The Last of Us [What I learned from wearing a bullet bra to work]
Like so 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 the height of her popularity occurred 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 is epic, but I have always been 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 seem 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 helps women achieve that spectacularly triangular look—the same one that Jean Paul Gaultier made into Madonna’s signature stage getup.
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 plenty of metal underwire, which—as a human with DD cups—was something I’m very 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.
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.