She minces no words.

Dont Mince Words

From lords to wizards Comments Off on From lords to wizards

Posted on March 31, 2006 by Marna

Every girl remembers her first bra. I wasn’t interested in getting one. Now, 31 years later, I still wish I didn’t have to wear one, but I’m thankful for the interesting bra shopping experiences that make the hassle worth it.

In 1975, I was an early bloomer in the fifth grade. I didn’t want to be the first one in my class to have to wear one. My mom insisted bra shopping would be “fun” and we’d go to lunch afterwards. Our destination was Lord & Taylor. In its day, it was similar to today’s Nordstrom’s. It was a rare, special treat for our lower-middle income family.

When we landed in the lingerie department, my mother went hunting for the woman with a tape measure. “Oh, so you’re here to get fitted for your first bra. Let me help you,” said the older, gray-headed lady. As I rolled my eyes, she measured below and above my sprouting breasts to compute my bra size and told me I really did need a bra, but it would be OK. I tried on several bras and walked away with a suitable young woman’s bra. It made my mom happy I wasn’t flopping around anymore. On Monday at school, my bra was visible through my white shirt. The bra snapping and teasing began.

Many years later when I was in New York, I was tiring of my bras and decided for the optimal retail experience, I needed a Jew since there was no tape measure lady in the Fifth Avenue Lord & Taylor. I wandered the lower east side and found a fabulous bra shop on Orchard. The store was 20-feet wide and had floor-to-ceiling containers of bras with a sliding ladder to reach all areas. I walked in and a black-hat Jew with the goldilocks dreads, beard, and dandruff looked at me.

“You need a bra” he said, surveying my sagging state of affairs.

Without hesitation he told me I was a 40dd. No tape measure. A Hasidic Jew with visual, pinpoint accuracy. He pulled several bras out of containers for me to try.

“Dis is Wacoal, Oprah’s favorite bra. I give to you for $30, but it tis $55 at Macy’s,” he said.

I went to the back, behind a curtain in the stock room, where his wife assisted me with bra installation. He was right. Perfect fit. I walked out with a bargain in the right size.

Recently, I realized my Bali’s were wearing thin. I needed another retail shopping experience but wasn’t sure, on the west coast, what could top a good, lower east side Jew or my Lord & Taylor lady. Two friends recommended “The Wizard of Bras.”

I made the mistake of going on a Saturday. There was a 65-minute wait for a fitter, but given the crowd of large-breasted women, this was going to be worth the wait. When my name was called, I followed a short, Hispanic woman to one of the curtained stalls. “Bra fitting or girdle?” she asked.

“Bra. The doctor just put me on the pill and I’m getting bigger. My bras are too small and I’ve got the four-boob syndrome right now.” I admitted.

She measured above, she measured below, and she measured across the middle and came back with a bra for me to test. I was asked to raise my hands above my head and discovered my left breast was bigger which forced me up another cup size. She came back with a bin of bras.

The bras fit great and looked great. Fabulous engineering until I looked at the actual bra size. I’d been several cup sizes off. Like in high school, I’d been forcibly shoving my boobs in smaller bras to hide and minimize the size. I paid for the discomfort.

The Wizard was right. Now my sport bra is a five-hooker and my day bras cost as much as a pair of Steve Madden’s or a nice, full keg of beer. While I’ve been carrying the load and enduring the teasing and the looks for more than 30 years, I still covet going braless undetected. Such freedom. Until then, I have my tape measure ladies and my retail Jews around to tell me “the proper foundation makes the woman.”

  • About Marna

    Marna’s writing career started as a Pentagon intern. Early exposure to $500 toilet seat press releases made her appreciate creative nonfiction. Now she has more than 25 years of senior-level marketing and communications success working with Fortune 100 companies, government, nonprofits, small businesses, startups, and agencies.

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