Carola Long: Joan Holloway and the ‘Mad Men’ effect remind us that cleavage is a better accessory than an ‘it’ bag'

Absurd fashion news flash No 99: breasts are back. Yes folks, even a part of one's body that can only be altered through dramatic changes in weight or surgery isn't immune to the trend mill. At the Prada show, the emphasis was firmly on the décolletage, as full-skirted, Fifties dresses with rows of mini ruffles at the bust were modelled by Victoria's Secret models with the requisite curves to show them off. Meanwhile at Louis Vuitton, Elle 'The Body' MacPherson (below) and Laetitia Casta wore dresses with New-Look style skirts, and structured bodices with moulded cups that, well, overflowed. Call it the 'Mad Men' effect, as the cantilevered charms of Joan Holloway remind everyone that cleavage is a better accessory than an 'it' bag.

However, despite Lib-Dem politician Lynne Featherstone's comments about Joan being a great role model, the less hourglass among us can see that her traffic-stopping embonpoint is completely unattainable unless you are born with it.

Or is it? The high street has just come up with some ambitiously – and some might say absurdly – padded new bras; the most extreme being Marks & Spencer's Two Sizes Bigger bra and La Senza's Triple Gel bra. My tests revealed that the effects of these two contraptions are dramatic, but despite the claims of unprecedented lightness, wearing them feels a bit like having four breasts because there is so much extra padding. Also, while pretty much all pursuit of self-improvement via clothes and make-up could be seen as false advertising, this is an illusion worthy of David Copperfield.

Personally, I'm more taken with a subtle lift. Less dramatic than the Two Sizes Bigger genre, but more flattering, are Calvin Klein's Seductive Comfort bras (from £30.50,, Wonderbra's Ultimate Strapless (£33,, which has funny hand-shaped supports to keep things up and the excellent value Second Skin push-up bra from Figleaves Basics (£15, figleaves). I also like M&S's Perfect Fit Memory Foam range which moulds to your body. Just don't be put off by the fact that typing Memory Foam into a search engine also brings up some not so alluring mattresses and slippers.