I've been meaning to write about lingerie for months and have finally worked out a way to do it which a) does not require me to pose in my unmentionables and b) squeezes in a lot of my personal favourite euphemisms for breasts.
I couldn't resist starting the post with a mini-rant and declaration of support for the wonderful No More Page 3 campaign, which frankly shouldn't even need to exist given the ludicrously antiquated nature of the whole shebang.
I mean, Sixteen Candles is a great film until it becomes super racially insensitive. Reading the news is great until you have to look at some tits just before reading about convicted sex attackers. Just because something seemed normal once, doesn't mean it's normal now. That's why we don't cure asthma with the traditional Tudor treatment of swallowing young live frogs - we evolved.
But, rant over, the debate I want to wade into is about undies. Brassieres. Boob jails (thanks New Girl). Everyone who has breasts has a tumultuous relationship with them - read Nora Ephron's essay on the subject for a particularly acerbic viewpoint.
When things are good, they're great. You look perky but not pneumatic and no heat rash, acne or allergic reaction is mottling your decolletage. It's enough to almost make you forget the bad times.
The times when SOMETHING HAS CHANGED but you don't know what, but now your favourite white shirt gapes in all the wrong places. When they just bloody hurt, and you're not even on your period. Or when your most fail-safe bra finally, finally gives up the ghost.
"It is true heartbreak to bin the bra you've shared such good times with".
Me: 16th July 2014
But there's no point whinging about the mammaries when it's the bras that are to blame. Having a generous rack when you're petite seems to be quite a common state of affairs, and when it's especially important to make your proportions work best for you, an ill-fitting bra can really hinder your bodacious silhouette potential.
I'm a complete skeptic when it comes to high street lingerie. As far as I can tell, if you're aged 15-30 and a size 8-12, Marks and Spencers will confidently size you at a 34C and leave it at that. La Senza will chuck some bits of highly flammable "lace" at you and H&M use so much padding, a friend of mine once got hit in the boob and didn't even notice.
I'm a member of the Bravissimo cult - they're the only shop that have ever sold me bras that fit - catering for women with a D-L cup, the range is pretty varied, and it's getting better all the time. If you have even the tiniest inkling that you might fall into the narrow back/full cup category (which a lot of petite ladies do), get down there sharpish, ignore the half the stock and find yourself something brightly-coloured and plunging from Freya. The Deco bra works miracles.
My newest discovery via the lovely Mademoiselle Robot, is Love Claudette and they're pretty groundbreaking. They combine the pretty sheer mesh and super-bright neon that I've always wanted with sizes ranging from 30DD-38FF. They're available from ASOS which is a perfect opportunity to order a few sizes and try them all on without hassle. They also have one of the most gorgeous lookbooks I've ever seen.
I've only featured brands I've had a good experience with here and I know it's pretty limited but that speaks to how cruddy this sector of the lingerie industry is. All I can suggest is to try on lots of different styles and brands and don't be disheartened when one doesn't work for you. Research would suggest that the shape of your Twin Peaks, rather than the size is actually the biggest factor in wearing the correct bra so a fitting experience with Bravissimo is the best place to start.
They'll never be completely right, but the bottom line is that tits are great and we're all very lucky that they're a part of our lives. High five bazookas of the world! So whatever the problems, hustle up and find the solutions because this is a long term investment.
It's like SPF and anti-ageing creams - start early and reap the rewards later. I'd love to wear delicate little bits of mesh, or go bra-less in a slinky backless top, but not as much as I'd like to have half-decent funbags in ten years.