Janice and Mom on stoop, 1943.jpg

It is indeed a new normal, at least for now. In semi-isolation since the warnings of COVID-19 started, I put on a new uniform: tights (thank goodness for the fleece-lined ones) camisole, long-sleeved shirt, vest—did away with the bra from the outset. It’s a kind of liberation, just like when I let my shiny locks go white.

Wearing a bra is a rite of passage in any female’s life and it was no different for me. My mom was well endowed and there’s a childhood memory of sitting nearby as she dressed for the day. Mommy hooked the clasps of her bra together under her breasts, turned the whole thing around, slid the straps on her shoulders, and gently coaxed her ample bosom into the cups. Standing in front of the mirror for inspection, and once satisfied that she was uplifted properly, slid her blouse or dress over the neutral-colored brassiere.

As a pubescent teenager, I couldn’t wait to get a bra. It was a hot topic among my friends—what size cup, how to put it on, what color?  How to wear a strapless bra, and which one gives you the most uplift.  Lingerie stores showed lacy black things on slender plastic models, certainly not suited to my growing front end.

red brassiere on white textile
Photo by Castorly Stock on Pexels.com

Time passed and a brassiere remained a central part of my wardrobe.   Never able to fit into those skimpy things, especially like the ones advertised in Victoria’s Secret catalog, I settled into semi-wired ones in flesh color and occasionally black.  Every couple of years there was a trip to Macy’s lingerie department, where the attentive young clerk measured me around and announced “40 DD, I’ll bring some for you to try on.”

She’d adjust the straps, step out of the room, and just as Mom did, I’d slip the stiff new undergarment under my breasts, clasp the hooks, turn the darned thing around, stuff myself into the cups, adjust the straps again, and stare at myself in the mirror with an uplifted bosom. “Always hand-wash these,” said the clerk as I shelled out more than a hundred dollars for four new ones.

I can’t remember my last buying trip for bras, but I have a drawer with several misshapen ones, that were never hand washed. As a working mother the bra was one of the first things I shed in the evening.  Lately, with self-quarantine, the stay at home order, and social distancing, my new uniform gives me comfort. Even on my occasional speed walks, there’s no sense of bouncing up and down as the camisole does the trick of keeping me in place. It feels great.

Zoom has replaced face to face contact.  Sitting at my desk a headshot appears, like a bust (pun intended), and no one can see much below that.  It’s not necessary to dress to impress. It’s my wit, my charm, and head nod that keeps me going in the conversation, the learning session, or just catching up with friends. Rarely can you see below the neck and who cares anyway.

I guess those well-endowed women we used to see and laugh at in National Geographic had it right all along.



  1. What fun! I’m with you, Janice. And not only no bra for the Zoom head-shot meetings, I may very well still be wearing pj bottoms and slippers too.


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