This weekend I had a bra-fitting at Nordstrom. An elderly Russian woman named Sonya directed me into a fitting room, took my measurements and then proceeded to wrangle (yes, wrangle) my breasts into bra, after bra. I was surprised by the findings of the fitting--Sonya had me try on brassieres with smaller back sizes and larger cup sizes than I believed I required--but, in the end, I was extremely pleased. My new bras fit perfectly--supporting without squeezing me, lifting and shaping my natural contours, rather than imposing a shape of their own. The whole thing got me thinking about the art of support.
It's amazing the difference a properly-fitting bra makes in the way I look, feel and carry myself. My shirts fit beautifully, my posture is improved and I don't find myself needing to duck into a bathroom to "redistribute things," as I once did. The straps of my new bras are narrow enough that they don't peek out (unless I want them to), but thick enough that they don't leave dents in my shoulders.
But they also aren't so tight-fitting that they merge with my chest--they are a separate, functional entity. I'll have to take care of them in order for them to continue to support me, washing them by hand, never, ever putting them in the dryer, and making sure to rotate them so that they wear evenly. They were not cheap, but they were worthwhile purchases, and I intend to treat them well so they can continue to treat me well.
When it comes to supporting others, support begets more support. You must be well-supported already to be able to adequately provide support, or else everything falls to pieces. Support, as it pertains to bras (or anything else, really), is not a given. It must be sought out, asked for, respected and cared for. It takes effort and elbow grease to find it, but once you do, your life is forever changed for the better.
The way I see it, you may as well start with lingerie.