The power of a beau­ti­ful bra.

How Erin McLaugh­lin found con­fi­dence in a red lace play­suit.

ELLE (Canada) - - #Storyboard - By Erin McLaugh­lin

I bought my first bra when I was 12. It was hang­ing del­i­cately on a rack in a de­part­ment store, and I found the vivid pink-on-black flo­ral pat­tern in­cred­i­bly ap­peal­ing. Even more ir­re­sistible was the sig­nif­i­cant amount of pad­ding. To be hon­est, I didn’t re­ally need a bra. But when a sud­den whirl­wind of girl­friends with curvy bod­ies and morethan-am­ple breasts sur­rounded me, I des­per­ately wanted to fit in. For the next two decades, my lin­gerie con­sisted of in­ex­pen­sive bras pur­chased in main­stream chain lin­gerie stores. I bought the same type of bra ev­ery time: push-up demi-cups that cre­ated the il­lu­sion of cleav­age.

But then, decades later, I went from a 34B to a 34D. To say that the new gen­er­ous size of my breasts shocked me is an un­der­state­ment. My new bo­som was over­whelm­ing and, well, fab­u­lous. h

Re­gard­less of whether it was the re­sult of a midlife hor­monal change or the 15 pounds of weight gain I ex­pe­ri­enced in my 30s, I wasn’t con­cerned.

Around the same time that my body un­der­went this change, I got mar­ried to a self-con­fessed “breast man.” Along with his ap­pre­ci­a­tion for my shapely body came his gen­er­ous ap­petite for skimpy lin­gerie and a never-end­ing line of gifts that con­sisted of thin strips of silk, satin, lace and lit­tle else. All of a sud­den, the dis­tinc­tion be­tween “un­der­wear” and “lin­gerie” mat­tered. This was new—my the­ory had been that un­der­gar­ments were meant to be func­tional, and I gave lit­tle care to what they looked like. That all changed with my hus­band’s ap­pre­ci­a­tion for my cur­va­ceous fig­ure. Erotic un­der­things were now on the menu, and, sur­pris­ingly, I, too, soon de­vel­oped an ap­petite for try­ing on “naughty” pieces.

I started my ed­u­ca­tion in lin­gerie at an un­re­mark­able store­front in mid­town Toronto. Once in­side, I was over­whelmed by the se­lec­tion of ex­pen­sive friv­o­lous things. Where were the plain cot­ton bras and un­der­wear that I was used to? When I tried to slink out in em­bar­rass­ment, a portly ma­tron who clearly knew her busi­ness ac­costed me. As I protested, she swept me into a small change room and told me to re­move my clothes. “This is all wrong,” she said, point­ing to the tired bra that I was wear­ing. “You need pretty things.” In what seemed like sec­onds, she re­turned with an arm­ful of lin­gerie in ev­ery colour and style. With­out mea­sur­ing me, she prof­fered a bra and in­sisted I put it on. De­spite the del­i­cate straps and silky lace of the un­de­ni­ably re­veal­ing piece, the sup­port was phe­nom­e­nal and flat­ter­ing. I had no idea that lin­gerie could change the way I look so dra­mat­i­cally—that a few strate­gi­cally placed scraps of fab­ric could give me the same se­cu­rity as my fa­mil­iar de­part­ment-store cot­ton lin­gerie and make me feel sexy at the same time.

Over the next cou­ple of years, I went into stores that I’d never taken no­tice of be­fore. A friend told me to visit Agent Provo­ca­teur in New York’s SoHo district; there, I was ed­u­cated on the ben­e­fits of bal­conettes and corsets by a stat­uesque tat­tooed goth in a pink lab coat. I be­gan to make lists of my favourite brands and kept style num­bers on file. When I trav­elled to Europe, I would head straight to the de­part­ment stores (Le Bon Marché in Paris and Har­rods in Lon­don) to ogle their se­lec­tions. I trolled eBay to see if I could find the same high-end lin­gerie on sale. Along­side my bur­geon­ing col­lec­tion of La Perla, Marie Jo and Chan­tal Thomass, my con­fi­dence grew. I bought push-up bras and shelf bras with open cups in ev­ery colour. I in­dulged in silk-satin garter belts with match­ing briefs. And I in­vested in ev­ery style of Wol­ford stay-ups.

Just when I thought I had ev­ery un­der­gar­ment imag­in­able, my hus­band pre­sented me with a small pink bag. Nes­tled in­side was a flimsy piece of red lace wrapped in tis­sue pa­per. When I held the gar­ment up against my form, I un­der­stood that I was meant to wear it—but how? There were straps, rib­bons and small gold-coloured clasps. The only way to tell the front from the back was a tag that read “Lise Charmel, made in France.” I looked into the bag again, hop­ing against hope that it came with an in­struc­tion man­ual. No luck. And yet some­how I man­aged to con­tort my­self into my first play­suit. When I fi­nally had it on, I caught a look at my­self in the mir­ror. I saw some­one I’d come to know in the re­flec­tion—she was brave and sexy. And she looked com­fort­able. ■

Erotic un­der­things were now on the menu, and, sur­pris­ingly, I, too, soon de­vel­oped an ap­petite for try­ing on “naughty” pieces.

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