Burn ‘em all: From training bra to sleeper bra, we’ve come a long way, baby
It was the image of the bra on my computer screen that caught my attention. I was sure, on first glance, that the lady mannequin was wearing it backwards, what with the way her aerodynamic ta-tas were left uncovered by the absence of fabric that normally holds them in place.
But quite the opposite from being worn backwards, this cupless bra was intentional: La Decollette is the brainchild of a Brit who grew tired of waking to the horror of chest wrinkles. I just call them chinkles. It’s easier.
In case you’re my editor—or a gay man or a carefree, 20-something co-ed who rightly has no idea what I’m talking about—chinkles are caused after years of side sleeping (sun damage doesn’t help). It’s when uninhibited boobs collide in the night, the result being a series of jagged, vertical lines decorating the décolletage. Be warned, oh young ’uns, and start sleeping on your backs ASAP.
Chinkles are just another in the laundry list of aging women’s battles, and now, for £45 ($80), Rachel de Boer is offering all of us a way to fight back in the form of a revolutionary bra to be worn at night. Never mind that you could jump down from the treadmill, towel off, spin your sports bra around and have the exact same thing—minus two cute bows. The bigger issue here is: Dear Lord!—who wants to wear a bra when she’s sleeping? The first thing I do when I walk through the door at the end of a busy day is the magic bra-through-the-shirt-sleeve routine. The second thing I do is toss it with one quick motion as far away from my body as possible, flinging it to the floor where it will stay until I need to use it again in the morning.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore a lacy lovely every now and then, especially when wrapped with a bow and left tucked in my lingerie drawer for my private discovery.
But overall, I have a general disdain for bras, and whenever I go shopping for one, I can’t help but think of what a rush I was in to need one way back in 1981 when I was but a wee dork. A flat-chested, braces-having, Mork from Ork suspender-wearing dork.
As it happens, my next-door neighbor Heidi was not any of those things. We were the same age, but, somehow, she was light-years ahead in pretty much every way. She was sophisticated, worldly, beautiful and developed. More than anything, I wanted to be like her. If Heidi was serious, I was serious. If Heidi swung her pigtail when she walked, I swung my pigtail when I walked. Heidi was on track to become a concert violinist, so I convinced my mother to buy me a violin. Today, Heidi plays Carnegie Hall and I? Well. I know who Itzhak Perlman is.
At age 11, though, what I wanted more than anything was Heidi’s boobs. One could argue that, had I chosen to practice the violin even 30 minutes each day, I might have been able to give a recital of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” at our local library within the month. But there was no amount of I must! I must! I must increase my bust! chanting that was going to give me the result I wanted, the result that wouldn’t happen for another grueling four years. Thanks, mom, for the biology.
Since my exercises were fruitless, I had my mother take me to buy what was then called a training bra and what I hope, for the sake of my daughter, is no longer called a training bra. The fitting was humiliating, first because there was nothing to fit and next because some orange-haired nana at Girls World with chinkles all up and down her giant exposed bosom, was charged with measuring and pulling and tugging and analyzing, all while my mother looked on. Good times.
I came away with three training bras, not one of which you could tell I was wearing when I was fully clothed. So I took to wearing very tight Izod shirts over my very sophisticated I’m-growing-up bras, which I wore all the time, even when I slept—ahead of my time, I was—and which very nearly brings me full circle. I always made sure a strap was somehow exposed, not a lot, just a smidge, because I’m classy like that. And then, because a bra should be filled, I took to stuffing it with neatly folded layers of toilet paper that left my “breasts” looking less like budding orbs and more like Tefillin you see strapped to the foreheads of Rabbis the world over. That I went out in public with my shoulders thrown back, unapologetic and prouder than hell was nothing short of foreshadowing. Of what, I will leave up to you, Reader.
And now I find myself today looking at what the Daily Express calls a “revolutionary bra designed for women who suffer from wrinkles between their breasts,” and I’m scratching my head. I’m no longer the girl with the boxy breasts that could put an eye out, and I’m not yet the poster woman for the anti-chinkle bra. I’ve been one and the other may be my fate—I am a side sleeper, after all. But do I really want to sleep in a bra at night simply so that my breasts don’t flop over on each other? What if this revolutionary bra causes them to slide into my armpits? What then, I ask? What. Then.
The women of Holland may have bought into the gimmick, but this girl’s jury is still out. If I do decide to give it a go, barring an offer of a free product for testing, I’ll give my $14.99 Target sports bra a spin around the mattress.
(As published today in San Diego CityBeat.)