Here's the truth: I have too many bras. I'm embarrassed to tell you the exact number. There are so many that I can actually group them into little groups.
If I were the organized type, I'd have custom, labeled dividers in my dresser drawers for each group.
I wonder if Martha Stewart does.
Here are my bra categories, so far:
- Jog bras (I wrote a post about them once)
- Sweater bras
- Professional bras (for work clothes, that's what I mean)
- Cotton bras
- Special occasion bras
- Sex bras
20 years ago, I think I had 3 bras. I'm not quite sure what happened that led me to bra overload, but I'd like to blame a beautiful woman named Nicki, Victoria's Secret, my husband and TJ Maxx.
Nicki: I met her in my 20's when we were both single. She fixed me up with a friend of her boyfriend's, and we'd get ready for dates together at her apartment. I could not help but notice her lovely, fancy matching bras and panties. I'd never spent much money on that stuff. I was far too practical and frugal. "Do guys really care about it?" I asked. "Yes," she said. "I don't even know where to shop for it." "Victoria's Secret," she said.
Victoria's Secret: I went to the mall to check out the store, but couldn't bring myself to spend that much money on undergarments. Seriously, if you get a hot pink bra, you have to get a bunch of hot pink expensive underwear to match, to make it worth it, otherwise you have to wash your one matching pair every day, right? If you stick to reasonably priced black and beige at Macy's? Non issue. I was saving for a trip to Europe. I was not going to blow my savings at Victoria's Secret, especially since I didn't even have a serious boyfriend.
My husband: So I met him, we got married, and he quickly convinced me that money spent on lingerie was money well spent. I bought a few sex bras at Victoria's Secret. I also learned that he complained less about my shoe shopping habits if I bought high heeled boots, especially black leather ones. I was still careful though. I got an orange bra, and a few other colors, but just a few matching panties. Also, the longer you're married and the more children you have, the less the matching thing seems to matter. Not sure why.
TJ Maxx: Here's where the real trouble began. I discovered the bra section after the first kid was born, and I realized my size was going to keep changing for a while. That place has oodles and oodles of very cute bras, very cheap. $4.99 for black silk polka dots and $1.99 for the undies? Uh. Sure. That's cheaper than dinner and a movie.
And so it began. Three kids, 17 years of marriage, and an undisclosed number of bras later, I need a label maker and a professional organizer for my undergarments.
I know this bra problem is also a sign of exuberant consumerism somehow gone awry, and I'd probably have more money in my IRA now if I had less lingerie. I get a sick feeling in my stomach sometimes when I see how much stuff I have and know there are people less fortunate than me and I feel spoiled.
But, here's the thing: a couple years ago, a friend sent me a link to Nicki's blog. I'd lost touch with her, and here she was, married with young children writing a touching diary chronicling her battle with breast cancer, from the horrible beginning and the choice to undergo a double mastectomy, to her triumphant victory back to health, including returning to running and completing her first Race for the Cure.
I read her blog from beginning to end and cried for days. "I remember her breasts," I said to my husband. "They were lovely, she was proud of them, and she had the best bras. I'm so glad she appreciated them while she could."
When I first heard that women were posting their bra color on Facebook, I thought it was silly, a bit voyeuristic, and too much information. Then I read Johanna Turner's article about it in the Washington Post and learned it was a Breast Cancer awareness project, I changed my mind. I posted "Red" that day.
I know my bra's real job is to hold up my boobs. I'm glad mine are healthy, and I'm happy I get to dress them up. So I'll be keeping all my bras, thank you very much, and there's a good chance I'll buy some more in the years ahead.
Impractical? Yes. But still cheaper than dinner and a movie.