My first bra was a hand-me-down. I have three older female cousins and I’ll never know with whom this one originated, but I do know that it didn’t fit. My Auntie Jo told me that it was inappropriate for a girl my age to not wear a bra and since I was under her care deep in the heart of Texas for the summer of 1977, my time had come. My mother didn’t wear one, so what did I know?
The bra was white cotton, originally. Now grayish with lumpy cups from too many washings. It felt like cardboard under my t-shirt and the straps pulled on my sunburn. And it itched.
Riding a bicycle barefoot on the country roads in Texas in the summer had been a liberating feeling. But with this new-to-me recycled bra I felt constricted. I couldn’t lift my arms without it riding up and then I had to stop the bike and tug it down. I was always tugging and adjusting and now I was completely self-conscious. Did it show through my shirt? The easy freedom of summer had hit a lumpy cotton wall.
Once I was back home, my bra went missing the morning after a birthday sleepover. The birthday girl was a pain in the ass and had taken it out of my overnight bag. She told me she was going to hang it on the door of our classroom at school on Monday morning. Never underestimate the psychological torture of being a seventh grade girl. I got to school early to stake out the door. She didn’t make good on the threat, but she never returned the bra.
I had done some research by this point and I had found that Danskin made a bra that I wanted. Sold in dance stores, this was the precursor to today’s jog-bra. No hooks. No lumpy cups or pinchy straps - I could move!
With the exception of a brief tawdry fling with Victoria’s Secret in the 1980’s, (I was living in LA, and thus, defenseless. I even got a membership to Trashy Lingerie with a friend who I will not name, but she knows who she is), I stayed loyal to the same pullover style until the Mom years. After breastfeeding three ravenous babies, I self promoted to underwire with strategic padding, and was professionally fitted by one of the blessed Nordstrom bra wizards. These women are amazing. They tricked me out with bras that actually fit and were pretty. And expensive.