An inflatable bra having a bladder in each cup, and a switchable valve built into the bra for allowing the bladders to be inflated one at a time, or together. A separate handheld pump can be connected to the switchable valve for inflating each bladder, or deflating each bladder. A control band is attached under each bra cup and spans the gore of the bra to maintain the bra cups from spreading apart, and a stiffening agent in each bra cup to counteract bulging of the bra at the locations of the bladders.
The present invention relates in general to wearing apparel, and more particularly to undergarments and outer garments employing bra structures.CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
The inventor was involved in a provisional patent filed Jul. 31, 2013, application No. 61/958,561. This patent does not claim priority based on that application, which involved a second inventor. The material disclosed here involves only the present inventor, and is presented as a stand-alone document without dependence on the provisional in order to alleviate any confusion.BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The brassiere or “bra” was developed in the early 19th century to replace the corset to cover and support a woman's breasts. As early as 1868, a breast pad was patented (U.S. Pat. No. 76,894) that had inflatable sacks covered with an outer knit covering that was non-elastic. The breast pad also had a flannel material that absorbed moisture arising from perspiration.
Nevertheless, early bras were designed not only to support the breasts of a woman, but to also to conceal the breasts so as not to emphasize the bosom. According to current social standards, a bra is often worn by many women to emphasize the breasts and make her physical attributes highly visible. As such, the female breasts have achieved an unprecedented iconic status.
Bras are manufactured in many different styles and shapes to accomplish the desires of the wearer, such as allow freedom of movement of the breasts, expose a portion of the breasts, lift the breasts to provide a fuller appearance, expose the nipple shape through the bra material, to address breast reduction, breast enhancement, etc. Accordingly, bras not only provide a support function, but also a fashion item. It is not unusual to see women wearing bras where portions thereof are intentionally exposed, such as the shoulder straps. Indeed, some bras, such as bustiers, are more fashionable than functional. Special bras are also fabricated to address concerns after a woman has had breast surgery so that a normal dress appearance is provided.
According to the norms of the Western culture, the appearance of a woman is important, not only to men, but also to other women. The shape of a woman's body is often what is noticed first, by both women and men. While many parts of a woman's body appeal to the opposite sex, it is a woman's breasts that are most often the object of appeal.
Despite that a bra generally does nothing other than provide comfort and shape to the breasts, most women feel obligated to wear a bra to support and emphasize the shape or size of their breasts. Contrary to many beliefs, a bra does not prevent sagging, even after prolonged use, but rather supports the breast once the breast tissue loses its ability to support itself.
The size of a woman's breasts is often as important as a woman's facial appearance. To that end, the field of breast augmentation by surgical and other means is a billion dollar business that grows every year. Rather than resort to surgery to increase the breast size, many bras, such as push-up bras, are constructed to enhance the cleavage and make the breast size appear larger than the actual size. Accordingly, many bras are made to displace the breast tissue upwardly so that it appears that the breast size is one or two cup sizes larger.
The conventional bra is constructed to often include a chest band that encircles the rib cage, and is fastened at each side by respective wings (or back wings) that extend to the back of the woman. The back ends of the wings are fastened together by hook and loop fasteners, or the like. Some bras are constructed to fasten at the front, between the cups. The cups of the bra are sewn to the frontal part of the chest band, and often a shoulder strap connects the top of each cup to the back portion of the respective wing. The frontal section of the bra that connects the cups together is known as the gore.
There are many variations of the foregoing in designing bras. For example, some bras dispense with the shoulder straps, some do not have individual cups but rather a band of elastic material covering both breasts, i.e., tube bras, other bras have many different configurations of cup shapes and sizes to address the desires and needs of different users. In order to provide better support, some bras include underwire stiffeners under the cups.
Studies show that less than 45% of women wear bras that do not fit properly. A properly fitted bra must take into consideration the different chest dimensions, the larger dimensions around the body at the breast level, the size of the cups, and the shoulder strap lengths. Not only are there different size bras that attempt to allow the bras to be adjusted to accommodate the various dimensions of the user, but each bra can be adjusted to a certain extent in an attempt to match the body structure of the woman. Generally, the cup size of a bra is not adjustable, and thus if a different cup size is desired, then a different bra must be purchased. It can be seen that even if the correct bra has been purchased, it must be properly adjusted in order to provide maximum comfort and support.
However, many women do not understand how to properly adjust a bra. For example, if the bra cup does not snugly fit against the chest, many women do not know if the cup size is wrong, if the chest band is not tight enough, or if the shoulder straps are not properly adjusted. Moreover, once attempts have been made to properly adjust a bra, it is generally never readjusted thereafter when the dimensions have changed due to age, washing and drying of the bra which can make the elasticity change in the various parts of the bra. Much like the foregoing, the gore part of the bra should fit against the chest of the wearer, but if it doesn't, the wearer often does not know why, and thus can only make arbitrary adjustments hoping the results are better. Again, if the cup size is too small, the gore may be spaced from the wearer's chest and the only solution is to purchase a new bra. Experience by many women show that once a bra has been fitted correctly, either by choice or chance, the bra becomes comfortable and considered much like a favorite pair of worn jeans.
The difficulty in achieving a comfortable fitting bra is due in part to the fact that the breasts of most women are not symmetrical in shape, size or firmness. Indeed, the breasts of a women can each be a different size, to the extent of a full cup size. The difference is often manifest by a woman who simply self-observes her breasts in a mirror. Different size breasts will move differently when the woman moves about. The breasts often move independently of each other in different rotational paths and rhythms. However, unless a bra is custom made, bras are generally not adapted to accommodate breasts that are different. Thus, a compromise in the fit and comfort of a bra is assumed.
The outward look of a woman having different size breasts can be improved by using pads inserted into the cups of a bra. The pads can be cloth, foam or inflatable bladders, but the problem is that such pads can slip in the bra and be exposed, which is embarrassing to the woman. There are proposed bras that have inflatable bladders fixed in the bra cups, but there are often problems with achieving a desired inflation or deflation to assure a symmetrical outward appearance. In many inflatable bras and others where an insert is used to enhance the apparent size of a woman's breasts, the pads not only push in on the breasts, but also bulge the breast cup outwardly, leaving an unnatural appearance.
From the foregoing, it can be seen that a need exists for a bra that supports the wearer's breasts, but also has breast cups that are easily inflatable to achieve the desired balance in size between the breasts, and provide natural shaped breasts. Another need exists for the user to easily inflate the bladders of the breast cups to the desired breast appearance, with a valve that is integrated into the bra so as to appear as an ornament attached to the bra. Another need exists for an inflation valve attached to the bra that allows the user to easily select which bladder to individually inflate, or to inflate the bladders together, and then to disconnect the bladders from the inflation pump. Yet another need exists for a bra cup construction which allows an inflated bladder to push in on the breast tissue without bulging out the bra cup itself or otherwise distorting the shape of the bra cup. A further need exists for a mechanism to hold the breast cups together so that augmentation of the breasts by the inflated bladders creates the desired cleavage by simply self-observing the user's breasts in a mirror.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In accordance with the principles and concepts of the invention, there is disclosed an inflatable bra that includes a bladder integrated into each bra cup, and an inflation valve also integrated into the bra that allows the user to easily inflate each bladder, and then disconnect the valve from the source of fluid pressure. When the source of the fluid pressure is disconnected, a rotatable knob of the valve appears as an ornament and the connection port to the fluid pressure source is not visible.
In accordance with another feature of the invention, disclosed is a four-way inflation valve that allows each bladder to be inflated individually, or together, and then the valve can be set to an Off state to isolate the bladders from each other and from the source of fluid pressure.
In accordance with a further feature of the invention, disclosed is an inflatable bra with bladders, each having a balloon membrane that balloons out and pushes into the breast tissue, but the base of the bladders does not balloon out significantly, thereby preventing the breast cup from distorting from a natural shape. According to another feature of the invention, the shape of the bra cups and the support provided to the breasts can be achieved without the use of underwires or similar stiffeners.
In accordance with another aspect of the invention, the inflatable bra includes a control band that extends from one bra cup to the other bra cup and prevents the cups from separating during augmentation of the breasts, thereby maintaining a desired cleavage. The control band is not laterally stretchable and can cradle the underside of both bra cups.
In accordance with yet another feature of the invention, the cups of the inflatable bra include an innermost plush material that engages the tissue of the breasts for optimum comfort. The plush material includes a fragrance embedded therein that is activated by the body temperature of each breast.
With regard to yet another feature of the invention, the shoulder straps of the inflatable bra can be anchored to the back wings at different locations to improve the fit and comfort of the bra to the user. The relocation by the user of the location where the shoulder straps fasten to the back wings of the bra allows the bra cups to engage around each breast without gapping.
According to an embodiment of the invention, disclosed is an inflatable bra which includes a right breast cup and a left breast cup, a right inflatable bladder located in the right breast cup, and a left inflatable bladder located in the left breast cup. A valve is attached to the inflatable bra, where the valve is switchable by a user of the bra to any one of four states. The valve has an inlet/outlet port connectable to a source of a pressurized fluid, a right bladder port connectable to the right bladder for inflation thereof, and a left bladder port connectable to the left bladder for inflation thereof.
The valve further includes several states, including a first state for connecting the inlet/outlet port to only the right bladder port to allow the pressurized fluid to flow from the inlet/outlet port to the right bladder port and to the right bladder. A second state is for connecting the inlet/outlet port to only the left bladder port to allow the pressurized fluid to flow from the inlet/outlet port to the left bladder port and to the left bladder. A third state is for connecting the inlet/outlet port to both the right bladder port and to the left bladder port to allow the pressurized fluid to flow from the inlet/outlet port to both the right bladder and to the left bladder. A fourth state isolates the inlet/outlet port from the right bladder port and isolates the inlet/outlet port from the left bladder port.
According to another embodiment of the invention, disclosed is an inflatable bra which includes a left breast cup and a right breast cup, a left wing attachable at an end thereof to the left breast cup and a right wing attachable at an end thereof to the right breast cup. The left and right wings are connectable together at a back of a user. A control band has a first partial shaped cup attached to a cup-shaped portion of the left breast cup, and has a second partial shaped cup attached to a cup-shaped portion of the right breast cup. The control band spans the left breast cup and the right breast cup to prevent lateral separation thereof. An inflatable left bladder is attached to the left breast cup, and the inflatable left bladder has a balloon membrane sealed to a base so that when inflated the balloon membrane expands inwardly into a left breast of the user. An inflatable right bladder attached to the right breast cup, and the inflatable right bladder has a balloon membrane sealed to a base of the right bladder so that when inflated the balloon membrane of the right bladder expands inwardly into a right breast of the user.
According to a further embodiment of the invention, disclosed is a method of inflating an inflatable bra having two breast cups, which includes attaching an inflatable bra around a torso of a user so that a respective cup of the bra supports a corresponding left and right breast of the use. After attachment of the bra around the user, a bladder of the type having a balloon membrane attached to a base is inflated in a left breast cup so that the balloon membrane balloons into breast tissue of the left breast to displace the breast tissue in a desired direction.
Further features and advantages will become apparent from the following and more particular description of the preferred and other embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings in which like reference characters generally refer to the same parts, functions or elements throughout the views, and in which:
With reference to
The bladder system of the inflatable bra 10 is shown in detail in
The valve body 28 is also connected to a second outlet port 32 that connects via flexible tubing 44 to a left bladder 50. The left bladder 50 can be constructed similarly to the right bladder 38, with a base 46 sealed to a balloon membrane 48. It should be understood that the right bladder 38 and the left bladder 50 can be constructed with different materials to exhibit different ballooning characteristics, and constructed of different sizes or different shapes.
Lastly, the valve body 28 is connected to an inlet/outlet port 34 connected by flexible tubing 52 to the bulb 54 of a hand pump 56. A conventional barb-type connection can be utilized to provide a quick-connect mechanism between the inlet/outlet port 34 and the flexible tubing 52 of the hand pump 56. Optionally, a length of flexible tubing 53, shown in broken line, can be used by user of the bra 10 to blow into for inflating the bladders 38 and 50.
The end of the flexible tubing 53 can be equipped with a quick-connect type of connection that mates with a corresponding connector on the inlet/outlet port 34. For example, the length of flexible tubing 53 can be carried in a small case in the lady's purse and used to manually inflate or deflate the bladders 38 and 50 in private in a rest room stall, bedroom, automobile, or the like.
The bladder system is described above in connection with an embodiment in which the pressurized fluid is air. However, other gasses can be employed to inflate the bladders 38 and 50 such as nitrogen. Liquids can also be a fluid of choice for inflation of the bladders 38 and 50. Water can be pressurized and used to fill the bladders 38 and 50.
As another example, one or both of the bladders 38 and 50 can be filled with a gel that remains in a soft and pliable state. An epoxy can be used to fill the bladders 38 and 50, where the epoxy is of the type that cures in a soft and pliable state. When the bladders 38 and 50 are filled with a material that cures, the valve 24 can be used in the same manner as described above to fill the bladders 38 and 50, or to remove the uncured material. However, once the material is filled to the desired look and appearance, the valve 24 is placed in the Off position. Once cured, the material may not be of sufficient liquidity to be drained out via the valve 24. In other situations, each bladder 38 and 50 can be filled with a different fluid.
The hand pump 56 is of conventional construction having an air inlet 58 to allow air to be pulled into the bulb 54 when squeezed and released. The air inlet 58 is equipped with a check valve that prevents pressurized air in the bulb from escaping out of the inlet 58. The hand pump 56 is constructed with an air outlet 60 that allows pressurized air to exit the hand pump 56 when the bulb 54 is squeezed. The air outlet 60 is equipped with a check valve that prevents air from entering into the bulb 54 once the bulb 54 is released. Lastly, the hand pump 56 is constructed with a release screw valve 62 which, when the screw is loosened by hand, the air can be released from the bladders 38 and 50 via the valve mechanism 24. The advantage of using a removable air pump is that the inflatable bra 10 can be laundered without subjecting the hand pump 56 to the hot atmospheres and detergents.
As will be described in more detail below, the valve mechanism 24 is constructed so that the user of the bra 10 can manually select the function desired, namely, select whether to connect the right bladder 38 to the hand pump 56, connect the left bladder 50 the hand pump 56, connect both the left and right bladders 50 and 38 to the hand pump 56, or maintain all valve connection ports 30, 32 and 34 isolated so that the hand pump 56 can be removed and the bladders 38 and 50 will remain in the inflated state. As such, the valve mechanism 24 is a four-way valve with a disc 26 that is manually rotatable to select the internal connections that are desired.
As can be seen from
The inflatable bra 10 of
Stated another way, the balloon membranes 42 and 48 of the bladders 38 and 50 will cause deformation of whatever has the least resistance, in this instance the breasts 20 and 22, rather than the bra cups 12 and 14. With this construction, the breasts 20 and 22 can be pushed in desired directions, depending on where the bladders 38 and 50 are located in the bra cups 14 and 12.
The amount of effective breast augmentation is a function of the extent to which the bladder 38 is inflated. It can be appreciated that the tissue of the breast 20 is soft and easily deformed by the bladder 38 without discomfort. The balloon membrane 42 of the bladder 38 also presents a soft pushing member against the breast 20. By employing a soft and resilient balloon membrane 42, the breast tissue is not rigidly displaced, but rather the balloon membrane 42 can move with the breast 20 during bouncing activity, and the like. In other words, as the breast 20 moves down, the balloon membrane 42 can move with the breast and does not substantially inhibit or restrict breast movement. The use of the bladder 38 thus does not inhibit the natural behavior of breast movement and is more natural in dynamic appearance.
As noted above, the bladder 38 can be placed at other locations in the bra cup 14 to displace the tissue of the breast 20 at other locations and achieve different visual effects. According to a feature of the illustrated embodiment, the bladder 38 is completely hidden in the bra 10, and cannot be seen even when not worn by the user. In other words, when the woman removes the bra 10, the fact that it is inflatable is not readily discernible, especially if the bladders 38 and 50 are deflated.
The bra cup 14 is constructed of various layers of different materials, as illustrated in the enlargement of
Lastly, the outer layer 80 is the material that constitutes the outer visible material of the bra cup 14, which can be lacy, imprinted with designs, etc. Those skilled in the art may find that not all of the material layers of the bra cup 14 are necessary, or that additional layers are needed to achieve various results, and that the layers can be constructed of different materials than described herein. Moreover, different layers of the bra cup 14 can be integrated into a single layer that exhibits the properties of plural layers.
The diameter of the balloon membrane 42 is about the same as that of the base 40, and the thickness of the balloon membrane 42 is about 0.03125 inch, i.e., about half the thickness of the base 40. In practice, the balloon member 42 is sufficiently resilient that the bladder 38 can be inflated by simply blowing (with a person's mouth) into the tubing 36.
The peripheral edge of the balloon membrane 42 is bonded to the base 40 using a conventional silicone or other suitable adhesive. Flexible tubing 36 constructed of a silicone material, natural rubber or other flexible surgical tubing is sandwiched between a portion of the base 40 and the balloon membrane 42, again using a silicone or other suitable adhesive.
In order to anchor the tubing 36 to the bladder 38, a short flap 82 of rubber material is wrapped around the edge of the bladder 38 where the tubing 36 exits the bladder 38. A hole (not shown) is formed in the flap 82 through which the tubing 36 extends. The flap 82 is bonded to the tubing 36 with a silicone adhesive, and the flap 82 is also bonded around the edge of the bladder 38. As can be appreciated, the bladder assembly is constructed of materials that can withstand many washing cycles, different detergents, and elevated water and drying temperatures.
The base material 40 is constructed of a sufficiently flexible material that it conforms to the shape of the bra cup 14 and does not have an imprint that shows through to the front of the bra 10 when supporting the breast 20. Yet, the base 40 of the bladder 38 does not bulge outwardly sufficiently toward the bra cup 14 when the bladder 38 is inflated.
The balloon membrane 42 is much more resilient than the base 40 so that it balloons out, as shown in the broken line in
The balloon membrane can also be constructed with varying thicknesses or Durometer numbers as a function of the location on the balloon membrane. For example, those skilled in the art may desire to have the central portion of the balloon membrane more resilient so that it balloons out more than the remainder of the balloon membrane. In other applications, the bottom portion of the balloon membrane may be more resilient than the upper portion of the balloon membrane, so that the membrane balloons out more at the base of the breast. Many other variations in the resiliency of the balloon membranes can be achieved by those skilled in the art. The bladders can be constructed with shapes other then circular. In
As will be described in more detail below, the third port 34 includes a self-sealing valve for allowing pressurized air to be injected into the bladders 42 and 48 via the switch valve 24, and automatically closed when the air injection needle 103 is withdrawn from the self-sealing valve.
The switch valve 24 includes a rotatable knob 92 having a shaft 93 that is sealed to a body part 90. The rotatable knob 92 can be rotated by the user with respect to the body part 90, which remains stationary. A cover 91 is sealed to the body part 90, and has an opening therein for sealing around the rotatable shaft 93. As will be described below, the shaft 93 is connected to a rotatable valve member 97 housed in the body part 90. Rotation of the knob 92 is effective to rotate the shaft 93 and thus the valve member 97. The internal rotatable valve member 97 is only partially circular to leave a void area 99 that turns with the knob 92.
An external O-ring 94 is fastened to the peripheral edge of the knob 92 for allowing a person to grasp the same in a positive manner and turn the knob 92 without slipping. The O-ring 94 can be fastened in an annular groove formed around the knob 92. In addition, the O-ring 94 can be formed with a transverse notch 93 that can be easily felt by the user to determine by its position the state of the switch valve 24. Rather than a notch 93, the O-ring 94 can be formed with a ridge at a specified location that is easily felt by the user's fingers so that the state of the switch valve 24 can be readily determined. The cover 91 and the body part 90 can be constructed of a rigid plastic, and sealed together with one or more seal rings, or other sealing mechanism.
Body part 90 can be equipped with an internal spring-loaded detent mechanism so that there is a positive stop at each of the four states of the switch valve 24. In the construction of the switch valve 24, the cover 91 can snap fit in a sealed manner to the body part 90.
The end of the flexible tubing 36 can be connected to the right bladder port 30 and secured thereto using a small tie wrap or spring clamp to assure that the tubing 36 is tightly connected to the switch valve 24. The end of the other flexible tubing 44 can be connected to the left bladder port 32 in a similar manner to assure that it does not become inadvertently disconnected.
With regard to
The switch valve 24 is shown in a first state with the knob 92 turned so that the void area 99 of the valve member 97 couples the hand pump inlet port 34 to both the right bladder port 30 and the left bladder port 32. This is accomplished by rotating the valve member 97 (by the knob 92) so that the internal void area 99 connects each of the three ports 30, 32 and 34 together. As such, the air pressure from the hand pump 56 can be coupled via inlet/outlet port 34 to both of the bladder ports 30 and 32, as shown by the branched arrow. In this state, the air pressure from the hand pump 56 can be used to inflate both the right bladder 38 and the left bladder 50 at the same time and to the same pressure.
When the switch valve 24 is in the first state, and when the air injection stem has been withdrawn so that the inlet/outlet port 34 self seals, air can be transferred from one bladder to the other bladder to maintain a constant pressure in both bladders 42 and 48. This can occur if one bladder undergoes an external pressure applied thereto, whereby air can be transferred via the switch valve 24 to the other bladder.
With reference to
In the second state, the air pressure from the hand pump 56 is effective to inflate only the right bladder 38.
If the knob 92 is rotated counterclockwise from that shown in
As between the second state of
Once the bladders 38 and 50 have been inflated to the desired pressures, as exhibited by the desired augmentation of each of the breasts 20 and 22, the switch valve 24 can be rotated to the fourth state (
When it is desired to wash the inflatable bra 10, the switch valve 24 can be switched to the fourth state to prevent water from filling the internal cavity of the valve 24 with water and detergents, which could subsequently allow water to enter one or both of the bladders 38 and 50. Those skilled in the art may prefer to spring load the knob 92 so that it always rotates to a rest or Off state, namely the fourth state.
With the foregoing in mind, those skilled in the art may find it advantageous to design the switch valve 24 so that when the user has inflated both bladders 38 and 50 to the desired pressures, then the knob 92 can be pushed inwardly, whereupon a spring bias automatically returns the valve 24 to the Off state.
When it is desired to deflate the bladders 38 and 50, the user of the bra 10 can place the switch valve 24 in the second state of
If the hand pump 56 is connected to the inlet/outlet port 34 via the air injection needle 103, then the release screw can be operated to allow the air to escape from the right bladder 38 at a controlled rate. This is advantageous when the right bladder 38 was inflated too much, and it is desired to deflate the right bladder 38 a certain amount.
The switch valve 24 can be removed from the second state (
For example, the user may inflate both bladders 38 and 50 to the same pressures using the first state of
This back and forth inflation/deflation of either bladder can be continued in front of a mirror until the user is satisfied with the extent of augmentation of both breasts 20 and 22. This usually means that the appearance of both breasts 20 and 22 are of the desired size and the same size.
The materials of the self-sealing valve may allow the valve to be pressed into the hole of the valve body 90 without the use of any bonding agent. The self-closing valve 96 includes a rubber inlet 111 that is funnel shaped so as to guide the injection needle 103 into the entrance end of the self-closing valve 96. The self-closing valve 96 further includes an elongate air passage 105 through which the air injection needle 103 is inserted, but is otherwise collapsed to prevent the escape of the air pressure within either or both of the inflatable bladders 42 or 48.
As can be seen from
The air injection needle 103 is constructed much like that for inflating a basketball with a hand pump, or the like. To that end, the air injection needle 103 is hollow with a blunt end and one or more air outlets at the end thereof. The other end of the air injection needle 103 includes an adapter for fastening a rubber tubing thereto, such as the tubing 52 connected to the bulb-type hand pump 54 of
As shown in
The fragrance fabric 70 absorbs sweat and moisture exuded by the breast tissue. Moreover, the soft material of the fragrance fabric 70 is less abrasive to the breast tissue if the breast tissue moves with respect to the breast cup 14, such as during exercising, running, etc. The fragrance fabric 70 can serve as a carrier for a perfume strip which can be activated when the inflatable bra 10 is placed on the user. In other words, a fragrance strip 100 illustrated in
Scented fabrics are commercially available for use with the fragrance fabric. A fragrance strip 70 can be placed anywhere on the inner surface of the fragrance fabric 70. The fragrance fabric 70 can be constructed with an area adapted for repeated placement and removal of the adhesive-covered surface of the fragrance strip 100. For example, the upper inner surface of the fragrance fabric 70 can have a smooth non-woven surface that will withstand repeated applications of different fragrance strips 100 without inadvertent removal of the fibers of the fragrance fabric 70, which would otherwise deteriorate the inner surface of the soft and plush fragrance fabric 70.
The fragrance strip 100 can have embedded therein a fragrance that matches or is complementary to a perfume worn on other body surfaces of the user. Indeed, when the bottle or container of perfume is sold by a retailer, the corresponding fragrance strips 100 can be sold with the perfume. When the fragrance strip 100 has been used, or it is desired to change the fragrance strip 100, the strip 100 can be removed from the fragrance fabric 70 and replaced with another fragrance strip 100. The fragrance strip 100 can be activated by the peeling of a peel strip therefrom, as described above.
Alternatively, or in combination therewith, the fragrance of the strip 100 can be of the type activated by body heat so that when the thermal energy emitted from the breast heats the fragrance strip 100, the fragrance is activated and then radiates from the cup 14 of the inflatable bra 95. A liquid or spray fragrance that is embedded in the fibers of the fragrance fabric 70 can be of the type that is removed during laundering of the bra 10 in soapy water. The strength of the aroma emitted from the fragrance fabric 70 can be controlled by the amount sprayed on the fragrance fabric 70, or by the area of the fragrance fabric 70 covered with the fragrance.
Other techniques can be employed, including vulcanizing the rubber base layer 40 of the bladder 38 at a desired location. As noted above, a stiffening agent 74 provides a contoured support to the base 40 of the bladder 38 to prevent the breast cup 14 from bulging out when the bladder 38 is inflated. The flexible tubing 36 that is connected between the bladder 38 and the switch valve 24 is routed between the breast band 106 and the control band 64.
The short length of the flexible tubing 36 that extends from the bladder 38 can be bonded thereto so as not to be loose. It is noted that the balloon membrane 42 of the bladder expands into the layer of the thin fragrance fabric 70. Thus, the balloon membrane 42 does not itself contact the breast tissue, but through the layers 70 and 72.
The next layer 76 of the right breast cup 14 comprises a padding material, such as a thin layer of open cell foam rubber. The padding layer 76 provides to the bra 95 an external feel similar to the breast tissue, and increases the size of the cup 14. The thickness of a second padding layer 78 can be greater, or less, depending on the visual and feel desired by the user.
The breast band 106 of the inflatable bra 95 includes a right wing 110 and a left wing 112, each of which wrap around the user and meet at the back. The breast band 106 can be constructed of a lightweight and soft stretchable material, such as spandex, or other material conventionally used in the field to construct bra breast bands. The inside surface of the breast band 106 contacts the user's skin as the breast band 106 wraps around the user. The end of each wing 110 and 112 can be equipped with a fastener. In the preferred embodiment, the end of the right wing 110 is equipped with one or more fastener loops 114, and the end of the left wing 112 is equipped with a corresponding number of hooks 116.
As noted above, the strapless inflatable bra 95 includes a control band 64 constructed of a non-stretchable material. Because of the use of the control band 64, under wire supports are not necessary. As noted above, the control band 64 is attached to the bottom cup-shaped surfaces of the breast cups 12 and 14 to prevent sideways movement of each of the user's breasts 22 and 20. The expansion of the bladder 38 during inflation pushes the breast tissue upwardly by the control band 64, rather than causing the front area of the bra cup 14 to bulge outwardly. Because of the support provided to the breast cups 12 and 14 by the control band 64, less loads are transferred to the shoulder straps. As such, the inflatable bra 10 equipped with shoulder straps is much more comfortable for the woman to wear. The control band 64 can thus be employed in other conventional bras that are not inflatable. The control band 64 also supports the switch valve 24 therein in the lower part of the gore area.
While not shown, the control band 64 can be constructed in two parts that are connectable in front, in the gore area of the bra 95. The frontal connection of the two-part control band could be made adjustable very much like the hook and loop connections 114 and 116 at the ends of the breast band 106, or other suitable fastener mechanism that provides easy adjustment. In other words, when the control band 64 is made adjustable, the support between the left breast cup 12 and the right breast cup 14 can be controlled. For example, the adjustable control band 64 can be made effectively shorter to bring the breast cups 12 and 14 closer together to increase the cleavage, or could be adjusted so as to effectively lengthen the control band 64 and allow the breasts 20 and 22 to be separated more. When constructing an adjustable control band 64, the switch valve 24 can be located in another location on the control band 64, other than the center of the control band 64.
The outermost layer 80 of material provides an external covering to the inflatable bra 95. The outer layer 80 can be decorative for appearance purposes, i.e., include lace, designs, colors, etc. The outer layer 80 can be constructed of a soft cotton or other suitable material. The control band 64 is sewn around the peripheral edge thereof to the outer layer 80. At the same time, the outer layer 80 and the control band 64 are sewn to the breast band 106. If shoulder straps are desired, then such straps can be sewn from the top of the respective cups of the outer layer 80 to the respective wings 110 and 112. The shoulder straps can be crossed in the back of the user, or configured in any other conventional manner.
It has been found that the anchor position of the shoulder straps 16 and 18 (
If it is desired to move the anchor position of the bottom ends of the shoulder straps 16 and 18, as shown in broken lines, then the user must unfasten or cut the ends of the shoulder straps 16 and 18 from the wings 110 and 112 and resew them at different locations. Moreover, some experimentation may be required in order to find the correct anchor point for the particular bra. And, the correct anchor point for each shoulder strap 16 and 18 may be different for each strap. As noted above, the repositioning of the anchor locations of the shoulder straps 16 and 18 can be achieved to prevent gapping of the bra cups 12 and 14 over the breasts 20 and 22 of the user.
The back ends of the shoulder straps 16 and 18 can be equipped with releasable fasteners at various positions on the respective wings 110 and 112. Female snaps are shown as numerals 126 and 128 on the wings 110 and 112. A corresponding male snap would be fastened on the end of each of the shoulder straps 16 and 18. With this arrangement, the ends of the shoulder straps 16 and 18 can be positioned and repositioned at different locations on the wings 110 and 112. Rather than the use of snaps, other fastening mechanisms can be employed, such as hook and loop material known as Velcro®, and others.
The plastic sleeve 134 can be either open or closed at opposing ends thereof, but has an elongated open slot 142 at the top edge thereof. The anchor loop 138 of the sliding member 136 protrudes through the elongated slot 142. Fastened to the sliding member 136 is a spring-loaded catch 144 that is biased upwardly. The catch 144 can be an end of a spring member that can be pushed down by the user of the bra, but moves upwardly when released. The plastic sleeve 134 is formed with plural small slots in the top edge thereof, one shown as numeral 146, for receiving therein the catch 144. As can be appreciated, if the user of the bra desires to change the lateral anchor position of the shoulder strap 140, she can manually depress the spring-loaded catch 144 and move the anchor loop 136 laterally until the catch pops up in another slot 146. As noted above, the lateral adjustment of the anchor positions of the shoulder straps 16 and 18 can be chosen to provide optimum fit of the breast cups 12 and 14 to the user's breasts 22 and 20.
From the foregoing, disclosed is an inflatable bra that allows the user to adjust the size of the bladders to achieve a desired balance between the size and position of each breast. The bra construction allows the inflated bladders to push in and deform the breast tissue, rather than cause the breast cups to bulge outwardly. An inflation valve is embedded within the bra so as not to be noticeable, but allows the bladders to be inflated individually, or together, and deflated to desired sizes, and then to be placed in an off state to maintain the inflation of each bladder. The bra is constructed to maintain the breast cups in a desired position with respect to each other so that when the breasts are effectively augmented by the inflated bladders, the breasts are maintained close together to form a desired amount of cleavage. Other advantages of the bra are described herein when constructed according to the various features.
In the embodiments of the inflatable bra described above, it is contemplated that the bladder system will be incorporated into the bra when manufactured. Thus, a purchaser of the bra can experiment with different inflation pressures in each bladder in order to obtain effective augmentation of one or both breasts. The user can dynamically observe the results while looking into a mirror, and increase or decrease the bladder pressures until the desired results have been obtained. If the same results are desired repeatedly, then the hand pump can be equipped with a pressure gauge so that the user can simply inflate each bladder to the pressure that has been previously found to be optimum. In other words, if the user deflates the bladders after each use, or before laundering the inflatable bra, the bra can thereafter be inflated to the predetermined pressures by looking at the pressure gauge, even if the bra is not then being worn.
Other than using the inflatable bra of the invention to make a person's breasts look normal and the same size, the bladders can be inflated to other pressures to further enhance the breasts. For example, when wearing an evening gown or a low cut gown, the user can inflate the bladders somewhat more than the usual pressure, whereupon more of the breasts will be exposed and more cleavage will be seen.
Other than manufacturing bras with the bladder system therein, it is contemplated that the inflatable bras can be marketed through a series of boutique stores which specialize in women's undergarments, lingerie, trendy clubwear, etc. Here, the inflatable bra can be equipped with cups, where each cup has an inner pocket in which a bladder can be placed. An assistant can help a prospective purchaser on the use of the inflatable bra by inflating each bladder to show the results that can be obtained. Moreover, the assistant can be trained to assist the potential user in the proper adjustment of the inflatable bra, including the shoulder straps. The bladders in each pocket can be repositioned in the pockets in order to displace the breast tissue in the proper direction, and extent, so that if the breasts are not the same size, or hang differently, they will appear more symmetrical after the bra is properly adjusted. Then, the bladders can be fixed within the pockets by sewing or adhesive, so that subsequent adjustment is not necessary. When the inflatable bra is equipped with bladder pockets in each cup, this is an opportunity to select a bladder size and shape to accommodate the particular size and shape of the breasts of the potential purchaser. To that end, each inflatable bra can be custom made to the individual and the particular idiosyncrasies of each individual. The bladders can be shaped other than round, as shown and described above. Indeed, the bladders can have inflatable fingers extended from a main bladder, where the fingers can fill out various parts of the bra cup not otherwise occupied by breast tissue. In the event that a person has the type of breasts where periodic pressure adjustment is not necessary, then the assistant can help the potential user with selecting the proper size and shape bladders for use in the inflatable bra. Then, the bladders can be pressurized to the correct pressures to achieve the results desired by the purchaser. Once the desired size is obtained, the bladders can be deflated and evacuated of air and refilled with a pliable and soft gel so that the same size is again obtained. The gel can be allowed to cure so that the bladder size is set and need not be altered thereafter.
The bladder system of the inflatable bra can be equipped with a pressure pump attached to the bra itself. A flat push-type diaphragm pump can be integrated into the layers of the bra so that when pressed a number of times, a tubing connected thereto to the bladder is effective to inflate the bladder. One pump can be employed to inflate both bladders, or each bladder can be equipped with a separate pump. If each bladder is inflated by a separate pump, then the switch valve may not be necessary.
According to another embodiment of the inflatable bra, the various components thereof can be integrated into a garment, rather than into a separate bra itself. For example, the inflatable bra components can be integrated into the cups of a wedding gown so that the bride does not have to wear a separate bra. Some or all of the inflatable bra components can also be integrated into other garments, such as swim suits, bikini tops, etc. When integrated, as some or all of the components described above, into a garment, it is nevertheless considered herein as a bra as claimed below.
The control band of the inflatable bra provides lateral support to prevent the breasts from hanging outwardly. Rather, the control band keeps the breast cups together and thus the breasts. This accentuates the cleavage between the breasts. As an alternative, the breast cups can be fastened together with a control band that is simply a nonstretchable material that fastens the cups together. Indeed, if it is desired to maintain the cups separated a specified amount, then a stiffener can be fastened between the cups to maintain the bra cups separated a specified amount.
The principles and concepts of the invention can be employed in items other than bras. An inflatable bladder can be integrated into men's undergarments to enhance the groin area of a man. Inflatable bladders can be integrated into underclothes to enhance the buttock areas of the wearer. Those skilled in the art can employ the concepts of the invention and apply the same to many other items used to adorn a person.
While the preferred and other embodiments of the invention have been disclosed with reference to specific inflatable bras, and associated methods thereof, it is to be understood that many changes in detail may be made as a matter of engineering and fashion choices without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined by the appended claims.
1. An inflatable bra, comprising:
- a. a right breast cup;
- b. a left breast cup;
- c. a right inflatable bladder located in the right breast cup;
- d. a left inflatable bladder located in the left breast cup;
- e. a valve attached to said inflatable bra, the valve having: i. an inlet/outlet port connectable to a source of a pressurized fluid; ii. a right bladder port connectable to the right bladder for inflation thereof; iii. a left bladder port connectable to the left bladder for inflation thereof; and, the valve switchable by a user to any of four states: i. a first state in which the inlet/outlet port is connected to only the right bladder port to allow the pressurized fluid to flow from the inlet/outlet port to said right bladder port and the right bladder; ii. a second state for connecting the inlet/outlet port to only the left bladder port to allow the pressurized fluid to flow from the inlet/outlet port to the left bladder port and to said left bladder; iii. a third state for connecting said inlet/outlet port to both the right bladder port and to the left bladder port to allow the pressurized fluid to flow from the inlet/outlet port to both the right bladder port and the left bladder port and to the respective right bladder and left bladder; and iv. a fourth state in which said inlet/outlet port is isolated from the right bladder port and isolated from the left bladder port.
2. The inflatable bra of claim 1, wherein said valve includes a rotatable knob for selecting a desired said state.
3. The inflatable bra of claim 2, wherein said valve further includes a valve member comprising a rotatable disc having a void that connects said ports in desired configurations, and wherein said valve member is rotated by said rotatable knob to four positions corresponding to said four states.
4. The inflatable bra of claim 2, wherein said rotatable knob is located at a front of said bra and exposed so as to be available to the user of the bra.
5. The inflatable bra of claim 1, further including a right flexible tubing connecting the right bladder port of said valve to said right bladder, and a left flexible tubing connecting the left bladder port of said valve to said left bladder.
6. The inflatable bra of claim 5, further including a flexible tubing connecting said inlet/outlet port to a pump for pumping a fluid to said valve.
7. The inflatable bra of claim 1, further including a hand-operated pump connected by a flexible tubing to the inlet/outlet port of said valve.
8. The inflatable bra of claim 7, wherein said hand-operated pump includes a bulb which can be squeezed to pump a fluid to the inlet/outlet port of said valve, said pump including a screw valve for allowing said left bladder and said right bladder to be deflated by reverse flow of the fluid through the screw valve when opened.
9. The inflatable bra of claim 1, wherein said left bladder is constructed of a flexible base that conforms to a shape of the left bra cup, and said left bladder includes a balloon membrane sealed to said base, said balloon membrane is more resilient than said flexible base for ballooning outwardly when inflated with the pressurized fluid, a Durometer number of said flexible membrane is more than three times a Durometer number of said base, and the base is thicker than said balloon membrane.
10. The inflatable bra of claim 1, further including a control band for attaching said left breast cup and said right breast cup together at a front of said inflatable bra, said valve attached to said control band, said control band having a flap that can be moved to expose the inlet/outlet port of said valve so that the pressurized fluid source can be attached thereto, and said flap can be moved to cover the inlet/outlet port so that it cannot be seen.
11. The inflatable bra of claim 1, wherein each said breast cup further includes a fragrance fabric, said fragrance fabric for holding a fragrance that is emitted during wearing of the bra.
12. The inflatable bra of claim 11, further including a heat sensitive fragrance in each said fragrance fabric, said heat sensitive fragrance is emitted in response to heat generated by each breast of the user.
13. The inflatable bra of claim 1, wherein said right bladder includes a balloon membrane that balloons out when inflated, said balloon membrane is circular shaped so that when inflated a cross-section of said balloon membrane is generally circular, said inflated balloon membrane pushing on a circular area of the user's right breast.
14. The inflatable bra of claim 13, wherein said left bladder is similarly constructed to push on a circular area of the user's left breast.
15. An inflatable bra, comprising:
- a. a left breast cup;
- b. a right breast cup;
- c. a left wing attachable at an end thereof to the left breast cup; and,
- d. a right wing attachable at an end thereof to the right breast cup, said left and right wings connectable together at a back of a user of the inflatable bra;
- e. a control band having a first partial shaped cup attached to a cup-shaped portion of said left breast cup, and having a second partial shaped cup attached to a cup-shaped portion of said right breast cup, said control band spanning the left breast cup and said right breast cup to prevent lateral separation of said left breast cup and said right breast cup;
- f. a stiffening agent thereto;
- g. an inflatable left bladder attached to said left breast cup, said inflatable left bladder having a balloon membrane sealed to a base of said left bladder so that when inflated said balloon membrane expands inwardly into a left breast of the user;
16. The inflatable bra of claim 15, further including a fragrance fabric attached to each said breast cup, said fragrance fabric adapted for maintaining a fragrance therein, and said fragrance fabric providing a contact surface to each breast of the user.
17. A method of inflating an inflatable bra, comprising:
- a. attaching an inflatable bra around a torso of a user so that a respective cup of the bra supports a corresponding left and right breast of the user; and after attachment of the bra around the user,
- b. inflating a bladder of a type having a balloon membrane attached to a base, in a left breast cup so that the balloon membrane balloons into breast tissue of the left breast to displace the breast tissue in a desired direction, and
- c. inflating a bladder of a type having a balloon member attached to a base in the right breast cup so that the right balloon membrane balloons into breast tissue of the right breast to displace the right breast tissue in a desired direction, and
- d. supporting the respective bases of the left and right bladders against deformation thereof with a stiffener attached to the left breast cup and the right breast cup.
18. The method of claim 17, further including using a control band constructed of a material that is laterally non-stretchable, and fastening said control band to each breast cup of said bra so that said breast cups maintain a cleavage between the right and left breasts of the user.
19. The method of claim 17, further including: selecting from a four-state valve whether to connect a source of pressurized fluid to the left bladder, or to the right bladder, or to both the left and right bladders, or to isolate the left and right bladders from each other with the valve.
Filed: Jun 10, 2014
Publication Date: Dec 10, 2015
Inventor: Luan Duraku (Fort Worth, TX)
Application Number: 14/300,987