A proper bra fitting at Nordstrom's made me look ten years younger

img_5043Or so I was told by the lovely sales associate.

She also claimed I looked ten pounds thinner, but that's pushing it.

I didn't set out to have a bra fitting.

I made an appointment to meet with a "Personal Shopper" to help me navigate a suitable special occasion dress.

My designated Personal Shopper called to interview me before our appointment to be prepared. I described my size, height, color preferences, style favorites and the venue for my desired purchase.

Our son was getting married and I didn't want to look old and frumpy in my Mother of the Groom dress. Not one to know what looks good on my body type, I needed some professional guidance to weed through the plethora of choices out there.  Knee-length, tea-length, long, formal, embellished, beaded, lace, jacket over sleeveless, sheath, chiffon, applique, mesh, crepe, sweetheart necklines vs V-neck?  I'm dizzy just writing this. But mostly I needed just plain, raw honesty on what would be flattering on me through a fashionista's eye.

Plus this service is complimentary. What did I have to lose?

There I was, standing in the dressing room at the Nordstrom's store on Michigan Avenue in my underwear, when my delightful Personal Shopper carried in an armful of carefully chosen Adrianna Papell sheath dresses. Bright, solid colors with graceful ruching to minimize my tummy. Does that ever really work? I think it draws more attention to areas you want to camouflage, but I was ready and willing to give them a try.

"When was the last time you had a bra fitting?" she questioned.


"Probably in sixth grade when I was measured for my first training bra at Carson's," I replied.

Around fifty years ago. That sounds about right. And what's with this "training bra" terminology? What exactly were we training our budding breasts for?

She immediately sent out an S.O.S. to the lingerie department for a "Bra Fitting Expert" to be dispensed immediately to the dress department.

In came the bra fitter juggling measuring tapes and expertise.

She returned a few moments later with a carefully edited selection of gorgeous Simone Perele and Chantelle bras made in France. I was drooling over these more than any of the Mother of the Groom dresses hanging nearby.

"So what IS my bra size?" I sheepishly asked.

"34D," was her calm response.


I was wearing a T.J. Maxx clearance bra bearing the tag 40C.

Shocking I know. I'm as shocked as you are. How could this be? Long ago, Oprah had an entire show about women all wearing the wrong bra size and how the right bra can change your life.

But I never bought into that. I was content with being my own professional bra fitter and just winging what I thought would fit. Or what was on sale. Or buying the same size I've worn for the last thirty years. That navy blue number with pink lace was a steal, but I couldn't breathe in it after only four minutes. However, it did make my underwear drawer look awfully pretty.

Was I ever wrong.

You might think a bra with a cup sized D could carry a week's worth of groceries. It didn't. I couldn't wait to try them on.

This expert taught me that the band size was what actually gave you the support. I always thought it was the straps that dug into your shoulders. These bras were comfortable, feminine, elegant, but most of all, fit perfectly.

Your bra size changes frequently because of weight gain, weight loss, pregnancy, nursing and age. That's why you don't wear the same bra size as you did your senior year of high school. Common sense told me that. So why did I spend all those years guessing my size and then being miserable with discomfort, spillage and an improper fit? Why didn't I listen to Oprah?

In my 34D, I felt like a different person. I felt younger. I felt thinner. I actually smiled in a dressing room with poor lighting wearing my underwear.

A bra that fits you correctly is worth spending a day's pay on.

I walked out of Nordstrom's that day without a dress.

But I carried out a shopping bag with three new bras and a whole lot of attitude.

I haven't been the same since.


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