Fashion Masochist: The Bullet Bra: Lingerie : Shapewear
Not since Madonna donned those infamous Gaultier cones two decades ago has the bra made such a pointed departure from the norm. With designers like Givenchy and Alexander Wang emphasizing the bust in their collections, the bullet bra—that eye-popping silhouette of the ’50s and ’60s—is enjoying a revival. Lending support are Mad Men and its bullet bra–enhanced bombshell Joan Holloway, and British retailer Agent Provocateur, which brought its naughty vintage-inspired underthings to Boston last year.
[sidebar]I imagine that sporting such a pronounced bustline also means attracting a swarm of diamond ring–carrying suitors who all say things like "Lay one on me, pretty lady" in a miraculously uncreepy way. And so I go out in search of a genuine bullet bra, one that will surely lift and separate—and keep the boys a-comin’.
It takes a few dozen phone calls to costume retailers, vintage boutiques, and sex shops before I learn that Arlington’s Costume Company has a private collection of lingerie from the past century. And luckily, it includes a beautiful pink number that’s a perfect fit.
Now, what to wear over it? Old-timey brassieres, apparently, are not compatible with most modern-day necklines. When I try to pass mine off as part of the underwear-as-outerwear trend and let it show beneath a scoop-neck top, it looks like I’m flaunting a nursing bra. A far better match, I find, is a boat-neck dress right out of the Sterling Cooper typing pool.
Yet there’s another glitch: Thanks to the cups’ structural seams, the surface is never smooth, no matter how much steaming or ironing is applied. When I walk into the Newbury Street salon where my stylist works, he wastes no time in asking, "What’s with the bra?" A fellow customer chimes in, "So, it’s supposed to be bumpy like that?" Even the pros are taken aback, as I discover while shopping Copley for a pair of no-show skivvies. The women working the lingerie department gawk and ask if I’m in the market for a new bra. "No, thank you," I reply. "I just love this one’s shape!" They roll their eyes.
And instead of lining up with proposals, the guys at bars and parties show zero interest in my at-attention chest. Perhaps men these days have been trained to think that if the neckline is high, there’s nothing to see here. When I put the question to my guy friends, however, the answer is a consistent "Your boobs look weird."
Because the bra is just so darn pretty, I had considered going the Lady Gaga route—only bra, no top, with a black pencil skirt and vampy heels—but after the bullet’s thus-far-cool reception, I can’t muster the gusto. Instead I stay home, pull on a stretchy tank, and cue my DVR to the latest Mad Men, where the bullet bra belongs.