Monday, March 11, 2013

Victoria's Secret Alternatives

*To all the gentlemen that read my posts:
First of all, I am thankful to have you as a reader! This post may seem like something that you need to skip over, but I encourage you to read on, especially if you have a daughter. In short, bras are a big deal. Many women go years wearing the wrong size, or have trouble finding bras that fit correctly. As a father (or primary caregiver) you might end up in a situation where you will have to help a tween or teen out, and knowing how to help her get fitted properly is important! I get that the subject matter is a bit uncomfortable, but so is wearing an unsupported, ill-fitted bra. Be educated, my friends! I will try to be gentle in my wording!
A lucky woman that had her Mom's help in this department!*

Ahem. I am going to try to avoid a soapbox rant for this post, but it might not be possible so bare with me. When I was coming of age, I was blessed with a mom that helped me figure out bras. It is a big, scary, sexy, undergarment-filled world out there, and in the midst of hormone and body changes, a girl needs a guide! We went with what is probably the most accessible bra specialty store: Victoria's Secret.

I know: I have heard all the horror stories about how they plot to get you into ill-fitting bras, and how the bras do not hold up, etc. but I have worn Victoria's Secret bras since I was at least 14, and apart from a few dryer incidents and someone stealing one in college, they have always stood the test of time. My favorite and most memorable care package in college was a box full of new bras, undies, and Riesens. I have always had the right fit, even when I needed to adjust sizes. In short: they worked for me and I was a happy customer.

As the Pink line infiltrated the butts of women everywhere, my eyes began to roll. There was an entire half of the store that I could not shop in, because I was not Pink-sized. It also smelled.... like nausea and flowers. You cannot go out in public without seeing "PINK" across a 15, 30, 45 year old's posterior. It started to be less about keeping the girls up and matching bras and undies, and more about sex and drawing attention. It may have always been more about that, but I am naive and just shopped there for coverage and quality. 

Now, I am hearing about a new VS line to attract the teeny-bopper crowd: PINK: Bright Young Things.  (Come on. Things?????????)

(Click here for USA Today Story)

The CEO professes that the new line is targeted at 15-16 years that "want to be cool like college kids." Therein lies the problem: they are not college kids. Nevermind that this age group is already wearing the heck out of the PINK line "without" marketing to this age group: so why the push to sell to younger girls if they are already hitting that market? I suspect it is to grab the loyalty and attention of girls that are younger still: perhaps tweens?

I have always tried to ignore the craziness that is VS advertising: the fashion shows, the skin, the cleavage, the sexy. I know why I shop there, and I am confident enough in myself to know that I do not have to look like the models to be me. However, I also fear change to a degree and finding another bra line that is durable and the right fit for me is intimidating. I was really sad to learn I missed out on the short-lived line of nursing bras VS had, and even more sad when I tried brand after brand and just could not find nursing bras that were supportive and functional. While nursing my son and my daughter, after a few months I just had to go back to my regular bras and then I would pretty much destroy them for a few months and quit nursing out of frustration.

During this pregnancy, I have picked the brains of the Cathsorority ladies, NFP ladies and any group that will let me ask questions about nursing bras in an effort to find some that are durable, supportive, and a little fun, if possible. My experience researching and measuring helped me get out of my comfort zone, and into some really great purchases from quality companies that do not sell sex objects in place of bras!

If you are looking to branch out as well, or just need some ideas, here are some options that come highly recommended:

Regular Bra Shopping:

Maidenform: (Can be found at Kohl's, Nordstrom's, Macy's) Recommended by Sarah, Rachel, and Amy.

Soma: Recommended by Kristen Recommended by Kassie and The Good Women Project (You answer a few questions, then they send you a box full of bras to try on and you send back what doesn't work! Amazing!)

Blums: Recommended by Elizabeth

For nursing:

Linda The Bra Lady: This site is what marked my departure from VS. I was going to just try it out for nursing bras, but as I need an atypical size, I think I will stick to Linda. Many, many great options! They go well beyond nursing bras.

Bravado: Recommended by Leah, and Rachel. (I have had this brand recommended over and over!)

Other options: Some mommas (thanks for the tip, Amy!) a little more adept at sewing are able to adapt their regular bras for nursing, and rumor has it that Nordstrom's will convert bras for a nominal fee.

For Teens:

Justice: Recommended by Elizabeth

Aerie: (Also some good things for adults!) Recommended by Anna

Do you have any go to places that are not listed? Let me know in the comments! We also had a Facebook discussion last night with a few links to some great options, so explore the wide world of bras... there are more secrets besides Victoria's!


  1. I was recently in desperate need of a few new bras and I saw a sale + coupon code + free shipping to Maidenform so I tried it out. I got two bras for $25.50 and they are awesome! They are the most comfortable, fit the best, and are the cutest bras I've ever worn (can you tell I'm excited!). Also, I avoid VS for the oversexualization of teens thing.

  2. Thanks for the list! I shopped at La Senza for so long (they had great sales!) but now I'm realizing their quality is not what I need (chest is getting bigger I need FULL coverage!) and I want brands that do different advertising. I will save these links :)

  3. I just browsed to your blog from WIWS and saw the PINK picture on your sidebar. OMG: I was in the mall with my daughter the other day and she was drawn to the PINK displays--like a moth to a flame--as we walked by VS. . . . She is freakin' FOUR YEARS OLD! Please forgive my all caps. It's just so utterly, terribly wrong. Okay, I'll stop now.

    1. The marketing is brilliant, no doubt, but it hurts to see it in action.

  4. I feel like it's sort of rude to defame an entire store for having developed a department for younger, healthier, women. It sounds like your olfactory hallucination (nausea and flowers) was a psychosomatic response to the insecurity you might have been experiencing at the time. I don't think you should criticize anything simply because it doesn't accommodate you. I'm not going to roll up in Lane Bryant and complain about how they don't have anything for healthy women.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! No insecurities, just not what they considered average bust sized for a teenager. I think it is fair for you to feel free to frequent VS if you like it, and I am free to suggest alternative brands that do not make their money exploiting teen age girls and pushing the message that is a certain size or ideal they should fit. I was pretty clear that I was happy with the brand for a very long time, but could not support what was happening as they begin to target younger girls. That is not about accommodating me, that is about a harmful and damaging message that I would rather not support anymore. Do as you see fit! You obviously feel very strongly about this as you came all the way over here to post... anonymously. Good luck to you!


Comments are always welcome! Come join me on:
Twitter: @jessfayette