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The One Big Way Victoria’s Secret Helps the Entire Lingerie industry

Doutzen Kroes for Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret gets a lot of flak within the lingerie industry. “Icky Vicky” is one of their most common nicknames, and I don’t know a single lingerie blogger who’s given one of their bras a positive review. Their sizing chart makes no sense, and even though I wear a size they carry (a C cup), I don’t shop there anymore because the bras just don’t fit. Add in their problematic marketing, child labor issues and, most recently, the hosiery knockoff scandal, and well… let’s just say the VS PR team really earns their paycheck.

But that’s not what today’s article is about. For all of Victoria’s Secret’s problems, I think they fill a vital role within the lingerie industry and also within the lives of individual women.

I don’t know how it is in other countries, but in the US, Victoria’s Secret is the lingerie store. And they are most women’s first exposure to pretty, lacy, and (dare I say it?) sexy lingerie. Most department stores (think Macy’s and J.C. Penney’s) sell really boring underwear. Everything’s white, beige, or black. The only nylons are control top pantyhose. And every store carries the same 10 brands (which, coincidentally, are all owned by the same company… but more on that later). I remember being an early 20-something with a budding interest in pretty lingerie (this is pre-Gap Body, pre-Aerie, and pre-Lingerie Addict), and feeling like my choices were extremely limited. Except when I walked into a Victoria’s Secret.

With more than 1,000 stores in the US, Victoria’s Secret is everywhere. Every mall, shopping center, or downtown district has a VS. I grew up in a city with no lingerie boutiques (which is true for many women in America) and Victoria’s Secret was the only place to pick up anything remotely exciting. Not only did they have a larger lingerie selection than the department stores, the staff was consistently friendly, and, best of all, the prices were within even a student’s budget.

Now I’m not waxing poetic about VS. They’re not one of my top five places for lingerie shopping. But when you’re brand new to the intimates and don’t know where else to go or even how to even start, Victoria’s Secret can be a gateway to the world of lingerie.

To illustrate, when I was in college, lingerie boutiques felt very inaccessible to me. I didn’t know a good bra from a bad bra. I didn’t know why Bra X cost more than Bra Y. And I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on any of my clothes, including my underwear. Add in how the lingerie boutique experience can be a little uneven (especially, I think, if the sales staff has already decided you’re not a customer), and well, lingerie shopping can be extremely intimidating… especially for a newbie.

But when I shopped at VS, I felt like it was okay for me to “just look around,” and also felt like it was okay for me to explore all this new stuff I was interested in. I experimented with garter belts and thigh highs and cheeky panties and bustiers and bright colors and sheer lace and so much other stuff I couldn’t find elsewhere. Victoria’s Secret was literally my entry point to lingerie. I picked up my first “sexy” lingerie set from them. I bought many of my first bras from them (and looking back, was introduced to some of my favorite styles this way). I bought a ton of cute panties from them. And before I knew anything about Kiss Me Deadly or Huit or Wacoal or Hopeless or any other of the brands I know and love now, I had a place to buy lingerie that made me feel pretty.

Victoria’s Secret gets a lot of hate for their sizing practices, their over-emphasis on sexy, and the quality of their products (and rightly so), but I think they have another purpose in the industry at large, and that’s introducing women to lingerie. Victoria’s Secret helps make lingerie seem normal.

For me, Victoria’s Secret was the first hint that there could be something better out there for me to wear beneath my clothes. And honestly, I’m not sure I’d have even started a lingerie blog without a VS nearby to keep my interest going during those early days.

So what do you think, dear readers? Is Victoria’s Secret all bad or do they actually help the industry? I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments.

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

85 Comments on this post

  1. Diamond Dahl says:

    Where I grew up was so small and backwoods, we only just had a VS open a couple years after I left for college (which was 10 years ago already). While they had the most “racy”/”fun”/”exciting” range than anywhere else nearby, I didn’t have the money to shop there either.
    Having quite a small bust for a long time, I mostly got my bras at Walmart and Target because, while they weren’t the sexiest, they did eventually expand their colors/prints, and why the devil would I spend $60 on a bra for a 34A?? My biggest downfall, and the only thing to draw me to VS where I live now is that I like 3-or-more-piece matching sets. Bra, suspender, 1-2 styles of knickers when available, and unfortunately small boutiques just can’t stay open where I am. (College town=perpetuates the cycle of late teens & early 20s who all flock to VS.) I’m also now experimenting in 32B, possibly 32C.
    I haven’t ventured too far into online ordering for more obscure sizes, or expanded ranges with matching pieces yet, but I’m not averse to it, provided a good return/exchange policy.

  2. Laura S says:

    Keep in mind, I live in Canada, where we have La Senza, and keep in mind I’m in my very early 20’s, but I honestly wish like crazy that Aerie existed when I first started shopping for bras (actual bras, not sports bras) about 10 years ago. Was La Senza good as a gateway at the time? Honestly…not really. As a pre-teen, and even in my early teens, I obviously just couldn’t identify with 3/4 of the lingerie there since it was a lot of the ‘sexy lingerie’ that was catered to, well, people over the age of 16. However, at that point, you’ve already been exposed to lingerie! That’s why I loved something we had here called La Senza Girl – imagine La Senza, but for pre-teens. It’s just, all in all, I wouldn’t necessarily say it was the fit or anything that wasn’t good, though the quality wasn’t great since the underwires snapped, literally, every few months (and now it’s owned by the same people as VS.) I’d say it’s more marketing – I just find Aerie so much more natural, and so much more of a good compromise between introducing younger girls to lingerie, and still having cute stuff. (Though, admittedly, yes, they only go up to a size D, maybe DD every once in a while? And they don’t go over a 40 band.) However, Aerie also has different kinds of styles, from nautical to frilly to minimalist to bold to vintage-y. I feel like La Senza/VS promote such a specific brand of sexiness that anyone who has a slightly different sense of style – say, more vintage/retro – doesn’t really find much there. I’m kind of like, ‘sorry I don’t like to be in head-to-toe leopard print and rhinestones’?
    Did that make any sense? I just find Aerie so much better that I kind of ignore the VS-type stores now…

  3. Vlada says:

    I don’t think VS is all that bad. I think most of the time people forget what market they want to cater to, since most of their customers are not involved in the fashion industry. Like you said, they are meant to be affordable to a younger group of women, mostly college students and first time career newbies. Their styles are ever changing, and they know that by the time something new comes out you will actually NEED it. Their quality doesn’t have to be spectacular, because that’s not the point of their existence. As you mentioned, they introduce young women to fun and flirty styles via affordable garments. And, although quality is something we are all looking for, it was not something they promised us from the start, so that’s fair.

  4. Amy J says:

    I’ve never really cared or paid any attention to VS in the US, except I had a vague idea that it was pretty much brightly coloured/ patterned/ lacy/”sexy” underwear at a decent price. It sounded pretty much like La Senza over here, which has similar reputation for dodgy sizing and lower-end materials, but lots of people like(d) the brand overall.

    Then it launched in London, and we’re talking $50-80 (£30-50) for a bra that you’d pay maybe $30-50 (£20-30) for in somewhere well known for its lingerie like La Senza. And no online presence at all. Completely ridiculous, and that’s before I’ve even tried one on and battled with their apparently baffling sizing and poor fitting technique.

  5. Karey says:

    I know my first and only piece of lingerie was from VS, and now I’m following this blog and hoping to purchase some higher end stuff soon. As a young, college age student, there really arn’t many other places for me to go. I feel like if I walked into a “real” lingerie store, I would be out of place because I’m not in the age range they are probably familiar with. Plus, VS is a place that I can go and not feel judged because of the “lingerie is for the bedroom only” mindset. I love my piece from VS, it makes me feel very sexy, and for me that’s all that matters :)

  6. […] too far removed from PINK’s target age range, and though it’s not popular to say so, I bought a LOT of my first ‘grown-up’ bras from Victoria’s Secret. And I can tell you right now, as a broke college student who purchased a ton of inexpensive PINK, […]

  7. jenfrreva says:

    personally i agree that vs is a doorway to the world it’s specialized in, but i don’t see why to some people it over sexualizes young girls? they need a place like this, you guys all said it yourselves, even if they put you in a poofy pushed up bra that doesn’t fit, if it’s your first time there it doesn’t matter, it’s just to open your eyes. young girls need a place like this that is “social” enough they can walk in and look around. even the tomboyish girls who have girly girl friends, they will be dragged in at one point and may be scoffing while their friends are in sight, but i bet you 50 bucks they are planning on a trip back alone. sorry but has any girl ever kept a training bra that long? prolly not cus once you put one on you realize a few things… that you’re a woman, and you have breasts. this can actually a very STARK realization to some girls…. as weird as it may sound. i think VS would do a lot of good for themselves and their customers if they just got their employees to start fitting girls correctly. really, you are going to encounter rude people no matter what your size anyway. i can’t personally blame an entire company for 1 retail worker’s bad day. who knows, she might even be fired now for her rudeness. you don’t! i think if you are going to dislike a company it should be for how their products are made or for the products themselves. i think america is headed in the right direction, and if they arent, well…. i can always buy online ;)

    • jenfrreva says:

      i guess the “point” i’m trying to make about hating a company for the people working in their store is kind of weird to me, it’s retail. do you hate dunkin donuts cus the person behind the counter gave you an attitude in the morning? no you should be mad at the person, not the company. i’m 100% sure if VS knew a worker(even a manager) told someone they were too fat and should go to layne bryant they’d reprimand them or even fire them(i’m leaning more towards fire). and i’m 110% sure the same worker would NEVER have said such a thing in front of anyone of authority to them. honestly i feel the same about VS’ fitting, and i’m a 30b (but i’ll fit into a 32b) so for me–a lot of VS styles don’t even come in my size and i’m NOT full figure. but i still don’t hate the company. i don’t hate kiss me deadly either for not carrying my size in a lot of their products. it’s just their demographic, i can’t hate them for it… it’s how they stick around at all. if they weren’t around, and VS weren’t around, things would be way different, and i don’t think for the better. at all.

  8. Jen says:

    VS sell the only non-custom bras I have been able to find that actually fit properly (Im a 36/38-C according to their sizing) The price is right, theyre around the corner, they have easy exchange policy, and I dont have to wait for something to come in the mail when I need it now. For me, they are absolutely an asset to the bra world… For others not so much (I used to wear a 44B/C and there wasnt one thing in the store that would have fit me… So they def need to widen their sizing and make them more in line with the rest of the industry.

  9. […] of you may be surprised I’m saying this. After all, a few months ago I wrote a post about how Victoria’s Secret actually benefits the lingerie industry (short version: it exposes a lot of women to lingerie who might otherwise never get a chance to […]

  10. […] of you may be surprised I’m saying this. After all, a few months ago I wrote a post about how Victoria’s Secret actually benefits the lingerie industry (short version: it exposes a lot of women to lingerie who might otherwise never get a chance to try […]

  11. […] as it is.) But looking at the big picture, both of these industries support one another. Just as The Lingerie Addict had suggested that VS is a gateway to higher-end lingerie, OTR corsets are the gateway to bespoke […]

  12. […] Jancito makes a strong argument (obviously, since the company removed the collection from their website), but I think she’s chalking the situation up to be way more than what was intended. The company was taking a fashion cue from a culture and came up with something different from other lingerie companies–in short, doing what Victoria Secret does best.  […]

  13. Frankie Felony says:

    So, I work for Victoria’s Secret. I happened into a job with the company by accident — VS was never on my list of places I wanted to work, but that’s a long story — and I’ve been with them for almost five years. There are a lot of issues that I am privy to as an employee that I can’t mention. But it’s not all terrible.

    In the last couple of years the quality of VS bras *has* improved. They’ve redone some of their styles to make them more comfortable, and I think now that their quality is probably equivalent to their upper-low-end competitors. We are also starting to carry larger cup sizes, and in some stores if your size isn’t available in-store we can order it from the website with free shipping to you (I think we’re still in the testing phase of this, but hopefully soon it will be widespread). We still sell mostly moulded-cup bras, which is crap, but I’ve seen some positive changes over time in the way we approach the bra business. They may be small, but hey, baby steps.

    Additionally (and this may be something that I legally am not supposed to say), we have started educating our employees and ‘bra specialists’ about the different shapes of breasts and various ‘fit issues’ some may have. Yes, our sizing system is shit. But we are slowly getting better at helping people find their size.

    I think everyone else has probably touched on the bad enough, so I’m going to let that go. There are things I’d like to voice my complaints about but NDA (yes, really). Please understand that I’m not coming at this with intent to “you’re so wrong!” everyone who’s saying things against my employer; that’s not the case at all (I mean, hell, I know they don’t care about me as an employee, but I haven’t been able to find work elsewhere, so). It just feels really repetitive to say the same things that have already been mentioned a number of times.

    I’ve read several comments here about poor customer service, and I want to apologise for that. That isn’t the standard that the brand should be upholding; we are supposed to strive for customer satisfaction 100% of the time. I know that’s not always possible (because, lbr, some people just want to complain about everything), but bad experiences shouldn’t be happening. If you do go to a VS and have a bad experience, get the employee’s/employees’ name/s and call them out on the customer experience survey. We actually do listen to/read those comments, and if the problem is something we can address*, then we’ll try to change it if we’re worth our jobs. (*there are some things that we can’t do a lot about, like availability of merchandise, because we don’t get to order what comes in; we just get stuff from the distributors. the only way we can affect it is by preventing/reducing shrink)

    (There’s a lot I’d like to say, but I am REALLY BAD at talking about things, which is why I’m not a blogger. I hope that the points I tried to make come across as I mean them.)

  14. […] this show is a lot less damaging to girls’ psyches than, say, Victoria’s Secret (see: The Lingerie Addict, Braless in Brazil). I think, like most things in the media, the people who end up damaged from it […]

  15. mclicious says:

    I think, with regards to your size and experiences, you make a really good point. But for me, from the time I wanted to have that experience of being interested in lingerie, in sexuality, and in experimenting with fashion, I was turned away from Victoria’s Secret, insulted by them, and uninvited. When my breasts exploded when I was 14, my mom took me there for exactly the reasons you mentioned–they’re not boring, and they’re known as THE lingerie store, so my mother assumed they would be able to fit me properly and also provide me with something that I would feel good wearing. But instead, they sized me improperly multiple times, which means my mom wasted hundreds of dollars on things that fell off of me. When we complained about their policies, they told me I should shop at Lane Bryant–I don’t want to sound like a skinny bitch who hates fat people or something, but when you’re a size 0 young teenager with a dancer and swimmer’s body, and when you’re, you know, a teenager with body image issues, that is one of the most damaging things you could ever say. Middle and high school were horrible for me for a variety of reasons, but some of them were made worse by Victoria’s Secret–when all your friends go to the mall and you can’t shop with them, that sucks. When you already hate yourself and everyone else and you literally fall out of your clothes and can’t understand what to wear or where to get it, you suffer. When your teachers are out to get you because they think you just like being Slutty McWhoreboobs when really you just can’t find the clothes you need, it’s damaging.

    So I guess what I’m ranting (sorry for that, by the way) is that I completely agree with you, but that is also why I think they are extra super evil and why I have a special sort of hatred for them, because I think they have an even bigger responsibility that they shirk, and they end up ruining many of the thousands of young women they influence.

  16. […] responses to the Victoria’s Secret article a couple of weeks ago really crystallized for me how much the debate on diversity has shrunk […]

  17. Honestly, VS was my first exposure to remotely exciting lingerie, too. My sister and I STILL hit up their store for their 5 for 25 underwear deal because it really is reasonable in price. I used to wear their bras, but unfortunately I just don’t understand their sizing, so I’ve had issues with that. Plus my breast size fluctuates quite a bit.

    I can see how this store can be considered a gateway to the lingerie world because you’re right! There are so many people who are interested in lingerie, but it’s so inaccessible (especially the good, $$$ kind)!

  18. Rin says:

    I am truly lost when it comes to VS. To me nearly all VS bras are just dressed up basic/boring t-shirt bras. Bras I would be embarassed to be seen in because all it conveys is insecurity. Contour cups to hide :::gasp::: nipples!!! Padded cups because I’m supposedly not big enough. Smooth no show edging because if any knows I’m actually wearing underwear… OMGs not that!

    VS is stuff I wore as a teen to hide my body, not show it off! It never made me feel sexy as a teen and never could even now that I am comfortable with my body. Who wants to see a women in another t-shirt bra that hides everything. Ooh, a little colour, a little lace! So what! You still can’t see the body underneath. On top of it all the quality is for crap. As a teen I never got more than 2-3 months out of any of their bras before the wires would pop out etc and I only ever wore them once maybe twice/week. Talk about a rip-off for the price. Everything about the brand is one big joke to me and yes their fitting advice is deplorable at best.

    Freya’s Arabella or Lyla set… now that’s sexy! Bravissimo’s Ditsy Blossom set is sexy and so is Faubourg’s Heaven Sent set. These are sexy, confident and make you feel that way too. They show who you are underneath and dress it up from there.

    For info I’m now in my 30s and have no problems with the advertising of being sexy. Everyone woman should feel and be sexy. However VS misses that target so bad I’d have a better chance of hitting it blindfolded!

  19. Karolina says:

    My only real experience of Victoria’s Secret wasn’t a great one – the sales staff were pretty rude, told me that my bra size ‘didn’t exist’ and just left me as soon as they realised they weren’t going to sell a bra to me. This was well before I’d developed any significant interested in lingerie (I think I was still 16 at the time), and I’m just glad my experiences since then in other shops have been better!

  20. Elegy says:

    I’ve always found a good selection at the store Kohl’s, I thought it was also a popular nationwide brand, but since I rarely see it mentioned, perhaps it actually is a regional specific store.

    Also, I was under the impression the J.C. Penny’s is re-branding their lingerie department as well, and that they are either preparing to have or already have some new, really good selections.

    I really enjoyed this article- well put.

    • Icy says:

      JC Penny has completely re-done their lingerie section and it has a good mix now of basics and more cute and sexy underwear. I’ve been getting into lingerie beyond the basics (long story) and I love how comfortable yet cute my new underwear is. And for a good price too. I cannot say anything about their bra selection, though, since I have yet to buy any of them (I’m taking baby steps).

  21. Jessica says:

    Personally, I still love and shop at VS. Don’t get me wrong i still read this blog. I love this blog. I love the eastern trend at vs right now. In my opinion, this was VS’s best year for lingerie. Their qaulity is very good. I have VS bras from 2004. ( I saw old pictures and i saw the same bra i have from 2004) They wash really nicely. Now VS puts comfortable in Pushups. So yeah give my Feedback please? If you were to shop to shop in VS right now, what designs do you at least like now?

  22. Ksenia says:

    Glad that you had a good experience, but I have never bought or will ever buy anything from them. I have been to the stores, but the bras that I like are at least 30-40 dollars that I don’t and will never spend on a regularly made bra. Everything is so expensive and the environment seems cold and unfriendly, plus the bright pink they use is really off-putting. I’d rather just go to Target.

  23. Lisa says:

    You made a great point here, am sure lots of people can relate to this, I as for one. I grow up in a home where I only use to hear my aunts talking about VS as a young teenager. I think vs does support the lingerie industry in its own way.

  24. Leyla says:

    I agree with you on the fact that VS has introduced me to ”the lingerie world”, before them I had only 4 bras and I didn’t really care about lingerie (it’s under your clothes, nobody can see it anyway) until I discovered VS. BUT that’s really the only positive thing I could say about them.
    First of all, their quality sucks, like really really sucks. Their prices are not worth the bad quality, I think that it’s kind of expensive for such cheap ass lingerie.
    Because of the big production there are people working there asses off in countries for less than 4$ a day, to keep the production of VS products as high as possible.

  25. Jodi says:

    VS was the first place I went too, as it’s what was there in the suburbs where I grew up.

    However, I will never shop there now. They have nothing in my size, but that didn’t stop them from offering me the wrong size (just to get a sale). The last time I was there (when I vowed never to go back), I was trying to return something. They demanded a driver’s license or a passport in order to process the return! Driver’s licenses are rare in NYC, and who the heck carries a passport around in their hometown?!

    I mostly shop online now, but Nordstrom’s is coming, so that may change. I also want to head down to Orchard Street one day…

  26. Victoria says:

    I have been shopping at VS for a few years now, when I first got measured there I was a 32D, It didn’t help that right before I was a JCPenny’s and got measured at a 32B. Right after we left JC Penny’s we headed to VS. I didn’t buy any 32D’s I just went up to 34D’s because i could buy those anywhere. Then last year I went back to get some new bras, I was measured at a 32D again. When I tried some on it looked like I was trying to fit in a child training bra, after I told them they found a 32DD for me to try on, I was still falling out of the cups. The lady told me that I was a 32DDD, and that was that. The same thing happened at Soma, a few weeks later, and because I couldn’t find any 32DDD in stores here in Nebraska, I just stuck with 32DD. But so far the best experience was a few weeks ago at a different VS, the lady there helped me, she saw the way the bras fit, and tried to find me one that worked with my body. Because the stores here don’t go up to DDD’s she gave me a 34DD, it fit me better then the 32DD. But it still didn’t fit me right. She was trying to help me the whole time even when half the bras did not work. And because of the fact I still don’t really know what my true size is, I try to avoid ordering online. So I am stuck here with only like 3 places in this city that have bras close to my size.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Oh my gosh, Victoria! Thanks for sharing this on the blog.

      Have you heard of Butterfly Collection’s skype fitting? She’s the only lingerie retailer I know of that offers this service, and she specializes in full busts. She works with a lot of women who can’t get to a local lingerie boutique for one reason or another, and she may be able to connect you with some nice bras. You can check out her website here – http://www.butterflycollection.ca/

      Thanks again for stopping by,

      • Victoria says:

        Thank you so much for your help! I have been looking at other online sites that you have shared here, but all the sizing is different. So I am totally lost on what size I should order. Based in the measurements to some sites I should be in a 36DD, or even a 30DDD. So I don’t know if I should order them based on that size or the size that I know fits me decently. I really want to find a good place to get some cute lingerie that has my size available.

  27. I owe Victoria’s Secret a “Thank You” note. When I was younger, they made me feel so fat, freakish, and ultimately disenfranchised by mainstream lingerie that it shaped my decision to open an independent boutique. They inadvertently contributed to my dream because of their horrible fit advice and abysmal service, and I’m not alone. My customers have relayed VS horror stories about how sales associates fit them into the wrong size bras which they wore for years or how—and these are the worst—the fitters snidely commented about their breast or body size. One of the things I admire about you is your commitment to ending body snark, but with this blog, you are defending a company responsible for making so many women feel bad about their breasts and their bodies. A few months ago, one sixteen year old girl pulled on my heartstrings when she arrived at my store nearly in tears after being referred by Lane Bryant. She visited Lane Bryant because a VS fitter told her she should go there since they carried bras for plus-size girls. Her true size? A 32H. Imagine if she had not found our store but instead left with poorly fitting 38DDDs. The entire experience would have triggered a body hate cycle which could take years to fix; as a result, I don’t believe any amount of exposure to “exciting lingerie” compensates for the harm they cause women and young girls. Recently, we took their fitting advice to task in a blog (http://sophisticatedpair.com/blog/?p=2119) and video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lowxFmjbtrE&feature=player_embedded) to prove how incorrect their techniques really are in the hopes we can encourage women to fit themselves or find a specialty store. Victoria’s Secret hides behind its self-appointed status as employing “expert fitters” and in turn abuses the trust of women and young girls. It’s shameful.

    And if I’m being honest, I don’t feel like their exposure to pretty or sexy lingerie is all that special either. If VS didn’t dominate the market and propagate incorrect information the way they do, more boutiques would have a foothold—boutiques which can carry beautiful, unique, handmade, and even affordable lingerie too.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Hi Erica,

      Thanks for your comment! One of the things that’s so interesting to me is the variety of experiences people have had at VS. So far, it looks like fuller busted women have had almost universally negative experiences, whereas smaller busted women have had more positive ones. That’s a shame and it makes me sad to hear that, and I’m glad that information’s been contributed to the discussion.

      However, I don’t think Victoria’s Secret is the only lingerie company promoting a negative self-image for young women, and I certainly don’t think they’re the only lingerie company guilty of body snark. I’ve heard similar horror stories from women who’ve shopped at independent boutiques (I just posted a snarky image from a boutique to my Twitter a couple of days ago), and I don’t know of any lingerie companies using lingerie models which deviate very much from the “norm.”

      Yes, Victoria’s Secret’s marketing is problematic, and I admitted as much in the article, and we should be discussing it. But at the same time, let’s not pretend that they’re the only company harming young women’s self image and that everyone else in the lingerie industry is faultless. Because quite frankly, the demographics for Victoria’s Secret’s models are the norm for the entire industry.

      P.S. I just noticed the last bit on sexy lingerie and boutiques. As I mentioned in the post, there are a lot of reasons for why women may feel more comfortable shopping in a VS than in their local lingerie boutique. And while I don’t shop at Victoria’s Secret anymore, I can honestly say I’ve had more than one negative experience in a local lingerie boutique. That to me, matters much, much more than the selection, which, to be perfectly honest, I can find most anywhere.

      • I have read a few posts from you in the past mentioning problems with boutiques, and I have no doubt that there are some which contribute to body snark just as I have no doubt that there may be a few fairly decent VS stores tucked away across the globe. However, VS has stores in most malls across America, and from sheer oversaturation, they can impact more women than a boutique store ever can. Not to mention, there are a lot of us boutique owners out there doing our best to make up for the poor fitting advice propagated by so many companies, and in all fairness, VS is not the only major retailer who practices incorrect fitting techniques. However, I have heard more stories about VS sales associates being downright rude to customers than I have for any other retailer. I wasn’t even going to reference their marketing campaigns but merely commented on how they treat customers who are outside their standard sizes with unwarranted body snark. However, Curvy Kate, Elomi, Goddess, Fantasie, and Freya all have models outside the norm so it is possible. Curvy Kate, especially, breaks the norm quite successfully on account of their “Star in a Bra” competitions.

        I’m not trying to be rude in anyway, but I feel like sometimes the poor experiences you’ve had at certain boutiques make you extend that experience to all of us. Not to diminish your bad experience, but it seems unfair to blanket the entire diverse market of independent lingerie stores because a few stores did not meet your expectations. There’s a lot of us out there, and many of us are in the trenches trying our best to help the VS refugees who spent years wearing the wrong size bra or feeling bad about themselves because of VS. The problems caused by VS are not specific to geography and are symptomatic of a retailer in need of change. Many boutiques have a warmer, friendlier atmosphere more focused on education and compassion than VS. Learning about which bra is more expensive or why it supports more is perfect for the boutique experience because you can usually get a higher level of personalized service.

        • Cora Treacle says:

          One of the things I mentioned on Twitter (it was hours ago when I was talking with Lingerie Lesbian and a few other people) is that the “norm” we pay attention to and value has a lot to do with our personal background and experiences.

          For example, I just attended CurveNY. I don’t recall seeing models of color in anyone’s lookbook. Yes, there are models of different sizes being used more frequently, but size isn’t the only “norm” we’re dealing with. And while I agree that Curvy Kate does have more of a separation from what’s traditional due to their “Star in a Bra” campaigns, I’m reluctant to reduce a conversation on modeling norms and diversity to one of body size and nothing more…which is the direction I feel like the conversation in general within the lingerie industry is heading.

          There are lingerie companies that have been around for decades and never used a model of color in an ad campaign or a lookbook. Ever. And I think it’s really important to consider that before concluding other companies are automatically more diverse simply because they use models with a larger dress size. Because that’s not the only way of looking at norms or diversity.

          That said, I completely agree that my early experiences with lingerie boutiques shaped my preferences. First impressions (especially when they turn into second, third, and fourth impressions) carry a lot weight. In my early days of lingerie shopping, price was important to me, and I felt like I got the best deals online. I also couldn’t afford nice clothes, and I felt lingerie boutiques judged me for that (that, by the way, is why I always recommend Nordstrom without reservation, because I have never had a bad experience there). But the reason I’ve stayed online is because I still feel like the typical brick-and-mortar boutique doesn’t meet my needs.

          To illustrate, I visit my local Seattle lingerie boutiques every couple of months or so. And I want to buy something when I go. But they are almost always sold out of my sizes (34C up top, size L on the bottom). Now I understand that my sizes are common and that stores can only stock so much. But if I want the new Stella McCartney “Zoe Swimming” set, and my local boutique is sold out in my size and has no idea when they’re going to restock it, why wouldn’t I go looking for it online?

          The article Holly and I wrote about why we shop online wasn’t just about the bad customer service experiences we’ve had (which, to be honest, I believe are fairly common…it’s just that most people don’t have a blog to talk about them or would rather not badmouth a small business), it’s also about the selection and the convenience. I know all the brands my local boutiques carry. They’re really common brands, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I’m at a point in my particular lingerie journey where I want more than the typical, and so that often means shopping online.

          I didn’t think your response was rude at all, and I hope I don’t come across as rude (it can be so hard discerning tone through the internet…especially for passionate conversations) but in the same way your experiences have informed your perspective, so have my experiences informed mine.

  28. Kitty Plum says:

    i am a huge fan of quality lingerie and that actually mean value for money rather than just expensive. Before I started my little shop I actually used to buy the odd set from VS. I found they fitted okay, were a good price and came in pretty colours. I agree with the fact that very few people start buying gorgeous lingerie that is super expensive, in the UK I started with Marks & Spencer, I wouldn’t wear it now butwhen I was 18 they did pretty stuff, matching set etc for a good price. I do think that pretty lingerie is much more accessible in the UK. Even whatwe would regard as fuddy duddy department stores do colour, pattern an lace.I think that VS main problem is that the majority of the debate aroundthe brand is to do with models, work practicess etc and not their lingerie.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      I definitely think there are more options on the UK. For goodness sakes, when I was doing burlesque and needed a gold sequined corset and boyshort for my routine, I didn’t find it there! I ordered it from Marks & Spencer, which I think is the “boring” lingerie store over there.

      It’s interesting to me that you see the main part of the debate as centering around the brand’s models and work practices instead of their lingerie as almost all the complaints I see focus on the bras and panties themselves. So many interesting perspectives here.

  29. Malica says:

    I think that their fitting makes VS not really good place for newbees. I’m in their size range with 32DD/32DDD, but when I tried to get fit there they gave me 36B, 36C and 38B to try, Of cause all that was incredibly uncomfortable, so I was wearing no bra or low back 36Bs for nipple cover only for several years, thinking that my breasts are too weird to fit in a regular bra,

    • Cora Treacle says:

      I definitely think your experience will vary if you’re fuller busted. For example, Victoria’s Secret put me in a 36B when I went there, and had me thinking I was a 36B for the longest time. It turns out I was actually a 34B, and when I started buying bras in that size from other brands, I finally learned what a well-fitting bra is supposed to feel like.

      That said, my breasts are fairly “perky” on their own, so even if a bra isn’t an exact fit, it won’t necessarily be a bad fit. I can definitely see how the fitting issues would be much more of a problem if you’re fuller busted and require more support from your bra. Thanks for commenting.

      • Malica says:

        I guess your were simply lucky enough not to be put in smaller cup then you need. I read girls with something like 32B/C or 30C who were put in A or AA cups with larger band with cups too small and wires cutting into the breast tissue.
        They do make pretty lingerie, but you’d better knew your size and how bra should fit before stepping in their shop.

  30. Jewel says:

    I have always hated VS. When I started to develop an interest into lingerie this was the first place I looked. I was greatly disappointed. At the age of 14 I went into my first VS for a fitting with the high hope of buying my first sexy set of underwear. I was measured at a 36D and off I went trying on different bras. It was awful, I have employees trying to stuff my breast into these extremely small cups it was a horrid experience.

    A few years later at 16 i decided to give them a chance and was again measure but this time into a 36DD. I had the same awful experience. I took to measuring myself at home to find my size, only to find out the employees at the store had measure me wrong. I was actually a 36DDD, a size they didn’t carry at the time.

    So I do think VS is a bad, I think they try to promote sexy as being skinny and smaller busted. For years I have been waiting for them to carry a size I could fit. Now days they carry a DDD, but you have to get it online. The bigger the bra the more boring it is as well. I feel they are purposely ignoring us bigger busted women with the continuous lacking availability of bigger sized bras.

    Not to mention most of their marketing campaign focuses on lighter skinned models. In 2012 one would hope that they (VS) would have learned by now that america is made up of tons of different women in all shapes, colours and sizes. Yet they fail still, to include representation of us in their ads, commercials, billboards, and ect. So I will say they are all bad.

    • Annmarie says:

      Re: “Not to mention most of their marketing campaign focuses on lighter skinned models”
      As you may recall Tyra Banks was one of their top models in the late 9o’s and early 2K. Back then they also had some quality, well designed stuff here and there. Unfortunately at around that time they decided to concentrate entirely on white teenage/college girls and sell “sexiness” very aggressively.

      When I see their catalogues/ads nowadays I often get this this disturbing feeling that this could be classified as borderline child pornography.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Thanks for commenting, Jewel! I do understand what you’re saying what you’re regarding skin tones, and I agree. But the honest truth is that if I only bought lingerie from companies which used dark skinned models in their ad campaigns, I wouldn’t own any lingerie. From anyone. I also think that most lingerie companies use smaller models (both in terms of dress size and bust size).

      In short, I see the issue of model diversity as one shared by the lingerie industry at large, and not exclusive or unique to Victoria’s Secret.

      • Jewel says:

        Annmarie- RE: “As you may recall Tyra Banks was one of their top models in the late 9o’s and early 2K. Back then they also had some quality, well designed stuff here and there. Unfortunately at around that time they decided to concentrate entirely on white teenage/college girls and sell “sexiness” very aggressively.”

        She was but I consider her lighter skinned as well. But yes you are completely right, it is very creepy indeed.

        Treacle- RE: “But the honest truth is that if I only bought lingerie from companies which used dark skinned models in their ad campaigns, I wouldn’t own any lingerie. In short, I see the issue of model diversity as one shared by the lingerie industry at large, and not exclusive or unique to Victoria’s Secret.”

        Hey I just wanted to I love your blog! Lol, anyway I wasn’t implying that you should buy lingerie from anyone specific person. I was saying it would be nice if they tried to appeal to all women by having a myriad of different models. And yes I know that this diversity issue isn’t just with VS. But since they are one of the major retailers of lingerie in the US, the issue is constantly being thrown in the faces of the general public, ya know? Aside from the intentional mis sizing, illegal activites, diet encouragement of child pornography, and lack of diversity; VS may not be that bad of a company.

        • Cora Treacle says:

          Hi again, Jewel! :-D

          No, I definitely didn’t get the impression you were trying to convince me to buy lingerie from any one person. And this article definitely isn’t about convincing people to buy from Victoria’s Secret. It’s just that many of the things people use to illustrate why Victoria’s Secret is an awful lingerie company are common to a lot of lingerie companies (especially the big conglomerates). They just don’t have as high a profile as VS, and so people happily buy from them.

  31. Gary Frisch says:

    Good blog entry, Treacle. I’ve always found VS to be a rather comfortable place to shop, with attentive, accommodating and mostly friendly sales staff. That’s important for a neophyte when it comes to sizing. Yes, they could definitely gain points by marketing and offering a greater selection for “normal”-size women, but I believe their intention of making women feel good about their bodies is admirable, if not noble.

  32. Berkeley says:

    I think you make good points, but I can never look past their horrible sizing technique or their limited size range, and I especially cannot look past the fact that they are where a lot of young girls nowadays go to get their first bras and they don’t take that into consideration in their marketing strategies. There is too much “sexiness” being aimed at young girls because their target market is older, but they should take into consideration that while their target is older they are still a TON of girls that are really young shopping there. I know that’s where my mom took me to get fitted for and buy my first bra. (luckily I had a good friend that showed me how to find and shop for a good bra a year or two later, so I didn’t buy from there very long) And while I don’t like the style of VS lingerie (I think most of the designs are kinda trashy, especially their underwear, no offence) and I don’t fit into any of the bras they carry in store or online, I sometimes would go in there accompanying a friend while shopping and look at their perfume and such. But last time it just infuriated me so much when I saw two young, maybe only thirteen or so, girls go there and not only be sent these sexualized messages, (it was obvious they felt kind of nervously excited to be trying on super sexy underwear and bras, their moms no where to be found) but also get improperly fitted! How will they ever know how a bra is supposed to fit properly if this is what you start them out with and tell them is right? At least when I got fitted there they didn’t do that under the armpit thing. It really just made me feel sick seeing that, and so I asked the fitter why she measured them in such a weird (and incorrect) way, and her response was simply “because I FEEL I get a better fit this way”. After that I made a decision to never walk into their stores again, even if I was just accompanying a friend. And that’s not even it! There are PLENTY accounts of women being made uncomfortable and even being humiliated by the staff at some of these stores. I’ve read plenty tales of the body snark you hate so much being dished out by the employees there, I know I read at least one of those stories in the comments here. I’m sure they have their loyal customers, and those that at least tolerate them, and I know they have PLENTY of customers that just don’t know better, but their practices have certainly made me a loyal anti-customer and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    P.S. while we’re on the subject, I was not introduced to sexy lingerie by VS, i got my first nude t-shirt bra there and a few similar ones after that and then pretty much avoided it like the plague (I was a shy, body-conscious girl when I was young and their products were so over sexualized, I would never go in). By the time I was old enough to appreciate sexy lingerie I didn’t really fit in their bras anymore. I got my first taste of sexy lingerie by shopping with friends at stores like Nordstrom when they would have their sales, and once my interest was piqued I got my real introduction through this blog :-) And while I have your attention, (I really do hope you read all the comments) it’s a few years away form becoming possible, but it’s my goal to turn this interest, love, passion, obsession(!) I have with lingerie into a career, so thank you very much, I honestly don’t know where my life would be headed right now if I had not come across this blog, but I do know it wouldn’t be nearly as fun or exciting! :-)

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Thanks for that well thought out comment, Berkeley. So many good points here!

      Re: the teenagers in the store, I have to say I’m not sure Victoria’s Secret could or even should be held responsible for that. They’re a store in the mall selling lingerie. If a mother doesn’t want their teenage daughter to go there, I think it’s the mother’s responsibility to police that. It’s certainly not Victoria’s Secret’s their job to parent someone’s else child, no more than it would be mine if someone’s teenager were using my blog to find sexy lingerie.

      That said, I do hate body snark, and while I don’t want to disregard the negative experiences anyone has had at VS (because making people feel bad about themselves is always unacceptable), I also think the issue of body snark is not exclusive to Victoria’s Secret. Of course, that doesn’t make it any better, but I’ve also heard horror stories of women being snarked on while shopping in local lingerie boutiques. There’s even a photo pulled from a lingerie boutique posted to Twitter (which I’ve reposted in the comments below). I have noticed that the snark seems to fall along smaller-busted/fuller-busted lines, and that’s truly unfortunate.

      I believe VS staff should be instructed to simply tell women they don’t stock that size, instead of trying to force them into the wrong one or making them feel bad about their breasts. That’s honestly just inexcusable.

      I’m so glad you mentioned Nordstrom, by the way (and yes, I do read every comment in case you haven’t noticed ;-)), and that’s where I tend to recommend my readers shop now, especially if malls and/or department stores are their only options or the only place they feel comfortable shopping. I have never (and I mean never) had a bad experience at a Nordstrom anywhere. Even when I was broke and shabbily dressed. And their selection has only gotten better and better in the last few years.

      Anyway, I’m so glad you enjoy reading the blog and thanks for contributing to the discussion in the comments! :)

  33. TurboKitteh says:

    I must agree that VS can be a ‘gateway’ to discovering the wide world of lingerie. I know when the store began to feature pricier designer brands in small key collections (oddly enough with better fit. Does that make sense?), those small collections where my spring board into “Hey! There’s more out there to discover!” I began to search online for those designers. One thing led to another and I have never looked back :) Even though I no longer wear VS bras as their sizing is horrible for me, I do still venture in for more budget friendly knickers to stock up on. Plus I always have that hope that there will be another designer collection featured to try out without having to order online. Typically I am disappointed though.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Hi TurboKitteh!

      Yes, it makes perfect sense. A lot of those designer collections were using their own sizing metrics (which tend to line up more what the rest of the industry does) so I can definitely see why they were a better fit.

      But yeah…you’ve hit the nail on the head. Victoria’s Secret isn’t for me anymore, but I don’t think I would have become as interested in lingerie as I am now (I certainly wouldn’t have made it my career) if not for my first exposure to lingerie in their stores.

      Great comment…thanks for sharing. :)

  34. Lori says:

    I used to work for the original VS store on Sutter St. in SF at the time The LImited purchased them. We used to carry high quality, gorgeous lingerie so I was very sad to see the transformation to the mass market. I, too, feel their bra sizing is extremely poor and the stores in my area primarily seem to cater to the under 22 set. I was in there last week to get a black garter belt and not only was told a size 6 is a medium (!) but they didn’t have one black belt to sell in that size!

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Oh wow! I’d love to hear stories about what the original VS was like. Even though I’ve only been writing about lingerie for a few years, it’s been really interesting to me see that shift from lingerie for an older demographic lingerie for the college-age set. What’s even funnier is that part of why I’ve noticed the trend is because my own tastes have changed. They shifted really hard to marketing PINK a few years, and I don’t think they’ve ever come back to center since. Also, what is up with a size 6 being a medium?

      Thanks for stopping by,

  35. Lisa DeRemer says:

    I love me some V S ,I only know of one lingerie shop in the small town I live in, and honestly it is full of the dullest mismatched things, so i’m so grateful to have a vs about 20 minutes away.My size (34d) usually is a little tight around the band a bit the first time I wear it, but after that it forms to my body and i’m in love.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Thanks for this comment, Lisa! I think it’s really important to have the perspective of women who live in small towns. So many women don’t live near a lingerie boutique (or, even if they do, it’s not where they prefer to shop, as in your case), and it’s interesting to see how and why a larger chain (like VS) fits into their lives.

      Do you ever order online? That could be another option for you.

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

  36. I have shopped at VS online and stores numerous times. I don’t have the height or the body type of the tall slender women or I would shop there more. There are things I liked from VS and things I didn’t.
    I tried their newest lightly lined 32 DDD bra, and when I got it the band was huge and the cups were like a B. However I do like their Nakeds line. I have to go up in band sizes to wear because it only goes to DD, but the perfect coverage T shirt bra is the best T shirt bra i have ever owned.
    I don’t like T shirt bras most of the time because they are heavily padded- Not this one, its almost like an unlined bra. So I have one in black and one in light . If the Nakeds line went to DDD or DDDD and they didn’t change the cup I would buy it..

    I don’t think their Love My Body Campaign is supposed to offend, and there are teen girls and women in every town, city, state in the country that have that body type. Its an Ectomorph body type, they are just very slender. Thats good too. :)

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Thanks for this comment, Vicki, and for sharing what works for you and what doesn’t. Like I said in the article, I haven’t shopped at VS in years, so it’s good to get an updated review. Hopefully it helps someone else reading this. :)

      I definitely understand the complaints people have about the “Love My Body” campaign, and I admit that I found it a little disconcerting as well. Victoria’s Secret’s models are some of the most famous in the world. They are the embodiment of the beauty standards of our day. Why wouldn’t they love their body? Though well-intentioned, I think that campaign missed the mark because it only drew attention to the sharp divide between VS’ spokesmodels and their customers.

      Thanks again for this comment! Hope to see you again soon.

  37. Annmarie says:

    Well taken points, I really should be more grateful to VS than I am as they certainly help spread the lingerie gospel.
    It should be noted though that in the past they often came up with some interesting higher end, well made items. Apparently they decided their niche to be the younger crowd and concentrate exclusively on this segment of population while emphasizing “sexy”.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      I agree 100% with you Annmarie. On the one hand, yay to VS for spreading the lingerie gospel. On the other hand, what in the world happened to the VS of even 5 years ago where you could actually find decent lingerie that wasn’t all about push-up bras? That does seem to coincide with the push towards all things SEXY, doesn’t it?

      • Annmarie says:

        Creative, well made, comfortable silk lingerie is WAYYYY sexier than some itchy sheer nylon.

        In other news… You mentioned some big chains are actually behind the brands they’re selling. I wasn’t aware of it and wonder if you can elaborate/expose this phenomenon. Thanks!

  38. Lucy says:

    Very well-stated, balanced take on VS. Despite its flaws, VS has done a lot to introduce (and dare I say “mainstream”) cute and fun lingerie to the masses. Before stores like those had opened in my area, I was restricted to the same department store brands – and often had to buy kids’ underwear because of my odd size at the time. The only place to get something not black/white/”nude” were the types of underground stores in which I wouldn’t have been caught dead. VS helped me feel okay about celebrating the pretty underthings, even if I’m the only one seeing them.

    Extending this to a corseters view (not surprising) – I share a similar sentiment with off-the-rack corsets. Sure, their materials aren’t high-end and they seem to fit a relatively narrow range of bodies – but if it weren’t for those ‘gateway’ corsets then I (and others) would have never taken such an interest in higher-end pieces by respectable independent designers. Before owning OTR corsets I drooled over pictures of the designs of Puimond, Electra Designs etc but owning them seemed like a pipe dream (as I was afraid of the ‘dirty’ connotations and at the time couldn’t justify the price). If not for OTR corsets I probably would have put away the photos and never have supported those designers. Standard corset companies helped to mainstream corsets and make them less “fetishy” so I’d have the confidence to wear one at all (never mind in public) but also better helped me understand the price-quality relationship so the higher prices of independent designers *can* be justified.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Hi Lucy! So good seeing you here. :)

      I like the comparison you drew between Victoria’s Secret and corsetry. When I first became interested in corsets (years before I started blogging), I couldn’t fathom spending hundreds of dollars on one. I knew I wanted one, and I knew I wanted a well made one, so I purchased some bad ones from places which will remain unnamed and some good (albeit low-priced ones) from places like Scarlett’s Corset. They were absolutely the gateway to me getting the pieces of my dreams from corsetieres like Electra Designs and Puimond because 1) a corset actually became something I felt like I could wear and 2) I finally had a point of comparison and an understanding of why they cost what they did.

      I absolutely agree that VS serves a similar purpose. Not every woman has a lingerie boutique nearby. Not every woman feels comfortable visiting a lingerie boutique (for one reason or another). Victoria’s Secret’s helps break down some of those barriers that might prevent women from getting interested in the nicer aspects of lingerie.

      Really great comment. Thanks again.

  39. Marcus says:

    Great article. As a former employee of VS, I have seen the good and bad of the brand image. I encountered women who whew their bodies and those who did not. Some of those women knew about lingerie and others wanted to know. Age, race or size never was a factor in those factors and I learned from all of them and shared that knowledge with the next lady that I assisted.

    I heard my share of complaints regards to the size issues, mainly from those who ordered through the catalog trying to avoid the store all together. Instore, we were trained to provide 3 to 4 options when taking the women to dressing rooms.

    We would field complaints regarding the quality, or lack there of, with the products too. We apologized and showed them a few more options and styles trying to shift focus from their grievance to reassurance and a possible sale.

    Had new shoppers from preteens to elderly. Some had some preconceived notions and others not. Most felt and mentioned that VS was the place to start.

  40. Clarissa Cristina says:

    Guess what?
    I felt it too! You know why? Because I live in Panama, Central America, so I really dreamed in my first trip to US to meet my paradise come true: VS. Is not easy to me to find nice, beauty and sexy lingerie, because I only met simple or very vulgar lingerie.
    Right now theres some stores where I can find in my size (36 D) barely sexy things, but Im still looking for, because I love jewel colors!
    best regards from your faithfull fan

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Clarissa! I hope you find the lingerie of your dreams soon. It makes me sad that there aren’t more options in Panama, but maybe Braless in Brasil could be a good resource for you? She may know about some brands or boutiques in your part of the world.

      Thanks again!

  41. Simone says:

    This is exactly how I feel about VS however, I’m still at the “gateway stage” and haven’t had the means to experiment with higher end brands yet (however, I know I’ll eventually get there!) I’m Canadian so it’s only been recently (within the past 2-3 years or so) that there have even been VS stores in select cities. We have a equivalent mall lingerie store however, the quality isn’t as nice (picture that!) I’ve only had positive experiences at the Victoria’s Secret stores. I was wearing the wrong bra size and styles for many years, and after being fitted there recently, I was finally able to find a few bra styles that fit me really well and that I feel sexy in. I know this isn’t the case for everyone but for me it’s been a step up. I also really like their swimwear and have been ordering it for years (I’m also a swim-suit addict!) So yes, for the time being VS has provided me with a product I’m happy with & has allowed me to explore a bit while still sticking to my freelance writer’s budget.

    Thanks for this post! xo

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Exactly! You’ve really summarized the point of the piece, Simone. Victoria’s Secret was a step up for me too when I began shopping there (before then, I’d bought all my bras from JCPenney), and I felt like I could have something pretty on a student’s budget. It wasn’t a perfect product, and when I found things that fit me better, I moved on. But for that particular point in my life, VS was a great introduction to lingerie.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  42. Maggie says:

    I agree that VS was my first experience with “sexy” lingerie and was a place that I felt comfortable shopping as especially when I was younger and I think there’s something to be said for popularizing lingerie for a wide audience.

    It’s refreshing to see a perspective on VS that isn’t so black and white and can acknowledge that there are likely good and bad things about any major company.

  43. […] As recently discussed by The Lingerie Addict, Victoria’s Secret may have helped the lingerie i…, but do they help the women actually buying lingerie? For the most part I really can’t imagine that they do. This entry was posted in Bra, Bra Fitting, Bras, Fitting, Lingerie, Models, News, Opinion, Review, Victoria's Secret and tagged bra, Bras, Fitting, Lingerie, New Bond Street, Review, Victoria's Secret by IIYC. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  44. Amaryllis says:

    Is it really so bad over there with finding lacy underwear? Maybe we just haven’t jumped onto the ‘nude & round and invisible’ bra thing as much, or maybe I was just lucky with where I was living when I first started buying lingerie here in the UK. It sounds like a really harsh divine between sensible and boring underpinnings, and high end boutiques. Mind you, it was pretty knickers that were my indulgence back then when I was starting to amass lingerie – ALL my bra’s were Wonderbra’s for the first few years.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Hi Amaryllis!

      I can definitely say it’s not as bad as it’s used to be. The GAP carries lingerie now. So does American Eagle Outfitters. Department stores like Nordstrom are carrying a ton of ranges (including some indie brands) now, and even stores like Macy’s and JCPenney’s have moved away from the all black/beige/white all the time camp.

      That said, the lingerie culture in American is VERY different form the lingerie culture in Europe. I backpacked across Europe 4 years ago (gosh, has it already been that long) and was simply overwhelmed with options. There’s lingerie – nice lingerie – everywhere in a way that simply isn’t the case stateside.

      And even though there are more lingerie boutiques and more options for lingerie shopping (including online), I still think for many women (especially women who don’t live in large cities), Victoria’s Secret is that first exposure they get to nice-looking (even if it’s not nice-fitting) lingerie.

      And that was a whole lot parentheses.

      Anyway, thanks for commenting. Always good to see you.

  45. Manon says:

    Hello !

    I live in France, and we don’t have victoria secret here. But the same story happened to me, with the local store called “undiz”. It is a very cheap and funny brand for teenagers, the only lingerie store I wasn’t shy to enter ! And at the moment I had a bra I loved, I wanted to fit in and be confortable and beautiful ! Before, with my boring bras, I hated my boobs. With a bad fitting but pretty bra, I became interested in lingerie. And now, I am trying to find pretty bras AND good fits, because I LOVE ME ! (yeah I’m happy !)

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Thanks for this comment, Manon! It’s good to know that the ‘Victoria’s Secret Effect’ isn’t just limited to the States. Do people feel the same way about Undiz over there that they do about Victoria’s Secret over here?

      • Manon says:

        hi !

        I have just seen your response ! I am SO late sorry… I hope you receive good notifications when someone post a new comment, or my response will be lost forever !

        Undiz’s esthetic is quite different from Victoria Secret, they want to sell “fun” more than “sexy”, and it is a very new brand… I think most french people thinks Undiz’s lingerie is quite ugly/strange. They appeal only to a very small range of customers. So, Undiz is definitely not the same as Victora Secret.
        But we have Undiz’s big sister, Etam, that wants to become more and more the “french Victoria Secret”… Recently (during the 3 last years maybe ?), they have introduced super push-up bras, they have their own “Etam’s angel” Natalia Vodianova, they do a big runaway show… Last autumn, they did a campaign “80% of women wear the wrong bra size, go to Etam to be mesured !” even if they don’t carry cup size over DDD (french “F” cup) and only in boring styles, and don’t carry back sizes under 32 when their band runs loose and flimsy…
        And, more important Etam THE lingerie store for the “average” 11 to 45 year old woman, everybody know this brand/store, we have one in every “average” city !

  46. Erinn says:

    I started shopping at Victoria’s Secret and still continue to shop there for some of my favorite thongs and boyshorts. But that’s because I have tried several different designers out and simply put, VS fits my personal body the best. Their bras? Not so much. I have yet to find one that fits right.

    Which brings me to the point that I love you brought up – it’s the perfect gateway to opening your eyes to the world of lingerie. It’s about experimentation, finding what is right for your body and what makes you feel best and I think that’s the reason I have yet to go against their stores completely. They are a quick and easy (for me, I have no independent lingerie boutiques besides them around Central Florida) to find something to try out.

    Couldn’t agree more with the first comment on their fails as a company. As someone who shops online, I also find their ecommerce system and customer service lacking while the only attempt they make at “connecting” with customers is their “love your body” campaign which I dislike completely…mostly because I think they try to mold women to think that the “Victoria’s Secret Super Models” are perfect and every woman should try to look like them, eat like them and behave like them.

    Great article though, love everything you brought up – the good and the bad!


    • Cora Treacle says:

      Hi Erinn!

      Really great comment here…I love how you bring up the good and the bad. There’s definitely a lot of emphasis on the bad with Victoria’s Secret (which I think is true for big companies in general), but there’s also some good mixed in there too. As you said, it’s quick and easy for you, which is probably true for a lot of other women in America as well.

      That said, they’re still a long way from perfect. ;-)

      Thanks for stopping by,

  47. June says:

    The sizing issue is such a big one for me that I have a hard time looking past that. I’m not a big fan of their marketing campaign (especially how much sexy is pushed on young girls… speaking as a mother here). If they’d at least 1. fix their fitting practices and 2. not claim to be the be all/end all when it comes to bra sizes I’d probably just go “eh” and move on. Until that happens, I have a hard time accepting them at any level because of how prolific they are it just means they are putting more women in the wrong size and then women believe that IS their size because they were fitted by a Victoria’s Secret fitting “expert”.

    Now, in terms of sexy lingerie, you do have a point. I’m all for sexy lingerie targeted at adults and even though they don’t come even close to my size, I really have no problem with that. I’d love to see more department stores and boutiques carry a wide range of styles but the reality is that they’re limited by which merchandise they can sell, so it’s a tricky issue.

    I will say, though, that if you don’t fit into their size range, you often times don’t get the best treatment. I was spoken to quite rudely there once and told to go to Lane Bryant’s because I was “too fat” for their store (I was about a 34-36 band at the time but definitely outside of their cup size range and Lane Bryant didn’t carry my size either because my band size was too small!).

    I just have too hard of a time getting past the fitting issue to see much value in them.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Thanks for this insightful comment, June. I always enjoy reading what you have to say. :)

      I’m definitely seeing a theme when it comes to the way fuller busted women are treated in their stores and though I don’t know if anyone from VS reads my blog, I sincerely hope they do, so they can get a sense of how they’re alienating entire groups of women from just plain awfulness.

      Thanks again,

      • June says:

        That would be amazing, so fingers crossed that they DO read your blog. Honestly, if they fixed their issues with fit and were just upfront with full-busted women in a kind manner (“I’m sorry that we don’t carry your size, but there is a wonderful lingerie boutique down the street that might”), I really wouldn’t have a problem with them.

        It actually reminds me of a point… maybe something you’d discuss at some point? Why don’t brands that cater to a particular bust size partner up with brands that cater to another niche and work on some sort of commission for recommendations? For instance, if Victoria’s Secret sends you to Nordstroms and you do find your size there then Victoria’s Secret gets a small percentage of that sale. It seems like it might put less pressure on stores to make a sale even if the fit is off.

        • Cora Treacle says:

          Probably because legally and PR-wise it’d be more trouble than it’s worth for either company and Victoria’s Secret would rather sell you something, anything, than nothing at all? ;-)

          There’s also the fact that those two stores (Nordstrom and Victoria’s Secret) have very different customer profiles. The marketing, message, types of products carried, etc. etc. are all very different. People go to VS (or Nordstrom) for a very specific look and type of product in a very specific price range, and there’s not much cross over when it comes to that between the two stores.

  48. I think that you make a lot of really good points– I’ve also had positive experiences there (as someone who fits within “mainstream” sizing). I have some bras from Victoria’s Secret that I wear all the time and ARE cute. They are also a place where you can commonly buy brown bras. I also love how their open plan encourages “social” lingerie shopping (this is also a feature of the fact that they can afford enormous spaces).

    There are also plenty of ways in which Victoria’s Secret fails. Their recent exoticizing “oriental” theme and the fact that their “love your body” campaign features their stunning models who have incredible bodies, but really don’t speak to the ordinary consumer both are other good examples of their missteps. They also don’t really “get” social, have terrible e-commerce and never behave like they actually engage with the consumer. I’d love to know how their recent attempt to get into more luxury lingerie went, given that their customer base usually goes for a lower price point and has more low-end expectations.

    I do think the rise of the internet may destabilize their lingerie empire, as the necessity of a physical storefront for interaction may decrease– but you never know.

    • Cora Treacle says:

      Yeah…that whole “oriental” trend is popping up in a lot of places, both within mainstream fashion and lingerie, and it is SUPER problematic. I find myself going “What? We still do that? Really?”

      Anyway, I think the point you made with mainstream sizing is an important, and, as several commenters below indicated, women outside of that B-D range seem to have very different experiences, which is really just shameful but, unfortunately, also really common even for non-Victoria’s Secret stores.

      I also find myself wondering about the future of VS. They’re initiating a really aggressive global push, the likes of which we haven’t seen from a lingerie company, and I’m very interested in seeing how that shakes out. Things move so quickly now; there’s no telling where Victoria’s Secret will be (good or bad) in the next few years.

      Thanks, as always, for stopping by,

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