What I Learned from Wearing a Bullet Bra to Work

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What’s your point? Photo: Ash Barhamand for Yahoo Style

Like many young, impressionable, middle class white girls (or as we’re now known, ‘basics’), I grew up with an unexplained, unabashed adoration of Marilyn Monroe. Despite the fact that she’d died two-and-a-half decades before I’d ever been alive, I devoured her films, speed-read her biographies, covered my room in photos of her, and saved up my allowance to buy Barbies created in her image. I loved that her birth name, Norma, was only one letter away from being mine. I was obsessed.

Monroe’s hourglass figure might have been epic, but I was always kind of fascinated by something on her bod that wasn’t so much curvy, but more so… pointy. That would be her breasts, which always seemed to be standing at attention, facing directly ahead, ready to poke your eyes out without a moment’s notice.

I later learned that her very specific shape wasn’t due to some peculiar anatomy, but a bullet bra — a conical-shaped undergarment that helped women in the earlier half of the twentieth century achieve that spectacularly triangular look — the same one that Jean Paul Gaultier later made into Madonna’s signature stage getup.

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Marilyn Monroe and her bullet bra. Photo: Getty Images

Monroe’s birthday (June 1) was earlier this month, and with it came the requisite onslaught of nostalgic pictures: Marilyn eating cake, Marilyn on the beach, Marilyn reclining… and once again, my eyes were drawn directly to her super pointy bosoms. I had to try them for myself.

So I tracked down UK-based lingerie brand What Katie Did, which specializes in vintage underthings and hosiery, to find the perfect bullet bra. I settled on the ‘Maitresse Bullet Bra,’ which the site describes as being “100% period perfect.”

The bra itself felt very different from the over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders (sorry, sorry) I usually wear. It was slippery (that’s satin for ya), with a non-stretchy band, and there was no metal underwire to speak of, which — as a human with DD cups — was not something I’m used to.

Getting it on correctly wasn’t so easy, either, and involved a bit of crafty maneuvering — I’m talking lifting and shifting — and after I was properly placed, I had to add in some specially-made pads to fill out the pointy tips. A t-shirt bra, this is not. Something else that made the bullet bra different? It created no cleavage to speak of. Yes, the bra was snug, but I actually liked that I didn’t have to worry about accidentally popping out of the top.

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What Katy Did’s ‘Maitresse Bullet Bra

Another thing I liked was the silhouette it gave me. The second I pulled my mock-neck top down over the bullet bra, I felt weirdly self-confident in a Joan Harris kind of way. In addition to creating the illusion of a slimmer waist, my posture, overall, seemed to improve instantly. There’s really no way to slouch in a bullet bra.

One thing I didn’t love? Feeling like every person in the office was staring at my dart-like chest. The second I finished changing into my new undergarment, a co-worker said to me, “Your boobs look… really pointy today.” Another told me, “Well, your boobs definitely enter the room before you do!” Again — a major Joan Harris moment, and an empathetic one, at that. I will say that I’ve never in my life felt as physically relieved as when I got home to my apartment after work that night and took off my bra. Like a relaxing glass of vino, minus the buzz or hangover.

Whether I’ll end up wearing my bullet bra again in real life? I’m not really sure. It was fun living like my pre-teen idol for the day, and as they say in fashion, it was certainly a lewk. But I don’t know if I can handle having so much attention on my at-attention chest in the everyday. There’s a reason we’ve never had another Marilyn Monroe: With great breasts comes great responsibility—and not all of us are willing to take that on. But in the end, it’s really all about wearing what makes you comfortable, happy, and confident, right? And I think that’s kind of the point. (Hehehe.)

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Photo: Ash Barhamand for Yahoo Style

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