Margie: Must visit next time I'm there. This fitter was attentive, but the bra she put me into made me question her skill. She seemed far more concerned with what was (as she put it) "very beautiful" than comfort. The Prima Donna Madison is a beloved bra and thank you for mentioning it- for whatever reason many women need a bra that accommodates some difference between breasts, and it is also very well-designed.

Jane: A "neat and youthful" (or at least not egregiously low-slung) outline is indeed the grail, and thank you for the endorsement. Freya bras are also put luscious colours and sexiness into a bra as large as K, and I see that as a service to women.

I am wondering, as the huge population of boomers age, if they will insist that an acceptable silhouette does not involve hiking the bosom up, just as they have redefined the acceptability of grey hair. Several commenters here are blazing that path. I don't see it yet in the workplace, but one of my voluptuous friends has given up the wires and elastic for a compression-type sports bra at work, and at home, the kind of Hanro "semi bra" to which Barbara linked.

Mardel said…
I recently got fitted and new bras. It does make a difference and your post is hilarious. I'm not ready for sports bras all the time or going without on a daily basis. I did however find a huge difference in both support and comfort once fitted by a good trained fitter.

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