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My 55 year old SIL is a psychiatrist. She has recently taken early retirement. My 80 year old MIL (ex-MIL, to be strictly accurate) lives in her own home of 58 years, with a hired live-in companion during the week, spending weekends with either my SIL or my ex and his wife. Absurdly, this question is about bras. My MIL has put on a little weight so that her bras no longer fit comfortably. "So" she has thrown away all of them, except one. You know, like you do before you've found others you like... Anyway. My SIL has taken her on three abortive shopping expeditions, including an appointment with an experienced lingerie fitter; in addition SIL has run two errands exchanging unsuitable bras. All have been rejected. SIL is fed to the back teeth with this performance. But meanwhile MIL has only one bra: this gives her an authentic need for new underwear and therefore a juicy grievance. The current paid companion (they have trouble keeping them. For some reason) is new this week and not yet up to taking MIL to the mall. I have run out of suggestions. There is no mileage in saying to my MIL 'whose fault is it anyway', and her build means that she cannot comfortably or hygienically go without foundation garments. I feel that my SIL has been set up and trapped. What can she do to end this farce?

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Tacy: Goodwill must have a lot of great panty/bra sets ;=)

Yes, aren't bras expensive! I like the Cosabella ones; they are the least expensive when I buy them on sale (and I do -- abt $25 to $35 reduced from $55 - $65). NOT paying $50 for a bra.
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Jingle, the big store in the mall sends out emails and mailers every month when they debut new products for one free bra a month and two pairs of underwear. I guess I figure why pay $50 for a bra and at around $10 for underwear so I have drawers full of them. Most of the time, I just donate them to Goodwill.
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And there are colour/size variations within the same make. I went on a shopping extravaganza and bought THREE bras, all different colours but the exact same brand/style. The one I tried on was white. It fit, but unfortunately I waited til I got home to try the others and was going to an event (I did that a long, long time ago) - neither the black nor the nude fit -- they were too small. Of course it was too late to return them. Of course.

The same with Cosabella. The red one fits, the two beige ones don't (too small). I'd forgotten that long ago lesson ... Sigh.
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Tacy: What??!! That means I'd have 15 bras. In the bad old days (when I was, like, 14) I had only one set of knickers and one bra (I washed them every night -- well, not the bra). Then I got another pair of panties but still had only one bra -- yes, we were that poor.

I remember the first time I had a week's worth of undies -- I felt like I'd died and gone to heaven. And I had two -- count 'em TWO -- bras! I felt so rich and powerful and confidant ...
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I once asked SIL what she could tell me about Borderline Personality Disorder. She said: "I know it's got a very poor prognosis - why? Who do you know who's got a borderline personality disorder?"

I think sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees. Especially when one of them's fallen on top of you.
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I'm just imaging what SIL's training analysis must have been like. Oy.
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She's thrown them out, Tacy. I don't know what led up to this, but the dramatic gesture would be just like her.

I agree with you about the variations in size between makes; though my solution is to stick to two or three makes who conform to my personal template.

Tell my MIL to lose weight! Oh I love it! ROFL!!! Better yet - I'll get Daughter 1 to do it, and dress it up as medical advice. Revenge is sweet: Daughter may have forgiven her grandmother for those long-ago comments, but I haven't.
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I actually like going to the bra store and I cannot believe people will only have 2 or 3 bras in their drawer. Imo, each pair of underwear should have a matching bra. That being said, it is very uncommon for a person to have only one size bra. The different styles and cuts make it impossible for anyone to have a specific "size". You should have her fitted for each bra individually to make sure it fits properly. If she is being just way too difficult, tell her to lose weight so her old ones fit properly and leave it at that.
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My mother was a desperate woman trying to placate a horrible stroppy brat adolescent! The fitting was a happy accident.

I don't know how MIL has been in the habit of putting on her bras. I'd quite like to see the expression on her face if I asked her... or would I. Sometimes she walks around as gingerly as if every joint was agonising and she can't imagine why no one is offering to carry her. Next minute she's skittering across the room to grab the best chair quick.

I will put to SIL the top five options:

1. Rigby & Peller, by appointment, arranged on Royal Doulton platters. Or should that be Crown Derby? Not to worry - we can line them with silver tissue paper and she'll never know.
2. Sports bras, pull on or fastening options, seam-free cotton and panelled options.
3. Her old ones dug out of the garbage if it hasn't already been collected, the daft old trout.
4. Longer line ones so that the fit is snug but doesn't dig in. Not sure who still makes them - is Berlei still going does anyone know?
5. Playtex Cross Your Heart. For old times' sake.
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Your mom was a wise woman, to take you for a fitting. ( sigh).

I have these wonderful Natori sports bras, all cotton, very supportive.

Also, i wonder if the fastening in the back has become a problem, due to arthritis or shoulder problems. Can someone show her how to fasten in the front and then turn them around? Or a front fastening model?
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She just might go for a sports bra, Stacey. She was a good fencer in her day, and a sports bra might resemble a plastron (the protective under-jacket fencers have to wear) just enough to appeal to her. Worth suggesting, anyway; I'll try it.
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I have trodden carefully and just provided sympathetic murmuring, after the obvious first question fell flat. The bras they bought after the fitting were pronounced too tight, apparently, which makes me think on reflection that MIL is not used to bras fitting properly. But that also means that if they're loose enough, now that she's put on a bit of weight, they won't provide comfortable support. She's probably going to need a radically new style to be convinced.

The temptation is to think 'oh for God's sake', order two styles in four sizes, take them over there and get this sorted. But for one thing that's not for me to do, and anyway I can't until September; and for another I half suspect that MIL is quite enjoying herself.

The only other thing I can think of is to send some catalogues, then they can have weeks of fun with mail order. But at least the companion will be able to handle that and it won't all fall on SIL.

I learned my lesson about fitting early on, when my mother took me to a terribly unfashionable musty old shop, I told the (to my eyes) withered crone assistant my size, and she looked at me scornfully and said "no you're not" before bringing three beautiful bras in exactly the right size to the changing room. I was so impressed that she could tell at a glance that I have had proper respect for these ladies' lore ever since. Boy, do they know their stuff.
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Doesn't everyone wear peephole bras and crotchless panties?

Or was that peephole shoes and crutches when you fall over?
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If sne has an aide, who helps her dress, would perhaps a sports bra work, as they are comfortable and Do the trick to hold those puppies up! LOL!
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I'm sure I'm not normal, CM. I've generally bought bras by guessing at my size and was only inspired to get fitted for my daughter's wedding. And yes, i was wearing quite an incorrect size.

But MIL was taken for a fitting, didn't you say? What did she dind wrong with those garments.

My late MIL, who did have some dementia, went to fitting and then found fault with the bra because there was supposed to be more substantial discount than she recieved or so she thought (she was one of those "everyone's out to take my money"types ).

So, is SiL wanting your advice, or help? Or is she just wanting a sympathetic ear?
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Babalou, you'll know then - is it me being over fastidious, or is it normal for a woman of mature years, let's say, to know what size she is, what styles suit her, and what makes she prefers?

Because your question was the first I asked SIL - what brand is MIL used to, what style. And she not only doesn't know about MIL, she's pretty vague about herself!

I have read surveys that claimed that the average woman - oh, you know what these surveys are like - has a drawer full of underwear but only two bras that fit and only one matching set that was a present from an unsavoury boyfriend that she never wears, that kind of thing.

Well, of course I read these 'surveys' with a pinch of salt; but now I'm wondering when MIL last invested in proper underwear, and whether in fact she has ever had it professionally fitted (as any woman with an embonpoint worth mentioning really ought to, at some stage).

I know I am a little bit close to the other end of the spectrum - this is one of the very few things I am neat about, everything matched and folded together, and items regularly overhauled on a three strikes (i.e. put back because I don't want to wear them) and out basis.

But surely by the time you get to fifty, let alone sixty or eighty, you know whether you like underwired or not, deeper fitting or not, lace or smooth, seam free or what - don't you?

What is normal??
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Oh we still have corsetiers over here but bespoke bras start at around 400 pounds at Rigby and Peller.

Ladies try optifit dot com for instructions on how to put a bra on!!!!! made me smile
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CM, where did she formerly get her undergarments? Are there places near her that do fittings and adjustments on site? Is she used to going to a place like that?
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Hi, CM! Silly of me - but what brand of undies does Queen Elizabeth II wear? I found reference online for Royal Warrant Holder, Rigby & Peller, granted by HM the Queen, Corsetiere & Lingerie Specialists, Corsetiere & Intimates, date of warrant 1960, established in 1939. Still in business? Be sure to present them on hand-painted periwinkle Royal Daulton....
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Oh, they're regular, Send. Her sister, tragically, died of melanoma in her forties so MIL has always been rigorous about screening. Slightest suspicion of anything and it gets checked out. This lady will be with us for twenty years and counting, I'll put money on it.
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CTTN, yes indeed, and isn't that the irony. I think SIL is painfully aware of it. She is terribly, terribly enmeshed and it is very hard to watch.

MIL toyed with dementia symptoms until she realised it might lead to loss of control (she's not demented. She's always been a neurotic tantrum-thrower and dog-with-a-bone obsessive). Next she reported heart flutters (there weren't any). She "can't" be left alone (there is absolutely nothing wrong with her. Nothing). She insists that SIL accompanies her to all medical appointments but refuses to allow her to express an opinion or ask questions. She flatly refuses to consider anti-anxiety medication.

In short, MIL is a textbook Narcissist of the Queen variety, and SIL is her unsatisfactory lady-in-waiting. I want to tell SIL to delegate the bra buying business, but I'm not doing it and I can't think of another "volunteer."

JessieBelle, don't you like any of the mainstream makes? Good old Playtex! - who hasn't had a Doreen at some point? :) Plus we have Marks & Spencer, supplier of reliable knickers to the entire UK population pretty much, at some stage in their lives; but they too have been rejected. I'm wondering if going for a label with some kind of specialism to it - pure cotton, Rich & Famous, endorsed by show jumpers, anything - might do the trick.
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The issue with the bras and comfort may not be gaining a little weight, so send Mil out for a mammogram/ultrasound-when was her last?
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I've just been looking at Sloggi's ranges... but you know what? I refuse to get sucked in. That woman would have every female member of the extended family worldwide running round to track down her rarefied undies if she had her way. She's probably aiming to get SIL making trips to Paris to have them hand-made for her.

She once sneered at my new cosy sheepskin slippers because she will only ever wear gold leather mules and considered mine 'frumpy.' Yes I do bear a grudge. Nobody disses my slippers if they want to be my friend...
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As a person who sells online, please don't buy something with the idea of returning. If everyone did that, it would be awful. Buy her something that fits and let her keep it. MIL is probably not going to be happy with anything, but at least she'll have something she can wear. Sadly, bras are not as good as they once were now that they're made in the Orient. I have a hard time finding ones that are supportive and comfortable. The one that I bought recently is an inexpensive Playtex. It is not totally comfortable, but the at least it is supportive without being painful.
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A psychiatrist should be able to deal with this issue without being stumped. If worst comes to worst, she can take the mother to one of her physician buds and get the mother medicated so she becomes easier to deal with!
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I would definitely order a whole host on line and then send back the ones that don't suit - she can at least try them on at home. I find the easiest are front loaders something like 18 Hour Front-Close Wirefree Bra with Flex Back - amazon sell them for sure and they are larger fit and designed for comfort
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I would advise her to present her mother with whatever was recommended by the lingerie fitter, commiserate that it is a shame they don't make things like they used to and promise to keep her eyes open for something more suitable while she is out and about. At least the old dear will have something to wear (for now lol).
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