Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Bras are just one more tool used to oppress women

Despite the title of this post might imply, I'm really not a bra-burning feminist.  So hear me out.

Today, I had the misfortune to learn that the only strapless bras I ever wear have been discontinued.  And since I only buy strapless bras, this means that the only bras I ever wear have been discontinued.  I discovered this fact yesterday upon my last me-colored (I'm reluctant to say "flesh-colored" because plenty of people aren't pasty white) bra biting the dust.  I am well and truly stuck.

Yes, I have tried to find other brands that work for me.  In fact, I tried as recently as four months ago.  Other bras either don't fit or dig in to my skin so hard they give me welts.  I honestly do not know how this is possible.  As you can see from my photos, I am really not very busty.  As long as the bra can hold itself up, we're good. 

Bras are not a thing I can make on my own.  I know that there are plenty of people who do make their own bras, but I only wear strapless bras, and I can't exactly mold my own foam cups and cover them with fabric smoothly enough for the sorts of tight knit tops I tend to wear. 

Thus, I am completely and utterly at the mercy of clothing manufacturers.  And guess what?  They can discontinue the only bra I can wear at the drop of the hat.  My size, and the two other sizes I can reasonably wear, are already sold out.  I don't know what to do.*  I'm stuck.

And I really am stuck.  Not only have I been through the entire inventory at the mall, I also hit up the best we-stock-lots-of-bras-and-fit-you-professionally store in town.  There is really nothing else left to try.*

Going bra-less is not acceptable in today's society.  Quite the contrary.  And it's not enough to find a bra; you have to find the optimal bra.  As Gorgeous Fabrics says, "the right bra makes all the difference."   I can't argue with that sentiment-- if you're going to wear clothes, they better darn well fit you right.  It just makes trying, and failing, to find a decent bra that much more agonizing.

When someone who wears a the most mundane and uncomplicated bra size ever can't find a bra, you know the system is screwed up.  And I haven't even gotten around to the time and opportunity cost, and the real dollar-value cost, of bras-- things that men just don't have to go through.  I can waste hours or days searching for bras.  They're around $50 a pop, and you're supposed to replace them, what, every six months?  I could buy some really nice camera gear for that sort of money.

I am so sick of this.

Something needs to change.



*Once I had typed this post up, I realized that I do know the answer-- a lingere-buying trip to Japan or Vietnam.  In general, they do much better with smaller sizes than the US.  If you need larger sizes, on the other hand, the Netherlands is the place to go.  But the point is the same-- I should NOT have to make an international trip every time I need to buy lingerie.

19 comments:

  1. I feel your pain, and you might try some online lingerie sources to see what's still available in your favorite maker and style. But you really can learn to sew your own bras if you wish; there's a new craftsy course on constructing the foam style of bra, and I'll bet you can adapt that basic style to strapless and boned for your needs.

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    1. Thanks for the tip! Actually, now I'm wondering whether I can somehow hack their non-strapless style to get a reasonable strapless bra. Hmmm...

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  2. I share your pain. Literally. I have to wear my undies inside out b/c the seams leave welts or break my skin.

    This year, I'm going to try to make my own undies.

    I'm in the research phase.

    I found foam cups that fit my small frame at Target, as inserts in cheap bras. I tried buying some A-cup foam bra cups from Wawak but they were too pointy. In LA's garment district, I found some that were shaped flatter, but didn't buy them when I had the chance. Sigh.

    OTOH, have you seen the cotton flannel pads sold for nursing mothers? I used them when nursing and their shape fit me nicely. I wonder if I still have them around?

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    1. Hmm, I'm not familiar with nursing pads. Generally if I build bra cups into a dress I'll just cut out and shape a few layers of cotton flannel myself.

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  3. Feminists did not burn bras; that's an often repeated myth.

    Are bras in Japan truly inexpensive? I wouldn't have thought so. Vaguely related, the Netflix show Atelier is about a couture Japanese bra boutique.

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    1. The exchange rate was pretty favorable the last time I went-- I don't know what it's like now. The main draw for Japan is the wider availability of small bra sizes.

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    2. I would love to visit Japan. Even though I don't have a large bust, to me, wearing a bra that fits well makes a big difference. $50 a bra? That's great. I went to one of those bra shops that specializes in fitting and everything was $90 minimum. I wear bras far longer than is recommended.

      The prices are ridiculous and exploit women.

      I agree that bra-making is its own world. As much as I'd love to fantasize about whipping out gorgeous bras, when I factor in the cost of instruction, materials, equipment, and my time, it's probably cheaper to buy them.

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  4. Wow, I'm going to remember your trip should I ever have the opportunity to visit the Netherlands again! It truly is crazy how hard it is to find a good fitting bra :-(

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  5. Haaaaaa! Ok. First, please tell me how you only wear a strapless bra every single day? Those are absolute special occasion for me and I currently don't even have one. Second, I support the international trip for a bra :-)

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    1. About wearing a strapless bra every single day...I don't know, I just do? I'm so not-busty that as long as the bra itself doesn't fall down, I'm good. It's not like there's anything that would be uncomfortably digging into my sides, any more than a normal bra, at least. Maybe 75% of my wardrobe revolves around spaghetti straps or tank tops under other things, so at some point I just decided it didn't make economic sense to buy normal bras.

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  6. Hi! I'm your Boston sewing friend here to save you.
    Yes, you CAN make your own bras. I've seen it. You just don't realize that you've already done it.

    "How?" you might say? I've seen your internal bustier with evening dresses. Making a bra is not much harder than that. I consider myself a intermediate sewer, and I've switched to making all of my own bras.

    You might want to try out a couple of strapped bras first, for general size and fit. Bramakers supply (the foam cup one) is the best first pattern IMO. Cloth Habit also has a very nice strapped but non wire bra to dip in the pool. Merckwaerdigh (on Etsy) sells bra kits and patterns. At least 2 of the patterns are for strapless bras. Bramakers supply also sells parts and kits.

    You CAN do it. If I can, you certainly can - from your photos you are a much better sewist than I am.
    : )

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement! Maybe I'll give it a try. First, though, there's a non-strapless version of the strapless bra I liked, and maybe I can try hacking it into a strapless bra.

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  7. That sucks. Maybe setup an eBay search for the one that works for you so get alerts if it does happen to popup in the meanwhile? I'd do it whichever international eBay domains that brand sells in as well.

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    1. I don't use Ebay for ranty reasons which are beyond the scope of this post. It's still a good idea, though.

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  8. I didnt wear a bra for years - seriously not till I was about 30! When I was a teen, I had read an interview with Helen Mirren who seemingly never wore one, so I stopped. I wore a padded bra for a party dress and started wearing them then, and now in the habit. Having said that, I go by my own band size (I am 33) so tend to buy 32s and then I will try on various ones from the sale rack and check for fit and comfort. I dont replace every 6 months tho, I get a lot longer out of mine.....

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  9. Any fully banded bra with a tall center bridge can be hacked into a strapless bra. The smaller chested you are, the easier it would be.

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    1. Oh, awesome. Thanks so much for the tip. I'll try it out.

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  10. And always remember and never forget, you can always take apart your favorite but now discontinued bra (yes even if it's ready for the bin) and make a pattern from it. Take loads of pictures as you are disassembling it and give it a whirl! I know you can do this. And it'll cost you less than $50....

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  11. I feel your pain. From the other end of the spectrum. I am a 34dddd/34ddddd. I refuse to believe that is accurate. I think Victoria's Secret is the devil come back for vengance and all they have done is fudge up bras for everyone. No know this is an older post but good luck on the bra hunt.

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