Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Women with Funny Shaped Bodies

The following is an email I wrote to Debenhams following a nasty experience with a bra fitting at their Swansea store.  Large breasted/broad-backed women, beware!!


Good afternoon,

Following my friend telling you on Twitter that I had had some problems with the service during a bra fitting at your Swansea store, you asked me to email more details.

I went to your Swansea store this Saturday specifically to have a bra fitting.  I used to go to La Senza but they're now closed down, and I know that Debenhams have an excellent range of bras for larger busts so thought I would try their fitting service.  I was greeted by a sales assistant at the dressing room and I asked for a fitting.  She showed me to a cubicle and told me to remove my top and leave my bra on.  As I was not wearing a bra (I had outgrown all my previous size to a point where wearing them was uncomfortable) I left my T-shirt on.  I had done this at previous fittings at other shops without issue.  The assistant seemed surprised but carried on regardless.  She measured under my bust and said I measured as a 34.  She did not measure over my bust, which surprised me as this is what had happened in other fittings.  She asked what size I had been wearing, and I said a 34DD.  She said we would start with a 34D, which again I found surprising considering my 34DDs had become uncomfortably small.

As I expected, the 34D was much too small.  She then brought me a 34DD, which was better but felt very tight around and pinched under the arms.  She suggested that it would fit better if I adjusted the straps.  This wasn't possible as I was wearing the bra and couldn't reach behind me.  Normally in this situation, I would expect the assistant to adjust the straps for me.  Next she tried a 34E, which fit a little better around but was much too big on the cup.  She seemed frustrated that I did not fit any of the 34 bras as that is how I had measured, and said, "Some women just have funny shaped bodies."  I was hurt by this comment, as it implied that it should be my body that fits to Debenhams' bras, rather than the other way around.    I was told, "You could try a 36, but you'd have to go down a cup size.  Just try different ones on, you'l find something that fits eventually."

This had left me with the impression that the assistant was going to get me a 36D to see if it fitted any better.  In actualy fact, she had gone to the woman in the cubicle next to mine, who already had an assistant helping her, but was getting married and buying a wedding lingerie set.  In the end, I picked up six bras in varying sizes and bought the ones that fit.  This was a fairly lengthy process, during which I heard the same assistant with another woman in a neighbouring cubicle who was a 40F, and who seemed to be having similar trouble with the assistant and finding a bra that actually fit her comfortably. 

I bought two 36Ds and a 34DD (This fit me around just fine, perhaps made with extra elastane?)  Together with matching briefs.  All in all I spent £70 at your shop.  Possibly more than the woman getting married, who had two sales assistants.  I would probably buy bras at Debenhams again as you do have a really beautiful and comfortable selection for larger busts.  However, I would not be fitted there again, and would not go there for 'occasion' lingerie, for which I would want to be fitted.

I understand that Debenhams is not a shop that caters specifically to underwear fitting, like La Senza or Madam Foner's, and that it's possible your assistants aren't trained much in fitting or wanted to work in fitting.  But I think it's important that they be taught how to deal with larger busted women, and particularly that not everyone's body is going to work specifically within the confines of their tape measure.  When recounting this story to my mother (who was a bra fitter for John Lewis for several years) she was surprised that I measured as a 34, because I am very broad across the shoulders and back.  There are various aspects of physionomy that need to be taken into account, as well as basic measurements, and I feel that the overall emphasis should be placed on comfort.  After all, this is a piece of equipment in which a woman's expected to spend her whole day.

Normally I really enjoy shopping for underwear.  It makes me feel special, and I really enjoy buying something pretty and comfortable, and having a good choice of selection.  On this occasion, I really didn't enjoy myself.  Afterwards I felt unattractive and freakish, and the overall experience took much longer than I had anticipated as I ended up having to fit myself.

I hope that you will consider my comments and experience, and possibly see that your staff are more thoroughly trained in fitting.

Kind regards,

Vicky Ford

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