Ahhh, the bralette. That name didn’t exist when I wore them in the ’80s. I don’t remember what they were called back then, but I do remember they were comfortable, and cute, and they didn’t make me want to murder an entire household of lovable pets and cherished humans if I didn’t get them off me ten seconds after getting home at the end of a long day. No triple clasps; in fact, no clasps at all. No rebar. Just stretchy little slingshots. Oh, how I miss them.
Fast-forward 25 years, when I recently came face-to-face, the hard way, with a Victoria’s Secret bralette. It came as a freebie with purchase, which I was making for my teenage girls. As a sidenote, if you think we live in a free country, where a person, say a middle-aged woman, can do whatever she pleases as long as she isn’t hurting anyone, try heading into a VS store at the tender age of 50. To the teeny-boppers perusing the stacks of wispy thongs, I was invisible; to the salesgirls, I was simply an oddity, judging by the looks on their faces. At every turn, I expected one of them to stop me and say, “Just who the hell do you think you are? Now, get out!”
After gathering an armful of items that were clearly not for me, I made my way to the torture of the long line, inhabited exclusively by young, firm, perky…women. When it was finally my turn, I dutifully stepped forward to receive my punishment. Then suddenly, just when I thought I’d made it safely to the other side of lingerie hell, the salesgirl went rogue.
“What size bralette would you like?”
“What?” I said, hyper-aware of the girls lined up behind me, steam shooting from their pierced nostrils.
“It’s the promo we have going. You get a free VS Featherlight Wonder Angel Bralette with every $100 you spend. What size would you like?”
“Oh. Hmm.” My mind raced as I tried to factor my VS size, which to begin with, is entirely different than a woman’s bra size at a normal department store. You see, the entire marketing plan of VS is based on fuzzy math. They have somehow devised a way for a 32A to be called a 36C, thereby ensuring that little vixen-wannabes, none of whom are old enough to appreciate the joy that is small boobs, all flock to the store that gives them the biggest boob size for their buck. (Truth be told, back in my day, VS was strictly a place where 20-somethings shopped for crazy contraptions with snaps on the crotch. Or so I’ve been told.)
I quickly tried to convert Maidenform to Victoria’s Secret in my head. I wanted to say a two-digit number beginning with a four, but I was confused and afraid. Making such a suggestion would get me laughed out of the bra department at Macy’s, where tape measures actually work, so I mumbled my best guess on a size that I thought might bring my ladies into a safe, soft landing without too much turbulence.
“Awesome! What color?”
“We have Ooh-la-la Salsa Verde or Saucy Petal.”
“Wait, what are we talking about?”
“Green or pink?”
So off I went, semi-excited with the anticipation of getting into the boob time-machine and pulling off the impossible: a lightweight, wireless, claspless, lacey hint-of-a-bra that would transport me to another dimension, one where back-fat didn’t exist, and more than just robbers reached for the sky when the sheriff showed up.
That night, after spending the day envisioning how a bralette might truly change my life, the moment finally arrived. I unwrapped the pink tissue paper and held up what looked like one of the lace doilies that once adorned the armrests of my great-grandmother’s loveseat. Unfazed, I pushed on, determined to see this mission to Mars through to the end. What happened next defies explanation; the voodoo math took on an entirely new dimension that would have impressed Newton. Many thoughts flashed in my mind as I wrestled that bralette into submission, including:
- Why isn’t the elastic working?
- What the fuck?
- What is THAT? (as I poked the mound of protruding flesh that just seconds before was my armpit)
Needless to say, at that moment, I was forced to accept that my bralette wearing days are behind me. Feeling defeated, I Googled the suffix, “ette”:
“’Ette’: denoting small size; seen in words such as cigarette and kitchenette.”
Of course! How did I not see this coming! A little cigar is a cigarette. Studio apartments must have tiny kitchens, or kitchenettes. Little dining rooms must have dinettes.
Clearly, bralettes must have their boobettes.