I was almost 14 when I managed to get my first real bra. It was not a purchase. It was a hand-me-down from a friend of my older sister.

It was a pity donation. I had told her of issues with my mother, who was quick to remind me that I did not really need one, and should wait until I did.

Mom didn’t get it.

I was in the last years of Catholic school when the uniforms progressed from a wool jumper to the equally unfashionable plaid skirt with a white cotton blouse, Peter Pan collar; a look reserved for 7th and 8th grade girls.

doll in uniformThe white cotton blouse was a bit see-through. It was clear that some girls wore a proper bra, and some were still clad in the white cotton undershirt of doom. That would include me.

It didn’t take long for me to improvise my way out of the humiliation. I found a form-fitting petticoat with a flared skirt in a box in the attic. It had bra-like straps, and would cling at the bodice.

I took the scissors and cut that puppy into a bra- shaped garment. It worked.

Of course, I couldn’t let it be seen at home. I tucked it away in my book bag, and rushed to the girls’ room every morning as I got off the bus to switch into my makeshift lingerie.

Every. Single. Morning.

This lasted most of the way through 7th grade. It was exhausting. I had to be sure that I switched back into the undershirt before going home.

Ana Bagayan

Art by Ana Bagayan

I was tagging along with my sister and her friends one day when the truth came out. A girl named Kathy came to my rescue.

She gave me her old Size 30 AAA ‘s, sometimes called training bras. Plain white cotton and flat as a pancake,  they were golden to me.

It took a while for my mother to notice, and she was okay with it.The deception ceased.

I was slow to develop, it was years before I truly needed them, but I will never forget the girl who saved me from that early wardrobe peer pressure.

My lingerie angel.

This entry was posted in Childhood, Education, Memories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

73 Responses to Lingerie

  1. Erika Kind says:

    Girls and her first bras… that’s always a story, right? I also needed them pretty late… 🙂

  2. A.PROMPTreply says:

    One thing is for sure……you were one determined girl!

  3. I’m still waiting to develop Van. 😉
    Diana xo

  4. Nurse Kelly says:

    This is adorable, Van! I remember those undershirts of doom! I still think it’s funny that training bras are called that – I mean what are we training? lol! Great post!

  5. Victo Dolore says:

    The things we do to fit in. 🙂

    • I have another story. It involves my first gym class in 9th grade, and a monthly private shower. I didn’t need it, but kept a 28 day calendar, so maybe no one would notice. Seriously, Doc. ☺

  6. George says:

    Thankfully I never had that problem…:)

  7. Sue Vincent says:

    I was early… but that brought its own problems, finding anything that would fit right in the days when bras were engineered rather than sewn 😉

    • I remember lots of ridges, concentric circles and pointy centers…old school !

    • Andrea says:

      I wasn’t particularly early – mum bought me my first bras as a 12th birthday present.
      The problem was that although mum could see that my body was starting to change I still thought of myself as a tomboy and preferred to hide or ignore the changes for as long as I could. Like Sue, this was back in the days when there was no halfway house between a vest and scaled down versions of the type of bras our mothers wore! When I first tried it on, it felt like an iron band round my chest and it really emphasised the shape I was trying to hide!
      The reference to swimsuit tops by Vanbytheriver reminds me that I spent a lot of the summer holiday after my 12th birthday wearing my old swimsuit tops under my T shirts as they tended to flatten things down rather than emphasise them!
      Of course this couldn’t last and when school started again in September, I was wearing a bra rather than a vest.

  8. lbeth1950 says:

    Oh, one of the most humiliating times of my life. I think I was the last girl in my class to get a bra. It was common knowlege I didnt wear one. How awful!

  9. This is the second blog post in as many days that dealt with the subject of a girl’s first bra. I had no idea how important this is to a young lady.

  10. Girls have to go though so much. It never really ends.

  11. Amy says:

    That is hilarious. I can’t believe you managed to pull it off for so long. Before requesting a bra I remember trying to make one with my friends.

  12. I was a late bloomer too but my parents bought me little cropped vests for modesty due to the see through shirts. My mum couldn’t drive so it was my dad who took me to but my first proper bra.

    • The modesty vest…what a great concept. When I got a real one, I bought it myself. Once we were old enough to earn babysitting money, we bought or sewed all our stuff. My mother never did get involved. Sweet of your dad. ☺

    • Andrea says:

      By contrast I can remember being embarrassed the first time mum hung one of mine on the washing line when my dad was at home!

  13. writerinsoul says:

    I can’t believe the the creativity and determination you had, Van! The training bra is somewhat silly but man, I wanted one too! White undershirt under white blouse = not a good look. Once girls had bras, boys would come up behind them and snap the strap which was painful. And embarrassing.

  14. Thank God for your lingerie angel.

  15. I still could get by with a training bra, so I don’t bother 🙂 But I remember wanting one when I was a kid – so desperate to grow up.

  16. amommasview says:

    Seems like we all had our little adventures re first bra…

  17. LaVagabonde says:

    Cotton undershirt. Oh Van, I’m so sorry. 😳

  18. markbialczak says:

    Kindness comes in many forms, Van. What a great friend of your sister’s who just KNEW.

  19. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week #29 | A Momma's View

  20. Catholic school, training bras and see through blouses—the good old days… thanks for the sweet reminder!

  21. This was epic!! Thanks for sharing! I, on the other hand, went from pancake flat in 6th grade to like a 32 B in 7th grade. That was traumatic too – what were those things?? And they weren’t cute and perky either… Enough said.

    I DO have a traumatic memory associated with my “budding” buds. My step-mother took me to the bra department of the local department store for my first bra and I had to take of my shirt while these two 50-something “old” ladies measured me and they watched me try in the bras that they pulled from these big old-school wooden drawers. I was mortified!

    • I remember those wooden drawers. They also had drawers full of nylon stockings that were handled so delicately. ( pre-pantyhose days). Thanks for sharing the mammory memories ! ☺

  22. Laughing so hard!! Van, you have been truly traumatized by a flat chest when young. I know the feeling well. Thank goodness for that Angel friend of yours!! 😉

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