The Perfect Bra Is an Urban Legend

Getting punked at the lingerie store

Remember the story of the emperor’s new clothes? How everybody went along, oohing and ahhing because, well, everyone else did? It happens all the time, all around us. Go see an art show at a gallery here or in New York. I know, I know, it’s art, but tell the truth: Sometimes it’s just plain crap. You stand there thinking, “Is this a joke? It’s a blue dot. What am I missing? Is Allen Funt standing behind me?” Watch a fashion show on Style TV and see all the fashionistas clapping as a supermodel struts down the catwalk in bubbles and PVC piping.

For 20-plus years I have held season tickets at the Walnut Street Theatre. Five productions a year, and I’ve seen them all. There have been great ones and not-so-great ones, but it’s a night out and even a bad play usually offers some redemption. Not so with the theater’s recent production of Aspects of Love. In fact, it was so terrible that I left at intermission—which I have never done. Now, I’m no theater critic, but I am an avid theatergoer both here and in New York, so for me to walk out, you know it had to be bad. I was not alone; there was a tide of patrons leaving with me. “But it was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber,” everyone lamented. Emperor Andrew Lloyd Webber is more like it. The score was terrible, absolutely horrible, and the storyline stupid. I felt bad for the actors as they labored to make art out of garbage. There, I guess I am a theater critic.

Recently I went to the mall. Insanity at this time of year, but there I was, to buy some bras. I’m normally a Victoria’s Secret customer, but I succumbed to effective marketing and decided to try out a shop called Intimacy. The perfect fit, they promised. No more ill-fitting bras, they assured. You’ve finally arrived at the lingerie promised land. As my daughter uttered prophetically at the age of eight, “Nothing goes right when your underwear’s tight,” so I went in search of the solution.

“My straps fall down and the back rides up.” That’s what I told the salesgirl, who looked all of 20 years old and clearly never had to hold up girls like mine. Hallelujah, sister, have you come to the right place. Here, buy this bra for an insane amount of money because it’s going to fit you perfectly, and you will live happily ever after. And if it doesn’t fit well, bring it back and we’ll alter it. Alter it? What are you going to do, reinforce the underwire? Sew on a couple more straps? Or will you just market the hell out of the concept until every customer believes that they have purchased the ultimate bra because, well, the Emperor said so?

I bought into the hype, purchased a bra and took it home hoping that maybe I had, in fact, bought the perfect one. Right, okay, that’s until the straps fell down and the back rode up. Where’s Allen Funt?