A Man’s Guide to Surviving the Bra Department

36 hours into Tara’s visit, and we’re having a wonderful time! We went out for doughnuts yesterday with the kids (but no, it wasn’t Voodoo – we’ll save the maple bacon bar goodness for another time), drove to Woodland to visit the Cedar Creek Grist Mill, had lunch, ran some errands, and enjoyed a home cooked meal and drinks last night before we went to bed. Dinner was late, though – we didn’t sit down to eat until 9:00. Tara and I had gone to the mall that evening for a little fun I like to call bra shopping.

Because, well, that’s what it was. Bra shopping. For her, just to be perfectly clear.

As a guy, finding yourself in the bra section of a department store is both intimidating and a little bit embarrassing. You have to play it just right, otherwise you end up looking like a real boob.


Seriously, though. It takes nerves of steel to keep your composure while walking amongst racks full of lacy undergarments. Generally, I’ve found the best approach is to keep my eyes downcast. I feel weird actually looking at the bras. Let your eyes linger a little too long, and every woman in a 50-yard radius is going to think you’re some kind of lecherous pervert. Which may be the case anyway, but they don’t know that! Steady and cool wins the race. I have to admit though, it’s very difficult not to look. Bras are a big mystery to me! Like cup sizes, for instance. In school, if I got an A on an assignment, I was pretty happy, whereas a D was borderline failing. With bras, however, the opposite is true. Those poor women forced to buy bras with A cups generally look miserable, and often long for a nice C or D instead. Or maybe it’s just the poor men dating those poor women? I don’t know, I’m confused. Fortunately, let’s just say if this were high school Tara’s grades would be below average, but she can hold her head up high in the bra department!

So we’re in JC Penney looking at the racks…umm, poor phrasing there…looking through the racks, I should say. Or she was. I was wandering along behind her (but not too far behind – a man should never, ever venture into the bra section alone, for crying out loud, as that just screams “creep” or “cross-dresser” and I’d rather be known as neither). I was just close enough for people to know we were together, but not so close as to make it appear that I had anything more than a passing interest in the myriad assortment of undergarments. I aimed for a look somewhere between slight boredom and minor impatience (hoping to appear to be a guy in a hurry to get to the beer store, even though there is no beer store in the mall), while my eyes were secretly darting about, taking in the various bras in sweeping, two-second glances. I couldn’t help but wonder why anybody would choose a blandly boring white bra when there were lacy red ones and leopard-spotted ones and, be still my heart, bras with peace symbols in a rainbow of different colors! I had just arrived at the conclusion that, in terms of bras, my ideology is one that “less is more” when a saleslady appeared from out of nowhere and asked if we were finding everything okay.

I was so startled, I jumped. There is no “we” – it’s all her! She’s the one doing the shopping! I’m not looking at, I mean for, anything – I swear! I wanted to assure her. But, suave dude that I am, I simply let my girlfriend do the talking.

“Are you uncomfortable being here?” Tara asked.

“Nope,” I replied. Cool. As. A. Cucumber.

“Your face looks a little red,” she replied.

“Ahh, that. Well, you see, it’s a little warm in here,” I said. And made a big show out of rolling up the sleeves of my sweatshirt.

Never let ’em smell fear. That’s another motto of mine.

The goal is to not look. Way easier said than done. (Courtesy of ilovemybra.com).

Tara found a suitable bra to try on, and went into the fitting room, which was fine. And by “fine” I mean, which would have been fine had I been allowed in to accompany her, but noooo. Somebody had to wait outside. Suddenly, to my consternation, I found myself stranded in the bra department, completely and utterly alone. I felt like a fighter pilot who had been forced to eject from his flaming, twisting, rapidly-losing-altitude-and-about-to-crash jet and had landed deep in the jungle in the midst of enemy territory, hoping and praying not to encounter a hostile army while awaiting eventual rescue. As long as nobody came along, I would be fine. I was leaning against the wall, arms crossed in a display of faux casualness, when two young women approached. CODE RED!! I wanted to scream, but there was nobody else around. Sure enough, they shot me strange glances as they passed, and one of them either smirked at me or giggled. Maybe both. I practically bolted at that point, but luckily Tara came out and, whew, I was no longer alone.

Finally, thankfully (and yet all too soon), Tara found what she was looking for. A bra that was so sophisticated, so versatile, that it could transform itself into a bunch of different bras. Strapless, regular, and some other combinations that I am not sure about. All I know is, it seemed pretty complex and sort of reminded me of the Transformers. The saleslady who had startled me previously remarked about what a good deal Tara was getting, as this was like buying five bras in one! I was impressed, but my sweetheart seemed nonplussed by such a bold claim. Maybe women are used to that sort of thing, but if I happened upon boxer shorts that turned into – I don’t know, socks? a t-shirt? a cape? – I’d be fairly enchanted, and would consider that purchase money well spent.

In the end, Tara got her bra, which will apparently come in handy for tonight’s belated Valentine’s dinner in Portland, somehow matching or complementing her dress. At least that was my assumption, until I found out she bought a bra that had to look like she wasn’t wearing a bra, something about hiding the straps because she’s wearing an off-the-shoulder outfit. At which point I asked her why she didn’t just forgo a bra entirely, an idea which seemed perfectly logical (and, let’s face it, sexy) to me, but which she seemed aghast over. Fine, honey. If you want to spend $22 on an undergarment only to pretend it’s not even there, be my guest.

I’ll be sure to keep you guys abreast of how our date goes!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

30 thoughts on “A Man’s Guide to Surviving the Bra Department

  1. OMGoodness!! This had me rolling on the floor!! Seriously!! Okay, at least it had me LOLFR in my chair!!

    Well done on restraining yourself. Most guys probably would have been fondling the mannequins or something…lol

    This is just brilliant…loved reading it! One of my favorites for sure!!


    1. Oh trust me, if there were mannequins there they would have been violated!!

      Err…I mean…gosh, I can’t think of anybody doing anything like that, Tracy. And I’m glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂


    1. $60 each?! You mean, for each bra…or per, umm, boob? Wow, it’s even uncomfortable commenting on this stuff…

      Thanks for sharing the link love, btw. Great post! It’s really opened my eyes, too.


    1. Funny how everybody thinks $22 is a great deal. I thought THAT was a lot! I about swallowed my tongue over the suggestion that a woman would spend sixty bucks on a bra. Clearly, I have no clue in this area.


  2. Mark, this post was freakin’ HILARIOUS!!!!!!

    ” Bras are a big mystery to me! Like cup sizes, for instance. In school, if I got an A on an assignment, I was pretty happy, whereas a D was borderline failing. With bras, however, the opposite is true.”


    And this……..

    “Maybe women are used to that sort of thing, but if I happened upon boxer shorts that turned into – I don’t know, socks? a t-shirt? a cape? – I’d be fairly enchanted, and would consider that purchase money well spent.”


    OMG….how funny!

    And I have to agree with you about going into a place like Victoria’s Secret with female friend while she’s shopping for a bra. I always feel as though the sales people are looking at me as if I’m in there as a cross-dresser or drag queen!

    Have fun tonight, buddy!


    1. Victoria’s Secret would have made my head explode. JC Penney was pretty tame in comparison! Maybe in the interest of science I should, in fact, talk Tara into going to Victoria’s Secret next time?


  3. Here’s another little secret about bras. Often, we spend more on the BRA than the outfit we needed to buy it for. Alas, the right undergarments can lift a gal’s spirits like you won’t believe.


  4. Oh great. Fine. Whatever. I had a 4.0 in high school AND college (two degrees, mind you…), yet I’m FAILING bra sizes.

    Nice. Way to make a reader feel special. Sheesh.

    And btw, as long as a guy is with a girl or waiting for a girl to emerge from the dressing room, I liken bra shopping to tampon shopping: at least you HAVE a girl, right?!?!

    Oh, and one more thing: Must have been quite the chore to find that picture for your post…



    1. Whatever shortcomings you may have in that area, at least you’ve got a mini fridge full of Diet Coke to drown your sorrows in!

      As far as the image-related research goes…let’s just say it’s one of the perks of this job. Can’t wait to do a post on panties next!


  5. My friend Jeff went with me when I went bra shopping. I have to say, he took it like a man and gave me his opinion. I was impressed with him. He also waited for me while I tried on clothes…….albeit across the room from the dressing rooms. He didn’t want to feel like ‘the pervert in the room.’ 🙂


  6. My husband won’t even come in the store with me – never mind the department! I don’t have the luxury of shopping for bras in a department store. You have to go to a special store when you have a size outside the range listed by Carl – watermelon.


  7. Had to come back and read these posts again. This one is still cracking me up! Yes, you were looking a bit flushed while we were shopping, but you stuck it out like a champ and I’m glad you were there to tag along. BTW, I’d totally go for the rainbow peace symbol bra if I was sporting lemons. 😉


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