How Not to Shop, with Sweets

Wow.  So, I keep telling y’all to stand your ground in lingerie shops and demand your size or demand pretty things in your size, and I just went into a boutique on my lunch break and totally bombed.

Very Nice Store Representative: Can I help you find anything today?

Sweets: No thanks I’m just browsing?

VNSR: Okay, well let me know if you need anything.

Sweets: [aimlessly wanders teeny-tiny store, glancing at labels and tags.]

VNSR: Are you sure there’s nothing I can help you with?

Sweets: Um, well, um, I guess I was wondering if . . . um, you guys were going to bring back any full-bust sizes?  Because I bought my favorite bra ever from you all a few years ago and you don’t seem to carry it anymore?  Could I sound any more sheepish?

VNSR: Oh, um, well, uh, what’s your size?

Sweets: [Size, but with lots of apologetic question marks]

VNSR: Oh.  Well, um, yeah, we have these over here. [Goes to drawer with 1 style of beige molded cup bra]

Sweets: Oh, that’s okay, really, that style doesn’t fit me very well . . . I was kind of hoping you had, um, some Claudette and Mimi Holliday?  Because both those brands make full-bust sizes, and I want to try them on?

VNSR: Have you looked online?

Oy.  This happens all the time.  The store representative can’t help it that they don’t stock my size, but I know she feels badly, and she wants to offer me something, anything.  She sees my disappointment, and she wants to offer me a balm.  But it’s a SUCKY one.  I don’t want beige!  I don’t want shipping charges and uncertainty!  I want the pretty shiny lacy silky things!  I want to grab my size off the wall and ask “May I try this on?” and have options.  This VNSR gets extra brownies points because, unlike one of her predecessors on a previous shopping trip, she didn’t suggest I try on two band sizes bigger and two cups smaller, because “it would probably fit.”

So what to do in this situation?  What to do if, like me, you know what you’re looking for and you don’t see it?  Well, look, you’re not gonna get an answer that minute.  You may even get a polite but firm “we have no plans to expand our size/brand range at this time.”  But what the VNSR eventually offered me was a spot on their mailing list, confirmation that they’d be expanding their online retail presence, and assurance that if there was anything I wanted to see, I’d be welcome to contact the store via their website and request it.  I think that’s a great response, because it speaks to the store’s flexibility and interest in their customers.  She wasn’t a manager or owner, so she couldn’t answer my questions, but she directed me towards people who could.  Thanks, VNSR!

I don’t know why I still get sheepish in lingerie shops, but it can feel overwhelmingly embarrassing to have to ask for your size, no matter which end of the spectrum: petite, small-bust, full-bust, full-figure, basically any size that deviates from the Standard Sixteen.  Here’s how I’m trying to look at it: how will the store know what its customers want if the customers don’t ask?  For every person who sticks to her guns and asks, there could be countless women who didn’t.  Also, every time I step up and ask for my size, my brands, my choices, it gets easier and less mortifying.  I am not my boobs, and I am not my bra size.  I just want to take care of them and dress them well.  A good store will be there to help me.

5 Comments on How Not to Shop, with Sweets

  1. Katie
    July 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm (11 years ago)

    At the local store in New Orleans that I LOOOVE, they ask you your size and you tell them. THEN, they politely and non-aggressively take a look in the fitting room at what you *think* your size is. When it – almost inevitably – is incorrect, they nonchalantly bring you an equally nice bra. They say only, “Here sweetie, try this one” with no mention of what size they’ve given you. They keep at it until you find one you like, and then you sneakily look at the tag once you’re ready to buy it. ONLY after all this at my last visit did I realize I was buying a DDD (which I didn’t even know existed!) instead of a D. They did it with total low-keyness (is that a word?).

    By not focusing on what size they are giving you to try, they aren’t stressing you out about what size you are. None of this, “Hmm… you seem to be ‘leaking’ out the sides, we’ll have to try a *larger* cup size” bullsh*t. They just hand you what, in their professional opinion, will fit you. I assume it would be the same if someone were wishfully grabbing a C that needed an A cup.

    And the icing on the cake? My boobs have never looked better through clothes.

    • Sweets
      July 10, 2012 at 6:58 pm (11 years ago)

      Aww, that sounds like the best store! I really like their judgment-free approach. I’m glad you have a good team in your corner. 🙂

  2. Mary
    July 11, 2012 at 9:25 am (11 years ago)

    Blerg, I always do this in shops (lingerie and otherwise, though I haven’t been in an actual lingerie store I think since the month before my wedding). I feel as though it’s my fault that the store doesn’t have what I need.

    As for the way people size you– I had basically the opposite experience at a store in Chicago (which carried a great range of nice full-bust sizes, although their customer service fell dramatically over time and I’m pretty sure they’re closed now). I’d already been sized, and I wasn’t planning to buy anything, but one of the VNSRs was all, “hey, it can’t hurt to be resized and try pretty things on.” I told her I was a 32FF; she said, “Um, I doubt it–here, try this” and handed me a 34D or DD. She came in, looked at the bra (which CLEARLY did not fit), and kept handing me bras a cup size up and band size down at a time until we arrived–at last–at the size I had told her I was in the first place. I can’t remember any more whether she actually employed a tape measure at any point during this episode. It was clear that she a) knew what looked right and what didn’t and b) was really trying to be helpful, but she just did NOT want to accept that maybe I knew more about my boobs than she did.

  3. Mary
    July 11, 2012 at 9:27 am (11 years ago)

    Also, it sounds as though the woman told you that anything they had online that you wanted to try in your size they would order to the store for you? That is an okay compromise, I guess–still way more legwork on your part than you should have to do, but at least they’re making it possible for you to try things before you buy them? Maybe?

    • Sweets
      July 11, 2012 at 10:56 am (11 years ago)

      I agree with you. It’s definitely a sign that the store wants to help the customer, but it would still be so lovely to walk into a store and pick my size off a display, like “normal” people. I need to compile a guide to a good fitting, or something, so if a store every says “well, what do you want from us?” I can say “THIS”, and point to it.


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