Written by Vix Leyton

Lifestyle

Reach for the bras

Investing in decent underwear isn’t a frivolous indulgence when you consider the cost per wear, not to mention the relief from back and boob pain. Quidco’s Vix Leyton has the zeal of a convert.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

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SPONSORED BY QUIDCO

The agony and ecstasy of the first bra fitting

I still remember the scene – Marks & Spencer, Cardiff, year 8 me shuttled into a fitting room under barbaric strip lighting and manhandled into a training bra by a matron-like character with cold hands.

As if it wasn’t already mortifying, she stuck her (sensible) boot right in by suggesting it was all a pointless escapade anyway as I had a chest like “two boiled eggs in a hanky”. Just what you want to hear as a 12-year-old desperate to graduate from your vest and fit in with the older girls, although now an aspirational goal to a gal sitting comfortably in the 38D bracket.

Walk, don’t run now, Victoria, and avoid blouses, unless you want to risk offering friends and colleagues the shittest peepshow on earth through the gaps of your straining buttons. Or, of course, option B – to roam around like a Halloween ghost in a tent-like get-up so your boobs fit but nothing else does (why, oh why can’t you buy shirts and tops by bra size, like men have a collar size?).

The trauma of that experience stayed with me. That, coupled with the fact that it is a jungle out there – lift and separate, balcony (?!) Wonderbras – meant I gave up on the actual sizing process and conducted an 18-year campaign of guesswork, with varying degrees of success.

The epiphany
or how I stopped worrying and learned to love my bra fitter

The first time in 15 years of rogue bra buying I actually reviewed my strategy was when I had a wedding dress to think about. With four weeks to go I’d healthy-eaten myself into a smaller size, which changed everything in terms of how it looked.

My butternut squash curves had evaporated into the base figure underneath that I recognised from my teen years – a carrot with arms and legs, shoulders broader than hips, barrel chest, severe reduction in bust. A friend did me the big favour of steering me to the lingerie department for the necessary scaffolding to change the dress.

I was cynical about this, I can’t lie. I have long harboured strong, vocal views on the likes of Spanx (it has to go somewhere, it doesn’t just disappear! Horrible sausage skins – pah!). However, I had to eat my words when the magician in the lingerie department completely rebuilt me, skin out, with a (fitted) balcony bra coupled with the kind of saucy little leotard that Cheryl Cole Versini Fernandez Tweedy might wear in a music video (admittedly if I took my glasses off and squinted a bit).

I was thrilled with the overall look and my new shapely self. It wasn’t just lingerie – it was sexy, sexy scaffolding that made me my best version of myself.

We were in a wooden cubicle the perfect time for a confession

At the time, the lingerie magician, having clearly seen it all before in the small cubicle that was my personal road to bra Damascus, asked me what bras I usually wore. As I toed my horrible old bra under my pile of clothes, I muttered that it was usually somewhere reasonably cheap – often in supermarkets. But in my defence, I stated gamely, I had a couple of really nice ones that I saved “for best”.

Saving bras for ‘best’ – eh?

Standing there all vulnerable in my shiny new bra and half a wedding dress, I realised how ridiculous this statement was. Firstly, what was I saving them for? I’d been with my husband for long enough for him to have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. No one in this household is under any illusions that every day is a matching day and who else did I expect to see me in them? What was I waiting for? My audition for Victoria’s Secret? Tom Hiddleston?

“I invite everyone to review what you’ve got lurking in that underwear drawer and think about making an inbreastment in bras that look amazing and fit brilliantly. Join the Bra-mnesty.”

On a cost-per-wear basis, bras are one of the most cost-effective items you can have in your wardrobe. A straw poll of my friends not only reassured me that I wasn’t the only one with lo-fi everyday bras and ones kept ‘for best’, but suggested we all had bras that were at least six years old.

If you are rotating 10 bras over the course of a single year, that is 36 days’ wear each. With my weapons of choice, the Rosie range at M&S (frilly and girly and the big sizes aren’t a sad parody of the delicate ones), costing around £25 per bra, that’s about 70p a time. Plus we all know we’ve got many that lurk far beyond the four seasons. It’s okay – there’s no judgement here, only understanding. How many tops do you have at 70p a wear? Or dresses?

And, on the subject of items you wear almost every day of your life, why is it okay to guess what size you should have on? You wouldn’t take a punt on any other type of item. There is more to lose if you get it wrong: back pain, double boob, ‘bridesmaid’s armpit’. The only item more errant when wrongly sized is a pair of tights but, unlike a pair of tights – where one size can fit none – there is a science to bras, and it’s easy to get the formula for comfort and flattery.

From a late bloomer to a fully fledged collector – bras are now my jam

I love choosing them in the morning: I get a kick out of wearing them, they improve the way my clothes look, and it is ever so slightly less of a chore to get to the end of the day without taking it off and throwing it out of the window. So I invite everyone to review what you’ve got lurking in that underwear drawer and think about making an inbreastment in bras that look amazing and fit brilliantly. Join the Bra-mnesty.

There is a world of choice out there, from my beloved M&S to Bravissimo, and we have a whole load of them on Quidco, to bring that cost-per-wear down even more. To support you in your quest (yes, I went there – no pun too cringy in a world where I’ve already jammed boob vernacular on the words ‘amnesty’ and ‘investment’) Quidco is offering new members a £10 cashback bonus, on top of the advertised rate, when you buy anything on site worth £10 or more, so now is the perfect time to take a look.

Check out Vix’s tips on how to stretch your money on holiday.

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Quidco is a rewards site offering members cashback at more than 4,300 retailers, online and in store. It’s free to join, and you can get cashback on everything from everyday essentials to travel and utilities. The average member earns £280 a year. Visit www.quidco.com to start earning money fast. This link takes you to a special Standard Issue readers’ deal where new sign-ups get a free £10 cashback bonus.

@PRVix
@quidco

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Written by Vix Leyton

Vix is a financial PR and ginabler who lives and works in East London. As a result she long ago lost sight of whether riding a unicycle while wearing a monocle is par for the course on a normal day.