I don't know what's wrong with the women's underwear industry, although recent experience leads me to believe that it's been taken over by that other gender...


The other day I was at the gym, changing back into my day clothes after a workout, and I finally had to admit to myself that it was time to buy some new bras. Tattered didn't begin to describe it.


This didn't used to be a problem for me.  I knew just what I liked and where to find it, and that top drawer of my bureau wasn't an embarrassment.


But the last time I'd gone bra shopping, I discovered, to my dismay, that nothing I could find... NOTHING, resembled any bra I was familiar with.  No, the day of the "Wonder Bra" had arrived, and there were no options in any retail outlet that weren't a variation on that theme.


Wonder is right.  As in, "I wonder who thought this was a good idea?"  Do you know what a Wonder Bra is?  It's a bra cut low across the top, and chock full of padding on the bottom.  I suppose guys like them because they push your bosom up, up, up, like a soft, arched shelf, or maybe a spare ass, right under your chin.  But, do you know what happens when you wear one?


If you move at all, your boobs pop out.  Every time you bend over, or hell, even stand up too fast, one of them has made a break for it.


Thank god I only bought one that day...  Re-seating my breasts three or four times during the course of a one hour meeting, especially since I'm often the only woman present, didn't strike me as a skill I really should have to hone for work.


I gave up and waited for the fad to pass.


Which brings us back to the other day.


This time, as I walked through the hush of the lingerie department at Macy's, row after row after row of foam grapefruit halves greeted me.  It seems that these days, actual breasts are optional.  The bras have a rigid structure all their own.  I suppose this saves the hassle of trying them on, since it's eminently clear exactly what they'll look like, while still on the rack.  When worn, they continue to stand up even when you lie down, which results in a stiff neck from peering around them while watching TV on the sofa. Then again, I hear implants do the same thing, so maybe that's become chic.


Or maybe the guys enjoy seeing all those rows and rows of floating boobies suspended in midair while they're out shopping.  I really can't know.


Here's what I do know.  The people making bras need a refresher course on what the damn things are for. It's not that I enjoy having some tight piece of elastic constricting my breathing all day, every day, but y'know, wearing one really does keep my back from getting sore.


So, listen up, 'cause it's back to basics.


1) Get rid of the damn wire.  All it does is poke and pinch and make the whole situation even less pleasant than it would otherwise be.  Bras hold up breasts, weighing at most a couple of pounds each.  We don't need a damn I-beam in there, and we're not trying to get cable on them, so what's with the wire?


2) That said, could you make the straps a little wider than spaghetti?  Not only do these little spaghetti straps survive the washing machine about as well as actual pasta, but how would you like your backpack to be held on your shoulders with baling wire?  I didn't think so.


3) Get rid of the mountains of padding.  It's hot and it itches. I'm not trying to fake anyone out about my breast size.  Thirteen was a long time ago.  And, oh by the way...  Yes, I have nipples.  So do you. Get over it.


4) Having done these things, don't go and make the damn thing out of stretchy T-shirt fabric.  If you're going to build a bra out of something that lets the boobs just bounce and swing freely, what exactly is the point of wearing the bra at all?


5) So now, we're almost back to where we were years ago, when I could find a bra that was practical.  We're talking about something made of a thin, lightweight, but taut fabric, maybe silk, a tight-weave cotton, or even synthetics.  It's not padded, doesn't have a wire, and the straps are wide enough to hold up the necessary weight without causing pins and needles in one's hands all day.


Great.  Now, would it kill you to take *this* model, and make it pretty?  Maybe some nice colors, a touch of lace?


The closest thing to this that is still on the market comes in a cardboard box. The only colors are white or that nasty beige that matches the skin color of no actual human being.  They look like something you'd find in a geriatric orthopedics department at a medical supply store.


Hey, I'm in my thirties.  I'm not against fashion, I just don't want it to leave me hot, itchy, poked in the side, and with a backache.


Rant over.