Posted by: Necci – Jun 01, 2012
The journalism surrounding fashion constantly causes me to reconsider the categories I have fabricated in my head as to what I feel comfortable wearing in public. If you asked me whether I feel comfortable wearing a bra in public, I would initially respond with no. Yet the prevalence of of bustier tops of late, a style which mimics bras, has created an upheaval in my mind in regards to said sentiment.
A longtime staple of the Italian designers, Dolce and Gabbana, the bustier style has been enjoying a mainstream resurgence over the past year. An offbeat choice for your summer frolicking, the bustier top allows you to wear a bit more than the average bathing suit top, while still giving you the freedom to bare your shoulders and some stomach. The look has been a staple in high fashion and haute couture presentations for years. Lately, the look seems to be popping up everywhere, and I can’t seem to open a fashion magazine without spying at least ONE bustier style. The prospect of sporting a lingerie-like style in public is evidently growing as the bustier top gains more and more momentum in the world of current “trends.” The question at hand is whether the bustier is wearable for the likes of you and me, right here in Richmond, Virginia.
Dolce and Gabbana, spring 2010 Ready to wear
On days where my self-loathing isn’t too high, I like to think of myself as something of a style maverick. This makes the decision of whether or not to sport quirky new trends a dilemma between a: do I sport a trend for the sake of the excitement incited by trying it, or b: sport said trend only if it’s something that I perceive many haven’t worn (yet). This process is complicated, and often reaches an absurd level of grandiosity in my mind. When Rihanna wore a gorgeous embroidered Mara Hoffman bustier top on the cover of Cosmopolitan this spring, I began to think this bustier thing may become yet another popular trend created from what is often mere speculation amongst fashion publications and blogs. Questions arose in my mind: will people actually wear this scanty item of clothing? Will it become a multi-seasonal item that transcends the confines of a one-season outlier trend?
It wasn’t long before this top sold out from every major retailer. Shopbop, Mara Hoffman’s website, you name it, it was GONE. This led me to believe that perhaps the style would stick. Another well known celebrity, Eva Mendes, was recently pictured in an opulent Dolce and Gabbana bustier on the cover of Marie Claire.
I hate to make generalizations, but I think it’s safe to say that most of us do not have the confidence of Rihanna, the physique of a high fashion model, or the overt sex appeal of Eva Mendes (not trying to bring any of you ladies down, but I rarely see a woman who oozes sexuality like Eva... though I highly doubt even she would wear that bejewelled bustier for a casual afternoon coffee outing).
As I flipped through more magazines, the bustier continued to show its face. Sofia Vergara dons several in her photoshoot for this past April’s Instyle. Indie Pop singer Claire Boucher, aka Grimes, dons a Proenza Schouler bustier in a shot for this month’s W, evoking some combination of Bjork and Nicki Minaj meets Frederick’s of Hollywood.
Perhaps your immediate reaction is that, despite this not being the skimpiest piece one could wear, it takes a lot of wherewithal to dress in something so overtly sexual. After all, bustier tops DO look like bras, which are an undergarment. If you want to try bustiers out, but aren’t comfortable with the pairing of a bra-like fit and bare midriff, many designers create dresses that have a bustier fit on top. I don’t think the look has to scream vixen, but it can, if that’s the look you’re trying to create. Bustier dresses are more modest than their cropped cousins, yet may still give you THAT thrill of from wearing a piece that strays from your comfort zone (I hope i’m not alone in my lucid experience of this phenomena). Urban Outfitters has several dresses available in this style, many of which are not only affordable but will also hopefully go on sale VERY soon...
I also love this dress, a great piece if you desire something a bit fancier:
Another option is the bustier style bathing suit. Though I used to believe only middle aged women donned these, styles have emerged in sleeker, trendier cuts. I love this bathing suit by Insight, available at Need Supply co.
To quell my curiosity, I decided to do some firsthand research--field work in the area of fashionology, if you will. Rumors had a few silky numbers on display, but I was looking for something that didn’t scream lingerie. Need Supply also had some bustiers that were not only cropped VERY short, but also had fabric cutouts on the sides. A neon green number jumped out at me. I thought that perhaps I had found the perfect bustier--and only on my second stop in my Richmond pursuit! Problems arose, however, when I tried one of these babies on.
First observation: when it comes to bustiers, it is tough to find a good fit. Remember, this is essentially a bra attached to a shirt. Thus, it may be difficult finding one where the cup size and waist fit cater to your curves. One size fit my waist, but the cups were too small and, quite frankly, made my chest looked like pancakes--which was not what I had in mind. The next size up fit cup size wise, but the waist was too big. Sigh. Despite my earnest wishes, the top simply did not work. I thus deduced that this is an item you either happen luckily to fit into, or need to buy at a higher price point in order to get a more tailored fit.
Another bustier by Mara Hoffman, whose bright and bohemian styles hardly evoke the lingerie feel of many bustiers.
Clearly, these bustier babies are selling, or Rihanna’s Mara Hoffman number wouldn’t have disappeared from my online shopping “wish lists” within a week of her Cosmo cover. My take is that the bustier look is striking, sexy, and interesting to look at. Perhaps to you, the cropped bustier top is an item best left to “higher” fashion, relegated to pop stars like Rihanna and bodaciously curvy women like Sofia Vergara. If you are part of what I imagine to be a small percentage of girls who would feel comfortable rocking this style, I say go for it. Furthermore, if I see you wearing one out and about this summer, you’ll know who I am because I will immediately greet you with a high five.
For the time being, I’ve decided that my foray into the world of bustiers will most likely be limited to bustier dresses and bikinis. Maybe I’ll even get daring and try a cropped one underneath a blazer, though I’ll be damned if I don’t buy the first one I find that makes me instantly morph into an Eva Mendes-like presence. In the meantime, I’d like to leave you with an image of a bustier dress by Opening Ceremony (a designer I’ve only seen carried in Richmond by Need):
I think this dress creates a harmonious balance between the sexiness of the bustier and its potential as a fashion forward statement piece.
By Kristina Headrick