The Gilded Serpent presents
The Perils of an Ill-fitting Bra
Robyn Scherr
February 1999

You've left all your personal identification with the woman at the booth, you've slung 80 pounds of gorgeous tulle and sequins over your arm and survived the gauntlet to the bathroom, and now it's on you: the costume of your dreams. Everyone else in the bathroom sighs in appreciation of your beauty. Babe, you look HOT.

Now. Take yourself out of that lovely sucked-in, chin-high pose, and quit turning your "best side" to the mirror. Don't forget that this dance puts your body in motion, and, though we'll all be awed by your gorgeousness in your gorgeous costume as you gorgeously pose, the costume is meant to reveal your dance, and has got to move with you.

The folks in your audience can't be wowed by you and your fabulous dancing if they're worried your bra might fall off, or come undone. They'll be riveted, all right, but they might be placing bets on your upcoming embarrassment.

In the spirit of sisterhood, I'm offering this try-out guide, with the most common bra catastrophes. And don't think this isn't about you. I've seen too many folks dancing in all of these poorly fitting bras, and I've heard the bets being placed in the audience.

TOO LOOSE ALL AROUND The idea behind a perky little shoulder shimmy is that your shoulders move, and your bra keeps your breasts attractively in place. Bounce may be just what you're looking for (or wanting people to look AT) when you're walking on down the avenue, but it'll detract from your dancing...take it from a girl who invariably bounces in everything BUT my dance costumes. So cinch, sister.

FALLING OUT FROM UNDER Talk about making your audience worry. This is caused by too loose a band. The bottoms of the bra cups don't keep snug contact with your chest wall (read: ribs), and gravity takes its toll. If you're over 18, you're eligible for this, so quit fooling yourself. And no amount of hanging fringe will hide what's falling through if you so much as lift an arm, turn, or --dear me -- give us a shoulder shimmy. This might not be obvious right after you've tried a bra on, and situated your breasts all perfect and perky. Lift your arms. Shimmy. Jump around a bit and spin. Then lift your arms again. If you've got the slightest bit of seepage, you know you'll have to tighten that bottom band before you ever dance in that bra.

DOUBLE DECKER BUS Ah, now this one's dear to my heart. You'd think most of us big-boobied girls would be wise to this, as we tend to avoid it in daily life. Instead of one continuous, rounded curve, in the wrong shaped cup (or just too small a cup) our breasts become like over-risen bread dough, so tightly compacted they're pushing out over the top, cleaving, and hanging over the edge of the cup. And of course this can be easy to miss at first, too. With a lot of situating, almost any cup can be made to look fabu for a moment or two. Take a bit of time. Dance, bend over, hop. And then see if your breasts remain happily ensconced, or if they start to burble over. Look from the front, and the side. If so, I'm sorry, but this bra is not for you. There's another, I promise.

SIDE CARS Quit that glam pose and put your arms down, tight. Have you sprouted soft growths near your armpits? Your cups aren't deep enough, or high enough on the sides. Strangely, this can be difficult to see, especially if you're looking head on at yourself, and are so rightfully taken with the terrific deep cleavage you've got going on. Watch out for the quick fix of floofing everything forward: you just might end up with a double decker (see above). Unless you're up for reforming the cup by adding side panels and probably changing its rotation, pass this one by.

And now, a couple of caveats for the perky and smally endowed among us. I feel for you, too.

DOWN TO WHERE? No matter how terrific and deep your cleavage may look with all that miracle stuffing, you don't want your audience playing the game of where's the nipple (do you? of course not). The curve's got to look nearly normal, and not as if it's engineered to be at your chin.

ROOM FOR ONE MORE If the cup's too big and/or stands stiffly away from your body, and isn't stuffed properly, when you turn to the side or bend over in your lovely big hip circle your audience will see everything the good goddess gave you, plus all your clever pushup tricks. You might, in the whip of a fast turn, even lose one of your foam cookies. I've seen it happen.

And so, my sisters in dance and costuming odysseys, I leave you with a couple of suggestions for successful bra fitting: take a friend shopping with you, and have a friend with you as you make alterations, one who will easily (if not gladly) say: that's awful. When shopping, take along a bra that fits you well, and compare. Take plenty of pins, and enlist the help of those around you. Don't ever lose your fantastic sense of glamour, but let your sense of humor (and dignity, let's never forget dignity) keep it firmly in check. Good luck to you!

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