Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Making life easier: bras

As an Aspie woman, I have dreadful trouble with bras.

They seem to be designed specifically to annoy people with sensory issues. Wires, buckles, hooks, eyes, miles and miles of rough seams, plastic bits, nasty scratchy nylon... I've often wanted to burn my bra, not out of any kind of feminist sympathy but because I think the damnable things deserve to die by fire.

Up until five or so years ago, I could get around this by using wire-free sports bras. Sadly, I was apparently the only woman in the world who used these past the age of 12, because one by one my favourites have disappeared, and now there is just one style made by one company, available through one shop.  (St Marks from Big W, in case you need to know. Pervert.)  And even they're not consistently available in sensible sizes.

This leaves me with a dilemma. Thanks to my solidly-built peasant genetics going bra-less isn't really an option, especially now the pert flush of youth is starting to fade. But even the non-laciest, non-wiriest, non-annoyingest, most-grandmotherly ones I could find were practically unwearable.

Because my body awareness is pretty shaky, I tend not to realise my physical sensory problems until they get severe enough to start manifesting mentally - panic and anxiety for auditory overload, and usually anger for tactile problems. So in the name of me not ripping my co-workers' heads off, a solution needed to be found...

So, I hit the shops.

If you're lucky, you'll be able to get something called a 'post surgery bra'. They're designed for women who've had mastectomies and even have a little flap to hold a prosthetic breast, but more importantly for our purposes they're soft, cotton, wire free, relatively seam-free, and have clasps on the front AND back so you can chose how best to get into them. They're great. They're also pretty rare - I have seen them in the usual department stores from time to time, but I've not seen them more often than I have seen them.

I even invested in something called an Enell sports bra, which was not particularly expensive by lingerie standards but certainly more than I'd usually pay. It's also relatively seam free and front opening, and holy hell does it support well. Unfortunately, Enell has its own sizing system, and there's a mismatch between the sizes they offer and my body - possibly because they cater to sportswomen, who tend to have a different muscle to fat ratio from lounge lizards like me. The practical upshot was I had to choose between one that was the right cup size but a bit too small around the band, or a good band fit but slightly too-big cups. It also covers a lot of real estate, meaning you can't wear it with a strappy dress. Or a V-neck. Or a scoop neck. Or a boat neck. Or anything other than a polo shirt, really.  But since they're designed for people who climb mountains and toss cabers, it's unreasonable to call that a flaw. I'll probably get my money's worth out of it, but it's not an everyday solution.

In the midst of all this experimentation, I'd also bought half a dozen 'normal' wire-free non-lacy bras, but the seams and tags and scratchy fabric saw them banished to the back of the drawer.

Then I realised the solution...

Wear them inside out.

It's not a long-term solution, but it's enough to tide me over til I figure out something better.

Because aesthetics seems to be more important in a bra than comfort, most are nice and smooth on the outside. So if you snip off that stupid little bow in the centre of the cleavage and wear the outside on the inside, it gets rid of most of the sensory problems. The only potential issue is the clasp at the back, because now the flap's on the wrong side. I haven't found a way around that yet, but I'm working on it...

For more helpful advice on structural support for your verandah, check out Epbot's fantastic guide at Everything  You Never Knew You Needed To Know About Bras.