A French term (pronounced "boost tyay"), bustier literally means "large bust." As a species of soutien-gorge, a bustier is a wide strapless corset-like top, deeper than a bra or bandeau and descending to the top of the hip. A bustier grasps around the rib cage and its uplift foundation pushes the breasts up. It may be designed for sunning, as lingerie, or evening wear. It has obvious relationships to the corset, but is less strict.
The bustier bikini top emerges in the late 1980s, inspired by the rock star Madonna, who popularizes the bustier in her very trendy stage act (fig. 28-3). The fad of wearing bustier underwear outside, to night clubs, and to parties is driven by two factors: the erotic appeal of wearing a garment out of context, and secondly by the uplifting focus the bustier provides to the breasts. It is not surprising that when bustier appears on the beach it retains some underwear flourishes.
Bustier strapless works because the deeper lateral squeeze about the ribs permits lower cleavage than may be possible with the higher rib-lined bra. Wearers who play for high stakes ensure any quick movements will pop the breasts out of the top. This territory requires careful play (fig. 28-4).
The Tube Top
In fact, a knit or stretch-fabric "bustier" of sorts has been part of the casualwear costume since the 1960s. This variation of the species contains no foundation and no fastenings and is commonly called a tube top (fig. 28-6), and typically it does contain more seams than a simple tube bandeau. A properly worn tube top is fitted to the breasts, and doesn't quite descend to the navel. It is seldom thought of as part of an official swimsuit, and is worn with shorts, cut-off jeans or bikini bottoms, either at the beach or further inland, where bikinis would be immoral.
The more rigorous demands of the 1980s require a garment that exerts a tighter grip on the body and which is fastened with hooks (fig. 28-7). Bustiers are never pull-overs. The fasteners become necessary when the grip is too tight to slip the top over the head or waist. Hooks or buttons are favorites, and they are found on front () or back ().
Many 1980s bandeaus incorporate steel foundations. These may include not only that old mainstay, underwire (fig. 28-8c), borrowed almost intact from lingerie lines and the 1960s, but the most modern foundations as well. V-wire, a short steel spring, centered between the breasts and tensioning them together, begins to get introduced into bandeau, bustier and strapless maillots circa 1985. V-wire extends the safety factor of wearing a suit with deepened cleavage. This blue and red swimsuit has a very futuristic squareish cut to it which is quite chic for its time (fig. 28-8a). Curved steel center stays, used in 1940s and 1950s maillot, are revived in the 1980s bandeaux and bustier designs to help clamp the bustier onto the breast. This blue bustier of Italian manufacturing is uniquely European for 1986 (fig. 28-8b).
This wider range of top styles makes an exponential number of new top-bottom silhouettes possible, most which just don't quite have names yet (fig. 28-9).
Bustiers should never be confused with tankinis. The bustier is almost always strapless whereas tankini has dual shoulder straps; the bustier is always a foundation garment whereas the tankini is form-fitting.
The bustier and the adjustable. Foundation and flexibility