Monday 24 September 2012

Debenhams AW12 Lingerie Press Day

   As a blogger who is always on the look-out for great places to buy fuller bust lingerie, I am glad to say that my lingerie shopping needs are not solely limited to the internet. Whilst there are so many websites that I buy lingerie from, I have always championed the importance of going into a store and 'trying before buying'. This is where my love for Debenhams comes in! 

   Debenhams is well-known for their huge clothing and beauty departments, but their lingerie department is also brilliant. It stocks an impressive array of lingerie brands for A-DD and DD+, with designer ranges such as Janet Reger, J by Jasper Conran, Floozie by Frost French and Debenhams' own-brand lingerie. Debenhams sell some of my favourite fuller bust brands (e.g. Freya, Panache, Curvy Kate etc.) but also sell a 'Gorgeous' range which goes from 28-40 DD-J at very reasonable price points! (Great news for my lingerie addiction and 28FF bust!)

   I recently got the opportunity to attend a Debenhams press event to view the Autumn/ Winter 2012 collections. The event took place in one of the private apartments at 'The Soho Hotel' in central London and it was a very chic occasion indeed, with champagne, canapés and little lingerie-inspired cupcakes to enjoy whilst viewing the collections.. 

   Debenhams have some great treats in store for Autumn/Winter this year; from playful printed bras to vintage inspired shapewear to seductive 'special occasion' pieces such as basques and babydolls..there's a little something for everyone!

   Colourful patterns and quirky prints played strongly throughout the collections, with everything from floral print to butterfly print to polka dots and leopard print.. 

Reger by Janet Reger floral bra (£18.50) and knickers (£10.50) 

B by Ted Baker floral bra (£22.50) and briefs (£12.50) - This is a lovely quirky set from Ted Baker that looks very high end, thanks to its watercolour floral print and contrasting black lace.

B by Ted Baker grey butterfly printed balcony bra (£22.50) and knickers (£12.50) - Another beauty from Ted Baker, this balcony bra features a multi-coloured butterfly print with pretty grey piping and turquoise grosgrain bow and 'B' logo detail at the centre. (If only it went past a DD cup..!)

'Gorgeous' by debenhams floral polka dot bra (£24) and briefs (£9) - This set features a very unusual print combination of florals over red polka dots..but it works! 

'Ultimate' Debenhams pink polka dot bra (£20) - Just because Winter is coming, it doesn't mean that your underwear should fade into the background. This plunge bra looks set to add some colour to your bra-drobe and some great cleavage whilst it's at it!

'Gorgeous' Debenhams dark blue animal bra (£22) - Leopard print is set to stay and this blue mix bra is a fuller bust fashion must-have!

   Another theme was bright underwear in particular, with beautiful embroidery, lace and polka dots! It's the colour associated with passion and a colour synonymous with the Christmas season..what's not to like?

J by Jasper Conran red bra (£22.50) and knickers (£10.50) - this scarlet lingerie set oozes glamour and sophistication, plus the delicate embroidery and little centre charm give this set a luxe finish.

'Gorgeous' by Debenhams red and black lace trim bra - You can't go wrong with lipstick red and black piping, a bow and eyelash lace!

'Gorgeous' by Debenhams polka dot spot bra (£21) - Polka dots are back and how cute are the contrasting bows? A great fashion bra for the fuller bust!

Debenhams red polka dot maternity soft cup bra - Downsized polka dots, a lace trim and floral bows.. Debenhams keep things functional and pretty.

   Autumn/ Winter would not be complete without some sumptuous jewel tones. Take a look at these beauties...

Reger by Janet Reger green plunge bra (£22.50) and briefs (£10.50) - I love this emerald green tone - the lace overlay and bow really make this a special set.

Reger by Janet Reger purple plunge bra - Reger takes a luxurious purple hue and balances it with a subtle jacquard floral print and lace overlay.

'Ultimate' Debenhams bronze lace trimmed padded push-up bra (£20) - This satin push-up features a rose-bronze base and contrasting embroidered piping and lace for a girly but grown-up feel.

   There was one style of bra that I was particularly excited to see amongst the Debenhams A/W12 ranges and that was the longline! I have been a fan of longline bras for quite some time and it is great to see such a pretty array from Debenhams..

'Floozie' by Frost French longline bra (£20) and briefs (£8.50) - This bra features a quirky, graphic print of flowers, vines, swans and hearts. The black ruffles and satin buttons offset this design to keep it flirty and fun.

'Gorgeous' by Debenhams lace longline bra (£26) and thong (£8) - If you're fuller busted and love longlines, this bra ticks all the pretty is the lace overlay and bow motifs?

'Ultimate' Debenhams dark pink mesh long line plunge bra - This dark pink longline will have anyone who sees it weak at the knees - the black polka dot overlay and bright pink trim give it added 'wow' factor!

   Debenhams' head buyer, Sharon Webb, mentioned that shapewear plays a key role in Debenhams' own  brand range for A/W12. Design and aestheticism are married to create pieces that sculpt the body and look good at the same time!

Debenhams shapewear body (£36) and high waisted knickers - I love the rich blue tone against the black panels - the lace trim makes it look very sophisticated too! 

Debenhams black invisible body shaping slip dress (£34) - this will be a secret weapon for your winter wardrobe! With its seamless design that smooths and shapes your body, it can be worn with your own bra underneath so it fits a range of sizes.

Debenhams black shapewear dress and high waisted low leg shapewear pants (£24) - The design is seamless and the fabric soft to the touch. The power mesh side panels have gorgeous floral embroidery for a touch of vintage elegance - great for streamlining curves in style.

   Last but not least, this brings me to talk about Debenhams' 'special occasion' lingerie pieces for AW12, which includes luxurious lace bras, basques and babydolls in rich but muted tones...

Reger by Janet Reger lace bra (£22.50) and briefs (£10.50) - This gorgeous vintage inspired balconette exudes 'Mad Men' appeal - the lace and piping make this bra very elegant and the little bow and rose motif at the centre is gorgeous too!

'Presence' white and black lace basque (£28.50) and thong (£5.50) -This lovely lace and mesh basque is both seductive and sophisticated - the mesh panels look really flattering too.

'Gorgeous' by Debenhams black bra - Never underestimate a black bra! This satin fuller bust option is classically gorgeous with its nude embroidery and ruffle trim.

'Gorgeous' by Debenhams blue and black lace bra - This midnight blue bra with black eyelash lace detailing is a real boudoir beauty!

'Gorgeous' by Debenhams fuller bust babydoll (£36) - If you're looking for a special lingerie piece this Autumn/ Winter and have a larger bust, this babydoll is perfect! The cups are underwired for support, whilst the body is made from soft satin and mesh. The ruffles, piping and bows are lovely finishing touches too!

'Floozie' by Frost French pink and black babydoll (£25) - This flirty pink and black number will certainly get hearts a-fluttering. Gathers, floral embroidery and a polka dot bow make this a girly but glamorous piece.

Reger by Janet Reger black lace babydoll - If you want something timeless that will take you through the seasons, then this babydoll is ideal. The satin and lace add to its decadent but understated appeal!

   As you can see, there is a lot to be excited about this Autumn/Winter at Debenhams, with many different prints and designs to tantalise lingerie fans of a range of cup sizes! Debenhams also recently scooped Lingerie Insight's award for "UK's Favourite Lingerie Retailer" and it is easy to see why they deserve this accolade. I am looking forward to viewing many of their new lingerie ranges in store very soon, but if you can't wait that long, keep your eyes peeled on their website for new additions!

Kitty xo


Notes: Size ranges talked about in this blog post:

Floozie by Frost French: 30B-38DD

B by Ted Baker: 32A-38DD

Gorgeous by Debenhams: 28DD-40J

Presence: 32A-38DD

Reger by Janet Reger: 32A-38E

Ultimate: 30A-38DD

J by Jasper Conran: 32A-38DD

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 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!

Kitty xo