You will be relieved to hear that I am not among the “one in eight” women who is wearing the wrong bra size.
I learned this yesterday. I learned it while standing in a temporary dressing room, enjoying a festive, carnival-type atmosphere with more than a hundred other women, as Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun blared in the background.
And I had a cocktail in my hand. Oh, yeah. That’s right.
I was participating in an event known as The Perfect Cup, which has been touring several cities this summer. It’s a great big brassiere-themed extravaganza, sponsored by — incongruously enough — an ice cream treat company known as “Skinny Cow.”
Now, I’d heard of the Skinny Cow company before, because I eat some of their low-fat ice cream treats. But I never quite associated them with lingerie. In fact, when I’m shopping for foundation garments designed to show my body to its best advantage, the word “cow” isn’t usually what I’m looking for.
But the folks at Skinny Cow have decided, for whatever reason, that helping women to find the right bra size is part of a good business plan. And who am I to argue?
This is The Perfect Cup’s second year, so please forgive me if you’ve already attended, or blogged about it, or read the blogs of other participants. For me, it was new, and quite a revelation! And I wouldn’t have even known about it if it weren’t for the awesome Mr. Frump. He came across an ad for this event while surfing online awhile back. And anything involving ice cream, coupons, and free stuff is bound to catch Mr. Frump’s attention. (Bras probably capture his attention, too, but the less I know about that, the better).
But anyway, he saw the ad and asked me: Do you want a free bra fitting? And a free bra? And free ice cream? And cocktails?
He might as well have asked, would you like to instantly become as fabulous as Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, and Susan Sarandon put together? So he signed me up, I received my online “ticket,” and I was ready to go!
The event came at a good time. The last couple of weeks have involved an unfortunate flare-up of my lower back pain — and this time, it meant business. (And no, going dancing in heels awhile back had nothing to do with it, I’m sure, so you can stop wagging those fingers at me, thank you very much). I’ve been staying close to home, faithfully resting, sitting with my special back pillow on a back-friendly chair, and doing the exercises prescribed by my new best friend, the physical therapist.
I wasn’t sure I’d be able to attend the event. But as luck would have it, I’ve made tremendous progress very quickly. My therapist assured me that a 50-minute car ride was within my capability, and that I can walk as long as I feel comfortable, and that — when I don’t feel comfortable — I can do my standing exercises anywhere.
So with the blessing of the medical establishment, off I went. Mr. Frump handled the driving, and he even circled the block twice to find nearby parking, to minimize my walking. (Have I mentioned, recently, that he’s awesome?)
Now, I’m not sure what I was expecting. But I think I pictured a low-key event: a small room with a curtained-off dressing room monitored by two little old ladies with measuring tape. I was not prepared for the bra-centric extravaganza that awaited.
The first surprise was being asked for my ID at the door. I wondered to myself, “What, do they think bras are too scandalous for minors?” Then I remembered: there are cocktails at this event! And I haven’t had a drink in almost two weeks because I’ve been taking enough Advil to choke a horse! But I am down to almost none! So now I can!
So I was in a good mood from the start.
It’s hard to capture the joyful chaos. I felt funny taking photos, worried that I might be kicked out under suspicion of selling sales & marketing secrets, or something. These hastily-taken snapshots will have to do:
There were women everywhere, of all shapes, sizes and — I was relieved to see — ages. Yes, there was a bar, but also an ice cream bar, an hors d’oeuvre table, and a get-your-big-bag-of-freebies table. And since bra-fitting was, at least ostensibly, our entire reason for being here, there was a huge fitting-room area staffed by fitting consultants.
There was even a bra museum: glass cases filled with pivotal bra designs, with placards documenting great moments in bra history. (For example, did you know that the first running bra was made out of jock straps? Me, neither!)
Our odyssey through this space was quite well-organized, facilitated by a large, friendly staff, and monitored by a sophisticated system involving wristbands and handheld scanners. Nevertheless, I still wound up going through backwards — bar first, then snacks, and only THEN bra fitting.
Oh, well. My festive, sangria-style drink kept me company while I waited in line to be fitted.
When it was my turn, I was greeted by a very friendly, very professional woman named Stephanie. Now, I can only assume that Stephanie is employed by Warner’s, the official bra company of The Perfect Cup, since she — like all the other fitters — seemed fairly adept at bra fitting. I am going to take it on faith that she’s not a temp employee, trained that day, though I suppose this is possible.
But I don’t think so. Stephanie whisked me off to a dressing room, wielded her tape measure, and took the measurements. Now, I know this isn’t rocket science. In fact, I’ve done it, myself, following instructions in one of my many “how to dress your best” books. And I guess I did OK, because Stephanie came up with the exact same measurement that I did.
“So I’m not one of the women wearing the wrong size, huh?” I asked her. But interestingly enough, she told me this: many women actually need bras of different sizes than what they measure at. “I’m amazed at events like this,” she told me, “how many variations there are in what sizes fit best, no matter what the tape measure says.”
But here’s what impressed me. Stephanie gave me 3 bras right away. I assumed that these were the three standard styles given to everyone, perhaps with a variety of different shape variations within the basic size. But after I was in the fitting room and had started changing, she appeared outside the door and said, “I have a fourth one that I’m going to hand to you over the curtain.”
Now, maybe this is just coincidence. But the fourth bra was the one that fit me perfectly. And I mean it. Perfectly. Sort of like my favorite bra that I already own, but better.
Do you have any idea how many bras I have to try on when I go shopping by myself? Sure you do, because you’ve done it yourself. Maybe this was just dumb luck. But I think that, just maybe, Stephanie knows how to eyeball a girl’s “girls” and know what shape she needs.
Of course I wanted to ask her how she did it. I wanted to grill her on all her bra-fitting secrets. But alas, there were many, many other women waiting for her time. So I just thanked her and waited as she wrote down the bra’s model number on a little card. “Take this to the goodie table, and they’ll give you a gift certificate for it.”
And you know what? They did. It was right there in my goodie bag, with my ice cream coupons, my chocolate-flavored lip gloss, and my Perfect Cup T-shirt (which I will wear….. where?)
One disclaimer: The gift certificate is only good for a Warner’s bra, at Macy’s. Fortunately, my far-flung burg is not that far-flung, so there’s a Macy’s 10 minutes away.
So now, with my serious business finished, I headed to the bar for a second drink (Perrier, this time). I even hit the ice cream table despite the fact that I had a dinner reservation in fifteen minutes and was not the slightest bit hungry. There were five different flavors of Skinny Cow ice cream cups (the other “perfect cup” — get it?) “Take one of each,” the woman at the table urged. “We’re closing soon, so you might as well!”
Since ice cream melts in your purse on a hot July day, I only took one. And you’ll be happy to hear that I gave it to Mr. Frump, just before we adjourned to the lovely restaurant next door, with the perfect sidewalk view for a perfect summer evening.
I didn’t even mind sitting on my special back cushion. All in all, it was a pretty fun day — even for one who hasn’t recently been housebound.
The funny part is, I had been thinking about going to Nordstrom for a bra fitting this summer. I’ve been expecting my favorite bra style to be discontinued, because this always happens when you’ve been relying on the same style for more than two years. I knew the statistics about how many of us are wearing the wrong size. I’d heard that, at midlife, it’s beneficial to visit a bra expert and get a really good fit. I’d heard you could look 5 pounds lighter, instantly!
Well, I don’t know if this particular event provided quite the same level of individual attention that a Nordstrom fitting would have. Certainly, the fitting rooms were not nearly as luxurious. But damn: Stephanie did pretty well! And there’s no way in hell the bra at Nordies was gonna be free.
And if I gained five pounds from the snacks, cocktail and dinner, the bra will hide it, right?
Have you ever had a “professional” bra fitting? With or without cocktails and ice cream? Do tell!