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A Beginner’s Guide to Bullet Bras

  |   By Estelle Puleston

Love them or hate them, there’s no denying that the bullet bra is a lingerie icon. They’re usually associated with the 1950s. Well, that and 1990s Madonna. The style originated in the 1940s however, with Maidenform’s Chansonette bra.

What is a bullet bra?

250x250 COSABELLA EXTENDED SIZES

We’re used to seeing bra seams go horizontally, vertically, or sometimes diagonally. The crucial distinguishing feature of a bullet bra, however, is a seam that spirals out from the center (called whirlpool stitching), or multiple rings gradually increasing in size. These seams are almost always accompanied by a horizontal seam, and sometimes a vertical one too.

Seams are what strengthen a bra, providing shaping and support. And there are a lot of them on a bullet bra. It means that even unwired styles like the original Chansonette could achieve incredible lift. Unlike a modern push-up though, bullet bras push out, creating that distinctly perky and pointed shape.

bullet bras

Bullet Bra Pads
One size
via Secrets in Lace

How to wear a bullet bra

The fit is critical in a bullet bra. If you don’t fill the cups out entirely, the tips will wrinkle rather than being pointy. However, some breasts are too firm to mold entirely into a conical shape. If that’s the case for you, bullet bra pads exist. They are shaped inserts that you pop inside the bra to ensure the cups stay adequately pushed out.

Once you’ve found your perfect fit, what do you wear over the top? If vintage is your thing, perfect. A lot of womenswear from the bullet bra era is cut with the assumption the wearer would have one on underneath. You may well find that original 1940s and 1950s dresses fit much better over a bullet bra than a modern-styled one.

Of course, you can wear whatever you want with your bullet bra. Bear in mind that the conical shape will be super apparent under tight, stretchy fabrics! If you’re aiming for a more naturally perky look, choose looser cuts and non-stretch materials.

Where to buy a bullet bra

Buying an original vintage bullet bra is always an option. However, finding one that’s still in good condition and in your size can be difficult. And if you want a matching set, good luck! Luckily, there are a handful of modern brands out there making excellent vintage reproductions.

Below are four brands that you can buy modern bullet bras from online today:

bullet bras

Emily L6086 Bullet Bra
Available in sizes 32B-38D
via What Katie Did

What Katie Did

What Katie Did is the best-known brand for authentically vintage-style lingerie. They have several bullet bras to choose from, including both basics and fun fashion colors. You’ll also find bullet bra pads here. Or if that seems like too much fuss, check out their pre-padded bullet bra!

What Katie Did also sells cone bras. Made with straight seams that starburst out from the center, they are similar but with a less extreme point. Check them out if you’re intrigued by bullet bras but after something a little more subtle.

bullet bras

Leopard Satin Bullet Bra
Available in sizes 32B-42DD
via Secrets in Lace

Secrets in Lace

Secrets in Lace is another brand specializing in vintage-style lingerie that’s very close to the real thing. They have bullet bras in satin, lace and sheer fabrics. They also offer some fun colors and prints, and you can buy cup pads here too.

bullet bras

Bettie Page Black/Peach Spiral Stitch Bullet Bra
Available in sizes 32A-38F
via Playful Promises

Playful Promises

Playful Promises is known for making lingerie that merges vintage and modern aesthetics. With their Bettie Page collection, however, they’ve gone full-on retro. And that means bullet bras.

There’s classic black, plus bold colors and leopard print. Notably, they make lots of overwire bullet bras, mixing two 1950s lingerie trends into one. If you want a genuinely sharp point, check out their Retro Futuristic bra. Although it features only a single circular seam, padded cups and starburst seams create a dramatic cone that could cut glass!

bullet bras

Classic Melons Deluxe Underwire Bullet Bra by Melons & Sweetcheeks
Made to measure
via Etsy

Melons & Sweetcheeks

Melons & Sweetcheeks is a one-woman brand run by Sarah Korba, focussing on retro lingerie. She makes a few bullet bra styles, most of which feature underwires. For gothic lingeristas, one style even has spiderweb-style circular stitching. Oh, and you can get a bullet bikini top here too!

Shop Alo Yoga!

Do you know of any other brands currently making bullet bras? What do you think of this lingerie style?

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Estelle is a twenty-something mum who recently emigrated from the UK to sunny Spain. She launched her online boutique, Esty Lingerie, in 2009 while at university, and after adding a blog to the site realized that writing is really where her passion lies. She now spends her days waxing lyrical about bras and knickers for a living, as a full-time blogger and a freelance copywriter and digital marketer for the lingerie industry.