I’m not a fan of this season’s ’50s redux trend. I just don’t believe women want to wear anything that resembles a Mad Men costume and so literally calls to mind an era when women were marginalized as sex objects. We’ve come a long way, baby, but fashion will never be free of historic context. The only way to change the meaning is to render it ironic, and I’m not sure designers have succeeded this season. Of course, it might be possible to work bustiers without looking like you’re trying too hard to rock the latest trend—but it won’t be easy. Miuccia Prada always riffs on the feminine with a full measure of wit, and her take on this come-hither undergarment is perhaps the most arch. Her Gina Lollobrigida–style ruffled bra tops, A-line skirts, and dresses that smack of the naughty nonchalance of a smarty-pants Lolita are perfect as statement pieces, but it’ll take a girl with a lot of cheek to pull off this look. It’s an attention-grabber that may leave a lot to the imagination but offers little in the way of versatility. You won’t be able to pull apart these looks without losing the irony, and that relegates the ruffles to the costume shop.
Marc Jacobs’ entire show for Louis Vuitton was dedicated to a woman who has little to do but dress her curves. His interpretation of
who this woman might be was rather simple and decidedly not ironic.
Still, his bustiers in florals and exquisite fauvist solids were gracefully done and could be paired with tailored pants or even jeans and look tasteful. The bustier has been one of Dolce & Gabbana’s signature pieces since their first collection in 1985, when they brought the Sicilian postwar widow simmering onto the runway with body-conscious skirts and sweaters. Never ones to stray from their bombshell DNA, this fall they whipped up their bustiers in silks and lace-trim satin. My fave was their leopard-print version. A peekaboo print like that under a cardigan or jacket is your best bet. If you’re going to don innerwear as outerwear, make it overtly amusing.