If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen me climbing the walls in preparation of Victoria’s Secret’s flagship store opening in London this week. I’ve been hugely curious about the US lingerie giant for countless years now and having never visited the US myself before I was desperate to see what all the fuss was about.
Unfortunately for me, the wait is now over and I cannot unsee what I beheld today. I think it’s safe to say that the Victoria’s Secret dream died within me today following a fitting in their New Bond Street four storey polyester extravaganza.
I think it’s probably worth mentioning now that the store itself was just plain stunning. If you liked the look of Boux Avenue’s French boudoir style, then Victoria’s secret takes that and adds a touch of LA glamour adds a touch of Soho-style black walls and neon lights, a pinch of American mall and hey presto, you have Victoria’s Secret London: a swanky, indulgent little paradise.
The store is littered with reminders of the chain’s stunning Victoria’s Secret Angels, with their incredibly beautiful little faces and flawless figures decorating the place like an army of perfectness, and their memorabillia and infamous fashion show oufits displayed as if they were in a museum.
So, it’s safe to say that I was drawn in my the ‘Victoria’s Secretness’ of the place. You can’t help but feel like you’d come to your own secret place where you can indulge your inner glamour puss. The ‘sex appeal’ of VS is inexcapable, and whilst a lot of the lingerie is a bit garish for my taste, I couldn’t help but wish half of it was available in my size as a lot of it did genuinely appeal to me. I never thought I’d say it, but my lingerie drawer now feels rather empty without a diamante-encrusted bra.
The inner lining of their bras is remarkably soft to the touch, and the lingerie does seem well made, with unique colour combinations, shapes and adornments. I’ve never seen so many different multi-ways, racer backs or bra solutions in one store!
All of that was ruined forever, however, when I was approached by a sales assistant. Not that they weren’t helpful, kind and eager to please – and not to mention all drop dead gorgeous! – but their bra fitting service left me feeling genuinely concerned for boobs nationwide.
The assistants roam the shop, all with a tape measure around their necks, and all offering a ‘on the floor’ fitting service. This basically entails them measuring around your overbust (why?!) and bust; clothes on and giving you your bra size. Playing devil’s advocate, I obliged.
I was measured as a 36B. I know. As a current wearer of 30FF in many UK full bust brands, I was really quite amazed to be told I was in fact, a B cup. Now I know sizes vary massively from brand to brand, but as you can see I was subjecting the world to not on, not two, but three pairs of breasts in my 36B.
Next I went in to the changing room for a ‘proper’ fitting with their ‘bra experts’. Now these girls, I was promised, were the ones to speak to to get the best fitting service as they knew ‘everything there is to know about your shape, your needs and which styles will suit you.’
In the fitting room, I advised that I had just been fitted as a 36B. She whipped her tape measure out and confirmed that yes, I was in fact a 36B. She offered, very kindly, to pop to get some styles for me to try on. She returned with the above black plunge bra – but instantly spotted that it ‘wasn’t quite right’.
She dashed off to get me a 34C. Again, it didn’t fit.
Since I’d had both of the previous bras on the smallest hooks, the fitter suggested that I might need to go down a band size. Gold star to her!
Finally, she picked me up what she thought was a 32DD. It turns out that she accidentally picked up the wrong bra and had grabbed a 32DDD. A good thing she did, as it fitted me ‘perfectly’.
In her defense, I’m so pleased to see that through trial and error, she reached a bra size that near enough worked for me. It didn’t fit by any stretch of the imagination, but it gave a really nice shape, and hey, I actually had a pretty decent cleavage in it which is quite rare for me. More than anything, though, I was glad to be informed that Victoria’s Secret weren’t putting all 30FF women in horrifically fitting 36B bras, and I felt anything would be an improvement!
I still had double boob, I still had significant room in the band and still didn’t quite feel the lift or support that I’m now used to. I felt a flashback to the times when I used to feel that my bras didn’t quite fit because I was wrong, and team that with the pictures surrounding you of Miranda Kerr and Adriana Lima – it was like I’d just walked into my own body image hell.
Plus I must admit that seeing ’32DDD’ on your lingerie label was rather alarming. What’s so wrong with E, F, FF, G and beyond?
The worst part of it all, however, wasn’t experienced by myself, but by my companion.
A 30GG and a firm fan of the Freya Deco (she lives and breathes it!), my bestie Helen has hated her bust size for a long, long time. She’s one of those girls who would get a breast reduction in a heart beat if it weren’t for the fear of the pain, and longs for a DD bust (or less!). Helen was treated to an ‘on the floor’ fitting whilst I was in the changing room getting hoisted into my 32DDD, and since she didn’t have the time or the energy and she wasn’t suggesed to by the sales assistant, she didn’t make her way to the fitting room.
Helen, like me, was fitted as a 36B.
Now, this I do find rather concerning. Before I got my hands on Helen she was determined to get a reduction – no matter what it the cost to both her bank balance and her health. And whilst for so many women that’s right for them, ever since I introduced her to the Deco and to what I believe to be her perfect fit, she’s since come to terms with her boobs and works around them – still begrudgingly – but comfortably.
I’m worried to the core about all the women out there who – like Helen – will be closer to a 30GG or beyond and be fitted into B and C cups and living a life of self loathing and discomfort; and that’s just not cool.
I’ve hear it said that Victoria’s Secret isn’t really about selling bras, it’s about selling a lifestyle. That I can’t quite get my head around, however, and don’t see why beautiful lingerie and beautiful fit can’t go hand in hand? Why should women suffer in the name of ‘beauty’ and appealing to men? Or indeed, a quick sale?
It wasn’t meant to be, VS, and I really did get my hopes up. For those of you who are legitimately between a 32 and 36 A to DD and don’t mind spending between 35 and 50 pounds on a bra alone, VS is definitely worth a look. If I was you, though, and that’s your budget, I’d check out the likes of Damaris, Huit, Agent Provocateur, Myla and Elle Macpherson Intimates.