Our Ann Summers Fitting Review: Of PVC and Preconceptions

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The first in our series of Undercover Underwear!

Except, we weren’t particularly undercover … in fact, Ann Summers pretty much invited us to go and test-drive their fitting system. Well, actually, Ann Summers just did ask us to go try out their fitting service. No ‘pretty much’ about it.

So we snuck in, as covertly as possible, before brazenly announcing that we – yes, we! – were the lingerie bloggers, come to be fitted.

But we’re rushing ahead of ourselves; let us give you the low down on the criteria we concluded should be the tick-list of every reputable brassiere merchant. This list shall act as the stick with which we beat our reviewees with (or the whip – probably more appropriate in the case of Ann Summers. Kinky minx that she is.)

First off we have Personality (note the capital P there – denotes importance). By this we mean Personality in more ways than one – the look of the shop; how it’s laid out and way in which you’re encouraged to browse. It also includes the attitude of the staff, and (most importantly) your interaction with the fitter.

Next, we’ll be reviewing the fitter specifically, taking note of what we deem to be the most important parts of the fitting experience – Introductions (if you’re gonna be seeing us in our undies, lucky lady, then we want know your name, and we want you to know ours. We’re not some kind of cheap girls you can just pick up on a shop floor and hasten into a dressing room for a clandestine fitting without so much as knowing our names!) Explanations, and Embellishments.

Finally, we’ll talk about the range: of style, sizes, and of quantity and quality.

On to Ann Summers!

Big Cup Little Cup Ann Summers Fit To Flaunt

Both Cups have preconceived ideas about Ann Summers. It’s undeniable, and perhaps best summed up by what Charley’s Dad whispered to her Mum as she flounced out the door on Saturday announcing “Parents – I’m off to review Ann Summers.” He lent close, with a timid expression, and mouthed, somewhat panicked: ‘Isn’t that a sex shop?’ It’s true – the general conception of Ann Summers is a little more risqué than the normal M&S of the Little Cup Household. Indeed, we have been known to walk into the shop, see a ‘pendant vibrator’ (you can even accessorise with it on a chain around your neck!) – laugh, then feel a queasy, and quickly exit. Another past encounter saw a friend receive a pair of ‘crotchless panties’ from her boyfriend – whom she promptly dumped. We’d never been aware of Ann Summers as purveyor of fine, quality lingerie, and an efficient fitting service.

Ann Summers Bra Fitting Review Ann Summers Bra Fitting Review Ann Summers Bra Fitting Review

So when we first entered the shop in York, no surprise, we saw what we wanted to see. We giggled in front of the vibrators, played with the PVC whips, got very confused by a ‘personal massager’ which we probably shouldn’t have used on our necks, and took guesses at what they would size us in (knowing, already, that Sian was outsized in their range):

We were told that there was a bit of a queue for the fitting rooms (there were only two, and we’d just so happened to arrive on the busiest day of the shopping year). The shop assistants told us to have a browse to see what we might fancy while we were waiting. So, after a bit of typical tomfoolery with the Santa Claus sexy range and some more PVC, we got down to business. Sian picked out some of the plainer but lacy styles, whilst Charley got distracted by a wall proclaiming an ‘instant boob job’.

Ann Summers York review

We were soon after invited into a lovely big dressing room with our lovely fitter Abbi. She introduced herself (and we forced our names on her – so only a half tick on the intro score – but she was too lovely to hold a grudge against for long) and went on to explain the ANN SUMMERS GUIDE TO FITTING WITHOUT A TAPE MEASURE!

Ah, our ears pricked up: a different approach. How very interesting; do, go on …

Instead of using a tape measure (which, they say, doesn’t provide an accurate relation to their sizes), they simply look at how the bra you’re wearing fits and go from there. Sneaky Sian had suspected as much beforehand, and was a wearing a 28G bra she knew was slightly too small on the cups due to the shape, but clever Abbi rumbled her straight away. This girl knows her stuff. She also spotted that Charley’s bra was a little gapey on the cups. After noticing our band size (28s all round) she explained that the smallest band size they stock in-store is a 32, although they do go to a 30 online. To her credit, she acknowledged our band sizes fit us perfectly – but it was simply her duty, we suppose, to get us into whatever the Annie-equivalent was. Which, in the Little Cup case was a 32B, and the Big Cup case was 32F. She asked our preferences, and left to grab us a few to try on. And then bra-insanity ensued …

Charley instantly regretted her automatic request for a cleavage: the bras she first tried on were more padding than boob. The ‘instant boob job’ bras only really (ironically) made her look more like a man. She just looked butch. It was horrific. The fact that the lingerie boosted a massive bra-to-boob ratio just made everything look weird – out of shape – and as though she had massive shoulders. Abbi, however, did give a great explanation of the new technology in one of the bras – bean bags (yes, bean bags) which mould to your breast and are also more breathable.

Sian had even less luck, with a succession of bras that either rode up at the back, or (astonishingly) gaped in the cups. Abbi had explained that Sian’s shape suited a lower gore, such as plunge styles, but there were few of these in a 32F so she mostly tried balconette styles. Whereas Charley could just about get away with 32 bands due to needing less support, Sian’s 32F bands ended up almost at her neck with straps digging in dramatically trying to support the weight! Abbi was excellent at pointing out these problems, even hooking the band on its tightest, but saying she wouldn’t recommend buying one if you could go straight to the tightest hook because they wouldn’t last long at all. 

Ann Summers Red Lace Bra

(32F in the Pure Lace Balconette– Gore too high for my shape and not tacking – Abbi explained this was not likely to be due to the cup being too small, but the band being too big and not providing enough support. And a very strange shape in the larger cups!)

Ann Summers Knickerbox bra

(Knickerbox Holly Balconette Bra at Ann Summers in a 32F – again too big in the band, and gaping on the cup).

We both ended up in items that we hadn’t picked out on the shop floor; a testament to how good Abbi was. After sensing our vague ‘um – yeah – it kind of fits’ and ‘well – I’ve never been much of a diamante kinda gal …’ she returned with a gorgeous red and black set for Charley, which she judged a better suited style: she had seen how higher cups had gaped, and lower gauze had fitted, and found a pretty gorgeous bra to match all the requirements. It not only fitted, but it looked amazing on. It was a close contest between that and a gorgeous turquoise and black racerback style bra that magically created cleavage despite not claiming to be a cleavage-enhancing bra, but Bow Boudoir Plunge won out in the end.

Ann Summers turquoise bra

 

(Iona Aqua Padded Bra with racerback – 32B)

Sian, crestfallen, was facing the fact that she would never fit into anything when…a corset entered the room! This, Abbi assured us, was gorgeous – and anyone (literally – anyone – she conspiratorially whispered) could be squeezed into one of these babies. It was genuinely hilarious to watch Sian try and squeeze into an 8 – probably the most boobilicious failure in history – but she did fit into the 10, and was laced to corsetry perfection.

(Sneak peek of our pieces:)

Ann Summers Bow Boudoir Plunge Ann Summers Queenie Corset

We’ll blog separately about our Ann Summers finds, but the experience was great. It was made extremely fun by the fact that our fitter, Abbi, was so approachable and adaptable. After a bit of scripted beginning, she definitely caught on that we’re always up for lingerie-with-a-laugh, and was giggling along with us at all the underwear antics and various failings. The measuring system seemed to work (although it would be nice if they didn’t have to rely on the bra you’re already wearing as a starting point – since brands vary so widely on sizing, surely it isn’t equivocal anyway?), and the refreshing honesty on the sizing-dilemma of the bands was perfectly handled. In fact, Abbi said the more people ask Ann Summers for bigger range in band sizing, the more they’re listening. So … DO YOU HEAR US, ANNIE? GET ON IT! Yes, sometimes it can be a little pricey but there are plenty of sites out there like this where you can find out about discount codes and sales. The range was great; we each tried on about 6 different bras, all completely diverse in style, cut and colour, and (best of all) we were never told they were out of stock in any size, despite the fact that we were visiting on the busiest of shopping days. Another good tip to pass to those looking for an Ann Summers buy: the elasticity in the bands tends to start fading after several washes – so aim to buy a bra that fits well on the loosest hook, then you can tighten it as you wash.

What we’re taking away from this trip, and what you should too (Dad), is that Ann Summers isn’t simply a sex shop. Oh no. The fitting service you get there is as good as any, and, in fact, if you’re going by Abbi – better than most. Don’t judge a book by its cover. And don’t judge lingerie by the giant dildo that might be hanging in the shop window. We weren’t expecting to leave feeling fully fitted and fabulous, but we jolly well did!

[Disclaimer: there was no giant dildo hanging in the shop window.]
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3 Comments

  1. paul
    December 2, 2013 / 1:27 am

    Ann Summers for many will always be seen as the sex shop with all the toys and dress up but in recent years they have grown up expanding the Lingerie they sell from impractical bedroom lingerie to more mainstream daily wear.

    What is it about the padding in their bras and that bean bag stuff you find in many of their bras it’s like the foam padding they use in most of their bras I find it very weird to get comfortable done to I guess done to enhance cleavage but end up looking strange.

    All of the bras must of been loose on both of you if you are a 28 and were fitted in a 32 on the tightest hook? Could any of the bras you were fitted into fit you better than the bras you came into the store wearing?

    Over all the Ann Summers bra fitting service is a positive one if your within their size range if not then you need to go elsewhere?

    We’re any of the bras you tried on as comfortable or supportive as the bras you were wearing? Had you been wearing your correct size would your fitter still of recommended that you go up in the band?

    • admin
      Author
      December 2, 2013 / 10:00 am

      Hi Paul,

      We actually will have another post coming up soon with a focus on the separate pieces we tried on and took away with us that will answer all your questions, so stay tuned!

  2. Paul
    December 2, 2013 / 11:53 am

    Will be looking forward to reading your new post as I have been with all your posts

    When Ann Summer’s first started I remember their first store in Soho it hard black netting on the doors and blacked out windows like all the sex shops in Soho. But in the years since it has expanded its lingerie from being the type men would buy their partners that you would never actually wear to lingerie that women would happily wear. They have moved their stores into shopping malls made their stores much more accessible to anyone. The Ann Summer’s brand for most will always be the sex toys and their parties but there is far more to them than just that.

    Ann Summer’s I believe has filled the gap in the market that happened when La Senza went into administration in December 2011, La Senza did come back with other owners and Theo Paphiti launched his new lingerie chain Boux Avenue but I do think the lingerie that is now currently sold by Ann Summers is now better than those other two companies.

    One of the recent changes they brought in has been the bra fitting service in store which has been well received by other bloggers as like what you wrote they don’t measure by tape.

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