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Monday, 17 September 2012

Victoria's Secret London: New Bond Street Store Opening


   The time has finally arrived and Victoria's Secret has landed in London at 111 New Bond Street. Victoria's Secret was founded in 1977 in California and since then it has become a cult name in both lingerie and fashion worlds. The brand has acquired an impressive following thanks to its iconic catwalk shows which feature an elite squad of the world's most sought-after supermodels: The Victoria's Secret Angels.

   I first visited Victoria's Secret when I went on holiday to New York as a teenager. I begged my mum to take me to the store almost as soon as we arrived in the US and my girly teenage self was overwhelmed by the size of the store and the amount of cute underwear on display. 

   When I heard about Victoria's Secret coming to London, the teenager in me got quite excited, but I was dubious about anything fitting me as I have come a long way in understanding bra fitting and the importance of well-fitting lingerie since my teen years. 

   Victoria's Secret officially opened its doors at 111 New Bond Street on the 29th of August, but I decided to hold off on my visit for a little bit to see what the store was like after the initial buzz and lingerie mania had subsided..




When I arrived at the store, I was struck by the grand black exterior with the most amazing window displays! The windows exhibit the lavish costumes worn by some of the Victoria's Secret Angels in past catwalk shows..cue lashings of feathers, lace, sequins, diamantés and of course, impressive angel wings!  





   When I had finished gawping at the window display cases, it was time to enter the shop and boy oh boy, was it a sight to behold! The store has a very chic feel with a predominantly black colour scheme, which serves as an ideal backdrop to the bright colours, sequins and embellishments of the lingerie. 

   The Victoria's Secret store is reportedly 40,386 square feet across four floors (connected by a huge mirrored staircase with a ginormous flat screen tv) and it is easy to see why it would be easy to spend hours in there. Each floor oozes glamour and extravagance and the store is an amazing hybrid of shopping emporium, nightclub, museum and ladies boudoir! 

   The décor features hanging crystal chandeliers, a wall of perfumes, boudoir-style changing rooms and a myriad of VS Angels memorabilia on every floor; from costumes to framed portraits! The top floor even has a 'VIP' area - I had a sneak peek and the rooms were gorgeous with plush chairs overlooking a terrace (ideal for a laidback hen do) There were also some rather nice customer toilets (!)





   I did actually like a lot of the lingerie on display - I love a lacey plunge bra and the microfibre styles and memory foam lined bras were beautifully soft to the touch (reminding me of some of the seamless microfibre bras that I used to buy from La Senza many years ago..) 


Aside from the bras, there were also some knock-out lingerie pieces such as the 'Very Sexy' 'Seduction garter slip' in coral/ red and ivory and a gorgeous black and nude lace bustier..if only they didn't stop at a D cup!


    The bottom floor is dedicated to the VS 'PINK' collection. 'PINK' is Victoria's Secret's younger 'collegiate' range; selling underwear, sleepwear, loungewear and sports wear. (It also acts as a 'transition' line to VS's slightly more 'grown up' ranges of 'Body' by VS and 'Very Sexy') 

   As you can see from the pictures below, the collection is young and playful with a distinctly girly vibe...cue lots of rainbow brights, neons and leopard print! Although it was slightly too garish for my taste, I could see how a lot of the lingerie would appeal to young teenage girls..





   The second floor was probably my favourite, with its black, white and pink colour scheme and vintage style wallpaper. It was on this floor that I had my Victoria's Secret fitting experience and I'm sure that you will be keen to find out how I got on...



   A shop assistant with a tape measure around her neck approached me and asked if I needed any help, offering to give me a shop floor fitting as I said that I wasn't sure what size I was. I happily obliged, quite intrigued as to what she would size me as. As with any undercover fit test, I was deliberately wearing an old, badly fitting bra in a 34D from La Senza and prepared myself for some interesting results. After measuring under my arms (not my underbust) and over my chest, I was shocked to hear that my 28FF bust was actually a "32B"! The shop assistant said that it would also be a good idea to get a fitting in the changing rooms to find the "perfect fit". 

   She escorted me to the changing rooms (which were a boudoir delight) and I was met by a very chatty and friendly girl who got one of her colleagues to give me a fitting. When in the changing rooms I asked whether I should take my top off or leave it on. The fitter said that it was fine to leave it on, but given that I had just been 'measured' with my clothes on, I thought it best to be fitted without my top on. Again, the fitter whipped out a tape measure and measured me under the arms and over my bust, stating that I was a "34B" - yikes!

   There was no assessment of the current bra that I was wearing, so the fitter was 100% relying on what her tape measure told her. She came back with a 34B which, in all honesty, didn't even cover half of my breasts! I fastened the 34B on the tightest hooks and the band was clearly riding up, but nothing was mentioned about the bad fit apart from there being a 'gap' at the centre. She also brought me a 32B to try, which was also far too small unsurprisingly.

(Even by eye, it is easy to see that the Victoria's Secret 34B's were much smaller than the 34D bra that I wore into the shop!)

   My fitter then decided that I needed to try a 36B to see if the gaping would go away, which of course it didn't! She looked at the bra and asked what I thought, to which I gave no input as I wanted to see where she would go from there. She then suggested that I tried a 36C. The 36C rode up my back terribly, but she merely adjusted the shoulder straps and pointed out that there was some "gapping" at the top, which suggested to her that I needed a cup size down (eek!)

   Furthermore, she then stated that maybe the "34B as a sister size to the 36C" would be best..what?! At this point, I was growing more and more frustrated with the confusing size jumps and the result still being bulging cups and a back band riding up to my shoulders! I now felt utter despair at being told that a 34B was "sister size to a 36C"!!

(All of the fitter-recommended bras that I tried on..and not one remotely fit me!)

   Taking a few deep breaths, I suggested that maybe I needed to try a 34D as it was "the size of the bra that I came into the shop wearing", to which she replied "yes, that's a really good idea..it will probably be just right". On trying on the 34D, she proclaimed it "perfect" and "just the right size". I had fastened the bra on the tightest hooks to see if she realised that the 34D was still much too loose in the back for me, but to make matters worse, she told me that a bra should be fastened on the middle hook to begin with as "it loosens with wear". I didn't even bother challenging it and hurriedly thanked her, stating that now that I knew my size, I would have a look at what was available on the shop floor.


Me in the 34D that I was told was a '"perfect fit" - you can see how much this bra was riding up my back and I certainly didn't fit into the cups...


"Hi Sexy. Try me on and see the difference the right bra makes" - I definitely didn't want to try this shirt on over the 34D that I had been given to wear..there wouldn't have been anything remotely sexy about the look that it gave me with clothes on!



(My fitting card)

   After my disastrous fitting, I decided to go in search of the only sizes available that were anywhere near my 'true' bra size of 28FF: a 32DD (blue push up bra) and 32DDD (UK 32E) polka dot unlined full coverage bra and back to the fitting room I went on the floor below! Sadly both bras were too small for me, but they certainly fit a lot better than the 34D I was fit into...

(How gorgeous is the fitting room?)


  After my disappointing fitting experience and the acute realisation that Victoria's Secret lingerie would not accomodate my bust, I decided to drown my sorrows in the beauty section...

(Victoria's Secret signature 'London' scent - delicious!)


The beauty section was a candy shop of products from makeup to body lotion to perfume. I was particularly taken by the fragrances and I especially liked the VS signature 'London' perfume, but at around £50, I thought it a bit expensive. I also tried the VS 'Love is heavenly' body mist, which I decided to buy as it was £9 and I really loved the scent. 


   To conclude, I am very much in two mind sets about the introduction of Victoria's Secret to the UK market.     Undoubtedly, the store is an amazing experience and it is great fun to walk around, take in the atmosphere and be amazed by the costumes and décor. 

   The main issue for me is the poor sizing range on offer and their fitting service. Victoria's Secret seems intent on fitting women into the products available, rather than giving an accurate fitting that is based on the individual.

  Being fitted at Victoria's Secret unfortunately goes down as one of the worst (if not worst) of all highstreet fittings that I have ever had. Being fitted as a 32B, 34B and 34D was so vastly different from my 'correct' 28FF size and the severe lack of fitting knowledge from the staff was quite frankly, shocking. 

   What I find particularly worrying is that a lot of young girls look to Victoria's Secret and its models as inspiration and their desire to buy into the Victoria's secret image and lifestyle will inevitably lead them to buy ill-fitting bras. I really think that as such a powerful brand, there should be more responsibility to fit women into the right sizes. The crux of the matter is: How can women love the bodies that they are in if they are crammed into bras that don't support or flatter their curves? 

   I don't believe that fashionable, sexy lingerie and great fit have to be divorced from each other and there really are so many great quality brands out there that champion this (see some of my reviews for some food for thought). I think that the important thing is getting people to strip back the glitz and glam of Victoria's Secret to see the the products as they are.

   Next time you buy a bra, it would be interesting to ask yourself: "Would I buy it if it was in any other store?" "Am I being influenced by the models or celebrities that are selling it?" "Does this product really flatter my figure and fit me well?" "Am I being sold this product or am I choosing to buy it?" With these answers, you have just taken a vital step in taking back your autonomy as a consumer! 

Now with that autonomy, buy the bra that fits!

Love,
Kitty xo

24 comments:

  1. Vicky's really is trying to sell a lifestyle. It's a darn appealing lifestyle where you can look, feel, and smell delicious. But like you said, "Does this product really flatter my figure and fit me well?" For so many women, the answer will be a resounding "No!"

    One of my family members works at a VS in the United States. Each family gathering she tries to convince me that I can fit into their bras. "We carry 32DD now." Or "We just started carrying DDDs. You should really come in. I'll get you a sister size to what you have on right now." I don't think my 30HHs are going to find a sister size at Victoria's Secret.

    Perhaps the buyers at Victoria's Secret will peruse the other high street stores. Maybe they will see that many of the stores over there carry up to a G cup, and some go much farther than that. Maybe this will lead to Vicky's realizing that women want things that fit and not just lies about how we can be so sexy if only we buy into their lifestyle.

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    1. Hi Anon,

      Thanks for your comment and I'm so glad that you agree. I really wish that companies would realise that for many women, finding a 'sister size' to what they are wearing isn't going to cut it - especially if you are bigger busted!

      Even if you could find a sister size to a 30HH at Victoria's Secret by equating the cup volume, the support would be non-existent. It's great that you can see through this thinking..I do worry that many could fall into this 'sister sizing' trap in fittings though :(

      I really hope that Victoria's Secret will take notice and expand their sizing range and improve on the fit of their garments..we women deserve to feel sexy and comfortable in our curves.

      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  2. Thanks for the review, not too surprising I suppose. I live in London and I'm planning to go in and see what on earth they'll do with my 32JJs :-) There will be much sucking of teeth and frowning, I'm sure. I will then go to Bravissimo/Pepperberry to try on some nice, well-fitting bras and clothes, to remind myself I'm not the freak that VS and the like would have me think I am!

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    1. Hi Anon,

      You're very welcome - I'm glad that you enjoyed reading it. Keep me posted if you decide to try out their fitting service..I'd be interested to hear how you get on!

      Definitely a good idea to pop by Bravissimo afterwards - it may not have the glitz and glam of VS, but they sure know how to make women feel comfortable and confident that their curves are getting the support that they need :)

      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  3. They will put you in the wrong size even if you are in their size range. When I was 32DD they put me in 36B. It was so painful to wear that I opted for not wearing a bra at all.

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    1. Hi Anon,

      I agree with you - I really feel that the fitting knowledge is very lacking. That's mad that you were put in a 36B when you could legitimately fit their sizing range!

      Please sort out your fittings, Victoria's Secret!

      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  4. If you go on to there facebook page lots of people complain about being fitted the wrong size. I went to the westfield store with my sister the other week. Now my sister is very well endowed, an e cup if i remember correctly, of course they sized her as a dd. Its weird as well as they say that american bra sizing is different to uk sizing. So that means that a uk woman with an a cup cant get bra there. Ive noticed the bras vary greatly, in the dream angel demi im a 38 b, in the miraculous im a 3c, and in the showstopper and unforgettable and gorgeous im a 38c. They need to expand there sizing,there sales would go through the roof it it did.

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    Replies
    1. Hi PrettyInPink,

      Thanks for the comment. I think it's quite common knowledge that Victoria's Secret isn't the place to go for a good fitting sadly. The problem is that when women fall outside of the VS size range, the tendency is for them to try to make you FIT INTO their products, which is the wrong mentality. The priority needs to be on fit rather than making a sale.

      That's interesting that you found the bras come up very different between styles..could be a manufacturing issue or just be down to the stretch of the fabrics used in each garment.

      Definitely could do with expanding their size range, but it worries me that because they're using an outdated 'adding inches' method for measuring, that people would still be wearing the wrong size bra at the end of it.

      Victoria's Secret is a huge brand though, so I would imagine that a size expansion would just draw more people to it..

      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  5. Hi Kitty
    Great post, shame about the fitting. Not unusual though, it's not an independent, so 'en mass' employees go through training, and it won't affect a huge well marketed store/brand like VS if a few people know it's wrong. Independents and knowledgeable ladies like yourselves would be mortified to be getting it so wrong. Many high street chains are the same as this though.

    Was pleased to see the pictures inside - like some of the boudoir interior fittings, but not all - last time I was in London was just before it opened and the other stores on Oxford St were a little sceptical.

    I always remember a well known designer telling me how they wanted her to change the silks and silk chiffons to polyester and make it cheaper. ah well.... each to their own

    on a seperate note would really value your opinion on our blog
    http://www.redboxlingerie.com/blog

    Sue x

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    1. Hi Sue,

      Thanks for the comment and glad that you enjoyed the post. You're right that there are unfortunately quite a few high street chains that are still getting the fitting wrong, but thankfully I have been pleasantly surprised by a few too. You may be intrigued to read my post about my recent Boux Avenue trip here> http://undercoverlingerista.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/sizing-up-boux-avenue-undie-cover.html

      Yes, it is quite interesting to walk around inside the VS shop and the boudoir fitting rooms were just lovely, as was the VIP suite!

      It's a shame that the designer that you spoke to was keen to substitute her materials for cheaper ones..I do hope that independent designers do their best to source quality materials as people want to spend their money on quality rather than what they could buy for cheap at a highstreet retailer for a lot less..sort of defeats the object if not but hey!

      Your blog looks great - I'll take a further look now :)

      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  6. Hello,
    I need some information about Bombshell Add 2 Cups Multi-Way Bra

    I plan to buy from the store in London and I needed to knows the price in GBP.

    You may view this bra by clicking on the link below.
    http://www.victoriassecret.com/sale/bras/add-2-cups-multi-way-bra-bombshell?ProductID=81854&CatalogueType=OLS

    Do you have 34A size, nude color (DJ5) in stock?
    Thank you very much!
    A good day!


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    Replies
    1. Hi Anon,

      Sorry, I'm not sure what the price of the Bombshell Add 2 Cups bra is as I'm not affiliated with VS and the info isn't available online. The best thing to do would be to ring a few UK stores to find out if they have the bra in stock in the size that you require.

      You can find a list of the current stores with their phone numbers here: http://www.victoriassecret.co.uk/

      Good luck!
      Kitty x

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  7. IS The Victoria Secret PINK expensive in london? xox

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    1. Hi Anon,

      From what I remember, I *think* PINK was slightly less expensive than the other VS bras in store, but prices in general tend to be higher than VS bought in the USA.

      Kitty x

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  8. how much did a bra cost?

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    1. Hi Anon, the prices ranged a lot but I think they were about £35 for the more 'basic bras' and others were around £40-£50 from what I can remember. There were also some even more 'high ticket items' e.g. bras/babydolls that were retailing for well over £100. x

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  9. Wow, I can feel the underwires pinching just thinking about trying to wear a 34D! I'm sorry you had such a bad experience.

    I am tempted to go to the London one just to see if it is any different, I feel like I was lucky with the fitter I got, in that she wasn't completely clueless, and on another day I might have ended up a '36C'.

    Great post btw x

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    1. Such a shame! Have you visited the store before then? Am interested to find out how you got on with a fitting. I'll have to return to VS at some point, but I have a feeling that their fitters want to fit people into the sizes that they sell. This is quite a common phenomenon though from what I've seen. :(

      Glad you liked the blog post!
      Love,
      Kitty xo

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  10. I am a big fan of these stores. They really have some great collections.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Tim! The stores really are impressive - very 'glitz and glam'! x

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  11. Replies
    1. It felt it too! 40,386 square feet across four floors says it all doesn't it? :) x

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  12. hi I was just wondering how much the bras cost as iam going tomorrow and want to know how much they cost compared to the ones in Ameirica.
    thanks x

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    Replies
    1. Hi Gemma,

      So sorry - I've only just seen your comment! The Bond Street prices ranged a lot but I think they were about £35 for the more 'basic bras' and others were around £40-£50 from what I can remember. There were also some even more 'high ticket items' e.g. bras/babydolls that were retailing for well over £100. Compared to America, I think the UK prices are slightly higher (plus VS America seem to have seasonal offers on their bras). Hope that helps and hope you enjoyed visiting te Bond Street store!

      Love,
      Kitty x

      Delete

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