8 Lingerie Shopgirls Share Their V-Day Horror Stories

You’ve had that corner table booked for weeks, purchased a killer gift for your date, and picked out an on-point outfit to boot. The only question left is what to wear underneath. But if you think finding the perfect pair of undies for Valentine's Day is stressful, try selling them. We asked lingerie store staff members from Nashville to the East Village to share their stories about spending a holiday in the trenches. And while we were expecting to hear some seriously risqué bits, we were pleasantly surprised at how sweet some of their stories were. The eight anecdotes below share the humor, horror, and downright adorable moments that go down pre-February 14 — sexy underpinnings and all.
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
"Last Valentine's season, a middle-aged couple strolled into the store and asked for the kinkiest lingerie we had: open-cup, ouvert panty sets. We were only too happy to serve them, of course! After selecting several pieces from those we felt might fit their desire, the woman, a fit, attractive 50-something, slipped into the changing room to try them on. Moments later, the metal rings clatter, the curtains fly open, and we hear, 'So, what do you think?' "Wearing one of our most debaucherous sets and nothing else at all, except for her strappy four-inch Louboutins, she strode out into the middle of the shop. Every jaw in the store dropped to the floor — we are talking about a lingerie set that exposes basically everything and conceals nothing of consequence: her nipples, and evidently pampered nether region were exquisitely framed for him, for us, and for all the other customers lucky enough to be there at the time. Hands on her hips, she took a twirl, and started to really strut her stuff. He took one look, totally nonchalant, and said, 'Looks great, we'll take it.' She was happy, he was happy, everyone was happy. The queen of confidence had just come in and put our boundaries to the test, not to mention our fitting-room policy: No trying on lingerie without your own panties still on! It all worked out, though, since they loved the piece and bought it."
— Cindy, Narcisse, New York City

"Shag had a Valentine's Day customer last year, a guy, who came in four times in one day — three times with three different ladies, and once by himself, just to chat. Each time, he bought $200+ worth of merchandise for his date. There was a lot of winking and sssh-ing to me behind their backs. He's a regular now, and I've never seen him come in with the same girl — he buys a lot of the same products two or three times. The one time he was alone, I teased him a lot, and he blushed."
— Elizabeth, Shag Brooklyn, New York City

"A few days before Valentine’s Day, a woman came into our store right as we opened. She was really lovely, but sort of in a rush. She explained that it was her 14th anniversary on February 14, and that she and her husband were going up to Big Sur without their kids, and she wanted to get something special. Not too risque, but sexy and pretty. We settled on this blue nightgown; it's lacy but comfy, perfect for breakfast in bed on a cliff by the sea. "Not 10 minutes go by after she leaves, and a man comes in. He, too, was really nice, but sort of in a rush. He explained that it was his 14th anniversary on February 14, and that he and his wife were going up to Big Sur without their kids, and he wants to get her something special. Something comfy and sexy. He looked around for a while and zeroed in on THE SAME BLUE NIGHTGOWN! It was the cutest thing, ever, but oh no. Luckily, I hadn't restocked her size yet, so I told him that sadly, we were out of mediums, and helped him find something else. It was very sweet, and they really only missed each other by a few minutes."
— Jessica, Panty Raid Shop, Los Angeles
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
"A pasty-faced man wearing a beige trench coat walked into the shop just before closing and said, 'Yeah, hi, I want to buy some of the edible underwear you have in the window for my wife for Valentine’s Day.' ''Sure. Which flavor? Cherry, or chocolate-cherry?' I asked. 'Gimme cherry,' he said, paying me $8 in cash. He put the square blue box into an inside pocket of his coat and whistled his way out the door. "We typically sold between 30 and 50 pair of edible undies on Valentine’s Day, as well as dozens of pairs of fishnet stockings and garter belts. The edibles were made of sugar and pectin, like a Fruit Roll-Up, but shaped like a woman’s bikini panty. We also had a bra, and a larger size bottom shaped for a man’s physique. Tourists loved to buy them as souvenirs from New York. "The next day, again right before closing, the pasty-faced man returned. He took the box out of the same pocket he’d originally put it in and tossed it onto the counter. The plastic wrapping had been torn off, and the box had been opened. 'I want a refund,' he said gruffly. 'I’m sorry, sir, that item is final sale. I can’t give you a refund.' 'The damn thing is no good,' he insisted. 'What seems to be the trouble?' I asked, not sure I wanted to know the answer. 'They melted. My wife wore them to work and they melted.'"
— Angela, Bra Tenders, New York City "Our store has an upstairs sale room with a balcony that overlooks the entire place. One afternoon, a lady who spoke partially broken English came in, asking for a cute pajamas/lingerie set. She wasn’t thrilled with the prices of the ones downstairs, so I directed her to the ones on sale upstairs. From there, she started asking me very loudly if she was allowed to try the pieces on. I said yes, and assumed she would walk back down to get a fitting room. Instead, about 45 seconds later, she yelled down to me, saying something I couldn’t understand. When I rounded the corner, she was leaning over the balcony in the bottoms of the lingerie with no top on, asking me if it’s okay that she took her panties off to try the shorts on. End of story, I finally got her to put her clothes back on, and she didn’t even end up buying anything!"
— Mallory, I See London, Nashville "When I was working at Victoria’s Secret in college around Valentine’s Day, a sweet young guy came into the store with his girlfriend, looking for the perfect set of lingerie. I was directing them towards the garter belts when I heard a high-pitched scream coming from behind us. A college-aged woman was coming charging towards us, bras in hand, and began hitting the guy with the bras as weapons. His girlfriend was just standing next to him in shock. Turns out, it was her ex-boyfriend, who had only dumped her a few days earlier. I’m not sure if there was anything shady going on with him and his new squeeze before they split, but it took her more than a few minutes to calm things down and definitely ruined someone’s Valentine’s Day."
— Melissa, Former Victoria’s Secret Employee
Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
"For us, Valentine’s Day is our craziest day of the year. And there are so many crazy stories. "There was one where a girl brought her best guy friend to shop with her in the store. She was trying a bunch of stuff on and kept asking him to come to the fitting room to see. He was married, but they started having this moment in the store. He was saying things like, 'Wow, she’s so hot. She has the best body," to the girls in the store. They seemed super into each other. It was their way of not really having a thing, but having a thing….with the excuse of, 'Well, we just went shopping.' "Then there was a divorced couple. They had gone to La Perla and Agent Provocateur, and this was their third stop. We didn’t know [they were divorced], we just assumed they were a regular couple. She was trying stuff on; he was going back there to see it. When she decided what she was going to buy, he left, and while checking out she said to me, 'That’s my soon-to-be-ex husband.' She went on to explain that their sex life just skyrocketed since they decided to get divorced. But they were still in the process of signing the papers. She seemed really happy about separating, too. I asked her if they might get back together, and she just said, 'No, no, no, no.' "The best story that happened here, though, was the sexting one. We often have girls come in, try on lingerie, take selfies to send to their boyfriends, and then come back and purchase the goods [he liked]. There was one girl who came in with her boyfriend. She sent him a photo from the dressing room, and then we hear a shocked, 'Oh my God!' She realized that she sent [her picture] to a group message that included her boyfriend’s brother and girlfriend. She frantically ran out and asked her boyfriend to contact his brother and secretly try to delete it off his girlfriend’s phone. It was too late. And it was so embarrassing."
— Rebecca, Azaelas, New York City

"I had just started working at a super-fancy lingerie shop in Soho and didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. We got customers from all stripes of life: the pushy fashion people, the suburban moms. Most people were kind and pretty cool, though. Lingerie shopping is unique in how intimate it can really be. Around Valentine’s Day one year, a guy came in — young-ish, hipster-looking, attractive, and probably in his 30s. He seemed pretty normal, until he started walking around the store, slowly moving his hands over the merchandise. It was a bit odd, so I walked up and asked him if he needed any help. He asked for a fitting room so that he could send a few photos of select lingerie to his girlfriend. I obliged, and followed up to see how was he doing — only to have him expose himself to me, fully nude. I screamed and immediately called our security guard, while he scrambled to get his clothes back on and ran out the door. My funny Valentine, indeed. What a creep."
— Justine, High-end Lingerie Store

More from Shopping

R29 Original Series