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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Sizing up Boux Avenue: An undie-cover 'fitting test'



   Since attending Boux Avenue's Autumn/ Winter 2012 collection showcase and seeing the array of boux-tiful new lingerie for the upcoming months, I have been itching to make a trip down to Boux Avenue's flagship store in Westfield. Back in September of last year, I made my first foray into Boux Avenue by way of an online order, without much success on the fit front. With any new lingerie brand, it is always a good idea to visit a 'brick and mortar' store to familiarise yourself with the fit of the products, so I decided to make a trip to Westfield shopping centre to get the complete Boux Avenue shopping experience.


   One of the things that I particularly wanted to try out at the shop was their fitting service. After reading quite a few varying accounts of this service and seeing the dreaded '+4 fitting technique' in action on their website, I really wanted to experience their in-store fitting for myself. I needed to make the experience as authentic as possible, so I dug out an old 34D La Senza bra which was much too loose in the band and too small in the cups for me. I packed my bag with a trusty camera and notebook and prepared myself for an undie-cover investigation... 



   The Boux Avenue store front was very inviting, with the 'Boux' logo in lights and a girly window display of pretty '3 for 2' knickers, a screen showing their 'Wiggle It' campaign video and their accessories showcased under a 'B Academy' logo.




   Walking into the store, I was greeted by a friendly sales assistant who welcomed me to the store. The interior was really gorgeous, well-lit and the products were beautifully arranged, giving the shop a boutique feel. Framed campaign imagery lined the walls, the beauty products were showcased on a 'cake stand' central table and some of the lingerie was even set out in a vintage style suitcase! 



   I also really liked that the shop made use of little lingerie cabinets, so that if your size was not available on the display rails, you could pick out your size from the drawers below. Boux Avenue is definitely all about the details.. 


   After a few minutes of looking around, I was approached by a sales assistant, who asked me if I needed any help, to which I responded that I would like to get fitted. She whisked me off to the changing rooms, which boast a 'Concierge' area with a few chairs at the entrance, giving it a very luxurious and high-end feel. The changing rooms had different names and I was directed to the 'Chiffon' room, which was spacious and chic with a large mirror and an adjustable lighting fixture. Boux Avenue does away with notoriously unflattering changing room lights with their three light settings (Day, Dusk and Night) which can be changed according to your preference!



   So, I hear you ask..how was my fitting? 

   My fitter was friendly and asked me to take my top off so that she could assess the fit of my current bra. She had a look at the 34D bra that I was wearing and stated that it wasn't right for me and that I would probably need a 32E. She then got her tape measure out and measured me three times underneath my bust at varying degrees of tightness and asked at each stage how it felt. I told her that I preferred the tightness of the tightest measurement that she did of my underbust, to which she responded "wow, you like your bands tight!"

   She didn't tell me what measurements she had ascertained from the tape measure but did say that she would bring me a few basic bras to try on. It was interesting that she didn't overtly do any +4 calculations in front of me as I had expected that she would do, instead relying more on what I thought of the 'tape measure band tightness test' that she did. She brought me a 32E and 30F pink microfibre t-shirt bra to try on, which I thought was actually quite a good start seeing as I had walked in in a 34D!


   When I tried on the 32E, I immediately fastened it on the tightest hook, which the fitter didn't actually pick up on. She asked me to "scoop myself into the cups" to see if the breast tissue was properly contained in the cups and told me that the gore should sit flush against my chest (which it didn't completely in the 32E as the cups were too small and band too loose). She then asked me how the bra felt, to which I responded "Ok I think..what do you think?" She then proceeded to tell me that "the customer's opinion is the most important". This is all very good and well, but if the customer has no idea what to look for in a bra and doesn't know how tight a bra should feel, how can a good fit be assessed? 

   After I seemed a little unsure on the fit of the 32E, the fitter suggested that I tried a 32F and she again came back to help me. She looked at the 32F bra on me and pressed at the top of the cups and said that I wasn't completely filling out the top. She suggested that maybe the 32E was better, but asked my opinion and said that it was up to me. The 32F actually did fit me better as the central wires were no longer sitting on my breast tissue, but the shape wasn't right for me. 

   When I suggested that the shape was maybe wrong for me, the fitter agreed and consequently gave me a 30F and 30FF to try on to assess for fit. One thing that I was slightly worried about was that after putting the 30FF on the loosest hook, the fitter then proceeded to fasten it on the middle hook and asked me how it felt! I was really confused as to why she did this as it doesn't really matter how a new bra feels on the middle hook as it loosens with wear! After she had fitted me, she said that I was a 30FF/32F depending on the bra and asked if I was "ok being an F cup?". I was a little taken aback by this question and murmured "yeah sure" before feeling slightly uncomfortable. 

   I imagine that it is a shock for a lot of women to be put in a much larger cup size than they go into a shop wearing and I too experienced this a few years ago going from a 34D to 28FF in Bravissimo. I remember that in Bravissimo, the girl who refitted me was not at all phased by such a cup size jump and didn't bat an eyelid at my new size even though I did. This actually made me feel totally normal and more comfortable to change size fairly drastically. I definitely think that fitters should be encouraged not to put too much emphasis on cup size in fittings. If I hadn't been a bra blogger, the response to "are you ok being an F cup?" may have been despair, confusion or embarrassment!

   Never-the-less, my fitter asked me what style of bras I preferred and if there were any that I would like to try. I said that I liked plunge bras and sheer unpadded bras and she consequently came back with a really nice selection in 32F's and 30FF's, all of which I liked! 



(Top 2 bras: Tori lace moulded plunge bra in black 30A-38F - I found that the back band was very loose in both the 30 and 32 backs!
Bottom bra: Loretta full support satin plunge bra in red 30DD-38G - Probably one of the bras that I liked the most of those that I tried. The 30FF was an ok fit, but I probably needed to go up a cup as I was getting some cutting in.)


(Tried in a 30FF and 32F. The 32F was much too large in the back and I didn't much like the shape in the 30FF unfortunately.)

   The fitter offered her advice on the fit of all of these bras, but I felt that most of the input came from me as the Boux fitters seem to be there more to 'guide' the customer. At this point, I decided to go solo as I wanted to see what other bras were on the shop floor. I ended up picking out a range of bras in a 30FF and a few in a 32F - the shop assistants were very happy to aid me in finding my size from the drawers and from the back room. I even tried out the fitting room 'Concierge' and found the assistant friendly, eager to help and very efficient.


(My hand-picked selection of Boux beauties..)


(Sadly only the 32F was available to try and it was much too large in the back for me)


(I tried this in the white colourway in a 30FF and the shape just didn't work for me and it gapped strangely..perhaps I need to try a 30F..?)


Nancie satin and lace balconette bra 32A-38F (includes 30 backs up to an F cup) 
(I tried this in a 30F, which was too small in the cup for me. Such a shame as it is a really beautiful bra!)

After a long time of wanting to try Boux Avenue's swimwear, I finally got to try some:


(Tried in a 32F - too large in the back but I love the print!)


(Tried in a 30FF and I wasn't mad on the shape of it on me)


(Tried in a 32F - back too loose)


Almeria halter bikini top 32A-38FF (includes 30 back: C-FF)
(I tried this bikini in a 30FF expecting it to be spot on, but the band seemed a fair bit tighter than the other 30 backed bikinis that I tried and the FF was too small in the cups. Sadly this bikini doesn't come in a 30G and it is sold out online in a 32F and FF. I'd love to try it in 32F/FF though as I really fell in love with this bikini!)

   After trying everything on, I realised that I hadn't got a fitting card that is normally given to people after a bra fitting, so I asked the Concierge assistant if I could have one for future reference. She apologised and said that I should have got one and that she would tell my fitter off (oops!) On the plus side, it is clear that Boux Avenue strives for high standards, so it is good that feedback is being passed on within the team..


   All in all, my fitting at Boux Avenue, Westfield was quite successful and I was very pleasantly surprised that the fitter could see that my badly fitting 34D bra was wrong for me straight away. It was reassuring to see a highstreet store measure me as a 32F/30FF as this is a lot better than many other highstreet fittings that I have had in the past! 

   There are a few things that I would offer up as feedback though. Firstly, I would suggest that fitters are trained thoroughly and regularly to make sure that they become confident in their roles as fitters rather than just fitting 'guides'. Although it is important for a fitter to listen to the customer first and foremost, I would imagine that most women going into a bra fitting would want to have a large amount of imput from a fitter - customers need to know what to look for, how a bra should feel and also if a bra fits them correctly.

   Often asking a customer "what do you think?" instead of offering an opinion will result in a blank face because the customer has no clue as to how a properly fitting bra should look and feel. I really think that this assertive but empathetic standpoint from fitters will go a long way in helping refit women correctly. As mentioned earlier, I also believe that fitters should refrain from making or inferring any judgement such as "are you ok being an F cup?" or "wow, you like your bands tight!" - although these may just have been 'off the cuff' remarks, I think it'd be best to leave them out.

   Another point to mention is that I felt that the sizing of Boux Avenue's products was a little inconsistent from bra to bra - in some styles, a 30 back was way too big for me, and in others, it fit ok. This may be due to the use of different materials which have varying amounts of stretch, but it is important to factor this in in the production process. Just some food for thought and something to keep in mind...

    Aside from the points that I have just mentioned, I would definitely go back to Boux Avenue, Westfield (or any of their other shops for that matter) as it is absolutely gorgeous! It is superbly set out, well-organised and nicely lit. The d├ęcor is also original, chic and well-executed. The shop feels like a boutique and details such as the 'Concierge service', lingerie cabinets and fitting rooms with adjustable lighting fixtures make for great touches that elevate the highstreet shopping experience. It is a plus that the underwear and swimwear is really pretty and accessible to the masses, whilst also being very reasonably priced. I am also delighted to see 30 backs quite readily available in a highstreet store and really hope that other stores will recognise the need for them and follow suit. The Boux Avenue staff were very friendly and eager to help, which is great to see from a customer point of view too. 

    I am really looking forward to seeing what comes next for Boux Avenue as it sets up for global expansion. Boux seems to be quickly filling the La Senza shaped gap in the highstreet, particularly with regard to catering to DD+ sizes (which the new La Senza stores and Victoria's Secret seem to be neglecting) Next time I am in Westfield, I will definitely pop into the store to try on some more lingerie and swimwear..plus I might have to stock up on their delicious bath and beauty products too!)

Love,
Kitty xo

10 comments:

  1. I hate it when fitters say "how does that feel?" because lots and lots of women have no flippin' idea what to look for, otherwise they could have fitted themselves!! That's the whole reason they go for a fitting, you have an expert TELL them the best fit for them.

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    1. Hi Kate,

      Thanks for your comment! It's really good to see that you agree that fitters really need to do more than just 'guide'. I can understand why fitters are taught to ask the customer how it feels as it is good practice to check that the customer is comfortable, but I really think that fitters need to be more assertive and educate women as much as possible.

      I remember that during my first fitting at Bravissimo, the fitter said to me that a 28 back was best for me and I really couldn't get my head around it straight away so bought a 30 back..I then realised a week later of wearing the 30 back that I should have got the 28 back after all. This approach was good because the fitter let me make up my own mind about what was comfortable but did tell me the signs of a good fit and put me in the correct size. Sometimes customers don't know what fits best, so a fitter's role is fundamental.

      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  2. Good post Kitty. I recently got fitted in a Debenhams and the experience was totally heinous. Don't own any Boux Avenue yet so I'm going to go to a store and get fitted to see if my experience is any different to yours.

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    1. Hi Tamar,

      Thanks for the comment :) I'd love to hear more about your experience at Debenhams - will you be writing it up?

      I'd be interested to hear what you think of Boux Avenue too! Keep me posted :)

      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  3. Do you normally compose only for this blog or you do that for some other Internet or offline networks?

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    1. Hi Ely,

      I have written for other websites before and do so on a freelance basis. Did that answer you question?

      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  4. Hello! I've just found your blog looking for reviews on Boux's fitting service. I've just been to one of their stores-funnily enough, I was in the Chiffon room too! The lady was really friendly, but I have to say I'm a bit wary of their recommendations on bra styles. I'm quite small chested and being recommended plunge and push-ups doesn't really send a good message... it took me years to accept my bodyshape and this is the sort of thing that would make anyone feel insecure. Or am I over-reacting? I'd love to have your thoughts on this. Thanks.

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    1. Bonjour Dorine!

      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear that you weren't too keen on Boux's bra style recommendations during your fitting. It's an interesting point that you've brought up. Whilst I don't think that the fitter meant any harm by recommending push ups to you, I think that her recommendations probably stem from the societal misconception that smaller busted women only want to wear padded and push up styles to look bigger than they are (society again falsely constructing the idea that it is more desirable for women to have big boobs). To be honest, I think when it comes to fitting, a fitter should always ask a woman what styles she prefers before offering their own opinion on what would suit. This avoids any upset and false assumptions.
      I hope you find renewed confidence in your body shape - every body is beautiful and no body or bra size is more desirable than another.

      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  5. i find that the sizes are larger here than at other high street stores.

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    1. Hi Danielle,

      Thanks for your comment. That's interesting - which stores/lingerie brands are you comparing to? In the past, I have found Boux to run slightly smaller in the cup but a tad more true to size/ possibly on the larger size more recently. There do seem to be sizing variations between their bras though, so hopefully this will be ironed out with time.

      Kitty x

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