As someone with larger… assets, shopping for bras, underwear or lingerie in China has been a little tricky. Normally, I’d avoid it altogether by just bringing that stuff from home but this year when Hainan Airlines lost my baggage on the way to Shanghai, I was forced to finally deal with it. I mean yeah, I could’ve done the whole #freethenipplething except that I prefer my WBDs to be controlled and contained thank you.
Shopping for undergarments in China generally comes with 4 major challenges:
Size AKA Welp, there goes my self esteem
Some stores carry American sizes, but for others you’ll have to use a size conversion chart. For example, a 36C in America is an 80D in China. But generally I’ve learnt if you find a bra that fits your cup size, chances are the band size will be way too small. I’m a 36C which is generally the smaller end of the chesty spectrum; the problem is even when cup sizes go up to a C or a D, band sizes are rarely larger than a 32 or the occasional, rare unicorn 34. Underwear is the same deal. Unless you’re looking for a pair of sweet, sweet granny panties, finding underwear, especially thongs, is close to impossible and I’ve often found myself holding a pair of panties thinking to myself: yeah, this’ll fit about half my ass.
Padding and cut AKA How can I make my boobs super obnoxious? Or my ass look saggy?
Now, let’s say you went into a place like SixtyEight and you find a bra that actually fits. Chances are that there’s going to about four inches of padding on that sucker. Who needs a bullet proof vest when you can just buy a Chinese bra? And panties are worse. I’m not sure exactly why, but granny panties RULE China. And that can be great. Those are my go to when I’m on my period or feeling bloated. All I’m saying is that Sisqo didn’t write a song about boy shorts, and China for whatever reason has not caught onto that.
Style AKA damn, it ugly
Every country tends to have its own aesthetic, and China’s can sometimes be a bit, um, unique. Personally, I prefer not wearing pale blue polka dotted panties or a bra that looks like it was made by an overly excited five year old girl who tried to cram as much lace and bows on it as humanly possible. But that’s just me. The other end of the spectrum is that it’s just boring and “nude” colored.
Stores like H&M and Forever 21 consistently carry undergarments in larger sizes. The problem with things from these places, as in America, is that they often offer zero support whatsoever. From straps that aren’t adjustable, to uncomfortable underwires that poke your rib cage, bras bought from these places often serve more of a “look pretty” function than any practical one.
Given all these challenges, I was pretty excited when I found out they were opening a flagship Victoria’s Secret in Shanghai on Huaihai. Maybe my troubles were finally over!
When I went there to check out the location, there was already a huge line. It took me about 20 minutes of waiting to actually get into the store. (Also, I don’t know what it was, but everyone there was super good looking and well dressed.) When I actually got inside, everything was instantly overwhelming. This store is freaking insane, y’all. It’s got five floors and is meticulously designed with painstaking attention to detail. There’s a giant screen on one of the walls that plays footage from VS fashion shows. Some outfits the Angels have worn in past shows are up on display. And the bottom two floors have these pulsating disco ball lights that give the whole place a club-y feel. It took over an hour for me to go through the whole store, mostly because I stopped to sniff every perfume they had. (Tip: if you decide to go check out the store, definitely pick yourself one of their fragrances. I bought Bombshell and Angel and they both smell amazing and last forever.)
But while the store was awesome, I found myself really disappointed at their selection. While they had a lot of really cute things that didn’t have a brick of padding stuffed inside and looked like they were high quality and had a lot of support, diversity in sizes was once again lacking. The body suits ran in sizes xs and small while the bras seldom came bigger than a B cup or a 32 C. I asked a salesperson and apparently they do have some larger sizes in back in select styles but apparently for now what you see out on display of the store floor is what you get. It’s also obviously really expensive. Perfumes run anywhere from 130 RMB for a small roll on stick to 300-600 for a bottle. Bras all cost upwards of 500 RMB. (I found one beaded black one that was 946 RMB!) Underwear is slightly cheaper but will still run you anywhere from 150-200 RMB per pair or if there’s a deal, 5 for 300 RMB . Of course, bras are expensive where ever you go, and Victoria’s Secret is overpriced even back home.
All in all, the trip to VS is worth it for the perfume alone. (And apparently a few of the Angels visited the store last week and will return often since the 2017 VS show is in Shanghai.) But if you’re looking to actually buy lingerie, don’t bother if you’re anything larger than a 34 B or 32 C.
This article was written by Rae Dehal . Please send an email to email@example.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: The Smoke Room