Lane Bryant and the Empty-Handed Customer, Part One

So, I went to Lane Bryant. Again.

I say this with a fair amount of angst. Why, pray tell? After all, this is a plus-size shop, yes? Good things there, right?

Too bad I couldn’t find any to fit. Again.

Despite wandering in there for years, despite numerous visits, I have never actually purchased a thing from Lane Bryant. I could rant on plus size shops in general (I’m looking at you, too, Avenue), but I’m going to be specific here, and talk about my experiences with Lane Bryant.

I’ve been lured in by nice jackets in the window, lovely lingerie on display, pretty colors, nice cuts, the works. Every time, I end up disappointed.

The jackets are pinned in the back at the waist to make them appear more tailored on the display, but are actually cut far too large for me in the ribs and waist. The lingerie on display is labeled in dress sizes that cover more than one size – for instance, I noted an 18/20 and a 22/24 – but have actual formed bra cups that need to be labeled with an actual band and cup size. This also ignores the fact that a woman may be plus-sized and all boob in the chest as opposed to being plus-sized and all ribcage – this lingerie is designed for the latter, and I swear the 18/20 would have fit a 44C. Nothing wrong with that, but it certainly won’t fit my 36J/K boobs. The colors are great, but these are not accessories; I need to wear these items and have them actually function on me as garments. The nice cuts still balloon on me. I usually leave dejected, likely never to return, until my hope builds again. Then, I go into one on a whim, thinking ‘just maybe this time will be different.’

It never is different.

This time, I went for bras.

Oh, foolish, foolish girl!

I suppose you can guess how that went, but I’m not sparing details. Sorry, not sorry.

I went in specifically for the French Full Coverage bras. They’re supposed to be available in much larger sizes than your average store. In the US, that generally means topping out at a US H cup, but a 40H or 42G can work for me, provided I alter the band down to a 36.

The Lane Bryant bras are made by Cacique, so it’s a known brand. However, I’ve never found a bra of theirs in a size to try on, so I thought I’d mosey over to the Lane Bryant store and pray for a miracle. [Note: to me, a miracle is defined as: finding something lovely that fits in the cup and I won’t mind paying a$20+ premium to get the band altered down to my size.]

Oh, they’re even pretty! Blue with black dots! Black and pink tapestry design! Chevron stripes. Chevron. Stripes. And every one had a special tag which said “Available in F, G, and H cup”. Hallelujah! A miracle!

But where were those larger cup sizes? I searched the rack for the particular style, and nothing. I searched to see if there were a different rack specifically for the larger cup sizes, and still nothing. I asked the lovely saleslady where those bras might be. I was stunned by the answer.

“Oh, you have to go online for those.”

Wait, what?

The feature that is specially tagged on these bras is not available at the location of said tags? I have to go online to buy what is advertised in the store? Let’s go through that step by step.

To buy an item from this store, due to its size I must:

  • Pretend to have an understanding of how the product is sized
  • Decide that I want the item
  • Leave the store
  • Go home or go to a place with a computer and internet connection
  • Find the online store
  • Find the item I desire (which means having noted the item’s name, or else I’m just hunting endlessly in the catalog)
  • Order by that size I’m supposed to hope works.
  • Pay for delivery.
  • Wait for delivery
  • Hope it fits.
  • Deal with it if the item doesn’t fit.

I’ve done a lot of retail work, and if you want a customer to do this when you already had them in the store, ready to buy, you’re just about guaranteed to lose the sale. Personally, it makes me feel like this:

I don't have enough Middle Fingers

Because your larger-busted customers wouldn’t actually want to, y’know, try those bras on before buying, would they?

The last time I dealt with this was at Abercrombie; They used to have some amazing low-rise flare leg jeans and cords, but the last time I set foot in the store, the corresponding rack had a little sign on it which stated that size 12’s could only be purchased online. It might as well have said “WE HATE FATTIES!” and certainly delivered the impression that they did not care to have women who were at the top end of the available sizes but still smaller than the average American woman wear their items.

I can expect that sort of opinion and treatment from an elitist and sizeist chain whose signature ad look includes buff boys and teeny girls, all white of course. But from a store for plus-sized women? Sizeism has no place there. None.

The salesperson was lovely, and also helpfully said that I could purchase in-store, that they would ship to my house for free, and I could return items to the store directly. I thought I’d go online and have a look at a size chart, select my best sister size option and order the next time I was in the area.

Surprise! I find that my two favorite prints – the pink and black tapestry and the blue with black polka dots – are not available in F, G, and H. The size chart is grayed in those sizes for these items.

Apparently, this bears repeating:

I don't have enough Middle Fingers

I don’t have enough Middle Fingers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lane Bryant has failed to make me their customer. Again.

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