Over the years I’ve had a few different jobs, but the one that stands out the most is probably the nearly 3 years I spent as a salesgirl at Victoria’s Secret.
It wasn’t a glamorous job, by any means, but it meant extra spending money during my college years. Because I worked in the RI store, we got time and a half on Sundays, so those days were the most coveted. Once I worked my way up the retail ranks (aka didn’t get fired after the first few months), I got the Sunday shifts, so I’d quietly leave my dorm in the morning and get to the mall before the city was awake. Putting new inventory out on the floor and reorganizing the beauty shelves were tasks I didn’t mind; refolding panty drawers was the stuff of nightmares.
My favorite days were meeting days, when we would all be called together before the store opened for a new release, which also meant we got free product, typically the newest bra to come out. We would have to sit and watch some cheesy video that the corporate office had made, but a) we got paid for physically being there and b) then we got to walk away with a $50 bra for free. Our discount wasn’t bad, either, so those Christmases were heavy with gifts from VS for my close friends and family. (One year meant matching PJ pants for my college roommates!)
Alongside making some dough and getting a good discount, I learned some things that I will probably never forget.
- Men assume you can tell a bra size by holding their hands up. I cannot tell you how many men would come into the store, ask for help with sizing, and then hold up their hands and say, “This is the size she wears.” Because, right, let me just look at your hands and say, “oh, lemons? That’s a 32C” (guys, it doesn’t work that way).
- Guys, if you try to hide, you will be called out. The shy guys were the best – the ones who would come into the store and legitimately try to hide behind a column or a display and not be seen by the employees. Not because they were trying to steal or do anything shady – they just didn’t want to be offered help, wanted to find something really quickly, and leave as fast as possible! These were the guys we would seek out, asking them over and over if we could help them choose a gift and bringing them options, only because
it was entertainingwe were trying to do our jobs.
- Be nice: Don’t rifle through the drawers! Probably the worst task was refolding drawers upon drawers of panties, which we had to do nightly before closing. You’d have everything all organized during your shift, and then right before close someone would come in, rifle through the drawers looking for something, and mess everything up, undoing hours of work in just a few seconds. Argh! Now when I go shopping, I’m so careful to leave everything nice and organized (unless it’s a mess, in which case, have at it).
- Some women have no problem pulling you into the fitting room to help them. I distinctly remember one shift when a 20-something pulled me into the fitting room with her so I could help her choose lingerie to wear for her boyfriend. My manager had been radioing for me, and I had to respond, “In the fitting room with a customer” which meant HELP ME. Ladies, the salespeople working in a retail store are there for questions, yes, but they don’t want to be your personal shopping bestie. Sure, it’s an impartial party’s opinion, but please, spare them. Bring a friend instead (maybe one who has already seen your nips).
- The majority of women are wearing the wrong bra size. You’re supposed to be measured every 6 months or so, but a lot of women would come in and buy the same size over and over, even though I could see that their straps were cutting into their shoulders and the strap across their back was way too high. Even now when I see women out and about, I want to gently tell them that they’re wearing the wrong bra size!
There were definitely some shady characters and scenes from those days, but I’m leaving those out in favor of a PSA: If your bra straps are digging into your shoulders or the strap is not straight across your back, you need to go get measured! Go visit your friendly salesgirl – just don’t ask her to come in the room with you, and for the love of all things lace, don’t mess up the panty drawers!