Lingering Around the Lingerie

SHOPPING. UGH. I hate shopping — once I find something that is comfy and fits, I stick with it. But you know, after a while the fave broken-in garments turn into broken-out garments, and it’s time to replace them. Plus, our 26th anniversary is coming around the corner, so I thought I’d see if there were any cute negligees.

I park my car and stride into the mall with that hyperalert / in a hurry walk, down to the same store where I have always bought bras. Omigawd, what am I thinking? It is Saturday in Suburbia and every freaking teenager, parent and small child, and ambling senior citizen is filling the hallways … I cannot even walk in a straight line! A cluster of tall guys strut down the hallway to imaginary rap music, holding up their over-large hip-hop pants. A giggle of black head-scarves suddenly breaks into a swarm of individual girls chattering at each other. A flotilla of perfumed saris wafts by. The mall is full of people-objects to avoid, too many smells, too much noise, too many things to visually sort out … and too big; it is a two-story American indoor shopping mall with no less than five major department stores.

Woah — where is the shop? It used to be here, on this corner. How can I totally lose an entire shop?

Blinking, I look around, and realise that they have totally redecorated & re-landscaped the entire mall (which shows you how often I go there!). Ye gods and little fishes. I rather much doubt that Victoria’s Secret has gone out of business; I bet the shop has moved. Yours Truly is now making little whimpers of annoyance. Why do they have to move shops? Backtrack halfway down the hallway again to find a mall map near some entrance doors. Apparently VS is now on another floor.

Go back down the hallway, again. Fight escalator mob. Cross to other side of atrium and circumnavigate the long way around the central plaza to avoid walking past the odoriferous bath soap shop that gives me asthmatic coughing fits. Step into VS. They are having a sale (aren’t they always?). One guy in dreadlocks stands around patiently, reading something on his PDA. Two more guys are cruising the bubble bath displays together, one of them angling his cane deftly around the ziggurats of shiny merchandise. I am doing less well, tripping over table drapes that seem to reach out and snag my sneakers. The store is of course, swimming in PINK. I hate pink. The store used to be decorated in lots of high-contrast stripes and perfumed florals that made me dizzy — but no more! Now it’s full of mirrors facing other mirrors, and numerous giant pictures of faces; frankly, I’m not sure this is an improvement. At any rate, they have completely re-arranged all the merchandise from the last time I was here, so I have no idea where the “bra department” is, or if indeed the bras are sequestered in a particular zone at all.

I look around for the sales tables … wade through the crowd of shoppers, and tables of lacy bits and racks of racy bits to reach it. Begin sorting through the merchandise — wrong kind, too much ruffles — wrong kind, too many fussy ribbon-bows — wrong kind, too–omigod that’s UGLY — wrong kind, no straps — wrong kind, how on earth do you wash something with a big rhinestone thingum sewn to it? — where are the bras I usually buy?

A sales girl accosts me. I am getting overwhelmed and beginning to sway, and stare at the dressing room key bungeed to her wrist, telling her my usual size, and the style I used to wear. Apparently they No Longer Carry the one style that was comfortable and fit Just Right. (Why??) She leads me to the back to help fit me. I rarely do this, but know that this is one of those rare times when I need a sales clerk — she knows the merchandise, and will run out and bring different samples for me to try on, so I don’t have to keep redressing and undressing.

She brings to my dressing room a black lacquer tray of samples, a quintet of colorful bras neatly lined up like so many bonbons. Finally alone, I strip off my Monarch butterfly tee shirt, admire my shoulder musculature, notice that chigger bites take forever to fade away, and realise that my current bra is really tatty, fluffy with snagged elastic threads. I always end up postponing this chore for too long. ::sigh::

I try on the first round of bras. They don’t fit. She next brings me wee hangers clipped with frou-frou brassieres. Too much itchy lace and tags, but I try them on anyway. She says she has never heard of anyone finding the lace or tags to be painfully itchy. (–HUH?)

Now the sales clerk is telling me something more, but I’m having trouble understanding what she’s saying over the techno-pop music in the background. She has an accent but somehow appears to be badly dubbed, and I’m having trouble lipreading her. I’m also very distracted by the electric blue lines above her eyes, like eyeliner that floated northward into the eyeshadow zone. These distractors are playing hell with my ability to describe what I’m needing.

She brings me more samples. Did you know they make bras nowadays that can stand up all by themselves? They are made of something like wetsuit neoprene. Bizarre. The other models have too much padding. “Oh, those are not padded, those are ‘lightly lined’,” she explains. What the heyll … my poor breasts lay puddled in the bottoms of these foam cups and ooze out the sides. (I suddenly wish that I was a mastectomee and could buy my boobs off the shelf, perfectly formed.) The bra is simultaneously Too Big and Too Small because my breasts are not foam-cup shaped — this you call “not padded”? Do I even want to know what is considered “padded”? Probably not.

She brings me yet more samples. “This one is most popular style,” she offers. I don’t care about what is “popular”; I’m not fitting everyone else’s chest, I’m fitting my own. It’s a puzzlement as to why bras are so hard to fit. Or maybe it’s a testament to the variability of breasts. I stand there topless in the dressing room wondering why lactation glands are not retractable when not in use. When I was pregnant and nursing, I resembled the Venus of Willendorf and wore highly engineered Büstenhalter to support my gazongas. In later years when I was underweight, dainty little brassieres kept my titties tidy. Now I’m back to an average size, and damnit, it’s still hard to find something that fits right. So why am I buying a bra? I have a few jog bras that I wear every day. But they are cut high, and you cannot wear a white jog bra with a Little Black Dress or any number of other garments…

::sigh:: Finally we find an “unlined” bra that fits me suitably well, and there are no underwires to poke me or pinch glands. I am going to spend more than I think is sensible because I can NOT stand the idea of going to a department store and starting this horrible process All Over Again, possibly without the assistance of a sales clerk. Oy.

An hour has gone by, and so far I have acquired a whopping two brassieres. Do I want some matching bottoms? What size do I even wear, Small or Medium? Having gone through too many costume changes already, I twist my spine and try to read the size printed on the back of my waistband, thus giving myself a wedgie. Now I literally have my knickers in a twist.

What else was I …? Oh, yeah. Clutching the two acceptable bras in one hand (I’m terrified of setting them down in a forgetful moment, never again to discover where I left them or what style they were), I peruse the racks of nighties. There are garish sleep-sets with silly slogans, such as girls wear in dorms, and there are strange little numbers that are designed to allude to something lewd, but don’t look very comfortable. Oh, silly me; I guess one isn’t expected to actually sleep in them. A satiny negligee and robe in a soft honey colour are pretty, but the former is trimmed with that damn scratchy lace, and I give up on the whole idea of a new nightie. I have several, and crawling in bed nude is always more than acceptable.

Finally I leave the shop. My couple handfuls of undergarments have been propagated into a big frothy mass of flamingo-coloured tissue paper, barely contained by the shiny embossed bag dangling absurdly from my hand. It’s not enough that I spent all that time and money there, but I have to advertise the fact to everyone else. Wending my way through the other shoppers like a salmon swimming upstream, it occurs to me that in times past, “sandwich board men” were paid to be walking billboards, but nowadays we pay companies to do the honour of providing advertising for them. Gad, I hate shopping.



  1. 15 April 2017 at 15:37

    […] I went to buy a swimsuit… Second only to bras, this has to be one of the hardest things to find that actually fits and isn’t uncomfortable. […]

  2. 24 December 2011 at 18:58

    […] Lingering Around the Lingerie « Andrea’s Buzzing About: – SHOPPING. UGH. I hate shopping — once I find something that is comfy and fits, I stick with it. But you know, after a while the fave broken-in garments turn into broken-out garments, and it’s time to replace them. Plus, our 26th … […]

  3. qw88nb88 said,

    2 August 2007 at 1:01

    My theory is that everyone has a period of dress that suits them perfectly — it’s just that most of us don’t live in the right time period, fashion-wise!

  4. Gypsy said,

    2 August 2007 at 0:25

    I don’t think I’ve ever been into VS but once, and having discovered at eighteen that they didn’t carry anything in a 34D that didn’t involve underwires and scratchy lace, I eschewed shopping there.

    Me, I’m rather fond of the fifteenth-century Italian dresses that support one via an ingenious method of cutting the dress and lacing the front up. I can wear one of THOSE all day and all night and everything stays in place.

    Clearly, I do not have modern breasts. (giggle)

  5. Kara said,

    27 July 2007 at 17:58

    The experience of that store is both fun and exciting and OH so frustrating as you captured here…my favorite recent amusing moment is that they recently stopped carrying alot of the XS’s (my only hope of wearing adult sizes) and the lady tried to convince me to just go ahead and get S’s…nevermind they’d be around my ankles all day! Thanks for this funny post-unique twist to the carnival as well.

  6. The Goldfish said,

    23 July 2007 at 16:15

    I loath bra shopping, mostly as I have a big cup size and the assistant usually hands me the one bra they have available, which is an industrial-looking device in white, which holds me such that my breasts point outwards at right angles to one another. Much easier to do the whole thing on-line; more choice, no nonsense.

    In other news, I finally did your Mut8nt-R4 Meme – sorry I was so slow!

  7. Callista said,

    22 July 2007 at 22:02

    My sympathy! Your description of that shopping trip is so familiar… I’ve long ago given up on wearing anything but sports bras.

    I’m gonna do my own bitching, now… blog post on swimsuits, coming up.

  8. qw88nb88 said,

    22 July 2007 at 19:09

    Leila, your Macy’s comment reminds me of when I was a teen. The Jones Store near us had a nice, quiet section for Foundation Garments, commandeered by this elderly maven, a hunched-over woman with silver hair and a lovely grandmother smile, who wore a tape measure around her neck like some women wore mink stoles. She could size you up at a glance (she wore the tape measure, but heaven knew if she ever needed it), and she would tottle off to retrieve things from the bins behind the service counter. She had probably seen more breasts in her lifetime than a mammographer, and knew the peculiarities of each brand the store stocked.

    That was decades ago, and her ilk seem to be long gone. Instead I am pounced up by young women who are more concerned about fashion than fit. Perhaps next time I will try a department store. Of course, there I actually have to find a sales clerk, and one who isn’t “on loan” from a totally unrelated department and knows nothing about the merchandise they are ringing up.

  9. snarla said,

    22 July 2007 at 17:40

    Hear hear! I’ve always wished for retractable breasts.

  10. Leila said,

    22 July 2007 at 17:14

    I’m not in the spectrum, but I usually panic in the VS store because they’re always so crowded, the store clerks are scarce, and being an A-cup it’s very hard to find one there that fits (their A size feels more like a B). I tend to buy their stuff online, or else I go to the Macy’s lingerie section, it’s much quieter and it has a large selection.

  11. qw88nb88 said,

    22 July 2007 at 14:58

    Suzanne, the only reason I went there is because they used to carry The Brassier That Fit. Going to a department store would be venturing into terra incognita.

    Well, guess I did anyway, didn’t I?

  12. Suzanne said,

    22 July 2007 at 14:36

    I admire your efforts.(knickers in a twist…hee hee) No way I could manage buying anything at VS. They just are not focused on comfort or fit. 2 very important things if I am going to bother trying on under-things. Then there is dealing with the people who would buy itchy-ill-fitting brassieres to look sexier. not me.

  13. Justthisguy said,

    22 July 2007 at 8:08

    Dang, Ma’am, and I thought I had a problem when Jockey changed my shorts, size 30, which I had worn since oh, 1963, recently.

    Raymond Babbitt was well within his rights to get upset, and pitch a fit. I mean, really, my new undershorts which claim to be the same as the old ones are not, really, and I can prove it.

    Oh, and I don’t go into malls if I can avoid doing so. The teenagers frighten me.

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