A Rant About Victoria's Secret

Jun 16, 2011

I stopped shopping at Victoria’s Secret in 2008, when I walked into the Georgetown location and saw two girls, who weren’t yet old enough to drive, talking about whether their boyfriends would like the pink and black bras better than the leopard print ones.  At that moment, I decided to upgrade to Coup de Foudre in Penn Quarter, because I had clearly exceeded some kind of unposted age limit.  Then, last week, I swung by their Pentagon City location to give the Bombshell bra that I’ve heard other bloggers raving about a try. 

What a mistake.

First off, let’s talk about color.  If I had wanted zebra print with red lace trim, they had it.  Lime green with hot pink polka-dots? They had that too.  And if I needed bright aqua, harlot red, neon yellow or gingham check, I was covered.  But nude, black or white? That was going to take the stockgirl 40 minutes and a bloodhound to track down.


After they finally found my color, I went into the dressing room to try the bra on and discovered that the Bombshell bra (which promises to double your cup size) has a flat wall of stiff padding where the cups would normally be.  So the bra doesn’t so much lift you, as it squishes your girls until they pour out the top like prisoners escaping from a trash compactor.  This prompted two thoughts:

1) Ouch. 

2) Who are they kidding?

This bra crosses the line between pushing up the breasts so that they look awesome, and engaging in blatant, mind-blowingly obvious fraud.  Seriously, this bra is false advertising at its most egregious.  

Were you to try to hug your date, it would feel like there was couch cushion between you.  And were the date to go well enough that the bra would be shed later on, your date would be wondering where your breasts went and how they deflated so quickly.

Victoria’s Secret made push-up bras and sexy lingerie available to the masses.  Hell, I’m so old that I remember when VS was delivered in a non-descript box, sans company logo because it was considered vulgar, and you didn’t want the postman to know that you were receiving black, lacy things in the mail.  But while the chain was once groundbreaking, the products that they are hocking now are just ridiculous. 

VS has become a caricature of its glory days.  The colors and patterns they sell are garish, unflattering and clearly designed by color blind Oompa Loompas.  Their products have substantially decreased in quality, and the taste level has vanished along with the high-waisted Granny panties they once sold.  In 2011, they stay in business by selling PINK track pants, treacly sweet perfumes and neon lime thongs to teenagers.  

I don’t care to know what Victoria’s Secret is.  But frankly, judging from the wares she’s currently selling, I wouldn’t be surprised if the big mystery is that Victoria is an overly-tanned, 55-year-old drag queen from New Jersey who drinks Mad Dog 20-20 and smokes Kools.  

At 29, I am simply too old to sort through drawer after drawer of infantile prints searching for a non-existent nude bra that I can wear to work.  I am obviously not the chain’s customer base, and watching teenage girls shop for trashy underpinnings in the sale bin is not my idea of a good time.  So you won’t be seeing any pink striped shopping bags among my purchases any time soon.


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  1. R says:

    I second Aerie also! I feel a bit old every time I walk into there, but they have great neutral bras and everything fits so well. Much more than what I can say about VS for sure.

  2. CynthiaW says:

    Every once in awhile I wonder if I should pop in and give VS another chance – thank you for saving me a trip. Heck, I'm old enough to remember when they sold really nice pajamas and robes. My white, cotton nightgown that looked like it stepped out of a Regency romance finally wore out ages ago, but I still have a lovely blue and white striped cotton summer robe from there. It's the last thing that I've ever bought from them and that was in 1998.

  3. S says:

    They do still deliver in discreet bags with just a tiny VS in the corner in black.

    I wish their shopping bags were the same.

    I feel like if you can push through the masses of teenage girls in the front, you can usually find some nice, normal colored items in the back. I can not argue about the quality though, it does suck.

  4. Govvie says:

    Spot on, Belle! I will admit to a bathing suit purchase or two from VS in the past few years. I buy Calvin Klein underwear – they have a great line for the smaller chested among us.

  5. C says:

    Smaller-chested? I have the opposite (but tragically, the same) gripe for the larger-chested among us. Guess what? Just because they're bigger doesn't mean we don't want 'em perky. VS has such a problem with anything over a C. Even the full-coverage matronly slings they do manage to stock are shamefully tiny-banded. Hooray for the 28-D, I suppose. But anyone with a more robust figure (and I'm not even talking plus-size here, ladies) is SOL. I don't want to be that snob that is better than VS, but I am. I am better than VS and their ill-fitting, unflattering, garish undies.

  6. CML says:

    I couldn't agree more! It's a store full of poor quality and even poorer taste. Although the Jersey Girl in me cringed at that description of Victoria – not everyone from NJ is like that! Keep up the good posts, I love your blog.

  7. Allison says:

    Great post. Any suggestions for places to get quality, pretty underwear for a decent price, if I am not trying to dress like J-Wow? (Maybe online?) I can't stomach the french boutique prices.

    Govvie- I agree, they do still have some good swimsuits. Some have the same ridiculous push up and gross prints as the underwear, but there are some flattering well-made ones too.

  8. amy b.s. says:

    i totally agree. the quality has been dimishing for years. i was a true supporter of their bras that offered the seamless technology, but a few months ago i ordered a few new bras and i can tell you, that although they say seamless on the bras, they are not. they stick out under my clothing like something cheap bought at a thrift store. my old ones never did this, but are sadly on the ratty side. i am in search of new brand for sure.

  9. Nina says:

    And their sales associates are generally terrible! None of them know how the bras or panties actually fit or wash. Getting a fitting there is a nightmare, they don't know how to measure you properly.

    I will admit to stopping in during most of the semi annual sales for cheap panties. Usually they have the “boring” (no obvious anal sex jokes) prints left, they're $4, and they wash pretty well.

  10. Zoe says:

    Totally agree and may I suggest to the larger chested ladies to check out the Full Cup in Old Town Alexandria. I promise it will change your life!

  11. Lady says:

    I am equally frustrated with VS. They seem to only make horrible push-ups now. I'm a D cup and I'm happy with that. I don't want a single ounce more of padding, just a good fitting solid colored bra. The only bra I've found at VS is from the Nakeds collection. I tried on a horrible purple zebra striped one in the store and after it fit perfectly I went on their website and ordered 4 of them in basic solid colors. The website has a much greater selection than the store. As for bathing suits, there are very few brands that make D cup suits with underwire and VS is one of them, so I always give them the benefit of the doubt and head to the store to try them on. This year, the only underwire D cups they had were the miraculous style with 5 inches of padding. It was ridiculous. And the sales people are always so rude. So I think i've given up on VS.

  12. Maria says:

    Thanks for making me laugh during my lunch break today, Belle! You're dead on. 🙂

  13. MW says:

    I'm 19, and realized I was too old for VS when I turned 15. The quality is terrible, the designs are tawdry (to say the least), but the most baffling thing is how many girls my age wear the PINK line as some kind of badge of honor. It's really funny that mid-priced, garish underwear and lounge wear has become a status symbol in certain circles.

  14. VA says:

    The saleswomen there have no idea how to measure for fit – I was told I was a different size every time I went in there. I'm sorry, but there is no way I went from a 36B to a 32C in the space of a month! That doesn't even make sense!

    I'm a fan of the Pentagon City Nordstrom lingerie department. They have nice bras at a variety of prices and the women working there actually know what they're doing when they get out the measuring tape.

  15. Jennelle says:

    I know exactly what some of you mean. I had a VS bra for a LONG time that I loved that was a simple cotton bra with no padding in a muted pink. Well, it finally bit the dust after what must've been 10 years (seriously, don't put your bras in the dryer and they'll last that long easily). I went to the store see if I could replace it and they don't carry ANYTHING without padding anymore. Seriously, I am a D cup and I DO NOT want any padding whatsoever so I can avoid looking like a barbie doll that might tip over forward. The sales “girl” told me I might try online, and when I did, the only colors I could find it in were neon pink or yellow! I remember when they were still a little tasteful and the wildest colors you could get lingerie in were jewel tones.

  16. JC says:

    I was a long time fan of VS, but as my buddies continued to grow, VS just did not do them justice. I had a proper fitting at Nordstroms and it was well worth it! The bras there are a definitely more expensive than the VS types, but worth every penny. A saleslady came in my fitting room, sized me, and went through different brands and cuts with me. My sizes range from 34DD to 32F [not kidding] but I walked away with 3 bras, each with NO padding, and my buddies look fantastic every day, without nip! Id recommend it to anyone!

  17. MidwestChic says:

    Oh Belle! You are spot on with this post! I started working at Victoria's Secret when I was 17 and worked there for 2 years (I'm not 24). In those 2 years, we managed to go from classy and discreet to trashy and cheap. I used to absolutely LOVE getting to try products and bras for free, but after a while, I didn't even want to wear those bras or panties (esp the ones with the sayings on the bottom, disgusting). The old VS lines are much better made, and built to last, while their new lines aren't much better than what you could get at a discount store, minus the ridiculous colors. I finally had to quit once we moved from being a 3 room store to being a 9 room store…. we hired questionable girls who, like stated above, couldnt measure a woman's size if their lives depended on it. Thankfully, I do know how a good bra fits, and my family/friends still come to me if they need a size check. My suggestion: any department store lingerie department is FAR better than a VS.

  18. VA Gal says:

    I am so with you on VS. I do like to grab the basic cotton undies on sale, but the rest of it is just terrible quality and they discontinued all the perfumes I've ever liked. Second the rec for The Full Cup in Alexandria and I'm also a fan of BraSmyth catalog.

  19. W says:

    WELL SAID!!!

  20. mndaln says:

    For those of you looking for a somewhat more affordable bra- I absolutely love the gilligan and o'malley bras from Target, plus when you find them on sale for $10- it's a steal! Totally worth it and super comfortable.

  21. AD says:

    I realize that Aerie targets the high school/college set, but after having a bad experience in VS (like 2 32B's in the whole store and they were both weird colors, and the store was so packed that no one would help me, and I really seriously did need help) I walked into Aerie and had the most pleasant experience. I don't remember if there was a measured fitting, but they have these genius little baskets in the fitting area. You pick up the 32B basket, which contains every single style of bra in the store. You take your time, see which styles you like and which meet your needs. The fitting room attendant brought me a white fitted vneck tee to try bras to check for bumps and lumps. The store is easy to navigate and very well organized. They had lots of white, blacks and neutrals with a few fun patterns thrown in. They have a rewards program to save money on future purchases and the most important thing was the absence of the “trashy” vibe. The music wasn't absurdly loud, the colors in the store were muted and earthy and it actually felt sort of soothing. i walked out happy and really don't care if I'm 40 one day and still getting my 32Bs from aerie.

  22. Sophiegoose says:

    I saw those bras as well. I'm not lying when I say I burst out laughing right in the store. They are beyond ridiculous. Even my boyfriend was horrified. I felt like they were making a joke out of a woman wanting to “enhance” her cup size.

    I also agree with you about VS and all of their colors and strange looks. Many things I don't understand why a woman would want it, and why they don't offer things in “normal” colors (or even muted colors, rather than neon that would show through the majority of my shirts). I only shop there if I get a good deal in a semi-annual sale, and then I only do it online. Otherwise, its just not worth it.

  23. Emily says:

    Wow, glad to know I'm not the only one that feels this way about VS – cause in my town I am! What surprises me is how expensive the bras are considering their poor fit/quality – not to mention, everything is ridiculously padded and pushed up. I'd like to find a place other than a pricey boutique that sells lingerie in flattering colors! I mean a gorgeous sea blue gown will look so much better on a blue-eyed girl than some garish pink and black. And at VS they assume that everyone looks top-shape in fushia, black and lime green. I mean, seriously. It's amazing what good colors will do for you, and VS has not caught on to that!

    The challenge is to find decent underpinnings anywhere. Any good online options that aren't crazy expensive? VS is top of the line where I'm from…

  24. MGD says:

    It's that bad? I have nude, black and white bras from VS that were purchased recently. Maybe it differs depending on location.

  25. JSB says:

    AD – where is there an Aerie store? I am unfamiliar, but will search it on the net. Anything to avoid that cheap crap in VS

  26. LMS says:

    I had a similar experience! I was home for Christmas a few years ago to grab the basic 5/$25. There were two girls, maybe 14-15 years old, looking at a hot pink “Santa” skirt that was about 3 inches long. Then their boyfriends came over and grunted/chuckled that the girls should get the skirt. I just thought, “What are we teaching our girls?” VS heavily markets that young teen demographic through their Pink line. Even though it won't make a difference to VS, I just couldn't keep shopping there. That plus I don't do zebra stripe.

  27. KRF says:

    I agree with C. I am a hard to find size as well (narrow band width at 28 but a larger cup (DD on a good day). The last time I stopped shopping at VS was in 2000 when I left the store admitting to myself that I was not the bra size offered in the store and to stop forcing a fit. I wish there was a better and affordable way to fit harder sizes.

    I had some success with Bare Necessities online. No success with Nordstrom, even after several attempts. Now, I get my bras specially fitted by a bra specialist in Severn, Maryland. She works for the Jeunique line. It is a different kind of bra and concept for holding up the “gals” but it is what I need. Thanks for the post Belle!

  28. valerie says:

    FYI– websites like Ideeli and Rue La La will occasionally run sales of higher-end lingerie (like Cosabella or La Perla), I recently bought tasteful undergarments on there. Unfortunately you can't try them on, but I too was sick of VS's neon green bras.

  29. e says:

    I've found Soma Intimates to be a great alternative for well priced, well fitting bras. They are owned by Chicos (which I know is for the older crowd), but they often have more youthful/tasteful bras to choose from, and a good selection for the larger cup sizes (I belive they go up to a DDD). And they have plenty of normal colors and unpadded styles!

  30. DCGirl says:

    I've been a fan of Victoria's Secret for years. There are certain bras and lines you have to stay away from, otherwise you just look like a hooker (unless you're looking for a fancy bra or something for a special occasion). My favorite is actually the Body by Victoria line. Mine are getting super ratty now, and I'm in need of new ones, but if you don't want to look like a hooker, go with that line. Some people may claim it's boring. Ok, well not much I can say to that. There are people who are supposed to be trained in the store on how to measure (I used to be one of them once upon a time), but sadly not everyone is and they try to make it up. The best thing you can do is get a tape measure and measure yourself-it's not that hard. And yes, I'm pretty sure the Ipex line of body by victoria comes in an unpadded version. As for their underwear, I'm not crazy about the way they've redesigned the style of their basic cotton panties, but they are still great and last FOREVER.

  31. R says:

    I second Aerie also! I feel a bit old every time I walk into there, but they have great neutral bras and everything fits so well. Much more than what I can say about VS for sure.

  32. Jessica says:

    Guess I'm the only one who disagrees wholeheartedly. Sure they have all those options you've mentioned, but I actually just went up a cup size and had to buy all new bras (had the same VS bras before then for years!) and I got two black and nude bras in the biofit line. Couldn't be happier. Never had a problem with them being out of stock or with the sales girls. Just ordered another one on-line this week. It came in a discreet package yesterday, has almost no padding and is nude.

  33. Allyson says:

    While I like to think of myself as much more mature than those of my age, I still shop at VS with the rest of them. I'm a 21 year old college student and frankly: it is better than my empty wallet alternative- Target/Walmart. Upon graduating, I hope to school myself in the world beyond the pink and white striped bag.

    However, I completely agree about the nude/black/white conspiracy. I have yet to find a nude bra there. On my last visit I settled on grey. It's ridiculous and sometimes I'm baffled by the trashy selections. It is sad that companies try to appeal to the masses, but at the expense of what made them good in the first place.

  34. renee says:

    i love this post!!

  35. AWS says:

    FYI, I had such a terrible experience at Full Cup- I wanted to buy a cute set for my sister's bachelorette party (nothing raunchy-just something beautiful) and they refused to sell me anything as a gift unless they had done a measurement on her. Sorry- I'm not flying her in from Texas and they were rude to boot- assuming that a girl in her 20's couldn't afford anything from them! Anyways, time and time again, I have had good luck at Bloomers in Old Town Alexandria. Cute everyday lingerie, robes and loungey clothes. I ended up getting a really beautiful white lace babydoll for her there.

  36. B says:

    Agreed, I can't believe the trashiness of some of the things I see in that store. VS also hasn't had a bra to fit me since I was in about 10th grade. One of my best friends swears by them, but she's medium chested and rarely visits the store – she knows her size in a few different styles and orders online now.

    On another note, I wanted to let all of the fuller-figured ladies out there know that Lane Bryant's semi-annual sale is going on right now – buy 2, get 2 free. I don't buy clothes from Lane Bryant (am a straight size 14/16) but wear a 36DDD. With such a large chest, I felt resigned to wearing old-lady styles, and have never been more embarassed than when an attendant at a department store brought me a selection of 40DD and 42D bras. I had pretty much given up on finding the perfect bra, but all of my problems were solved when a friend recommended the Casique line a few years ago. My favorites for everyday are the smooth and lace balconette styles. All the bras I've tried (even the plunge style) are very supportive and come in a variety of neutral and muted colors, as well as a few fun prints.

  37. SC says:

    I agree with the other ladies who buy from Aerie. I've only been to an actual Aerie store once in NY, but it was very subtle and tasteful compared to the VS store on the other side of the mall. They've got plenty of basic styles and colors on their website, and that's where I buy all of my basic bras now. The prices aren't outrageous either.

    I order from them online here in DC, but I know they've got an outlet in Rehoboth, if you ever stop there before/after going to the beach.

  38. ElleBelle says:

    Belle, I could not agree with you more. Approaching almost 30, I am past the days of neon green/animal print bras, even though I fondly remember buying red velvet/zebra print sets from Rave back in my college days…..sigh…. I prefer nude bras for my very professional office setting, and unlike Skip Whistler believes, that does not mean I lack sex appeal. With maturity comes the understanding that simple black lace can be as hot as trashy.

    I recently moved to DC, and I am still looking for a nice lingerie shop. I am lucky to be small chested (34A/32B usually), but I tend to run into the same issues with variety and selection as the larger-chested ladies. For the time being, as another commenter mentioned, I rely on RueLaLa and Gilt to find nice pieces at wallet friendly prices.

  39. EAC says:

    I honestly don't get why adult professional women are shopping at Victoria's Secret for their basic lingerie needs. If there is an Intimacy store or something similar in your area, please do yourself a favor and get fitted. Yes, their bras are expensive, but spend the money for at least two good, well fitting bras. I am amazed at the amount of women who have no problem spending $150.00+ for a pair of shoes, but think that $30.00 is too much to spend on a bra. I see too many women w/ unsupported bossoms, sporting the uni-boob, four boobs ( because their cups are too small) or with unsightly back fat (because the band size is too big) and breast tissue that's spilling out from the sides of their bra cups; believe me ladies, other people CAN see this.

    Good online sources are herrroom.com, figleaves.com and freshpair.com.

  40. anonymous says:

    Hey, going to agree with a commenter on the first page, nice post but please cut some of the NJ judgment. Not everyone is like the cast of the show,

  41. Belle says:

    Obviously, not everyone from NJ is like Real Housewives, Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, etc. But you need to have a sense of humor about where you're from. I'm a redneck from out West from a town that my co-workers mock endlessly. At some point, you just have to have hometown pride and the ability to laugh at the situation. Don't take things so personally.

  42. RB says:

    If you know what style bra/panty suits you, the best bet is to shop VS online. They typically have a much wider variety of sizes and colors than in-store. You can usually get free shipping, and returns are easy if your purchase doesn't work out.

  43. C says:

    I would recommend shopping at Intimacy in person and HerRoom.com online. Victoria's Secret is not a lingerie company anymore, it's just another lifestyle brand.

  44. C says:

    Ps- There IS and Intimacy store in DC now.

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