A professional lift

The pink invitation read: Come to the bra-fitting clinic on Saturday. Special attention. Special draw. Specially trained professional fitters … just for you.

What a novel idea! Why not? I haven’t given a thought to where I stuffed “the girls” since that long-ago day when, whether I needed it or not, my mother and I went shopping for my first bra.

It is as perverse as life itself that those of us who didn’t really need one were desperate to have the precious garment while those who did weren’t. While I was checking daily on the buds that would, I hoped, some day soon become a full bosom worthy of a low-cut bodice with black lace underneath, others were wearing their fathers’ shirts to disguise the fact that their day had already come.

Starting from the smallest size
The first bra department my mother took me to burgeoned with strips of white cloth — Playtex, Daisy, Exquisite Form — some allowing for more curve than others. And, bless them — they had thought of everything — a little padding for the extreme cases. I was able to exhale. 32AA. That was the smallest size offered. It would have to do. Once the straps were adjued and if we used the last set of fasteners, anything further could be remedied with folded tissues or a light sock.

I was a double-A girl, who went up an inch or two in circumference every now and then over the years, moving up the cup scale ever so slowly, aided as necessary by push-ups and foam. First, an A, then after many years, a B — nothing you’d really notice.

For my recent bra-buying excursion, a quick look-around confirmed what I suspected: bra clinics are not, generally speaking, for the young. Those confident beauties know where their breasts are — and it’s not under their arms or just above their belts. No, it is we, the over-50s, who need to call in the professionals.

Next page: Armed with a tape measure

Armed with a tape measure, my professional bra fitter and I were soon squeezed into the fitting room. Though I said I would need a 38B (when did I get to 38?), she had seen my kind before. Faster than a bullwhip at a western show, her tape snaked around my midriff. 40, she said. 40? Never! She smiled her knowing smile.

Taking a firm approach
Anything higher than a B was out of the question for me, I protested. I was from a long line of Females of the Flattened Chest. But Helga knew better. She left me, slightly embarrassed and a little cool in my old greying bra with the flabby straps and soggy back that had long since given up any pretense of elasticity, and went on her excursion to the floor. She returned with an armload of sizes and colours and cups, lace and wire, wide straps and narrow, front and back closing. All had something in common, however. They were the firm-support model.

An hour later, it was done. I was lifted and separated, suddenly shapelier. That which had gone astray had been rounded and held, in comfort, approximately where they had once been. And it felt wonderful! We had settled on a 38C so there was room for the leftovers I had been calling cleavage. Snug, no overspill, no sliding straps, no fear that a quick turn would render me outside the parameters of the garment. It was truly a professional fit. A good experience — one I would recommend.

Still, I felt a twinge of regret for the lovely little girl in the double-A who aspired to a C cup. She had so irrevocably vanished. If I could have spoken to her just then, I would have said: “Listen, honey, it wasn’t such a big deal after all. In fact, it was all a bit of a let down.”