First, I have to confess that if I had my druthers, I would just go to Nordstrom and get professional assistance, because when it comes to brassieres, you are really much better off with an expert at the helm. There are many, many issues that affect the way a bra fits, and unless you have a lot of time on your hands (and possibly a degree in engineering), you're going to get frustrated.
But the last time I went to Nordies, I spent a lot of money, and while those were very worthwhile purchases, I am currently gripping every dollar bill quite tightly (this trip to England is going to be really expensive!). So it was Target and a lot of time in the fitting room this time around.
When I was younger, buying a bra was easy. I had the same criteria for foundation garments as I did a mate: stable and really good-looking. I would pick out something that looked cute, jump around the fitting room, and if everything had stayed inside, buy the darn thing. But now my boobs have quirks and special needs--like me, they come with baggage (and by baggage, I mean a kid who nursed for two years. Cause I'm a recovering hippie.).
For one thing, the boob parts of my boob (the soft, jiggly parts) hang down to about my navel, leaving the normal breast all skeletal and ribby. And for another, they can no longer be squished together in that sexy romance-novel-cover cleavage-y manner. There is no cleavage. There is a canyon. And attempts to push together the two sides of the canyon does not create attractive cleavage--age has given these melons willpower that simply sends them shooting out over the tops of the restraining material.
I do not look my best with boobs coming out my armpits.
Needless to say, when I shop for a bra, my first order of business is to search for something with a diesel engine and a crane attachment. I haven't found anything yet, but with all the options (padding! push-ups! gel inserts! wires! microfiber!), I feel it's just a matter of time before Caterpillar designs something for me. If anybody can work a forklift into shapewear, it's them.
Lord knows they've got Playtex beat. I worry that company has a new CEO: the Marquis de Sade. I'm a big believer in underwires, but these bras used their metal parts to break new ground in pain. Instead of "lifts and molds," the tag should have read "crushes and mangles." Said garment did, however, take the armpit boob to new heights--I could barely lower my arms to get the darn thing off.
On the plus side, all the twisting, dancing and shaking to get 15 models of brassiere on and off gave me a good workout. After spending forty minutes in a fitting room, looking at my shirtless body, I know I need one.