Victoria’s Secret Bras Aren’t Special

Hello Everyone,

After I posted my original article and video deconstructing the poor fitting techniques advocated by both the Victoria’s Secret website and many of their “professional” bra fitters, I received a flood of comments and emails stating that until I tried an actual Victoria’s Secret bra, I could not comment on the methodology.  Victoria’s Secret bras, asserted my detractors, are special, and even though a 38C in Affinitas or a 36DD in Natori fit poorly, that did not mean a VS bra in those sizes would not work for me.  I just didn’t try one of their bras, so how could I say for sure?  For newcomers to the blog, check out the video below for a demonstration of their fit system as well as an analysis of why it does not work:

Glossing over my horrible experiences at VS when I was a teenager, I consider myself to be an open-minded person willing to listen to and incorporate feedback.  However, my skepticism was not abated when I visited Bratabase and noted the measurements for VS bras were inline (if not more generous in the band) with any run-of-the mill bra sizing scheme:

Sexy Tee Demi Bra in 38C
Dream Angels Demi in 38DD
BioFit Uplift 38D
Body by Victoria Full Coverage

In the spirit of scientific inquiry, Dezi and I headed to our local VS to test both a 38C—the size originally suggested by the measurement system—as well as the 36DD, which is what all of the comments recommended.  The 38C was so indecently small, I could not take a picture without exposing too much skin; as a result, below are the pictures of a 38D and a 36DD.  Incidentally, Dezi and I had to dig through several drawers to find any DD cups as the majority of the inventory was A-D only.  To maintain consistency, both bras are the same style from The Nakeds line albeit two different colors.  Finally, the pictures were taken using my cell phone, so I apologize for the lower quality.

VS_38D_1

VS_38D_2

VS_38D_4
Side spillage, no tacking, and minimal lift . . . and I haven’t even scooped yet!
VS_38D_5
Band is way too large on the tightest set of hooks, and there is considerable spillage toward the front.
VS_38D_6
Post-scoop, I have breast tissue falling out the bottom and spillage near the center. The underwire is literally resting on breast tissue the entire way around my body.

Now, let’s examine the 36DD and see if the problems are resolved:

VS_36DD_2

VS_36DD_3
It’s still way too small in the cup even pre-scoop.
VS_36DD_1
Look at the underwire pressing into the breast tissue toward the front. Ouch!
VS_36DD_5
And of course, I have the dreaded quad-boob too.
VS_36DD_6
Band is still way too big on the tightest set of hooks.
VS_36DD_7
Not only does the center gore not tack, but I can pull it away from the chest because of how large the band is.

Clearly, Victoria’s Secret bras are not cut using some special sizing system that matches their fit technique.  The 36DD fits me no better or worse than 36DDs from other brands.  Overall, the process reminded me of the years I spent desperately searching for something big enough to provide coverage and avoid quad-boob, regardless of how loose the band was.  Needless to say, I was immensely happy to put on my 30HH bra!

In an effort to be fair, I did not receive any fitting advice from the Victoria’s Secret fitters.  Given that the store is only two miles from mine and that we do get the occasional referral, I was worried I would be recognized.  My goal was to fly under the radar and test the sizes recommended.  Additionally, my goal is not to criticize the VS store I visited or any of their products, and I am only interested in educating women about poor fitting techniques and how to avoid them. For articles on the actual fitting process, check out these posts from my fellow bra bloggers:

That Bra Does Not Fit Her
Bratabase
Boosaurus
Voluptuous and Beautiful
Invest in Your Chest
Braless in Brasil: Following VS Fit Advice
Braless in Brasil: Remeasuring for VS
Braless in Brasil: In-Store Fit Experience
Braless in Brasil: Latest VS Fail

As an unrelated side note, scrolled across the top of my mirror was “It’s amazing what the right bra can do!”  Yes.  Yes, it is.

Erica

Victoria’s Secret Bras Aren’t Special
Erica
Erica is a lover all things lingerie and is passionate about helping people find the bra which fits and flatters. Side passions include reading, writing, hiking, dairy-free food, walking her Jack Russell terrorists, and dying her hair everything from black to red.
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25 thoughts on “Victoria’s Secret Bras Aren’t Special

  • August 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm
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    I actually managed to find a 38DDD at a VS. Since I am usually a 38 band, I felt it would be an honest test of their bras…and while the band was quite comfortable I did not get a tacking gore, and the bra worked by squishing me together to create the type of cleavage you see in their catalogs/online. The cups/gore also cut into my breast tissue and gave me a Freya Deco-ish buckle (tall, round cup). I was also squished out of the sides… I needed a larger cup (I usually wear a UK 38 F/FF which is a US G/H).

    So, overall, I agree…their bras seem to run like everyone else…nothing unique about the sizing system. They just don’t make bras to fit larger than a DDD US cup.

    I will say the bra felt like a US sized bra, usually labeled “comfort” and “no back fat” or some such – and by that I mean designed to be super comfortable so women can wear a too-large band with too-small cups and not weep.

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 28, 2013 at 1:58 pm
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      Dezi and I had a terrible time finding even DDs in our store, so it’s interesting to hear how they vary by location. I didn’t see a single DDD at all; otherwise, I would have probably tried that as well. The materials and fabrics used on the bras I tried were very comfortable, and the quality seemed pretty decent too (hence why I am not negatively comment on the products themselves). Howver, given how the underwire was biting and mashing breast tissue and the band was hopelessly too big, I know I would be miserable later on in the day. Truth be told, I was having some flashbacks of when I was a self-conscious teenager feeling miserable about having bigger boobs.

      If you only carry certain sizes in store, that’s okay, but don’t attempt to filter a diverse range of sizes into the ones you sell for the sake of the bottom line. Women deserve better than that! Oh, and as a side critique, why were all the small cup sizes so heavily padded with push-ups? A lot of women in those size ranges are perfectly happy with their boobs as is and like bras that aren’t designed to amplify.

      Reply
      • August 28, 2013 at 2:08 pm
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        Yes, nothing like squished together boob in the summer heat to make you miserable. Ugh.

        The bra I tried was heavily contoured/moulded. And that’s probably a good design decision, because an unlined/unmoulded/noncontoured cup would show the cup size problem (and you’d FEEL IT) immediately when you’re in a wrong-sized cup.

        All contoured/moulded bras do that, IMO. They hide the bumps and bulges. And it works well when you want that (though there’s no way I can fit in a DDD when I need a G/H).

        Reply
        • Erica
          August 28, 2013 at 2:09 pm
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          That’s a good point about how the molded padded cups can conceal fit issues better than a cut-and-sew style would!

          Reply
  • August 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm
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    As a heavy set large breasted woman I have always felt poorly treated by VS. I was sized into a 40DDD at a department store when in 9th grade (which I believe was way too small looking back but was the largest cup they offered). I don’t believe VS even offered that size at them time. In fairness to them I have never been there for a fitting but I never felt it was a place with products for me.

    Really there is just a sad lack of anything above 40 and/or DDD in the mainstream US, even Lane Bryant only expanded past a DDD in the last 7 years, and even now they aren’t carried in all stores and only in a few styles.

    Its disturbing to me that poor fitting bras are the only known option to so many.

    Reply
    • August 28, 2013 at 5:20 pm
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      That was the other thing…I felt like a giant standing in VS. Not only were the other customers and the sales staff shorter than me (and I’m not tall), they were very small framed. So there I am, in all my hulking glory…

      Oh, and old…they were all in their teens/twenties.

      Reply
    • Erica
      August 29, 2013 at 11:16 am
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      The lack of options is incredibly disheartening, especially if you start to feel isolated or freakish because of your body. It starts a body hate cycle that no one deserves. I know that my experiences when I was younger took some time to get over, and they strengthened my resolve to open a store of my own where there would be more options. Now, if only I didn’t have budgetary and space considerations . . . *evil grin*

      Reply
  • August 28, 2013 at 4:48 pm
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    I love the style of those bras though. Are they made of satin? Were the ones you tried moulded?

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 29, 2013 at 11:18 am
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      Hi Lynn! They were made of some kind of soft synthetic fiber, and the cups were definitely molded. The foam was flexible but rather thick too, and I did like how the wings did not have heavy strips of elastic at the top and bottom.

      Reply
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  • August 29, 2013 at 9:56 am
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    These look a lot like the Smoothie.

    I remember years ago I went to VS to see if I can find a decent bra, as I was failing everywhere else, and was fitted into 34C or something like that. I don’t remember if I bought the bra on that occasion, but I did end up with a few VS bras, and remember all of them fitting decently the first time I wore them (band still not stretched), with fit deteriorating irreversibly starting literally from the second wear. I wore 34 band at the time. Now, years later and a good 10 – 15 lbs heavier I wear a 28-30 band. I probably needed no more than a tight 28 band back then. I chalked the problems to quality issues and decided for myself never to buy VS bras because of that.

    Looking at your pictures here reminded me of those times when I could not wait to pull of that torture garment at the end of the day, as soon as got home… Good job everything was perky back then, so I could go braless around the house without feeling too self conscious… The only purpose of my bras was literally to smooth over the nipple area and nothing else, there was no lift!

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 29, 2013 at 3:40 pm
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      It was definitely filled with flashbacks for me as well! Your description of the problem sums up why I think we don’t see as many women in that 28/30 band size. If the breasts are naturally self-supporting, then it may not be as obvious the bra size is incorrect. It’s quite a revelation to find the size that fits the best though!!

      Reply
  • August 29, 2013 at 10:12 am
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    As much skin as you are showing in these pictures, I think it was a wise call not to show the smaller one unless you wanted to charge a monthly membership fee to view your pictures like the other skin showing sites.

    VS is a joke with their sizing for smaller band larger cup women. I would have more respect for them if they were just honest and told larger chested women that they can’t do anything for us rather than try to cram us into bras that don’t fit with bands way too big and cups way too small.

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm
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      Honesty would be a better policy as it would allow more women to seek alternatives elsewhere rather than living with bras that do not fit. If you do not cater to everyone, that’s fine, but be prepared to recommend something else.

      Reply
  • August 29, 2013 at 10:33 am
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    Awesome! Love your detailed analysis.

    Reply
  • August 29, 2013 at 6:42 pm
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    I only have VS bras right now, and I’m very happy with the fit. I’m not as large-chested as you are, Erica, so maybe that’s why I could find one that worked. I believe mine is a 38D. I’ve had girlfriends say that my b**bs looked good under fitted tops, so I think this bra is working for me. If I lived closer to your shop, I could try some of the brands you carry!

    Reply
    • Erica
      August 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm
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      It’s fun to experiment with other styles, but if VS bras fit and work for you, then that’s great too. 🙂 Their size range will definitely work for some women, and the products they offer are quite nice. I just hope it encourages more people to double-check the good fit criteria and maybe get professional fitting at some point to be sure. Tammy, if you like the shape of VS, try Natori at some point. They both use the V-shaped molded cup design, and Natori has some amazing bras. My aunt swears it’s like wearing air, and you can usually find them at Nordstrom or some Dillard’s. 😀

      Reply
  • August 30, 2013 at 7:40 pm
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    Love this Erica. I have never even been into a VS store. Sometimes when I am crabby, I debate just going in to see if they actually have the nerve to try to get me in one of their bras or just turn up their noses an ignore me. Perhaps they would just ask if I am “shopping for someone else.” If I ever go in, I will certainly let you know what happens.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2013 at 10:33 pm
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    I have a friend who told me she wears a VS 38DD. She is definitely a 40+ band. And her cup is over an FF. Yet those bastards shoved her into a 38DD just because it was the biggest size they had. I wanted to cry for her. In fact I almost laughed in her face when she told me she was a 38DD. So sad. 🙁

    Reply
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  • December 19, 2018 at 12:22 pm
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    I think the reason why you’re getting so much digging in and awfully large bands is because you aren’t wearing the right size. In my opinion (as a woman who is fitted as a DDD, you’re definitely NOT a DDD, in fact, you seem to be much larger than that (maybe an F? Hard to tell). VS isn’t good when it comes to actually large boobs (past DDD) so I feel like VS isn’t the place for you to shop. I would definitely get professionally fitted at some point, as I fee you will have a much better bra experience once you know your correct size. Hope this helps!

    Reply
    • Erica
      January 11, 2019 at 9:00 am
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      As a professional bra fitter, you are absolutely right people need to get fitted from someone other than Victoria’s Secret. It’s so vital to find the correct size bra, and we are here to help. 🙂

      Reply

What are your thoughts?