I’ve spent the majority of my life wearing bras.
And the older I get, the more fascinating it is to reflect on this experience. The lingerie world may have changed over the decades, but so have I. This post on my life in bras is more about how bras have altered how I see myself. They have built me up but also robbed me of my self-confidence at times. These bras turned my world upside down, for better or worse, if only for a short while.
So let’s start at the beginning.
The Training Bra
Unlike many of my childhood friends, I didn’t begin my life in bras with a training bra. Instead, I went straight from cotton undershirts to seamed cup bras. The only ones available in my size (34DD), in the late 1960s, were those that my grandmother would have worn. They were thick cotton, with wide straps and multiple hooks. Ugly does not begin to describe how they made me feel. And this might have been the genesis of my insecurities around my larger boobs. Wasn’t there something wrong with my body if I wasn’t able to wear cute bras like everyone else? No one could have predicted that I’d fall in love with lingerie and bra shopping later in life.Beautiful bras in the 1970s had one thing in common—they weren’t in my size.
My Wedding Day Bra
Probably the biggest bra decision in any woman’s life is the one she wears on her wedding day. Again, the late-1980s didn’t offer big boobs much in the way of lovely, lacy strapless options. I finally settled on an unpadded white number that didn’t give me the lift I wanted but did a good job of supporting me. That says all you need to know about the marriage, too—which ended 25 years later.
Again, not a lot of stylish nursing bra designs around in the 1990s. (Today’s expectant mothers have far more choices.) The shocker was how my breasts continued to grow and grow and grow over the course of just a few months. My boobs were so big that it was hard for others to tell if I was pregnant, or just carrying around an enormous bust. This sudden transformation was a shock to me, and I didn’t recognize my body. I knew my belly would expand, but not my cups from DD to H (and beyond since I stopped checking labels). Thankfully, my next two pregnancies didn’t cause such catastrophic change. But I also didn’t much care about nursing bras because I was focused on the power of my breasts to feed and sustain new life. Bras were more functional. The miracle of motherhood, despite breastfeeding struggles, was what was life altering.
Contour, T-Shirt Bras
These bras became my lingerie wardrobe staple when I found that my postpartum breasts had lost all volume, were smaller, and hung lower. Contour bras allowed me to roll up my breast flesh and keep it hidden behind padded styles. No one knew that my boobs weren’t round or perky anymore, which was all right by me. This impulse to hide behind false fronts seeped into other parts of my life, too.
Since I took up running late in life, I didn’t buy my first sports bra until I was in my late 40s. Something that strapped me down and kept everything in place was mandatory. And it didn’t matter if these bra choices were limited to boring black or white. These days, I own multiple styles to suit any and all physical activities. It’s a small investment in my now more important long-term health and ensures my comfort and support. Sports bras, even when I’m not working out at the gym, motivate and inspire me to get stuff done.
The Post-Surgical Bra
After a cosmetic breast lift some 12 years ago, an unattractive all-cotton, front hook velcro strap bra helped my “Franken-boobs” heal. And it also managed to repair my relationship with my body. Because suddenly, I realized that my breasts had never been perfect or remained the same over all those years. Yes, I was thrilled that I no longer had to carry around the weight of heavier flesh. But my burden was lighter for other reasons. Somehow it helped me find my creative voice and write about these newer (yet older) boobs. And by compiling others’ stories, I launched a writing career and signed my first book deal.
Full Cup Lace and Seamed Balconette Bras
Ah, the joys of coming full circle in my life in bras. Post-menopause, my breasts have inexplicably returned to their original high school DD cup size. But now they’re heavier and—I must admit–more matronly. (An unattractive word for still attractive, but aging breasts.) So I’ve switched things up, and gravitate toward full bust and balconette style bras. There’s no need to smoosh together my thinner skin for a “creasage” look. Today, I adore wearing and shopping for exceptionally well-made lingerie. The biggest difference it’s made to my more mature self? No more negative self-talk. Sure, my youthful, perky bust is long gone, but it’s more satisfying to embrace who I am now. And I simply can’t stand it if my bras don’t match my briefs. My life in bras is all about the big picture.
Lise Charmel Princesse Gothique Balconnette Bra via Aviani No longer available, but still one of my all-time favorite lingerie sets.
What’s it been like to live your life in bras? Which ones changed how you see yourself or how others view you?