Thursday, September 6, 2012

Victoria's Secret

Earlier this year I was in Orlando for SleuthFest, a mystery writers conference I co-chaired with Julie Compton. I did a little retail therapy before the conference started, savoring my last few hours of relative quiet before the start of a hectic four and a half days.

I went to the Victoria’s Secret store at the Mall at Millenia looking for a slip to wear under a dress. At 53, I am old school: I wear a full slip, half-slip, or camisole under my clothes as my need dictates. Working in corporate America in the 80s through the early 90s, I wore suits with the appropriate undergarments, pantyhose and heels every day.

I know that dress in general is more casual these days, particularly among younger people.

I was astonished, and not a little dismayed, when the young girl greeting me at the door who asked what I wanted didn’t know what a slip was. It wasn’t that she didn’t know where in the store it was; she had no idea what garment the word slip represented.

I get that she doesn’t own a slip, and her mother may not own a slip. What got me is that she works in a store that sells slips; for that reason alone, she should have been familiar with the word if not the use. The catalog has slips, and uses that word in the name of the garment – I checked.

She offered to get someone else to help me, but I said I would find it on my own. I found two slips that were possibilities, and confirmed at checkout that I could return them to my local Victoria’s Secret if either or both didn’t work for me.

Returning to the hotel, I put both slips away and ultimately didn’t need either during the conference. I knew one slip would fit without trying it on; I had one just like it at home.

The other slip, which contained enough spandex to slim an elephant, I wasn’t so sure about. It was sized according to bra size, so in theory it should fit. Attempting to try it on, I was afraid I would break an arm getting into it and would need the Jaws of Life to get out of it.

I returned it to my local Victoria’s Secret store; when the sales clerk asked the reason, I just said it didn’t fit. No need to mention needing life-saving implements for assistance.

I’ve worked in retail. I know that every salesperson doesn’t know about every item in a store. I do expect a basic level of knowledge about the items a company sells, particularly when they have a catalog an employee can browse through to familiarize themselves with the merchandise their employer offers.

I always thought Victoria’s Secret was a sly reference to the unseen undergarment. It behooves her employees to learn all of her secrets.


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