By  on June 2, 1994

NEW YORK -- After all the ballyhoo about padded push-up bras, one might reasonably expect that finding those items at major stores here would be simple.

The reality is that finding a cleavage-enhancer, particularly the well-touted Wonderbra by Sara Lee Foundations or the Super Up-Lift by Gossard, can be almost impossible.

During visits Tuesday to Abraham & Straus, Macy's Herald Square, Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, the word from salespeople was that stock was either very low on Wonderbras and Super-Uplifts or that they were sold out. When asked for alternative suggestions, the responses varied from store to store.

At A&S Plaza in midtown Manhattan, a saleswoman was telling a customer on the telephone that the store had received an initial shipment of 1,000 Wonderbras on May 9, and they were nearly sold out the same day. She specifically noted the store was out of the most popular size -- 34B -- and was expecting a fresh shipment in early August.

The remaining Wonderbra stock at A&S consisted of six 38A bras and one 32C, all in cherry red lace. The Wonderbra retails for $26.

"Do you have other brands that do the same thing as Wonderbra?" a shopper asked.

"There are other brands that push up breasts too, but they don't have as much padding," said the woman, citing Body Curves by Bali, which is $24, and La Difference by Lilyette, which is $25.

Guaranteeing that wearing a Wonderbra would turn heads, she added, "Wonderbra was made to push and lift your breasts like in the old-time movies, when the star's breasts entered the room before she did."

Only one sign for the classification was seen in the foundations department. It read "The Push-Up Bra" and was in a corner housing Maidenform bras.

At Macy's, asked whether the store still had Wonderbras, a saleswoman raised her eyes to the ceiling and replied, "We're all sold out." She said she didn't know when more would be delivered.

A shopper told her that she wanted a push-up bra that would give the ultimate cleavage. Instead of suggesting other heavily padded numbers, the saleswoman led the way to a display of lightly padded demicup underwire bras by Natori, which retail for $34. She said the Natori bras "do the same thing," but offered no further assistance.Macy's had no specific signage for padded push-up bras. Brands, however, were housed in their own areas with signage.

The salesperson at Lord & Taylor was very helpful.

"Everybody wants a 34B cup," she said, rearranging a sparse assortment of red Wonderbras, the only color left. She said the store would receive more Wonderbras and Super-Uplift bras in July. There were 10 red Wonderbras on the selling floor. The only cup sizes were 32A and 38A.

The saleswoman recommended a Super Up-Lift bra, which she said was available in several B cup sizes. The Super Up-Lift was merchandised next to the Wonderbras. The Wonderbra should be purchased one size larger, because the bands are smaller, she said.

"Is it true? Will Wonderbra give me more of a bosom?" a shopper asked.

"Yes, it will," replied the saleswoman. "But not if you don't have a bosom to start with."

Lord & Taylor spotlighted foundations with vendor signage, but did not have special signage for the push-up classification.

There was a sizable wall display at Saks Fifth Avenue of red, navy and ivory lace Super-Uplift bras with a sign that said Gossard. But the only bra sizes available were 32A, 36A and 38A. The bra retails for $39.50.

A salesperson said more Super-Uplift bras had been expected in late May, but hadn't arrived yet.

"You don't have my size. Do you recommend another brand?" asked a shopper.

"Try Wacoal," the salesperson replied. "A lot of women have been buying Wacoal when they can't get the Super Up-Lift."

The Wacoal area was stacked with the maker's established push-up style -- a satin and lace underwire padded bra under the Wacoal Soft Contours label -- in ivory, pink, and navy. It sells for $49.

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