Victoria’s Secret Open London Flagship Store

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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.

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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.

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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.

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SAM 0929 Victorias Secret Open London Flagship Store Invest In Your ChestOh Miranda!

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.

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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.

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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’.

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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!

SAM 0914 Victorias Secret Open London Flagship Store Invest In Your ChestI 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.

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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?

SAM 0918 Victorias Secret Open London Flagship Store Invest In Your ChestYes. Really.

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.

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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.

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32 Comments

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said they’re not selling bras, they’re selling a lifestyle. The problem is, is that you CAN combine sexy bras WITH well-fitting bras. There’s not reason to be smashing us all into too small cups and too big backs.

    But I can understand the draw. I would be like a kid in a candy store if I were able to go to a store and try on bras that actually come in my size. For ladies that are legitimately in their size range, I could understand. For the rest of us? You just have put down and the bra and walk slowly away.

    • I was weak and bought one once. It was when they first started offering a style in 32DD, and it must have been some years ago, because I wasn’t aware that European brands existed that carried bands in 30, let alone 28. It wasn’t even a fancy style, but the fabric was so soft and stretchy. At the time I was wearing the few bras I could find in 32DD, but the VS 32DD was much smaller. But it felt so soft and forgiving compared to my other bras that I kept it for an “around the house bra”, which meant it looked so bad under clothes I couldn’t leave the house in it. I eventually gave up and gave it away because I couldn’t even do house cleaning in it because I’d fall out the front if I stretched too far. Funny, but not comfortable.

  2. One thing that VS does well is give you that aura of “sexy”. A note on the “32DDD”–that’s just how bras are sized in the US. They didn’t carry beyond a DD in stores until very recently as well. They carry 30 bands, but only online.

  3. I think that’s why 80 percent of women here in the US wear the wrong bra size. Because they shop at or have been measured at Victoria Seccrets. Also pretty sure the tape measure is standard issue as part of there uniform.

  4. Excellent review. Gotta say, as a person who lives in North America, on this continent, VS is a pretty crappy “mall chain” (none of the stores I’ve seen – even in Toronto and large cities – even approximate the gorgeousness of the store you visited). I also agree though, that if you’re a 32-36 A-DD (and you mainly like molded cup bras), this place can work for you. I’d take Huit or Agent P, any day, were I in that range.

    • Oh yay, it’s not just me that thinks that! I live in the bay area in California, lived in Austin, Texas; and Louisiana, and I have to say, I have never been to a VS that’s pretty or inviting.

      Generally, the ones I’ve seen are guady, too brightly light, overly perfumed, and honestly, really dingy and dirty. The shop girls are normally very rude, and they’re always understaffed. Also, god forbid you be more than a US size 2, or the dirty looks you get might set you on fire, and that’s in EVERY VS I’ve ever been in.

      And despite all of that, I could forgive them if they had any idea what they were doing fit-wise. I’m a 38F, and until I went to the San Mateo store, they always tried to put me in a 40B…I can understand the 40 band, but at least put me in a DD…

      The San Mateo store actually surprised me, there was one girl there who told me that I was more than a DDD and that I should check online outside of VS, and that the VS bras were unfortunately, not right for me. She was right of course, they were squishing my breasts apart and into my armpits O_o

  5. CarlaF-in Atlanta

    It’s not just VS that misses the bra fitting. Most department store bra fitters recommend the wrong size also. It wasn’t until I went to Intimates that I finally got the right size bra (Fantasie 38G) which is a far cry from the 42 D.

  6. If Victoria’s Secret would just tell customers when they should wear a size VS doesn’t carry, then I wouldn’t get mad at VS. If they want to carry a limited size range, that’s absolutely their choice. But the fact that they CONSISTENTLY fit women into terribly-fitting bras to make a sale drives me insane. I thought maybe in the last 10 years they would see the writing on the wall and change their ways, but I’m sorry to hear that they didn’t. Thanks for investigating!

    • Yes! That is exactly my problem too! If they would just say, we don’t have anything that fits you, it would be better. But instead they will try to shove you into any old thing in their range just to make a sale!

    • Exactly. They have pretty designs, but try to sell you what they have instead of saying they’re a limited size range. The marketing keeps working, though, because of the models in the bras that seem to have hydraulics.

  7. Oh My…what a bummer. Let’s hope the UK population stays wise and heads straight to Bravissimo for a fitting. I had the worst experiences at VS here in the US too….

  8. I wandered into VS again over the weekend. Nobody offered to size me, which was just as well — I was wearing a form-fitting t-shirt, maybe they could tell I was sized out! Or maybe because it was because I had a toddler with me! But man, the bras are beautiful and I wanted to try some of them on so badly, but knew it would be a giant fail as none of the pretties are even a sister-size for me.

    Last time I got sized there, after the first sales assistant hesitated because she was measuring me as a 40 and didn’t want to tell me I was sized out, a second one proclaimed me to be a 38DD or maybe a DDD. I’m a 34GG. And while I measure between a 34 and 36, I am firmly a 34 because I am squishy. Needless to say, the 38DDD covered my boobs ok, but I could turn my hand sideways between the center gore and my chest. I used to wear VS before I knew better, always in a 36 band, and I was probably 50 pounds lighter than I am now. I can’t even fathom it now.

    However, wow, that store is seriously gorgeous. None of the ones in the States remotely look like that.

  9. Honestly I’m not surprised with the experience you had. I would equate Victoria’s Secret with La Senza – all show no go. When I first got fitted I was told that I was a 36 DD. I had the triple boob effect for years and couldn’t wait to undergo a breast reduction. I’ve since been PROPERLY fitted and found my first bra love – Freya Deco in 34GG. Honestly, it made a world of a difference and I now no longer look forward to a breast reduction. Stores like Victoria’s Secret does such a disservice to the health and well being of women.

  10. I’ve had similar experiences at Victoria’s Secret. Basically they will put you into any bra that looks like it fits and tell you that’s your size. I’m a 32F and they measured me as a 34D. When that didn’t work, they had me try on about eight bras of varying sizes, arriving at the conclusion that a 36D was about right. When I said the band was way too large they told me that Nordstrom’s doesn’t know how to measure for bras (they are excellent at fitting actually) and that this was my true size. When I refused to pay $60 for a bra that didn’t fit they finally gave up. Implying they didn’t have a fit for me because I like to wear my band tight and “bulge” out of it. As I walked away, I heard the two sales girls snickering over my Freya Deco that I had worn in. Terrible experience. And that is not the only poor fitting I’ve had there :(

  11. Augh! I am so sorry. We have spread our poison to the UK.

    When I was wearing 44Hs, a woman at VS tried to fit me into a 44DD because – I guess – that’s the biggest size they had at the time.

  12. I remember 11 years ago they told me I was a 38D/DD and when my sister measured me I was actually a 34G. I’m now a 34KK. I wish there was a store like the one in the webcomic Wapsi Square that caters to women of all shapes and sizes. There are much better items elsewhere that actually fit.

  13. I wear a 26GG/28G and VS fitted me into a 32DD… a “perfect fit.” I randomly grabbed a 34C as a starting size, and then the fitter measured me, let me try on the 34C, and when it obviously didn’t fit, told me she measured me as a *sudden whisper…* 32DD. She looked really sympathetic/pitying as she said it, too. I really want to go back to the store and tell her my real size, and see her reaction to such an apparently absurd (not) cupsize.

    But, kudos to her, my above bust measurement is indeed 32″. So she didn’t use the +4 method at least!

    • I mean, if she had to use the wrong method to measure my band size, at least she didn’t make it extra wrong by adding inches.

      • In fact, she DID use the +4 method. 4 inches is added to UNDER bust measurement. No one adds to above bust because those inches are already there since it’s believed that roughly abovebust=underbust+4.

  14. I can’t wait to see the store and have a fitting myself! As a G cup wearer, I often test the system in lingerie stores, to see what fitting advice I am given.
    On another note, I think it is pretty unacceptable to wear a tape measure around your neck, there could be residue of hair products or other, left on a tape measure, but I suppose if it isn’t going near anyones flesh, it is simply an ‘accessory’ of the lifestyle brand.
    Good reporting!

  15. And that is US women in the know only wear brands from the UK and Poland! I have been preaching the evils of VS size ranges for the last 15 years. (And they have added DD and DDD since then!) If I want a decent fitting at the mall, I go to Nordstrom, and even there I still have to convince them a 32 is too big and an H is too small. The biggest difference is after the fitting. At VS the salespeople can see a 34DDD does not work, but have no idea how to help (I heard that pretty much verbatim before I found UK brands…) At Nordstrom, I shocked the saleslady when she saw I am out of range of the Deco, but she was upset they had nothing that would fit me. She asked what brands and sizes I usually wore, where I got them, and managed to track down a half-priced 30HH Panache Andorra by calling about five different warehouses.
    I don’t need every salesperson to work that hard, but suggesting stores and websites better catered to my figure or offering to order products in my size would be a huge improvement for Victoria’s Secret.

  16. I actually had a not-completely awful experience at a VS here in the US recently.
    I went in just to look, as they rarely have anything that fits, liked the look of one bra, and took a 32D and 32DD into the fitting room. The salesgirl there asked what sizes I got and offered to measure me. I thought ‘why not, let’s see what she comes up with’ and let her. She said her tape measure showed I was a B cup but she did actually think I looked like a D because I was wearing what looked like a sports bra (funnily enough I was actually wearing a top with a shelf bra bought off VS’s own website).

    She wasn’t pushy and just told me to call if I needed different sizes and left me to try them on. The 32DD ended up being the better fit, as I suspected, since their grading for most molded bras is a cup smaller. The straps were weirdly itchy though, and I don’t buy non-sale bras anyway so it was a no go.
    I am usually a 30DD or 28E in UK sizes, but I don’t need much support and don’t really like wearing bras anyway, so I can wear ‘incorrect’ sizes without much of a problem.

    I am fully aware that they do not provide anything close to decent fittings or fitting education to anyone, fail terribly any potential customers with cup sizes larger than mine, and will lie and say anything to make a sale. I have had several of these experiences at their stores on previous occasions and rarely go in there – never with the intention of buying anything more than the reasonably priced shorts.
    On this same visit I saw one of their employees (possibly even a supervisor) who was walking around the shop, with the ever-present tape measure around her neck, whose chest was horribly spilling over the top of her bra. I think she must have been around an H cup – likely wearing a terribly fitting VS 36DD by the looks of it. For me at least, that really says everything that needs to be said.
    Their business is based on making quick sales any way possible and selling women a ‘sexy’ image, at which things they excel, sadly for all American – and now apparently also UK – women.

    • What’s funny for me is I walked into our local VS last weekend just to amuse myself. One of the sales girls there asked if I needed help, and I told her ‘No, just admiring, I’m sized out.’ Her response was a ‘Me too!’ and she confided she was a GG and was delighted when I said I was too. She was wearing a horrifically fitted bra though, she had to be at least a 30 band and looked so lumpy and misshapen and obviously was NOT wearing one of her GG bras.

      I ended up making her day by telling her about Brastop and Figleaves!

  17. I think the worst part about VS is that given their MASSIVE market share in the U.S.A., they surely would be able to afford to engineer and stock bras sized along the lines of Ewa Michalak’s 26-46 A-K. At the very least, they should take a long, hard look at Braless in Brazil’s study to determine a better size range. I would pay $100 each for a 30F “Incredible”. I have one that’s 34C, because that’s how they sized me, and it is so deliciously padded that I can’t feel the wires digging in; it would be pure heaven in the right size. It only feels wrong because so much of me is falling out of it, ick!

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  20. I was just suggested to this post by a friend of mine. I am so sorry that you had to go through that! V.C. is notorious around the USA for ill fittings and rude sales people, they won’t approach you if you’re over a size 4 (why they still bother me, I’ll never know since I am a size 12/14) or over the age of 36 around where I live.
    I used to wear them before a friend found out how to measure correctly for your bra size, and I found out I am actually a 34 J, not a 36 E/F (which in V.C. terms would be a 36 DDD).
    I also understand that body image hell you described. However, I think you are quite stunning and very brave to take photos of yourself in a bra! Keep up the good work! I can’t wait to read more of your posts.

  21. I know of only one person who genuinely fits into the 32-40 A-DD range, and she measures as a 32B. She naturally has a broad chest and doesn’t have much ‘boobage’, so mall retailers really work for her. But to be honest, most people I know don’t have a broad chest. The size ranges that American and Canadian mall retailers sell only covers a small population of women. For the majority, we definitely need to expand all the way down to 26 or even 24 backs with a wide selection of cup sizes. Maybe in the distant future we’d look back and laugh at the old-fashioned sizing system, but for now it is very difficult to convince people that I am a 28 band, let down an F cup. I live in Canada and I would like to access pretty bras and be able to try them on at the local mall than order online and guessing my size in a bra through trial and error.

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  24. The way some of these stores fit for a bra is just ridiculous sometimes! Well, narrow backs and fuller chests are very often a problem anyway so we can’t blame them too too hard…
    I wear a 30F and I have been sold a 36C at Intimissimi (in Angel, London), last week. Such a horrible experience when they can’t find the courage to tell you “sorry we do not stock your size” but instead lie and insist on selling you a 36C to a custumer wearing a 30F because: “it is the same”… NO IDIOT IT’S NOT!
    Not all customers are ignorant… Shame on them!
    Whilst Victoria’s Secrets (Upper East Side, NYC) did a rather decent job when fitting me and honestly told me they did not sock the right size for me. She still suggested to try 32DD (which definitely didn’t fit) in certain styles and 34D, not pushy at all and she apologized for the “lack of size range”.

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