Thursday, January 30, 2014

To Control or not to Control...

SlimNLift - You can buy them here!

When TE came out with the newest in strong, form fitting control panties, it was huge news in the lingerie world – finally a “sexy” control panty!  (They weren’t sexy but since we were selling them at TE, everyone just assumed they would be).

We had a few different styles, available in basic colors (white, black, and nude).  Some were standard granny panty look-a-likes, some had a seam up the butt crack to “separate your cheeks”, some when down to your knees, and some went up to just below your bra line – lots of options, depending on the area you were trying to battle.  We would enthusiastically mention them if anyone expressed even the slightest interest so we could build a bigger sale (they were expensive - $20 to $49 a pair).  It was tricky though, since no woman wants someone to suggest to her she might want to purchase a pair of stomach sucking panties…but that’s where the crossdressers came in.

God bless ‘em, the crossdressers are a specific bunch and do they know what they want.  Sure, the padded push-up bra is number one on their list, but next up are control top panties.  And not just any control top panties, but the kind you have to shoehorn yourself into – the kind that, when you’re wearing them, you just don’t drink or eat anything because taking them off to go to the bathroom is wayyyyy more trouble than it’s worth.   So, needless to say, our new control panties rocked their world.

The crossdressers started visiting our store in droves.  Okay, maybe not in droves but enough started coming in that, once we had “ascertained” our target, we could anticipate what they wanted, expertly steering them over to the control area before they even had a chance to awkwardly ask where to find the goods.  After several successful crossdresser control panty sales, I got up the nerve to ask my next crossdressing customer (who was in terrific shape – stomach as flat as a board) why HE needed control panties – he was so thin!?

(Maybe this seems obvious to some people, but in my tender first years at TE, it had not yet occurred to me the problem a penis could present to a properly cross-dressed man). 

He leaned in, and with a wink said, “Sweetie, it’s not the stomach that’s the problem,” and with his left hand made a smoothing motion over his nether region. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Choosing a Frame Part One - Full Coverage and Balconette

Now that you know how to properly fit yourself (Apples and Oranges), the next step is deciding what type of frame best suits your body and your needs.  “Frame” refers to the structure of the bra.   The different frame styles include:  Full-Coverage, Balconette, Racerback, Strapless, Push-up, and Bustier. But before I delve into Frames, let’s take a moment to look at the anatomy of a bra.

 Strap:  The straps are generally elastic and stretchy.  They usually adjust using a sliding clasp.  Sometimes the adjustment moves only part of the strap, other times it runs the entire length of the strap (which allows you to tighten it more).
Cup:  The cup is what holds your breasts.  Cups have several different types of construction, which I will discuss at greater length in a future post.
Closure:  The closure snaps the bra together.  Usually the closure is found at the back of the bra, but there are front closing styles as well.
Side Panel (Wing):  Begins on the sides of the cups and extends around to attach to the clasp ends of the bra.
Center (Bridge or Gore):  Holds the cups together and adds stability and support
Underwire: a metal or plastic wire that is sewn into the base of the cups to help keep their shape and add support.
Band:  The elastic found at the bottom (and sometimes the top) of the bra that holds it in place around your ribcage and keeps the material from stretching out too much.

“Coverage” is the key word here.  Generally, larger breasted women prefer the full-coverage bra because the extra fabric lends itself to support and keeps bulging to a minimum.  Usually these bras cover a large range of sizes, although many omit the band size 32 and the cup size A.  They are built with wider bands and side wings, and often have thicker straps and a stronger bridge than the other bra frames.  The cup style is generally triangular, with the tops of the triangles attaching to the straps and the sides of the triangle formed to generously meet the wings just at the armpit. 
The up-side: Not having to worry about accidental spillage or bounciness;
The down-side:  Not exactly the bra that will “wow” the significant other in your life.

I have cleavage and so can YOU!
Also known as the “Demi” style, the balconette has a low cut frame whose cups run horizontally across the breasts – it looks wider than it is tall. If your band size is a 36 or higher it is generally better to go with the balconette style because it is a wider cut; Its cups tend to extend a little bit further towards the armpits which keeps the extra “armpit cleavage” at bay.  This style also gives the illusion of cleavage even without extra padding (although padding does help accentuate it even more- think Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons – if you haven’t seen it go rent it immediately).

The up-side:  It is generally thought to be sexier and more flattering than the full-coverage and it’s great for boat- necked shirts;
The down-side:  If you’re working with “melons,” there is potential for nipple peeks.

Next time:  Racerback and Strapless!!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some Things Really ARE Free!

Most people, when shopping, strive for a deal.  It has been my experience, if they can wrap their sweaty little hands around a sale or a discount, they consider themselves to have had a successful outing.  However, any sales person worth their salt will exploit this urge for free or discounted merchandise and get the customer to spend money to save money.  We get you to buy one or more additional items (items you weren’t planning on getting and probably don’t even need) in order to receive a free item or some sort of promotional discount.  We call this, “The Add-On”.

A quick example:  You are buying a pair of panties and a matching bra.  I tell you that if you buy one more panty, you’ll get an additional two for free.  You can’t pass on that deal, and grab three more panties (one you pay for and two that are free).   But I don’t stop there.  I then suggest that you might want to buy another bra (to match the FREE panties you just picked out).  You see the logic in that, and feeling good about getting $28 worth of panties for free already, you figure you can afford another $40 bra, thus bringing your sale up from $54 to $108 – double what you planned on spending.

Feeling duped?

Back to the story.  It was December, the craziest time in a lingerie store next to Valentine’s Day, and I was running the cash register and doing my girl scout best to add-on to every sale I rang up.  “Next in line, please” I politely called, and up came the psycho "nothing’s free lady", or, “Crazy Carol” as I came to call her.  Crazy Carol had her kid in tow, and initially seemed normal – a little harried maybe, but not insane.  She was buying two pair of satin panties.  As I have already mentioned, the satin panties were on a promotion – Buy 2, get 2 Free. Ok, so, this wouldn’t really be an add-on, but at least it could be an opportunity for me to spread some Christmas cheer and make a client happy with a nice surprise bonus of a couple free panties.  “Oh you need to go pick out two more pair of panties because they’re buy two get two for free” I explained.  She responded, “Yes, I just want two.”  Clearly she wasn’t even listening, so I laugh good-heartedly (I had already discovered the immense stupidity of most people during my short time at TE) and reiterate, “Yes, but since you are ALREADY buying two, you automatically GET TWO MORE FOR FREE.”  I tried to enunciate the free part so she would get it through her head.  Her response, “Yes, well, I don’t want them.”  What the hell is wrong with this lady?  I say, “Yes, but they’re FREE … it would be CRAZY not to take them!”  Her eyes probe into mine for a moment and them she screams, “I get it! I JUST DON’T WANT THEM!”  The woman behind her decides this is the perfect time to pipe up and offer to take Crazy Carol’s two free panties.  You’re really not helping, ma’am.  I decide to give up explaining the complete insanity of not taking the free panties since I realize I am dealing with a psychopath and just ring Crazy Carol up for her two full priced panties.  $28 for TWO pair of panties, its INSANE, right? I think, “Merry fucking Christmas, bitch, don’t come back.”

She pays, she leaves.
But then she stops at the door, turns around, marches back to my counter and jabs her finger in my face while shouting, “AND I DON’T APPRECIATE BEING CALLED "CRAZY" IN FRONT OF MY KID!!!!”

Um, but you ARE crazy… That poor kid. 

The best part, and I swear to God this is true, Crazy Carol was shopping in the store about six months later and was purchasing some pantyhose.  The pantyhose were on sale:  Buy 3 Get 1 Free.  Guess how many Crazy Carol was buying? Yeah, 3.  Guess who was the cashier that day, and who did not recognize/remember Crazy Carol for the psychopath that she was?  Yeah, me.  And guess who then tried to give Crazy Carol the free pair of pantyhose that she had already earned by buying three pair?  Commence confusing conversation, and just as the déjà vu starts worming its way through my mind, she flips out, AGAIN.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

On Hold

I began working at Tiffany’s Epiphany right out of high school.  It was my mother’s idea actually; I would never have presumed that I was glamorous enough to work at a place like that.   But since I had a whole summer to burn before college began and the prospect of my parents shelling out any money for fun looked pretty grim, I filled out the application and dropped it off. I was called in for an interview a few days later.  I remember I wore this horrible black floral print crinkle dress that belonged to my mom (remember those? They were calf-length and tied around the back - you were supposed to look like a modern hippie – fashionable and peace-loving) and these ridiculous open-toed sandals with black hosiery (I’m practically retching as I type this).  I was so nervous, I was shaking, and I almost didn’t go in, but the thought of dealing with finding another job seemed even more daunting.  Somehow I made it through the interview and was hired.  I remember feeling so lucky – here I was working in this beautiful store, with these beautiful people, beautiful merchandise – I mean, Tiffany’s Epiphany!! That was high class. I certainly had never felt comfortable going in there, I only owned one TE bra that my best friend, Michelle, had given me for my last birthday. I still remember it – navy blue silk and chiffon with a tiny twist of white pearls in the center and a bow, 34 (barely) B.  And now, here I was surrounded with more bras than I could ever know what to do with!  And panties and lingerie too!  One shift and I was addicted.  My lifelong love of lingerie had begun.

It only took me two weeks to have a “non-traditional” client experience, and a girl never forgets her first.  I had been assigned to the “Bra Room” (yes, the room full of bras) which was good news for me because we had just introduced the Miracle Bra and for every one that I sold I got a dollar at the end of my shift – tax free cash!  At the time, this was the first push-up of its kind and they were selling like crazy – on a good night you could make twenty or thirty extra dollars a shift if you worked it right.  I donned my bra-fitting apron (don’t ask).  I got my tape measure at the ready, a friendly-but-not-too-aggressive smile on my face and dressing room key hanging from my wrist on one of those telephone cord looking bracelets.  Looking back, I like to think of these early months as my “touchingly naïve” phase.  

 I got right to work, selling miracles to anyone who walks through my doorway.  I remember it was a slow night, which made me desperate to sell just one bra per person (my aspiration at the beginning of my shift was to sell three to each person).  I slog through my four hour shift and am feeling pretty good about my sales despite the slow trickle of customers – yea, I rock!  About an hour before closing I start the “straightening” process which consists of folding every single panty on every single table (some of these tables are piled high with over 600 panties) and obsessive-compulsively tidying every single piece of merchandise in my area.  As usual, while I straighten my panties, I fantasize about the company having a big meeting where competitions are held for different bra and panty feats.  Of course I would win at the panty-table straightening contest – fastest and neatest.  I didn’t need a trophy, the admiration and jealousy of my peers would be reward enough for me.  I cock my head sideways and admire my work. So, so naïve.

I hear rustling and turn to see a man slinking into the Bra Room.  He’s dressed in a t-shirt and jeans, bald head, white tennis shoes… normal enough, right?  I take his appearance to be a great omen and perhaps my last chance of the night to make a few extra bucks because men are consistently suckers when shopping for lingerie – I know I can get him to buy at least three bras and probably the matching panties too.  I take a moment to ask him what he’s shopping for, and as he’s stumbling through his answer, it dawns on me that he is wearing tiny pink, plastic ballet slipper earrings.  That’s odd.  I tear my eyes away from his ears and scan his face.  Wait, is that foundation?  Yes, yes it is; he’s wearing pink ballet slipper earrings and foundation make-up, yet even stranger to me was that his attempts at feminizing himself seemed stop there; I couldn't help but wonder why one would so liberally apply foundation but completely ignore lipstick, eye shadow or mascara. Hmm.

As I’m puzzling this all out (remember, young and naïve), I realize he’s been explaining to me that he is actually shopping for himself.  Ohhhhhhh, I get it.  Up until this point in my life it hadn't occurred to me that men did that, but ok, I’m down with that, a sale is a sale, right?    My eyes shift down, past his shaved head, his pink ballet slipper earrings, past his cover-girl face, down to his plain white Hanes t-shirt which I belatedly notice is covering two small bra-outlined “breasts.”   I must have been so transfixed by the earrings that I had failed to notice them.     I suddenly understood his need for the Miracle Bra.   

I measure him – 42A?  Of course we don’t carry 42’s but he doesn't know that so I decide to sell him a size we do have - 38B.  He’s so excited to buy a Miracle Bra he’ll never know the difference.  We decide on colors, styles.  I enthusiastically pull out drawers and drawers of satin and lace bras.  I nearly destroy all my hard panty-straightening work as I feverishly pull out different panty styles for him – thong, brief, tummy control, bikini – I sell him a few of each.  At this point we've chosen six bras and eight matching panties (buy two get two free).  This will take my grand total for the night up to $17, which I planned to spend on more lingerie which I seriously did not need to buy.

It’s about this time that I suggest we head to the cashwrap, to which he replies that he just wants to put it all “on hold.”  Now if that isn’t the most dreaded phrase to a sales person’s ears, I don’t know what is.  ON HOLD?  Are you kidding me?  All that work and he wants to put it all ON HOLD?  As I stared at his retreating backside, prancing out the door, my gaze slowly wandered over to my now destroyed panty tables.  I trudge over, and try to forget being swindled by distracting myself with my panty table competition fantasy, the one where I win.

Ah, the sweet taste of victory … and the bitter taste of defeat.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Apples and Oranges

One of the first things you learn as a new TE “bra specialist” is how to fit a bra.  Did you know that about 90% of women wear the wrong bra size?  YES, IT’S TRUE, and odds are that you’re one of them.  Here are some telltale signs:  your bra is moving, pulling, itching, irritating, puckering, or straining.  Perhaps it is too loose, too tight, too droopy, too floppy, too low, too high, or too pointy?   Your straps keep falling off, or they dig into your shoulders, the wires poke you, the band squishes out your back fat, your boobs look like rockets, or your nipples just keep popping right out of the cups! Or, maybe it’s fitting properly, but it’s too sheer, not sheer enough, too padded, too lacy, too boring?  Time for some new brassieres, my dears! 

Now, although all TE stores claim that their associates are trained to give accurate fittings, it is my experience that most of them, most of the time, don’t know what the hell they’re doing.  So, I’ve decided to dedicate the next couple of blog postings to teaching you how to properly fit yourself and your friends for a bra.  Think sleepovers and pillow fights.  Okay that was for the men-folk reading this.

Step One:
Determining Your Band Size

It is important to keep the overall goal in mind:  you want your band to fit comfortably around your ribcage, parallel all the way around, usually set to the middle clasp to start.  It should not ride up at all, and you should be able to comfortably insert two fingers between your ribcage and the band. 

Wearing your existing bra, have a friend measure around your ribcage directly beneath your underarms but above your breasts (stand up straight and relax your arms).  This number (to the closest full inch) is your band size.  Band sizes typically begin at 32 and increase by two’s up to 42 or even larger at some stores.  If you measured an odd number, you are in-between sizes and should try on both the larger and the smaller band size to see which one fits best.  Read on to determine the cup size because you may need to adjust the cup in order to get the band to fit correctly, or vice versa.

Step Two:
Determining Your Cup Size

Generally speaking, your cup should fit snugly over your breasts without either gaping or bulging when you stand up straight.  The wires should extend from the center of your cleavage to the outer edge of your breasts without cutting into the fleshy part of them.  Also, the wire should be all the way under the breasts, touching your ribs.  You may need to scoop the girls up inside the bra after getting it on, or (my preference) bend over, and grabbing the wire, shake it back and forth a few times to get those suckers all the way in.  * If your breasts are pushing the wire away from your skin underneath, either the cup is too small for you or the band is too big, or a combination of both. 

There are several ways of determining your cup size.  One way is to put the end of your tape measure on your nipple then measure from the nipple around to the side of the breast where the fatty tissue ends and your ribs begin (although for some of us this may be uncertain territory – ha!).  Subtract one from that number.  The final number corresponds to the cup size:  1”=A, 2”=B, 3”=C, 4”=D, and so on.

Another way to determine your cup size is to measure around your ribcage just below your breasts (Rib measurement), pulling the tape measure snugly (but not too snugly) and keeping it straight.  Next measure around the fullest part of your breasts (Bust measurement), again, not too tightly and making sure the tape measure is straight and not dipping down in the back.  Now take the Rib measurement and subtract it from the Bust measurement.  Next subtract 2 from this number and the answer is your cup size:  1”=A, 2”=B, 3”=C, 4”=D.  It may be a good idea to try both methods of measuring and see if your answers match.  

If worse comes to worse, you could just compare your breasts to various types of fruit, like your husbands and boyfriends do when they go lingerie shopping for you.  In this case, A = a plum or any type of produce smaller than that, B = an apple, C = an orange, D = grapefruit, DD = small watermelon and so on. 

Ladies:  Your project for tonight:  Go home, measure yourself, and see if you are wearing the correct bra size.  I'll give you a post or so to get it down and then complicate if further for you so we can really get you the perfect fit!

Keep reading, it will get sexy eventually!

Men-folk:  Pass this blog along to all the women in your life, and hang in there because the next blog is going to be a Tale from the Frontline - something which you might find more suited to your reading tastes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Note From the Author

I decided to write this book (now a blog) years ago, when I still worked for a well-known lingerie company (let’s call them Tiffany's Epiphany - TE for short).  I worked at various locations and at various levels of responsibility within the company for over ten years.   The idea came to me one afternoon when, over lunch with a friend, I was called upon to recall the “weirdest” experience I had encountered while working for the company.  When I actually thought about it, there were so many weird experiences that I had trouble choosing just one, and so I ended up launching into an hour-long tale of my adventures at TE.  My listener’s response:  "Wow, you should write a book".

I had initially planned on writing in a simple exposé-type style, documenting all the crazy people I met and weird experiences I had while working at TE.  Then I got to thinking about women – specifically women shopping for bras.  In all my years working at TE, the one thing that was always consistent was the overwhelming number of women shoppers who were completely clueless about bras.  It was truly amazing how little most women knew about a product that they wore next to their skin every single day! There also didn’t seem to be much information out there that would help remedy the situation, so I figured, why not also include a girl’s guide to lingerie – I would cover all the bases, from the scandalous to the disgusting to the… well, sensible.  I hope that you find this blog both entertaining and informative; writing it has certainly left me with a little hope that all my years of suffering may not have been in vain.