Invest in your happiness (or perkiness)

img_2250I am by and large a cheap person. I prefer the term "frugal" but sometimes we need to call it like it is. Nowhere is this more evident than in my bra selection. I am pretty sure my last major bra purchase happened when I gave birth to my now-9.5-year-old son and I needed a bunch of nursing bras. When I weaned him, I went back into the bras I'd owned prior. Repeat the cycle four times over the past decade and you get the picture.

The funny part about this is that I am well aware that a good bra can do good things. Years ago, I used to watch What Not To Wear, and when they sometimes had ladies with larger chests get fitted, you could see the difference. Their breasts would move inside the profile of their rib cages, sitting on the front of their chests, not the side. Right there, this makes a person look thinner. And perkier!

And yet. Such bother to go shop for bras. And they aren't cheap.

Then, two months ago, at a luncheon, I dropped my business card in a raffle bowl for Rigby & Peller, a high-end bra boutique with a location at the King of Prussia mall. Lo and behold, I won a bra fitting party and some store credit. So I roped two friends into going with me, and I made the excursion last Thursday.

Two things: first, all bra-shopping should involve wine, cheese, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Second, wow. When my personal helper eyeballed the situation, we discovered that I was wearing nowhere near the right size. Since I'd bought the bra I was wearing before gestating and nursing four babies, that is not surprising, but it turns out it's not surprising in general. The band should be tight; the vast majority of the support of a bra comes from the band. So, often, one's band size will be smaller than imagined. Given that the cup size (generally) comes from the differential between band and bust measurements, this means the cup size will be higher up the alphabet. And so it was for me.

I tried on several bras in this new size of mine and immediately looked thinner and perkier. I decided it was time. I needed to replace my entire bra wardrobe. And so I did. I've been feeling ridiculously happy about it this week. It's like it's my little Christmas present to me.

So, two public service announcements. If you are reading this, and have breasts, consider getting fitted. A sign in the store said "I came in for a new bra. I came out a new woman." This is marketing, but it is not wrong. And second, for people who do or do not have breasts, as you're shopping for everyone else this season, consider getting something that will make you ridiculously happy. You can say it's a gift from someone else if you want, but in the grand scheme of things, bliss isย as worthwhile an investment as anything else.

Photo: Wine helps with a bra fitting.

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23 Responses to Invest in your happiness (or perkiness)


  1. Denise says:

    This makes me laugh. I went on a road trip with my friend to the States last summer. After spending that much time together in the car she was very bold and told me my boobs were sitting way too low. I finally admitted I still loved to wear my old nursing bra (my youngest is 10!). She made me buy 3 new bras on that trip and throw out all my old ones. When I returned to the office a few people asked me if I had lost weight. The new bras worked!

    • @Denise – and, I’d add, why bother losing weight if you can just wear the right bra??

  2. Gladys says:

    This is so funny! I’ve never heard of a “bra fitting party” before. I know a couple friends who don’t wear a bra because they reasoned out, “Who needs it anyway?” Lol. I’m a frugal too but I don’t mind spending money on something that I know will bring me happiness for a long time! Have a Merry Christmas, Laura!

  3. Christine says:

    I love this blog post and I am so happy that you had a great experience, Laura!

  4. ARC says:

    OMG, YES! I found out from Nordstrom that I wear a size I didn’t even know existed :O Now I buy all new ones every 3 years or so. It really does make a world of difference.

  5. Lindsey says:

    Just wanted to say Happy Holidays and thanks for the chuckle. I really enjoy your writing style and look forward to reading your posts. I’m in the midst of reading a 2nd book of yours (All the Money in the World) which I checked out from the library because I am frugal/cheap too!

    • @Lindsey- just make sure you tell the library it’s so good they need to order several more copies ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Kelly in SF says:

    Oh, yes! Bra fittings make all the difference! I wish all of them included chocolate & wine – I’d go every year instead of every 3+ yrs!

  7. Kathleen Layman says:

    If any ladies are really pinched for cash, I bought one bra from the professional fitter and then bought the new size bra online with coupon deals. I felt buying one expensive bra was fair,

  8. Judy says:

    Ha! Ditto to all of the above. When I got my first correctly sized bra after a fitting in conflict with my cheap self after carrying and nursing babies and wearing bras waaay past their expiration date, my husband said it was the best investment I ever made! Now, armed with the correct size, a favorite bra (Spanx Bra-llelujah), and the knowledge of the importance of a good bra, I can just order them online whenever I need to.

    And I shared this wisdom with my teenage daughter.

  9. Emilie Burke says:

    I have been working to get fitted correctly for the longest. I decided to slowly start upgrading my set with an adoreme.com subscription. One set per month makes a big difference in helping upgrade my sets!

  10. Carol says:

    I really enjoyed this post and I have dragged more than one friend to a bra fitting. The ladies working in the bra shop were no nonsense and they even paid attention to the colors I was wearing when making recommendations. I too was wearing a totally wrong size. I invested in some lovely bras and those expensive bras have held up beautifully, much better than the cheap ones I used to buy.

  11. Jessica says:

    for those not near good bra fitters: the subreddit ABraThatFits has a size calculator and a lot of good information.

    • Shanna says:

      Came here to say that! Also, I will point out that when you find one that fits, put a price alert for your size on Keepa or CamelCamelCamel and it will email you when your size is marked down. Every year I pick up a couple of $80 bras for $25-30

  12. Gwyneth says:

    So true! I wonder what percentage of women are wearing the wrong size bra because buying them is so un-fun without champagne and so unrewarding without getting them properly fitted?

  13. Virginia says:

    After I weaned, I found only skin and bone where my old boobs used to be. Then I scanned my eyes about 6 inches lower and BAM- there they were!

  14. @Virginia – to be fair, it’s not nursing that ruins your boobs, it’s the estrogen rollercoaster ride of pregnancy. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Laura I lucked out recently and got two fancy French (nursing!) bras at a discount store, probably there because they were an odd size: 30E. They were $54 on Amazon, but I snagged them for $4 each. They’re black with ivory lacy trim.

    They fit me, just a teensy bit snug on the rib cage, so I’m ordering one of those extender thingies.

    But yeah, almost everyone wears the wrong rib size! I HATE trying to find a bra in a regular store because everyone is not a 34C, and if you’re an odd size it is impossible to find your size. But I don’t want to spend a ton of money on a bra because my size will change again when I wean the youngest.

    I treated myself to 5 new bras after I lost the baby weight.

  15. Anne McCormick says:

    I love this! And totally agree that bliss is as worthwhile an investment as anything else.

  16. Lily says:

    Love this! To me, that giddy ‘I love this and it makes me happy every day’ feeling is the new bench mark for purchases of things. I’ve just started working full time again after grad school, and I’ve got just barely enough professional outfits to make it through the five-day week. But I’m holding out and making sure every new piece meets the ‘whoo-hoo look at me, and I’m so comfy’ standard, instead of settling for ‘it’ll do’

    • @Lily- I completely support this. Building a good wardrobe takes time and buying stuff just to buy it just doesn’t have that same wow feeling.

  17. smh says:

    Yay!

    For those living outside major cities, the HerRoom website also has a bra-fitting tutor. In my experience, it was accurate.

  18. Jennie Evans says:

    I was fitted last year and what a difference! I spent a small fortune, but they were well worth it. I handwash them to make them last longer. I was recently fitted for jeans. I don’t wear them often (Saturdays) and had never invested in a good pair that fit well. What a difference. I looked 10 pounds lighter and am not pulling at the waist.

  19. Dee says:

    Yes a new bra is amazing! I tend to be cheap about it too BUT i remind myself that I wear it every day. I’m a small size large cup (think 34DD) so they are super expensive. If you average out a $100 bra x times worn it’s probably the best value piece of clothing you own!

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