Not a good week for me clearly. I am venturing off of Kensington High Street and over to the megalopolis of shops; Oxford Street… specifically to Selfridges (Selfridges & Co), the only department store that reminds me of New York…not because I did a lot of shopping back home, but because of the simplicity of its urban grid plan. Up and down aisle avenues, across a few blocks and I can safely negotiate my entrance and exit. I need a bra…
Selfridge’s offers a ‘free bra fitting service’, with a team of consultants ‘on hand to help, seven days a week.’ Something about ‘free’ and ‘on hand’ disturbs me when referring to making breasts look their best. But I had to go. Not out of curiosity, but apparently necessity. I was told to go.
We all have those friends. The ones that inform us when our hair roots are grey with, ‘It’s probably time to visit the hairdresser’ or the ones that confirm they despised our last relationship with, ‘Thank God, it’s over… I don’t know what you ever saw in him’. And then there are the ones that are more specific with their opinions. These friends are the Expert Spotters that tell us that not only do we need a new bra, but we need a bra FITTING.
Remember, I hate to shop. I dread it so much that I’m still wearing some of my pregnancy underwear. While some of you are now feeling sorry for my husband, maybe one or two of you can admit it now as well. I just can’t bear to trawl through bits of satin, lace, or in my case cotton, while perfectly toned and immaculately manicured ladies ask if there is anything they can ‘help me with’. But a bra FITTING? Seriously?
Fashionista and I have been friends for 10 years and I suppose it is my comeuppance for having such a fabulous friend that I have to heed her advice every now and again. Growing up (and out for that matter), I was the girl that didn’t have any friends come summer time because nobody wanted to see the melt downs at Macy’s while shopping for bathing suits. Now I was being told that not only did I have to get my boobs out in front of another woman but that I was going to be Annhandled in a lingerie shop, by a stranger?!?
Fashionista promises to meet me for a drink after (if I survive!), as she has meetings all day. So I agree. I get a bus along Hyde Park to Oxford Street. Now I find myself inspecting every woman that boards the bus to see if a properly fitted bra is obvious through our street clothes. Before anyone accuses me of leering at members of my own sex, I force my gaze upward and outward into Hyde Park as lunch time joggers trot along the path. I’m clearly obsessed today and now I scrutinize all of the sports bras bouncing by my window.
I am wondering what my Expert Fitter will look like and if she even needs a bra. I wonder what the career path is to become an Expert Fitter. I am certain that one of her disgruntled colleagues stuck at Novice Fitter, must have created the Shock Absorber Sports Bra. I wonder what other design possibilities result from Fitting. I can imagine a market for Shock Recovery Bras for the customers that become traumatized during the fitting process.
At my stop, I walk through the swinging doors, and almost walk right out again but the escalators are within sight so I move with purpose. I ignore the glaring lights, I tune out the bass thumping beat. I do not glance at product makeovers, and I do not offer my wrist to intoxicating scents. I walk up 3 sets of escalators and head straight for lingerie.
It is blindingly cruel to make me walk though Agent Provocateurs‘ ridiculously sexy display but I march onward to the fitting room and discreetly inform the dressing room attendant that I would like their ‘bra fitting’ service. She looks at me rather oddly for whispering as if I think this is a password to some underground club, but she smiles and says of course.
I am given a number, instructed to ‘light the switch’ on my dressing room door and wait. I obey and follow the order but what is taking so long? Dressing and undressing is what goes on in these stalls, not standing and waiting for an Expert Fitter to join my solitary confinement of mirrored madness. I can’t stand still so start to undress, but am now seized by surveillance suspicion and wonder if this little switch is connected to London’s CCTV system, or at the very least to a camera that my Expert Fitter can have a peek at to know what SHE is up against. Come to think of it, I assumed SHE would BE a SHE, but what if SHE is a HE???!!!
SHE (whew!) arrives and there is no time for introductions, modesty or decorum. A tape measure around my waist, check. Another measurement across my breasts, check. A final one under my breasts – yes under, check. And she’s off. I am naked from the waist up wondering if she has just called her superiors (who is an Expert Fitter’s boss?) to resign. Or maybe she has gone to call security to turn out the lights because it is just too much for her (and me!) to have to do this under such lit conditions.
But she is back in a few minutes with a handful of lace, satin and plain and simple t-shirt bras. I am told to bend over (politely) and scoop my breasts into the bra cup for each bra I try on. She ‘hmms’ a lot. The cleavage alone is enough to suffocate myself, which some may find appealing, but which I’ve spent my life hiding. My Expert Fitter informs me it is still not the right size. We try some others. After some mashing and moulding, some slight pinching and more tucking, She has found my new bra. And that is that. Okay, I guess I’ll take it. It seems to fit but I’m in no position to disagree.
The bras are expensive but since I haven’t bought one in 4 years, I can justify the price on an annual average. Nevertheless, I feel a bit dizzy and am experiencing Severe Sticker Shock. Selfridge’s should throw in that Shock Absorber Bra for good measure. For 20 years I have been wearing a size 38C but after my Expert Fitting Corsetiere, I am now a 34E, which is really a 34DDD.
Candace, my Expert Fitter Corsetier, (as I am now dressed I can finally look at her and her nametag as she rings up my items) then tells me that my new size is for my own safety as well as comfort. Safety? How can DDD ANYTHING be SAFE??? Fashionista friend better go to the bank…that drink just became a triple!
2 oz Sambuca into cocktail glass,
1 1/2 oz Bailey’s on top,
drop of grenadine in the centre
repeat 3 times then burn an old bra