The Spread and Sag Years

By Janey Womeldorf

The Spread and Sag Years

“Bra shopping is no longer about what I’m trying to keep in, but what I’m trying to stop spilling out.”

I took 18 bras into the fitting room. (I know; I was surprised they let me take in that many too!) My stash consisted of nine white, (dependable), five black, (predictable), three skin-tone (for those t-shirts that are too wide on the neck, routinely expose my bra strap but I wear anyway), and a pink one for fun. Styles spanned two back sizes, three cup sizes, one front fastener, 16 with underwires and two without for curiosity. Ladies, is it just me?

I tried getting myself professionally measured once. All I remember is that, one, my jaw dropped when she told me my “correct” size and, two, no stores carried it anyway. She suggested I go online but the returns would have been nightmarish. (Re-read the first sentence.)

My delight they let me take in all 18 evaporated when I saw the changing cubicle. I mean, who designs these things? Is the theory of only two hooks, one for yes and one for no? (If only shopping were that simple.) What about the hook for not-sure, or the hook for will buy, but return next week? I couldn’t even use the top of the door as the hangers were those cheap, plastic, white ones with hooks that don’t swivel and snap if you try. Fortunately, the door had a regular handle; thank goodness, it’s impossible to hang anything on the knob of those silver locks you slide back and forth – I’ve tried.

With bras scattered like confetti, I embarked on my crusade. First up was the front fastener. Not something I would normally try but a desperate woman does desperate things. The problem with front fasteners is I have never really mastered that whole twist, slide and snap thing. Not only that, but, one, I don’t always have my glasses on when I buckle up, and two, certain things block my shot. I try it anyway. It fits okay, but I remember why no front fasteners grace my bra drawer – I keep my bras too long. Translation: When the elastic starts to go, I just move up to a tighter hook. Front fasteners don’t give you that option – they’re a one hook fits all – or not, as in this case. I hang it on the no hook and soldier on.

Six bras and ten minutes later, boredom set in. Twelve bras and fifteen minutes later, frustration was rampant. Despite half my bras being the same size, every one fit differently. Bits of flabby skin overflowed at the front, spilled out under the armpits and bulged over the back strap, and I had yet to find the perfect fit. I found myself moving even the imperfect fits to the yes hook. Was it this hard for every woman? My brain reminisced back to easier times – of course, I was about 12 at the time, but back then, I loved bra shopping. (Can you imagine?)

I was 12 going on 20 and desperate to be grown up. It didn’t matter that I was flatter than a pancake, I wanted a bra. My first one was a 32AAA, white, with a single hook and dainty pink flowers. It oozed pretty, served no purpose, and I loved it.

As my body blossomed, so did my need for bras. At 12, you don’t even need to try them on, you just pick the ones you like off the shelf and hand it to Mum. My bras were scarcely bigger than handkerchiefs but each one epitomized delicate and fit with ne’er a bulge in sight. Life was good.

Then one day, I woke up and I was 40. Suddenly, the size I’d been wearing for the last decade no longer cut it – well it did – right into my shoulders. My body began spreading and sagging and the only thing tighter than my skin elastic was my bra elastic and even that was on its last legs. Back straps were closer to my neck, burdened cups were resting on my rib cage, and VBLs and overflow bulged out everywhere. Gravity was the new sheriff in town leaving me one choice: Sag or shop.

An extra hook, wider straps, and a size larger provided a temporary fix – until the next gravity wave hit. When that happened, I tried those $2.99 bra extenders that come off in the wash. Even when I would find them inside the grungy, rubber seal of my washing machine, I persevered; I loathe bra shopping that much. The only thing worse is swimsuit shopping – too much mirror reality.

Back in the fitting room, my face lit up. Was this a fit? I put my t-shirt on to double check for the ugly, front, cup-line bulge. Lines were smooth, labels didn’t itch, and the shoulder straps were comfy. Finally, a winner. Houston, we have lift up.

Tired yet inspired, I reached for the last one, the pink one. My heart sank. The initial drive-by failed but as I always say, if at first you don’t succeed, try another hook and adjust the strap. It felt better but not perfect. Oh well, if you are going to wear ill-fitting bras, at least let them be pretty. I hung it on the yes hook.

Of the 18 I tried on, I ended up buying six: one because it fit; two more of the same but in a different color; one just because it was pink, and three because I couldn’t stand the thought of going through all that malarkey again. I’m just at that shape in my life where bra shopping is too challenging to worry about perfection.

The way I see it, if the bra fits, buy it; if it doesn’t, force it; and if that fails, come back in five years. You will have entered the next stage of the spread and sag years and will need a new size anyway.

Happy shopping ladies.

About this writer

  • Janey Womeldorf Janey Womeldorf once went to work wearing different shoes. She now freelance writes and scribbles away in Orlando, Florida. It’s probably best.

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One Response to “The Spread and Sag Years”

  1. Oh my, I was laughing as I can certainly relate. This was a great uplifting essay.

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