I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

My Bra Shopping Meltdown


To preserve my own sanity, I take two days off every week. As a small business owner, this is no small feat. Other business owners look at me like a lunatic, but I insist that I prefer to not die young. As it is this business thing is sucking my soul or will to live at times. I have big panic attacks, but somehow always muddle through. I had one of those panic attacks on Friday of last week. Luckily my friend Steph was there for me, through text, and helped me through it. I managed to get through the day without crying. That is nothing short of a miracle. Saturday was pretty cool. My monthly meet up group ended up only having two ladies show up, but I have to say, they may just be my two favorite ladies. Nothing against anyone else, but they are more than just meet up peeps. I consider them friends. I know that I can talk about and tell them anything. And while I do write about almost everything here, there are some things I don’t know how to articulate properly for this specific format. And they made me feel good. They made me feel cared about. And they pretty much understood what I was going through and even asked how other things were going in my life. So I went home pretty much fine and dandy (and rare combo for me) and was ready for a fab day off with my husband the next day.

Sunday started off somewhat good, I slept in and B had my coffee waiting for me when I got up. We went to the craft store and I found this lovely flower I’m going to turn into a broach. The topic of my bra situation came up, I’d been putting off trying to find an alternative to my long-beloved LB bras that are all worn out. I explained that I’d checked just about every online possibility but that size and price will consistently be an obstacle. I half-mentioned that Wal Mart has been successful for some ladies and that perhaps I’ll check that out on my solo day off (Tuesday). He insisted we go together and right away. He hates Wal Mart and generally speaking so do I, but some things you just can’t get anywhere else or at a price we can afford. So we headed out to our closest location.

What started out as a simple shopping trip turned into a triggering nightmare for me and left my poor husband completely helpless and bewildered. I found one bra at first, but then began digging through the Playtex boxed bra section and found six more. At this sudden discovery I was filled with the excitement of new possibilities (comfy bras without under wires). My research gave me a range to work with for size (48D/DD – 50C) and all were within this range. So I headed into the fitting rooms, my husband headed for the fishing department. As I tried on each bra I felt that something just wasn’t right. None of them fit properly. The cups were all somehow too big. The bands, too. I also noticed that my once full and juicy looking boobs now seemed slightly withered and sagging. I’m 33, no surprise I suppose, but I usually only see my breasts from one viewpoint: looking down from above. But I was not ready to give up.

I headed back out in search of more options and found about 3 or 4 more bras of varying size and shape and features. I went back into the fitting room and gave it another go. This time, I don’t know what specifically triggered me, but I was suddenly unable to cope. My breath caught in my throat. I quickly put my own bra and top back on and gathered the re-hung bras to put away. I didn’t feel attached to my body suddenly, but floating above or behind it. I put the bras back where I’d found them and began to wander towards the plus size clothing section. There was a top that was super cute and only $16, but I didn’t even take it off of the rack as that was not what I came for and we don’t have the money to burn at this point. But I still had this feeling of heaviness and disconnection. I realized that I didn’t know where my husband went and so I headed back to the bras in case he was looking for me. You never wanna get lost in a Wal Mart, folks. It’s huge and crowded! No fun!

He soon found me and I ended up getting a pair of black earrings for $2.88 which I’d been wanting for ages to go with half my necklaces. when I chose the right pair and placed them in the basket he looked at me and said, “So what’s up with those bras?” and it hurt me deeply for some reason. I just snapped out, “I don’t know. I didn’t fucking make them.” and turned away. We made our way to the check out and waited in line. I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breathe again. So I asked him if he wouldn’t mind if I grabbed a drink. He was fine with it though what he said I can’t recall now but I took it awfully harsh for no reason at all. Once everything was rung up by the cashier I snagged my drink and took a huge gulp of it, hoping that would be the end of whatever I was feeling. It was not.

We walked to the car in silence. He asked what was up and I just couldn’t really explain it. I’m sure I said something about self-esteem/body image or whatever, but it wasn’t a coherent thought since I hadn’t had one to share. As we drove home I suddenly felt the need to cry. I tried not to because he never has tissue in his car, but the tears came without my control and I just gave up and fucking let them. He asked if I was okay and I said I was fine and wiped my tears away (gotta love dark sunglasses, eh?). It was while we were on the freeway that I realized why this was so hard for me. There were about two or three times growing up where I’d had a growth spurt or gained weight and a relative took me shopping in a large department store, sent me into the fitting rooms, only to have me come up empty handed. Each time there was confusing and then some type of talking to/lecturing. I distinctly remember one time I needed jeans and none fit and my dad just looked at me and said, “I don’t understand. None of them fit. What am I supposed to do with you?” Another time that I regret to this day (and I say I don’t have any, ha-ha!) was when my grandma took me to get a dress or I don’t know what, but she wanted me to try things on and I dug in my heels and said no. She was confused and annoyed and pleaded with me and I wouldn’t budge. It came up several times over the years and hurts me now more than ever, but it was because I knew nothing would fit. Also, I don’t handle getting lectured well. At all. By anyone. Ugh!

So, when my husband asked about the bras and I snapped at him, I think possibly that it sent me straight back to those times all over again. I spent the entire rest of the day in complete and utter misery. I tried to explain it to him, but it was so hard for me to talk and to even try to get across what I was feeling. I finally said to him that while I can rationalize it in my head, it doesn’t make it feel any different. So he let it be. But I could barely talk the rest of the day/night and while I tried to distract myself with a video game we could play together, it never left my mind. I was crushed from the inside out. I could barely eat dinner. I just felt like shit and suddenly, also, felt that I deserved to. And that is some heavy bullshit, folks. I haven’t felt that way in so many years. I hadn’t bought a ticket to the self-hating pity train in so long that I can’t even remember my last trip! So it was all the harder for me last night.

I couldn’t sleep. I dreaded coming in to work the next day. I couldn’t find the chemise I wanted to wear to bed. I began to dwell on my financial problems. Just a big old hate spiral, ya know? This isn’t the real me. This isn’t what I want from life at all. I finally managed a couple of hours of sporadic sleep and woke up with a big chip on my shoulder. I am angry with myself, but hoping to distance myself from that pain I was in, too. I think I am better today. I feel the weight of my other problems, but I’ve  resolved to stick with the damned LB ones I have and slowly try to get new ones on sale or the outlet or ebay or whatever I can manage. My husband was so beside himself that he wanted to take me to the nearest LB last night and buy all new ones. But we can’t afford it and when I told him that they are $35-$40 a piece, I think he understood that I was right.

I don’t know that I could have prevented being triggered by the experience, but damn, that was hard to go through. I feel awful for ruining yet another Sunday. I am trying so hard to keep my head in the right place. This time I was blind sided though and I need to forgive myself for that. 2011 has just been so tough on me. I know it has been tough for everyone, we’re all just fighting to keep surviving every damned day. I just keep hoping it will somehow get easier. That I’ll find a plateau or something. I need to breathe you know! Ha-ha! I will find my way, I always do. I have to have more faith in myself. I need to stay focused. Well, I need to do a lot of things, but when I’m miserable I do nothing but wallow. It’s always been that way. Today (Monday) will test me for sure, but I will push through and find a way to enjoy my day off tomorrow (Tuesday).

Thank you for sticking with me through this. I know it can’t be fun to read about my troubles so much lately. I will have a guest blogger coming soon and have some other fun-ish posts in the works, too. Thank you for being so supportive and kind. I am grateful for you all. You amaze me. <3

posted under Blog, Fat Acceptance
39 Comments to

“My Bra Shopping Meltdown”

  1. On July 13th, 2011 at 5:26 am Claudie Says:

    I haven’t been reading your blog long and this is my first comment, but I just wanted to say that I hate shopping for bras. They are torture devices through and through. My main problem is that the LB’s near me don’t often carry my cup-size (if ever) so I have to buy them online. Of course no bra is made the same, so I end up having to send most of them back.

    On the rare occasion that I am able to find my size in a store, I find myself resisting going in the dressing room. I get afraid that it won’t fit and I’ll feel like I’m 16 again when I went bra shopping and found out that I had once again gained a cup-size and they didn’t have anything in the store that would work. I have been known to buy whatever I think is the right size and try it on at home rather than go into those dressing rooms. That eases my anxiety until I have to return whatever didn’t fit, but that’s a whole other story.

    I’m sorry that your day was less than great because of the whole experience. I hope that your day off was awesome though!

  2. On July 13th, 2011 at 7:54 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Claudie: Thank you, yes, my day off was awesome. Thanks for reading and commenting.
    I can’t say that I wholly agree on the torture device remark, but I do see what you’re saying. I think it’s more of the same old misogyny from an industry constantly insisting we conform to their standards rather than our own. I can say this now, days after my incident, of course. I certainly don’t feel comfortable without a bra yet finding one that is comfortable is a feat in and of itself. I can’t say that I have a solution, but hopefully enough of us will complain about these things to make some small change.

  3. On July 13th, 2011 at 5:43 am purplekeychain Says:

    Man, that was so hard to read! It makes my heart ache for you. I have gone through similar things myself, and it sucks! As someone who also battles with panic attacks and depression, I can positively relate to what you’re saying. And because of that, I refuse to give advice, or generic catch-phrases and cliches about things getting better, etc. Because sometimes, when you’re down in the pits, that shit makes things WORSE because it’s so incredibly generic and almost insulting.


    When I read your blog everyday, I am always confused by the “TW” because I could never understand exactly WHAT was supposed to get triggered, and how it would manifest itself. Only this weekend I finally understood how certain topics, comments and situations actually affect me and trigger these horrible feelings and insecurities in me. Like, sad things don’t make me get depressed, and awkward situations don’t make me have panic attacks — but they exacerbate and amplify my emotions and, next thing you know, I’m on the floor having a panic attack for 10 minutes that feels like it will never end.

    I get pissed, to think about how fat-shame during my childhood continues to affect me at 33 (I swear we are kindred). It makes me feel miserable to realize that seemingly innocuous comments made during shopping trips with mom or grandma (my grandmother was the source of my fat hatred growing up) when I was a kid continue to upset me to this day, comments and situations I was put in that made me feel worthless and ugly and disgusting and stupid, and still continue to make me feel that way now. Those things make me feel so… sad. And also angry. And I think that is what triggers the panic attacks — because my feelings are so conflicted. You know?

    It also triggers these irrational bouts of anger at other people (namely, my husband) because I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is that is making me so upset. For example, I usually refuse to read books in front of my husband, or anyone. On the occasion that my husband comes home and catches me reading, he might joke about me having my ‘nose in a book’ and there have been many occasions where I will start an argument or I’ll be morose and sad for the whole evening. And he doesn’t understand why. But I feel stupid, saying “My grandmother told me that I was ugly and fat and that reading a lot of books would make me think I was smart and no man would want a smart woman who was also fat”. How do you tell someone that? How do you justify using it as an excuse for starting a fight with someone 20 years after it happened?

    I was also going through some of what you’re describing a few months ago, when I realized that I had gone up a size, but that I hadn’t really noticed it as it was happening. It was incredibly traumatizing, not because I was fatter, but because I wasn’t even paying attention to my body. I think I cried for a week.

    Anyway, I ache for your pain. I’m glad that you’re looking at the brighter side and trying to recognize that you will, in fact, find your way. It sucks so bad that life has to be so damned hard just to GET BY for so many people. I really do hope things get better for you.

    Re: bras, although you seemed to have missed Lane Bryant and Catherine’s “buy 2 get 2 free” bra sale, they’re still having sales now (I’m suggesting Catherine’s because they carry Cacique-style bras with larger band sizes, but made by Serenada). Catherine’s has a BOGO sale on bras now, too.

  4. On July 13th, 2011 at 8:07 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @purplekeychain: Kindred indeed! *Hugs* It amazes me how much those stupid little comments can cling to us for so much of our lives. It’s certainly not fair. How these things and people have shaped us?! It’s boggles the mind. And when you said “How do you tell someone that?” that’s exactly how I feel about what happened on Sunday. My poor husband…I say that, but I’m a little peeved at him for other reasons at the moment. Ha-ha! But how do we explain such things to our SO’s? I had meant to explain it to him yesterday while I was feeling chill and awesome, but I didn’t wanna dampen either of our moods. I was finally feeling good and refreshed and certainly didn’t wanna cry again. *HeadDesk* Perhaps I’ll try tonight. Or just forget the whole thing? Eh, rarely the way to go. I am so grateful to have such amazing and supportive people in my life (online or otherwise. I know I couldn’t get through this shit without them (and you). Thank you!

  5. On July 13th, 2011 at 7:23 am Ms. F Says:

    I’m so sorry you had to go through this. I can really relate to the trauma of fitting room experiences growing up. I remember going to Mervyn’s and trying on size 13 (the biggest Juniors size around anywhere at that time) and the day they didn’t fit anymore… Things like that, plus the horrible lighting, the crowds, just the overall stress of it makes me really hate buying clothes at stores. I do most of it online, but some things (like bras, unfortunately) seem to have to be tried on.

    The stuff growing up really drives home the point that fat hate hurts everyone (particularly girls/women) because just growing normally becomes this thing that we’re ashamed of. I remember being in elementary school and feeling bad because I outgrew my clothes, internalizing it and thinking it was my fault and I was fat blah blah blah, even though kids are supposed to outgrow their clothes. So hurtful and unnecessary.

    I hope things look up for you soon and that you had a great day off yesterday!

  6. On July 13th, 2011 at 8:26 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Ms. F: Thank you, I did have a great day off. For me growing up it wasn’t the growing out of clothes because I was fat that was the problem but access and affordability. When my dad said that, I don’t think he meant it as a body shaming remark necessarily, but the fact that I remember it in that light says more perhaps. And we can’t control our sub conscience, so what can ya do? Ah, Mervyn’s, where all of my back to school shopping dreams and nightmares lived. Ha-ha!

  7. On July 13th, 2011 at 7:41 am Nancy Lebovitz Says:

    I recommend Just My Size. I’ve reached the age of squodgy breasts, and I’ve always been stubborn about comfort. I have a history of cutting little holes in bras to take the underwires out.

    I’m a 48D, and JMS’s Ultimate Cotton Comfort Wirefree Bra is a treasure for me– and they’re only $14.95, and sometimes cheaper during sales.

    I hope you’re feeling better.

  8. On July 13th, 2011 at 8:24 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Nancy: I am feeling better, thank you! I have tried some JMS bras, but they all seem to be an exaggerated shelf bra for my boobs. They just hang out in there shapeless and (sorry to be gross) sweaty. I need mine to be separated or I can get rashes. I am all for that price though, let me tell you! Ha-ha! Thank you for the recommendation though, I do appreciate it.

  9. On July 13th, 2011 at 8:04 am Veronica Says:

    My reactions aren’t as hardcore as yours, but I can completely relate to this. There’s something about not finding anything that fits that can make you feel like there’s something completely wrong with you and make you feel like s**t! Try to remember that on top of having far fewer choices than our standard sized sisters, the designers who design for us generally seem like they aren’t even really trying. There’s nothing wrong with your body, it really is the clothes!

  10. On July 13th, 2011 at 8:19 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Veronica: Thank you. Yes, even in that horribly dim fitting room (did the attendant know how dark that one was? Yikes!) I knew it wasn’t my fault or my self worth or anything, but even when you know something, your emotions don’t always listen. Ya know?

  11. On July 13th, 2011 at 8:22 am Emily Says:

    I really feel for you. Some of my worst body-hating, low-self-esteem moments have been in dressing rooms. I have gone into them feeling fine and then completely broken down in there. This has happened since I was around 13 and can still happen today at 32, even though I generally don’t hate my body at all now. Dressing rooms are like some sort of alternate universe of horror. I wish I could send you some LB gift money. I know this is probably an inappropriate impulse, but I have never had to think twice about buying a bra or anything that I actually need, so I am reminded of my extreme privilege. Thanks for sharing your very personal experiences; I think this story will resonate with so many people who will feel less alone in their experiences of this kind.

  12. On July 13th, 2011 at 8:30 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Emily: Thank you for reading and commenting. It is because I have reached people and helped them with their problems that I continue to share the good and the bad things that occur in my life here. Funny thing, just three years ago I held the same privilege that you do when it came to buying what I wanted/needed whenever and without worry. Life is an interesting journey. Right now just sort of feels like that scary forest in the wizard of oz for me. Ha-ha! Thanks again! <3

  13. On July 13th, 2011 at 8:53 am erylin Says:

    when i go to dressing rooms i try to leave messages for women behind…sharpie to a mirror saying things like YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL or THAT LOOKS SO GOOD ON YOU may be graffiti but its respectful graffiti with a purpose

    renegade body image graffiti artist at your service…I always have a bright purple one in my purse for just such occasions.

    i remember the day i grew out of juniors sizes (around age 12). i literally cried in shame as my mom grumbled and marched me back to the old ladies section of Famous Bar. andi remember the day, 4 years (and 8 inches) later, when i purged my way back out of the plus sized section and into juniors again.

    i can remember getting through college and then finding “fat raver pants” at a marshalls in my size…and literally crying…i could finally dress like my peers. i mean yea back then lane bryant existed…but it wasnt for a hippie/raver college student. oh torrid, how i love thee.

    jeans shopping will still trigger me to tears. i go in like a hunter. i can “oh this is cute” browsse shop to shirts, skirts and dresses all day long, taking my time. but my long ass legs and apparently deadly combo of short waistedness and big ass makes jeans damn near impossible to find.
    Im one of the women who actually LOVE the triangle circle square breakdown at LB. i KNOW i wear a blue 7 tall. and it actually fucking fits every time. no muss no fuss and i have jeans that are actually long enough (do you know how BAD already short pants look tight-rolled in the 80’s?)

  14. On July 13th, 2011 at 9:04 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @erylin: YES! I used to sharpie positive messages, too! I had forgotten, thank you for the reminder!
    Jeans! Yeah, they can be triggery for me, too. My huge thighs/ass usually wreck all prospects for me. I couldn’t fit into any of LB’s geometry pants. I love my Avenue Denim Lite jeans, but they don’t make them any longer. One day I will have to replace mine and it will surely be ugly. I love Torrid’s styles, but the price and quality just don’t do it for me. Not that LB does either. Since having to stop shopping for myself I have realized why I bought so much in the first place: shit falls apart! WTF?!

  15. On July 13th, 2011 at 11:24 am RachelB Says:

    I’m sorry. Gentle hugs of empathy if you would like them. I am thin-privileged and still find that bra-shopping ruins a good day or makes a bad day worse, which means I put it off as long as possible, which means going home without one is non-negotiable, which means buying one I can’t afford or settling for something that doesn’t fit. What is it about bras that gets under all that careful self-reassurance about how it’s the job of the clothes to fit us, not the job of us to fit the clothes?

    @Erylin, I never thought about body-positive graffiti. That’s a beautiful thing to do.

  16. On July 13th, 2011 at 11:30 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @RachelB: Thank you, hugs accepted! <3

  17. On July 13th, 2011 at 11:43 am Ashley Says:

    So, I typically love shopping and I love going to the mall and just going in and looking at stuff in stores. It doesn’t even matter if it was stuff I would buy. I have worked about a dozen different retails jobs at different times in my life, and I typically really enjoy just browsing in the mall. Well, about a month ago, I go to the mall to buy some jeans. I actually needed the jeans, I had money to buy them, I was ready to spend. Well, after about an hour in the mall I still had nothing, twice things I’d wanted hadn’t come in my size, and I was just overall getting grumpy. So I decide to stop looking for jeans and go in some of my normal favorite stores to browse. Nothing. Nothing fit me, nothing looked good on me, and here I was with money to spend. Somehow, in an instant, I got really mad. What had I done that had suddenly made me a person non gratis at the mall? Why wouldn’t anyone take my money I was there specifically to spend? Suddenly, even though not a single salesclerk or person in the mall had been rude to me, every single person in the mall was rejecting me and I was pissed off at them. Clearly, it was time to go home.

    Also, since several other people have mentioned jeans in this thread, the way I solved my problem was (you’re never going to believe this) ordering Carhartt’s online. Carhartt’s are the work jeans my husband buys and whenever he orders online there is a catalog in his shipment. I flipped through it one day and there was actually cute stuff for women in there! There are fit guidelines and a size chart online and they have a good range of sizes. (And do actually measure and use their sizing guidelines. I didn’t wear the size I would normally wear at like regular mall stores.) The jeans run $30-40 (I’ve also gotten two skirts, which were in the same price range), but they NEVER tear up. It’s like they make them out of indestructible magic denim or something.

  18. On July 13th, 2011 at 11:52 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Ashley: I know that feeling! Actually, sort of how I feel today. Just angry at the world, can’t even tell you why. Ha! Never heard of Carhartt’s, I’ll have to check it out. thanks.

  19. On July 13th, 2011 at 1:30 pm maneoplyse Says:

    I totally relate to the out-of-body out-of-time experiences. Have you looked into getting some training on what to do about these moments? In my present rational mind, yes trauma is awful, but I know it is not happening now. I know how I felt during the past trauma, and being aware of it, I can separate from how I feel now.

    And as a fat woman, I relate to poorly fitted poorly made clothing options, but I can’t say that I’ve experienced one of my out-of-body out-of-time moments and even if I did I would still need to recognize that the moment is of disappointment about poor clothing options not about my past.

  20. On July 13th, 2011 at 1:48 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @maneoplyse: Thanks, but unless such training is free and accessible to me, there’s just no way. I knew in the moment that it wasn’t me but the bras that were the problem, but again, it didn’t change the emotions swelling in me. You know?

  21. On July 13th, 2011 at 3:36 pm maggiemunkee Says:

    man, i effing hate jms bras. i wish they were better. i have exactly one that fits, and by “fits” i mean “can get it on my body.” i don’t know what women they make these bras for that have eensy weensy short shoulders (i’m sure they must exist, otherwise the bras wouldn’t be made this way, right?) because the straps are as long as possible, and the “comfort gel” wide strap falls in line with my collar bone.


    sorry. i hate bra shopping. i thought having a damned breast reduction would make it easier. joke’s on me. 🙂

  22. On July 14th, 2011 at 8:20 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @maggiemunkee: I am beginning to see that women all want different things from their bras. Perhaps this is why JMS makes theirs the way they do, very basic styling and support, but nothing fancy or mega-sturdy. Bummer. Because I can afford those! Ha-ha! Thanks.

  23. On July 13th, 2011 at 5:13 pm bluegreen Says:

    I’m a bit of a bra fitting enthusiast, so I always try to encourage people to get fitted to make sure they’re wearing the right size. Ignore me if you don’t think this applies. But you might really just need a smaller band size and then it’ll be easier to find bras that fit. Personally, I’ve found that watching fitting videos on websites like bravissimo and figleaves is the best way to go about it since they teach you what to look for in a bra and how to recognize a good fit or a bad fit regardless of what’s on the bra’s size tag. The “professional fitters” in the stores tend to be unreliable or just plain wrong.
    And I hope you’re feeling better now. I’ve had a few of these episodes where I suddenly get incredibly upset for no obvious reason while doing something random, and I know it’s not pleasant to experience.

  24. On July 14th, 2011 at 8:22 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @bluegreen: Thanks. I did go up and down band sizes and cup sizes to no avail. I was semi-happy when that first round were all too big, so then tried all sorts of sizing and got nothing but poor results. I think in the end it is what feels right and is comfortable for longer wear. I’ve seen a few of the videos you’ve mentioned and you’re right in that they are more helpful than those “pros” any day. Ha-ha! Thanks.

  25. On July 13th, 2011 at 5:42 pm maneoplyse Says:

    I know. I’m so sorry about the whole experience. I read this and I have been there with a similar person to your grandmother.

    Google search for “grounding meditation techniques” you’ll find a whole lot of websites (some spiritual, some hypnosis type, sometimes it’s just one person saying what they do, sometimes it requires payment but many are not). Really all you are doing is a visualization exercise that calms you down.

    If you read up on some of the sites, you can create your own and shorten it for those public moments. Really its about a few minutes a day of practice for like a month (till it sinks in) then you have it for those moments that you get unexpectedly knocked out.

  26. On July 14th, 2011 at 8:23 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @maneoplyse: I was just talking to a friend about something like this that I’ve used in the past before a big presentation or other public speaking engagement. I had a song that would pump me up and help get those butterflies to fly in formation. I need a song for these darker/scarier moments to let myself know it’ll be okay. Thank you!!!

  27. On July 14th, 2011 at 2:33 am Denise Says:

    @Ashley, jeans shopping is my #1 guaranteed personal-meltdown trigger (more than bra-shopping, even, and there is literally only one manufacturer I have ever found in a US retail store that even makes my band/cup size combo, much less a store that stocks them regularly) and the solution I’ve found is You start with a measuring tape and wind up with a pair of jeans that are made to fit your measurements exactly — it doesn’t matter what ‘size’ you are, you’ll get a pair of jeans that fits your body and your real measurements, not the ones that the clothing manufacturers think you should have.

    The only downside (and it’s a considerable one for a lot of people) is that prices are higher — it’s not uncommon to spend between $60 and $80 for one pair, depending on the options you pick, the base style you choose, and the add-ons you select. But the jeans are awesomely durable and really well put together — I’ve got a pair that I ordered five years ago that I’m still wearing pretty much all the time, with no signs of wear or tear, even in the “danger zones” — interior thighs, knees, etc. (IMO, it’s because they actually fit, for realz, and therefore aren’t getting the stresses of trying to fit and failing.)

    They do things other than jeans, too — suits, pants, shirts, jackets, skirts, etc, out of all kinds of materials. Their turnaround time is super; I generally get an order within 2 weeks. Plus, you know, no fitting rooms.

    I really, really wish they were cheaper, because I can’t even find the words for how awesome it is to get a piece of clothing that was literally made for your body.

    @Not Blue at All: I wound up here via a collection of links (can’t even say where I started from anymore!) and just have to say, this really resonated with me. Fitting rooms in general are a miserable experience for so many of us “non-standard bodies”. (I’m in that range of “just almost kinda sorta able to shop in retail but by God it’s going to be a struggle”, weight-and-height-wise, but it’s exascerbated in my case by me being partially disabled, so not only do I have to contend with body-image issues, I have to contend with dressing-room accessibility issues and the incredibly energy-sucking process of fighting with logistics.)

    I know that I’m a total stranger and this may come off sounding weird, but I just wanted to say that you are totally not alone, and I hope that you are able to be kind to yourself. When I read the bit about “feel[ing] awful for ruining yet another Sunday”, my heart just ached for you. Panic triggers suck hardcore, but the feeling of self-hatred afterwards for having been triggered is just the crap icing on top of a crap sundae, and I really hope that in the past few days you’ve been able to regain your equilibrium and remind yourself that being triggered isn’t your fault, and the responses you have to being triggered aren’t something you should blame yourself for!

  28. On July 14th, 2011 at 8:31 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Denise: Thank you! I am still sort of managing and I did have one really good day this week, but I am sorry to say that Yesterday was the worst of it. I’m having marital problems again and so it just makes everything worse. He’s usually my rock, but now? Shit, I don’t even know. Ha-ha! Thank you though. And no worries about being a “stranger” and all of that. Everyone is welcome here and I am always open to comments and suggestions. Thanks!

  29. On July 14th, 2011 at 6:15 pm Lady ATX Says:

    I just want to say that I think you are fantastic. I follow both this blog and your tumblr (tried to say hi to you once but the intricacies of tumblr still thwart me!) Don’t feel like you have to put on a cheerful fun blog to entertain us all the time. I suspect that others, like myself, stop in to read because we relate to what is going on with you, good and bad. It makes me feel so much better to read about someone going through similar things as me–thank you so much for putting yourself out there like that.
    I have no helpful advice on cheap bras. I do wish there was some sort of bra exchange! I have a drawer full of bras that I have only worn once or twice–they seem to fit in the store, but then become uncomfortable once I have purchased them and worn them for longer than 10 minutes. Those bras need good homes! I probably own 20 bras=I wear 6 regularly. 🙂

  30. On July 15th, 2011 at 8:36 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Lady ATX: Aw, thank you!!! And HI! You get me! You see that what I share about myself, no matter how difficult, has value. I do it because no one has done that for me. “Be the change you want to see in the world” and all. I do what I can, but I will admit that I don’t always share everything. I feel like I do, but there are things that ever I, the Queen of TMI, don’t share here. I may on Tumblr occasionally, because I feel it’s specifically a me-blog. But I use Tumblr more for fun, too. Ha-ha!
    Hmm, a bra exchange? I’d be happy to organize/facilitate this! Sounds fab! How do we begin? I guess I could spreadsheet a list of what everyone has and people can ask for which they’d like? Not sure. And the shipping costs? Hmm…I am open to your thoughts/suggestions on this. Thanks!

  31. On July 15th, 2011 at 12:25 am E. Ai. B. Says:

    I can’t afford to buy bras at 40 or more bucks a pop, so I only have a few…but…I buy mine from Avenue, if you have one there. I usually get them in a good fit (CAN’T stand justmysize stuff or any brands they carry at wal-mart. Not even for jogging bras. Some women love them, it probably has to do with actual body shape and breast shape, etc…) and when I was nursing I used motherhood maternity and they were just dirt-cheap for bras in my size (astounding). I’d consider buying bras from them even w/o being pregnant or nursing if I did not have Avenue.
    And what is it about wal-mart? I feel like having a breakdown just walking into that place sometimes. Which is terrible b/c on some items they are nicely prices, and I’m glad they provide jobs, etc… but holy hell I can’t stand the actual “feel” of that place and have no idea why.

  32. On July 15th, 2011 at 8:33 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @E. Ai. B.: Yes! I can’t say that it’s just wal mart or all major retail chains/outlets, but there is something to that. You know how you always see children in full-on tantrums at these types of stores? I call it system overload. It’s literally sensory overload. Just too much stimulation. When you consider the lighting and the way things are displayed/advertised, well, it’s no wonder they freak out, I do too sometimes. Ha-ha! These are places that want you to spend a lot and get the hell out. So they don’t go out of their way to make it comfy or welcoming too much, ya know?

  33. On July 15th, 2011 at 9:39 am Nancy Lebovitz Says:

    I might check out the Avenue– after notblueatall’s description of what she doesn’t like about JMS bras, I realized that, while they aren’t awful for me, they really are suboptimal because they push my breasts closer together than is really comfortable.

  34. On July 15th, 2011 at 10:15 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Nancy Lebovitz: I haven’t actually tried Avenue’s bras in so long that I don’t remember why I don’t own any now. I’ll have to pop into my local one and see what is up with this. Ha-ha! Thanks!

  35. On July 18th, 2011 at 3:50 pm Lady ATX Says:

    I am still pondering the logisitics of the bra exchange. 🙂 Maybe spreadsheets are the way to go!

  36. On July 25th, 2011 at 11:56 am Rachel Says:

    Oh, man….I can really relate, and I hope that things have gotten easier. I really like the idea of a bra exchange….who among us doesn’t have unworn bras in their drawer? 🙂

  37. On July 25th, 2011 at 1:34 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Rachel: Yes! But I’m not yet sure how to organize such an exchange. If you have any ideas lay ’em on me! <3

  38. On July 26th, 2011 at 3:38 pm Pauline Says:

    I could write my own blog about my shopping experiences. Reading about yours made my heart ache and brought back some unhappy flashbacks.
    After a *lot* of (personal/inner) work, I have (*mostly*) broken past feeling bad about myself and instead save my loathing for the fashion industry – their sizes are ridiculous and their styles aren’t that hot so to heck with them. I’ve almost never been able to hit what I call the shopping triple play: looks good, fits and affordable. Even two out of three isn’t enough (looks good and affordable but doesn’t fit? I’m screwed). If I’m really lucky I can get something that looks good and fits…and then I wait for a sale ha! 😉

    But let me say this about bras – I do not consider them a luxery item. I can think of a lot of other things that you could cut out of a tight budget but I really don’t think bras should be on the list. Worn out and/or cheap bras are worthless and set you up for back problems etc. A quality bra is worth it and should last a decent about of time. Which leads me to my newfound love: They are hardcore seamstresses who understand how a bra should work for you, and they know all kinds of tricks to custom fit a bra for you. I am a 44F and they had no trouble making me feel supported, elegant and comfortable. Yes they’re a little pricey but they are also hand making quality goods – can Wal Mart say that? And since they’re mail order there is no fitting room trauma. Actually, for anyone who lives in/around Seattle WA you can come into their shop for a fitting and it’s totally cool and trauma free but their online measuring and adjustment guide is so through that everyone who isn’t local will still get what they need no problem.

    Anyway, didn’t mean to turn this into a speal, I just wanted to say I understand your shopping pain and I am glad to share anything that may help ease said pain.

  39. On July 27th, 2011 at 8:06 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @Pauline: Thank you for your words of support. I have some experimenting to do on the bra thing and will update as that happens. People often don’t understand that no money means no money at all, but I do agree with what you said about bras not being a luxury item. Thank you!

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