Confessions of a Victoria's Secret Beauty Shopgirl

Andy Barnham
Andy Barnham

There's something magical about shopping at Victoria's Secret. Immediately upon walking in, you're greeted with that sexy-sweet musk and giant campaigns featuring the brand's beloved Angels. Sparkly, lacy lingerie and cozy, brightly colored loungewear fill the glossy space. Bottles of self-tanner, fruity-flavored lip gloss, and cult fragrances make up the beauty section. It's a fantasyland.

But have you ever thought about what it's like to work there? To be part of Team VS? We spoke to a former employee, who worked in the beauty department for about eight months (two Summers between college semesters), to find out all of the insider details on discounts, how to score a golden ticket to the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and what it's like when men enter the store. Keep reading! You're about to fall in love with your favorite feminine shop even more.

Your work friends will be your real-life friends.

"I really liked working there," our source gushed (let’s refer to her as VSSG = Victoria’s Secret shopgirl). "It kind of felt like a really fun underwear sorority. I know that’s a weird way to describe it, but everyone there was sassy, sweet, and fun. Everything you expect from Victoria’s Secret. I remember the managers I worked with all reminded me of Angels in training or something."

She went on to tell me that she misses the women she used to work with. Everyone was from a different background, and it was cool to meet so many diverse employees.

The perks are pretty sweet.

According to VSSG, “The company wants its employees to love the products as much as you do.” Initiation to the company includes a professional bra measurement, and then you can select one (in white, black, or nude) to take home for free!

But don’t plan to put all of your paychecks in the bank. When a new item is released, employees can snag it for an extremely discounted price, such as $15 for a bra. And sometimes, items like lip glosses are given out complimentary. “It totally works,” VSSG explained. “We all had to prevent ourselves from spending all of our money at our place of employment.”

It’s also worth it to move up the food chain. If you’re a manager of one of the top stores, you get a ticket to attend the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show!

You’ll turn into a Victoria’s Secret fragrance hoarder.

“Some of the EDPs are still my favorite scents,” VSSG enthused. “I will be stalking eBay and Amazon when I run out of my Victoria’s Secret London New Bond Street No 111. It is by far my favorite perfume I’ve ever owned and was made to celebrate the opening of Victoria’s Secret’s first international store in London. Sadly, now it is only sold at the London location.” She also recommends the fragrances Bombshell and Very Sexy.

PSA: Beauty Rush isn’t completely gone! (Refresher: this was a popular line of sparkly makeup that Victoria’s Secret put out in the early aughts, most of which is not available anymore except for the popular lip glosses. They have been compared to the Lancôme Juicy Tubes.) “Those lip glosses you coveted as a teen still exist,” she said. “They’ve just moved to near the registers.”

This is exactly how to get a good deal.

First of all, sign up for the catalog. “When the employees at the register ask for your address, give it to them and you can get sent coupons for free underwear pretty frequently,” VSSG explained.

“No, we don’t have a sale section,” she added. “Please stop asking. There are, however, two massive sales a year, called the Semi-Annual Sale. They take place in January and June, and these are now the only times a year I shop at one of my favorite stores. These massive sales are how I afford my bras and Lacie thongs [editor's note: this is a line of lacy underthings akin to Hanky Panky] now that I’ve lost my employee discount.”

Read the signs in the store!

“It always amazed me how many customers just didn’t read any of the signs,” VSSG vented. “Victoria’s Secret has some pretty good deals, and they basically never change unless otherwise posted. I think most people know that the Pink underwear are five for $27.50, but that actually goes for the cotton underwear as well, and you can mix and match them. The Lacies are four for $29.50, and you can combine those with any other type of underwear that say four for $29.50 on the sign.”

She went on to explain the fragrance deals. "The Victoria’s Secret Fantasies we know you’re obsessed with are always three for $25 or five for $35, and you can always mix and match scents and products. That means if you want to smell like Love Spell all day long, you can get the body spray, body lotion, dry oil, body butter, and scrub. These products vary season to season. VS frequently comes out with different versions of your favorite scents, like a lighter or fruitier version of Love Spell and Pure Seduction for Summer.”

Also, it makes the employees want to cry and scream when you mess up the underwear lined up neatly in rainbow order. It took them a long time to do it. “There are drawers underneath each style organized by size,” VSSG explained. “The tables are just to show you the different styles and colors they come in.”

Yes, there are crazy people who come in.

“People are always fascinated when I say I’ve worked at Victoria’s Secret and assume I have a lot of scandalous stories,” VSSG said. “I can honestly say that if you’ve ever worked in retail, you will have crazy stories, and this is not unique to VS.”

True, but we wanted to know more dirt.

“Once a woman literally lifted up her shirt in the middle of the store and screamed, 'I WANT THIS BRA,'" she said. “The only creepy man who ever came in the store asked my co-worker to grab something from a bottom drawer and then told her he liked watching her bend over. She told him he needed to leave immediately, and he did.”

There were also some fun beauty moments with customers! “Somebody actually asked me to spray all of the perfumes on myself so she could smell it on me,” VSSG revealed. “We have little slips on cardboard you can spray perfumes on.”

The men at the store are important.

“Our favorite customers are men,” VSSG said. “The best thing in the world is having a male customer. He has no idea what his wife or girlfriend wants, so he just gives up the reins to the sales associate, and we pick things out. He buys them and then leaves.”

Also, let's discuss the male employees. “The man ringing up your new lingerie at the register isn’t necessarily gay like you assume," she noted. "But he probably doesn’t care what underwear you’re buying. He sees it all day.”

There is a best way to purchase a bra.

Here are VSSG’s instructions: “Immediately go straight to the dressing room to visit the bra specialist. I know that we all have measuring tapes around our necks, but I promise the bra specialist in the dressing room will do a better job than I ever could.

The bra specialist can measure you. Don’t be shy; she has seen everything. Then, tell her what type of bra you’re looking for. The dressing room area actually hosts every bra in every size (in a neutral color). So, if you’re a 34B and want a push-up bra, she can then give you all of the push-up bras VS carries in that size in the store. After you decide which one you like best, a sales associate can show you where that bra is located and what colors it comes in.”

At the end of the day, work is work.

Anyone who has worked in retail knows it is a difficult job. “You’re standing on your feet for hours at a time,” VSSG said.

Also, there are nuances to taking a job in beauty sales. “Customers always spray perfumes all over the place in the beauty room, and by the end of the day, I usually left with a massive headache and smelling like a very potent mixture of at least eight different fragrances,” she added.

VSSG also explained that the employees work in different sections that they need to monitor. “We get in trouble for leaving our zones, so if you ask a girl in the beauty room to get you a bra in another room, she won’t be able to leave.” Hear that? Respect your salesgirls!