What’s one subject that’s sure to come up when you gather a group of D+ women to wear the shirts you’ve designed for them?  Bra fitters and lingerie stores, of course.  Zoë, one of the amazing volunteers for my Campbell & Kate video shoot this past weekend (she’s on the far right in this photo that I posted on the Campbell & Kate Facebook page Saturday–I’ll write more about the shoot later) told me about her favorite lingerie store, Zoë & Co.  No, it’s not because they share the same name.  It’s because Zoe & Co. meets the three criteria that I wrote about last May:

  • people skills;
  • knowledge & experience; and
  • a wide selection of sizes [10/16/13 edit: and in a variety of styles].

Zoë the model has promised to write more about Zoë the store in a guest post soon.

I’ve been thinking about the challenges of reviewing bra fitters and lingerie stores.  For instance, I’m going to post about my conversation with Barbara Gilbert in the next few days.  I’ve never met Barbara in person or visited her store, but I liked what she had to say, and I’m going to relay it to you.  Does that guarantee you the best bra fitting experience you’ve ever had if you visit her store?

Unfortunately, no.  Your fitter is human.  She could be having an off day and fail to pick up on the cues you give her of how to treat you.  There’s a small possibility that your fitter may have just completed Barbara’s 3 month training program and not yet have encountered your particular issues.  Or the store could have just sold out of everything in your size.

I try to be very positive on my blog, which may sometimes come across as Polyanna-ish.  I love meeting people associated with the lingerie industry, and they’re usually such nice, interesting and knowledgeable people that I can’t help but gush about them.  But I know that no one is perfect, and it’s hard to decide the best approach to take when I discover a store’s issues.

My preference is to offer criticism constructively so that if the store reads my review, it can address the issue.  If I consider the issue to be a small one, I’ll write about it right away.  If it’s a big issue, I’ll wait until I’ve visited the store at least twice or hear from others who have been fitted there. Even then, I hesitate to give you the store and fitter’s name.  Maybe it’s wimpy of me, but I hate the idea of a negative review that will remain permanently online even after a bad fitter has either improved or left the store.  Instead, I tend to write about the store without disclosing any identifying information and only name the stores that I myself would re-visit.

Unfortunately, I have positively identified stores that I later discovered I didn’t like.  I try to remedy this when women ask me directly where to go for a fitting.  I list my favorite stores and the specific fitters I would request at them, along with their styles, strengths and weakness (e.g., Ellen’s fitter that I described in May is strong in accuracy and inventory but weak in people skills; another of my favorite fitters is over the top in knowledge but only average in people skills and inventory).

If I were really on a mission to ensure the best possible fitting experience for all women, whether or not they have read my blog or asked me for recommendations, I would tell the un-named stores what I have learned about them.  It would be fascinating to see if they would do anything with the information.

In the meantime, do you have a favorite store that you have visited at least twice and would like to write about here?  What do you consider to be a big issue when you judge a store?  What’s a small issue for you?