Marilyn and the Bullet Bra

Marilyn by Joe Shere

In an article for the Daily Mail about the current revival of vintage-style lingerie, Sandra Howard recalls a youthful encounter with Marilyn. Sandra Howard is a former model, and is now married to the Conservative politician, Michael Howard. She has spoken about her memories of Marilyn before, and fictionalised their meeting in her 2014 novel, Tell the Girl.

“There is one – or rather two – very striking things I remember from meeting Marilyn Monroe.

It was during the early Sixties and I was in California with my first husband [Robin Douglas Home], who was writing a book about Frank Sinatra. I was having the time of my life.

There I was – barely out of my teens – hobnobbing with the likes of Sinatra and meeting all the stars I’d gawped at on the big screen back home.

What did we talk about? I wish I could remember. You see, Marilyn was wearing a silky, clingy, tangerine sweater with cream Capri pants and strappy heels.

But what stood out most of all – what grabbed the attention of everyone in the room, including me, and made us lose all rational thought – were her pointy breasts.

They stuck out like a pair of rockets ready to be launched, upholstered to perfection in the bra shape she made famous: the pointy bullet bra, the shape of the Fifties and Sixties.”

Marilyn in 1956

In private, Marilyn often spurned underwear, but can be seen wearing pointy bras in some professional photos, and during public appearances. According to her friend, Amy Greene, she also wore a bra in bed to keep her bust firm.

The ‘tangerine sweater’ recalled by Sandra Howard is probably the Pucci number worn by Marilyn in this 1962 photo by George Barris. On that occasion, however, she did not appear to be wearing a bra.

Marilyn by George Barris, 1962


Sandra Howard Remembers Marilyn

Sandra Howard – a former model, now wife of Tory politician Michael Howard – has spoken to the Daily Mail about meeting Marilyn at Frank Sinatra’s Beverly Hills home in 1961. (Sandra and her first husband, jazz pianist Robin Douglas-Home, were friends of Sinatra at the time.)

“On one occasion he invited Marilyn Monroe to supper: we ate, without ceremony, on little trays as though in front of the TV. Marilyn was a delight. Shy and warm-hearted, she spoke in her trademark self-deprecating semi-whisper. I warmed to her instantly.

She was wearing white Capri pants and a bright orange sweater cut tight to do full justice to her gravity-defying bosom.

Frank told us discreetly that she needed cheering up but didn’t tell us why. He was inherently caring: out-of-work songwriters were kept in hot dinners; he looked after their widows when they died. He had a very loyal streak — and, of course, he was an open-handed host to us.”