Or The Problems Of Busting Out All Over
When - more years ago than I care to remember - I first started Cotswold Morris dancing I was young, fit and a good deal slimmer than now. Even in those days I knew the comfort to be gained from "good firm support". Seventies feminism was all very well, but there are parts of a girl’s body that get uncomfortable unsupported under action.
In 1990 I joined Sandgate Clog Morris and realised that a sports bra was essential. Four years later I had my first baby and will never forget my first post-partum practice. A nursing bra is great for quick access when breastfeeding - useless for support when clog dancing. I thought I was going to black my eyes. So I gave up dancing, put on weight and had another baby.
After three years away I knew if I didn’t start doing something for myself again I’d commit infanticide or suicide. So off to Tyne Bridge Morris (now containing the relicts of Sandgate).
Older, fatter and having fed two boys, my bosom is definitely built for comfort not for speed and seems to have developed a mind of its own. "Good firm support" is the least of it - they need to be kept in place with a firm hand (so to speak), or at least very strong elastic.
There’s also the point that boobs bouncing in all directions, not necessarily in time to the music is most distracting for a male audience. My partner complains that with some of the more generously endowed women’s teams it’s impossible for the average red-blooded male to concentrate on the dancing. Their eyes keep being dragged in terrible fascination away from the feet or the general choreography, inexorably back to the chest areas of the dancers. Being sensitive, politically correct Guardian readers many morris men find this upsetting if not to say distressing - or so I’m told. I’m not one to pander to male sensitivities (or I’d never have started dancing), their proclivities are their problem, but it is a point to consider if you’re the shy, retiring type.
Sports bras are all well and good, but some are better than others. Each maker has slightly different designs so it may take a few attempts to find the right one for you. It’s not just a matter of getting the right chest and cup size, sometimes it’s where the straps lie vis-à-vis your back and shoulders..
One of the bug-bears of my post-pubescent life has been sliding bra-straps. Within two wearings most bras’ straps start heading down my arm and try to cut it off when I lift my arm quickly. What’s worse is if the strap slips, the cup follows, and next thing you know out comes Charlie. Then you lift your arm, or try and tug the strap back up, and very nearly do a diy mastectomy. It’s very distracting, and I have enough to worry about remembering where I should be in the dance.
With hanky dances you can get away with quickly slipping your hand in your blouse to pull them back into place. But not with sticks. And certainly not with garlands.
But now I’m sorted - I’ve been to see Sadie the Bra Lady (of Consett, Sunderland and Ashington).
I first heard of her from an exceedingly well endowed friend, also met her at a business lunch and know she’s positively evangelical about getting the right fitting bra. One of her sayings is "Give me a girl from the age of 12 and she’ll never droop."
I went along in June to the Ashington shop to get a new bra for the summer season. Unlike even the best department stores (which I’ve tried) Sadie has every size of bra in every cup size and firmness available. And she won’t sell you a bra that doesn’t fit the bill.
It wasn’t Sadie’s day for the Ashington shop but a very nice, matronly, well upholstered lady took charge of me. All Sadie’s ladies are trained in her methods, and can tell your size just by looking at you.
"Slip your top off dear. What size do you think you are?" she was standing behind me, both of us looking in the mirror.
I explained what I needed.
"Hmm - I’ll get you the 3 and 4 firmness fit dear"
Off she went and a few minutes later came back with bras two inches and a cup sizes bigger than I’d said in the Anna Kornikova "only the balls should bounce" range.
We tried the 3, I did some rants and skips.
"Hmm - you’re right dear - you do need the full force 4 impact level"
It was and is perfect. Beautiful wide straps with no strap slippage and everything stays roughly where it should when I’m dancing. True the front comes halfway up to my neck, a little disconcerting at first, but that’s a small price to pay for the comfort. As was £26 - which didn’t really bust the bank for such service.
So ladies - if you find yourself within striking distance of Ashington, Consett or Sunderland it really is worth a visit to Sadie the Bra Lady. Look her up on the internet www.sadiethebralady.com
I’m never going anywhere else again - and I’m saving up for one of those bioform one’s for the winter*. This Christmas I shall have cleavage.
*All donations to: The Band, Tyne Bridge Morris