Tag Archives: Mommy Blogger

Intimate Insight: The Sweetest Thing by Liz

9 Nov

I live in a great town, with a main drag and side streets full of stores and restaurants, shops and bars.  It’s toted as “the Hippest Town in NJ”, but that moniker makes it seem a little square. 

Downtown Red Bank, New Jersey

In any case, it’s a destination.  Are you ready for this???  People actually move out of NYC to live in my town!  Shocking, but true.  And those that don’t actually move here… apparently they drive in for the day or night to take advantage of all that the town has to offer (if the license plates and the line at Starbucks can be believed.)

I am in our downtown five days out of seven, as I drop off and pick my child up from school mere steps from the action.  Part of that time I spend running errands in my town.  I’m into shopping local.  I like parking and walking, and I enjoy local shopkeepers and good old-fashioned customer service.  I will pay more for a CD from the local record store; I will run through the rain for something I can download at home for less money.  I’m dedicated.  Still, I’d never been inside the local lingerie shop.  I walked past this store time and time again, preferring my mad dash through Target for my undergarment needs.  Why?

Simple.  It didn’t look like me.

To me, this local, attractively merchandised store screamed two things– “money!” and (forgive me, Angie) “mistress.”  Oh, you know what I mean.  The kind of store that sells high-priced lingerie to women who are skinny, rich, having an affair, or possibly splurging for a marriage rekindling 25th wedding anniversary trip.  I assumed they would not have anything that I could afford or that would fit me.  So I walked by.  Time and time again.

When Moira took her mom for a fitting, I asked if I got to go for one, too.  I’d already picked out the store I wanted to try, a well-known lingerie boutique in Soho.  Clearly everything in the city is better!  They would know how to fit me.  Moira replied that, yes, it was my turn, but we were going to a store in our hometown.  We were going to the very store I’d told her, in an impassioned conversation over coffee, wasn’t for me.

I knew my local store, Sweetest Sin, had won a Best of Intima award for Best Store, but that didn’t mean anything to me.  What do I know of industry awards?  Target, sometimes Kohl’s, maybe Victoria’s Secret if I’m feeling indulgent… To say I’m not aware of the industry is possibly overstating things.  So instead of relying on an award, I made my friend Moira promise me.  She swore she wouldn’t let me buy anything that wasn’t perfect for me.  She promised that if this store was indeed what I’d thought of it, I could leave.  If at any moment it turned snooty, awful, or embarrassing, I could skeedadle.

"The Ladies" at our Sweetest Sin "Bra Fitting Party"

We gathered some other ladies for a “bra fitting party” and set a date.  There was wine, there were snickerdoodles (don’t knock that combo until you’ve tried it) and there were bras.  And bras.  And more bras.

First off, the store was not what I’d expected.  Yes, it was nicely laid out and had pretty things and I’ll be darned if I could have found something on my own.  But it wasn’t the intimidating  monster I’d thought it would be.  Maybe it’s because I had a friend at my side, and more friends inside.  Maybe it was the owner, Angie, who, yes, was young and skinny and wearing impossibly high heels, but who was just so open and friendly and normal.  She didn’t make me feel like a schlubby mom who should head back to the discount rack.  Instead, she made me feel like I should have nice bras and it was just a matter of finding the very nicest one for me.

Moira told me ahead of time that most women are wearing the band size too big and the cup size too small.  I believed her, but only in the general way.  As in, yes, you have lots of experience, I am sure you are right…but not about me.  I didn’t think it applied to me.  I’m different, and special…hmm I wonder where my seven year old gets that from!  Well, right away Angie said my band size was too big.  The space I’d thought I needed wasn’t right at all.  More give in the band means less support for the girls, and why wear a bra if you’re not going to hold them up?  Also, I was wearing my straps way too loose, a common problem.  And, naturally, my cup size was too small.  Hmm, I guess I’m not so special!  Back to average woman for me!

Sweetest Sin Boutique's 2011 Best of Intima Award for "Best Shop"

Angie brought out a huge selection of bras for me to try on.  I never would have thought there could be this many – in my size, or in the store!  It made me realize how much we settle for the “fits most” approach we get with so many things, from bras to shoes to jeans.  What works for me might not work for you, and at every stage in our lives, something else might work.  I tried on many bras, but unlike most shopping trips, it didn’t feel depressing or exhausting.  It felt kind of fun.

I soon discovered that the idea we have in our heads of cup size is completely irrelevant.  Completely.  Actually, most of what we think we know about sizing and clothing and certainly intimate apparel is way off base, but for now, let me assure you that your idea of a D and an actual D are not the same thing.  You have to let all that stuff you think you know fly out of your head, and you have to be in the moment.  You have to be in your body, seeing what’s in the mirror and not your interior image of yourself and your breast size.

I also learned where your breasts were supposed to be.  I’ve always worn bras because that’s what you do.  It never occurred to me to think about where bras placed my breasts…in truth, I think very little about my breasts, or my lingerie, or my intimate apparel.  I think a lot about what to make for dinner, and if we can get a babysitter for Saturday night, and how much homework my child does or doesn’t have.  But not a lot about something which I guess I should know.

A good bra, it turns out, should place your breasts front and center –  not off to the sides, or too scrunched up in the middle.  They should look rounded and soft, not pointy and hard (unless you’re going for the 40’s pin-up look, in which case I think you’ve got that covered without my help.)  A good bra fits snugly, because as time goes on it will stretch out.  You should be able to hook it on the very last hook, and as you wear it you will stretch it until it needs on be on the first set of hooks.  A good bra has straps that lay flat on your body and those straps should be a bit tighter than I bet you are wearing them.  Mine for instance, were way down and then I’d be annoyed they slipped.  There should not be gaping or riding or any movement at all.  Think corset.  No, really, a good bra makes you feel like it’s holding you up.  You stand a little straighter, a little taller.

Also, there is this essential trick that I managed to go 37  years without learning; you have to place your breasts in the cup.  Yes, its true.  Lift them up and put them in the cup, and see the difference!  Wow.  Totally changed how I tried on bras.

In the end, after my glass of wine and a few snickerdoodles, I bought two bras.  One was Lace Tisha by Le Mystere in Natural and the other was Rhapsody in Lace by B.tempt’d by Wacoal.

So my advice is this: get yourself to a local lingerie store, stat.  Give yourself a few hours, and a realistic budget.  Don’t rush this.  Make an appointment, and bring a good friend.  Choose this friend wisely: not too critical, truth telling, but complimentary.  Go in with an open mind and prepare to be pleasantly surprised.  And let me know how you do!

Jodi and I in our new bras – fully supported and ready to go out!

DSCN0910

Resources:

Sweetest Sin Boutique – Red Bank, New Jersey

www.SweetestSinBras.com

Follow @SweetestSinBras

Intimate Insight: Shower the World in Pink? by Liz

2 Nov

October just came to an end, and that means breast cancer awareness month is now over.  We had pink ribbons, fundraising walks, and merchandise up to our eyeballs.  NFL players wore pink; my hometown of Red Bank, NJ held the “Paint the Town Pink” event and called itself “Pink Bank”.  My daughter’s school had a “dress in pink” fundraiser.  You couldn’t go to the grocery store or diner without a cheery request for a donation and your name on a small piece of pink paper, for all to see your charitableness.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  It’s a cause that unites all of us – breast cancer is easily a woman’s greatest fear, and we all know someone who has had breast cancer.  It’s the one social fundraising cause you can’t object to.

Or can you?

My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996.  She had a full mastectomy, lymph nodes removed, chemo and radiation.  In 2001 she was diagnosed a second time, in the other, intact breast.  She opted for a mastectomy over the lumpectomy, because she said she didn’t want to be told she had breast cancer a third time.  We joked.  She got reconstruction, and after some minor issues with that, went on with her life.  In 2004, when my daughter was a newborn, my mom was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.  For the last 7 years (my daughter’s entire life), my mom has been on and off chemo nonstop.  She has had breaks of maybe 3 months at a time.

In the beginning, we did the walks.  We fundraised like mad, we had a great team of walkers and a cute name – Brass Knockers.  We walked with a SURVIVOR.  We felt sad for those people who’d lost their loved ones, but we were grateful, happy.  We were lucky.  We bought a lot of pink, breast cancer themed stuff.  I had t-shirts, I had slogans.  I had the Melissa Etheridge song on my iPod.

By the third diagnosis, the worst one, we were over the pink haze.  My mom, my family and I, we no longer fit it.  We’re not in the “survivors” camp and we’re not in the “lost a loved one” camp.  My mom is literally a breast cancer patient’s worst nightmare.  She is a living horror story, a walking, talking worst case scenario.  This is no recovery.  There is no “all clear” or SURVIVOR emblazoned on the back of her pink t-shirt.  She will never be cancer-free and we will never, as a family, have that sweet feeling of relief again.  There is only sickness and drugs and trials for her to endure, and years of grief and coping for my dad and me.

Liz and her Mom

There is joy, yes, and gratefulness, and thanksgiving.  We thank God every day for every day.  But October is a hard month for us.  With all the pink waving about, the support for women like my mom and our family isn’t there.

I can tell you what I have learned about breast cancer; early detection saves SOME lives.  The “reduce your risks” suggestions don’t significantly reduce your risks.  Family history doesn’t significantly increase your risks.  Being “strong” or “a fighter” doesn’t mean anything where cancer is concerned.  Cancer, unlike everything else, doesn’t discriminate.  A woman who “survives” simply had cancer that responded to treatment.  There is no way to prevent breast cancer from coming back.  These are truths I wish weren’t, because they are hard and sad and make me uncomfortable.  But they are true nonetheless, at least for now.  Cancer “facts” change all the time, as we learn more from the men and women who lose their lives to it.

Now that October has come to a close, I’m asking you to do something a little more extraordinary than a walk or a dollar donation.  I’m asking you to remember the 155,000 women in the United States like my mom.  Remember them and their families.  Educate yourself on metastatic breast cancer, even if it’s only by clicking on this link – the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network.  Spread the word.  Use your Facebook status or Twitter to tell more people about the other side of breast cancer.  After this month of pink ribbons and survivors and courage, please be aware of those who will never be “clear”, who will not triumph in the way of t-shirts and slogans, but who will live day in and day out, hoping to keep this disease at bay, hoping to feel good for a weekend road trip or a child’s wedding.  These stories don’t have a Hollywood ending; they don’t put a happy face on it.  But they are real, and they matter.

My mom and I thank you for taking the time to read this post.  We wish you a long, happy, and cancer-free life.

Resources:

Metastatic Breast Cancer Network

www.mbcn.org

Intimate Intro: Everywoman by Liz

1 Nov

Liz is a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a friend.  I’ve known Liz for over twenty years.  We grew up together…. Both literally & figuratively.  We’ve experienced life together; we’ve supported each other throughout life’s joys and tribulations….  Education, part-time jobs, careers and changes in career, boyfriends and break-ups, hobbies/interests, ideas and crazy hair-brained schemes, buying homes, moving cross country (and back again), the illness of parents, the birth of her daughter, marital bliss and marital decline, my divorce and so on….  Throughout our lives, we’ve gone months without speaking (simply because life got in the way) and we’ve gone years where we’ve been inseparable.  We’ve watched one another evolve and grow as women- physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. 

Having been in the intimate apparel industry for over ten years, I’ve come to terms with the fact that my perspective may be a bit biased (or perhaps even distorted).  So, I have asked Liz to join me in writing for Bra La Mode.  As a novice, Liz brings a fresh perspective to Bra La Mode.  Her opinions reflect her own experience and are not necessarily the opinions of me, Moira Nelson, or of Bra La Mode as a company.  We do not edit the content of Liz’s articles.  This is intentional.  We want our readers to hear her authentic perspective as a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a friend.

Join me in welcoming my friend Liz to Bra La Mode…….

Does the title alone have you humming Whitney Houston, possibly accompanied by an Oprah style montage in your head?  Are you slightly ashamed to admit that, even across this computer screen?  Yeah, me too.

My name is Liz.  But I could be Sue or Jodi or Laura or Debbie or whatever your name is.  Although my seven year old daughter likes to say we are all unique and different, the truth of the matter is we wives and mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and grandmas are all alike in some ways.  We are too busy to think about our breasts and what to put them in.
Me and My girl

I buy my bras at Target, where I  buy the rest of my clothes, in the five minutes I have between picking up things for the rest of my household and running another errand.  I wear leggings and dresses and flats to work because that’s what Target carries and it takes too long to try on pants.  When I take a day, or who am I kidding, a few hours to go shopping with a girlfriend, I spend that time slogging from store to store in search of clothes for my daughter, not myself.  I buy everything for myself on borrowed time, or at least that’s how it feels.

I don’t personally know one woman, married or single, with or without kids, who does it any differently.

So, that often quoted statistic comes as no surprise to me: 85% of women are wearing the wrong sized bra.  Frankly, I’m surprised that number isn’t higher

I’ve been bra fitted before, about 3 years ago after I lost a great deal of weight.  When I put weight back on, it never occurred  to me to go get re-fitted.  I’m going to tell you right now that I have remarkably healthy self-esteem and the least amount of body issues in my circle of friends and yet I didn’t think being properly fitted for a bra was something I should make a point of.  That’s kind of stunning to read now, but it’s true.  I have my child’s feet measured regularly, in local, quality stores by professionals.  I buy her clothes to suit her body.  I make time to shop, try on, return if necessary, and otherwise manage and cull her wardrobe and I buy myself whatever is cheap, easy, and convenient.

In other words, I am a mom.

If you’re still with me, I bet you have done the same.  You’re too busy.  I know you are.  I’m singing your song, sister.  And, yes, maybe it is to the tune of Whitney Houston.

So when my good friend Moira asked me to write for this site, I jumped at the chance.  I think my feelings about bras and lingerie and fit and time and expense are in line with every mom I’ve spoken to in the last 7 years.

I want it to be different, I do.  My time and money are precious and yet I want to look and feel good, all the time.

I don’t have the answers on getting an extra 24 hours out of your day.  But I am willing to explore how a perfectly average wife and mom like me can find comfortable and attractive intimate apparel.  That sounds so formal, doesn’t it?  Let’s say this: I’m taking the girls on a trip, and I hope you’ll come along for it.

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