|20090203295||Brassiere especially for lactating mothers||August, 2009||Kassel|
|20100009598||Open front undergarment and method of making the same||January, 2010||Barton et al.|
|20090047867||Garment Supporting Apparatus||February, 2009||Morello|
|20060252345||Air-permeable elastomeric bra cup||November, 2006||Jian|
|20090239445||CLOTHING HAVING CUPS||September, 2009||Horii et al.|
|20050142986||Shorts or underpants retaining the sexual organs||June, 2005||Belpaume|
|20100041313||Bra Cup for Augmenting Breasts and Brassiere Having the Same||February, 2010||Castellano|
|20090209174||BRA COMFORT DEVICE||August, 2009||Gonzales|
|20090098801||Upper body shapewear undergarment||April, 2009||Pedersen et al.|
|20100023123||External breast prosthesis||January, 2010||Laghi|
|20080064299||Supportive nursing garment||March, 2008||La Fontaine|
 The present application is a continuation-in-part application of U.S. Ser. No. 09/727,029 filed Nov. 20, 2000, which is a continuation of U.S. Ser. No. 09/358,274, filed Jul. 21, 1999, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,162,111, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. Ser. No. 09/345,256, filed Jun. 30, 1999, which claims priority to provisional application U.S. Ser. No. 60/091,374. The entire disclosure of each application is incorporated herein by reference.
 The present invention is directed to women's clothing apparel, particularly garments which cover a woman's breasts. Specifically, the invention provides for fixing at least a portion of a bra to the garment under which the bra is worn.
 Presently available women's clothing apparel generally do not include breast support. Typically, breast support systems, such as a bra, are a component separate from the shirt or dress and have a separate strap arrangement for supporting the bra and garment over a woman's shoulder.
 One disadvantage of having a separate strap for the bra and for the garment is that the bra strap can be displaced from being completely covered by the garment shoulder strap when a woman performs routine activities while wearing the garment/bra arrangement. Exposure of the bra strap beneath the garment strap can give an unkempt look. This can be a particular problem when the shoulder support straps of the garment are thin, i.e., about the same width as the bra strap. In addition, the independent movement of the two straps on a woman's shoulder can be constantly irritating and require repeated manual adjustment to realign the bra strap and the garment strap.
 One alternative is to use a single strap to provide over-the-shoulder support to both the cup portions of the bra and the garment. Such arrangements are disclosed in, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,398,538 and 4,798,557. However, in general, arrangements having a single strap for both the bra and garment do not provide the support necessary for full figured women.
 Another alternative is to provide the garment with a built in bra. Such arrangements are disclosed in, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,478,278 and 5,678,246. While these arrangements may provide adequate breast support, the bra and garment are generally fixed together over portions of the body of the bra (i.e., cups, sides and back region) and the strap region. This arrangement can be disadvantageous because the garment cannot move freely relative to the body of the bra.
 Clasp systems are available for fixing the garment strap and bra strap in position as illustrated in U.S. Pat. No. 5,590,545. However, in addition to being unsightly, clasps generally only provide a localized point of fixation thus allowing relative displacement between the garment shoulder strap and the bra strap at regions that are not directly fixed together by the clasp.
 Another alternative is to not wear a bra when wearing a sleeveless or thin strapped garment. This, however, is frequently a disadvantage for full figured women or women performing sports or other physical activities.
 Accordingly, there is a need for women's garments, particularly garments that are sleeveless or thin strapped, that permits constant coverage of the strap of an underlying bra by the garment shoulder strap.
 Throughout the specification, guidance is provided through lists of examples. In each instance, the recited list serves only as a representative group. It is not meant, however, that the list is exclusive.
 The invention is directed to articles of clothing including a garment and a bra or bra straps. According to the invention, a garment can include a first and second garment support which extend from the front of the garment to the back of the garment. Alternatively, a garment can include a first and second garment support which extend from the front of the garment to behind the wearer's neck where the first and second garment supports attach to one another.
 A bra according to the invention includes a bra body and first and second bra straps. The bra body has a front, a back and sides. In a typical embodiment, the first and second bra straps are fastened to the first and second garment supports, respectively. The bra straps can be non-removable or selectively removable from the garment supports. In some embodiments, the body of the bra can be selectively detachable from the bra straps.
 Articles of clothing according to the invention are particularly advantageous for use with garments having garment supports which are narrow, such as “spaghetti straps.” The garment of an article of clothing according to the invention can be a dress, a blouse, a tank top, halter top, tube top, bathing suit, etc.
 Fastening the bra straps to the garment supports provides the herein disclosed articles of clothing with an overall neater appearance. In addition, the articles provide breast support and comfort for regular use or for use during physical activity.
 The present disclosure is directed to women's garments, worn with a bra underneath, that provides substantial, continuous coverage of the strap of the bra. In a preferred embodiment, the garment is mobile relative to the body of the bra. Alternative embodiments are also disclosed.
 As used herein, the term “garment” refers to women's clothing apparel that covers the upper body region including the breasts, for example, dresses, blouses, t-shirts, tank tops, bathing suits, halter tops, tube tops, etc. The “garment shoulder support” or “garment support” refers to that region of the garment that extends from the front of the garment to the back of the garment in the shoulder region to support the garment on a woman's shoulder (i.e., over-the-shoulder-support). The garment support can be narrow or broad. According to the invention, narrow and broad garment supports include the supports of all sleeveless garments. Narrow and broad support garments may include lateral extensions such as long or short sleeves. The over-the-shoulder supports of a garment having narrow shoulder supports (e.g., straps), may sometimes be referred to as “spaghetti straps.”
 As used herein, the term “bra” refers to common breast support systems which fall under the term “bra” and which can have a “bra strap” that extends from the front of the bra over a woman's shoulder to the back of the bra. The “body” of the bra includes the front, back and sides of the bra. The “front” of the bra includes that portion of the bra which directly surrounds or supports the breasts (e.g., cups). The “back” of the bra refers to that region of the bra that passes across a woman's back. The back of the bra often includes a clasp or other similar arrangement to facilitate putting on and taking off the bra. The “sides” of the bra are between the front and the back and in use are generally positioned under a woman's arm pits. As used herein, the “body” does not include the bra straps which typically support the bra in place over a woman's shoulder. Examples of bras suitable for the invention include, underwire bras, push-up bras, padded bras, pocket bras with removable padding, wireless bras, lace bras, water bras, etc.
 In one embodiment of the invention, the bra straps can be attached to the garment support substantially along the length of the bra strap from the front to the back of the garment. According to the disclosure, the bra straps can be fastened to the garment shoulder supports using fasteners such as hook and loop (e.g., VELCRO®), snaps, zippers, buttons, loops, stitched thread, pattern (e.g., continuous, discontinuous, etc.), etc.
 Fastening the bra straps to the garment supports, substantially along the length of the bra strap underlying the garment support, provides a neat appearance without constant visualization of the bra straps protruding outside the garment shoulder supports. By fastening the bra to the garment supports only in the over-the-shoulder regions, preferred embodiments of the herein disclosed articles of clothing also provide free movement of the garment relative to the body of the bra. In some embodiments, the bra strap and garment support may be fastened only in the region from the front of the garment to the top of the shoulder or from the back of the garment to the top of the shoulder. According to this embodiment, in the former arrangement (i.e., fastened from front of garment to top of shoulder), the bra strap and garment support could extend to the back of the garment (or bra) not fastened to one another. In the latter arrangement, the bra strap and garment support could extend to the front of the garment (or bra) not fastened to one another.
 In some embodiments, the garment supports may not extend to the back of the garment. For example, the garment supports may extend from the front of the garment and attach to one another behind the wearer's neck. In these embodiments, the garment supports and bra straps can be fastened together starting at about the front of the garment and extend together along the length of the garment support to a region of the garment support which in use would be positioned at, or behind, the wearer's neck. At this point, the support straps can be attached to one another by tying (e.g., a halter top) or using known clasping arrangements.
 In a particularly advantageous embodiment, the disclosure provides for wearing a bra beneath a garment having narrow shoulder supports, such as “spaghetti straps.” In a preferred embodiment, the garment is freely moveable relative to the body of the bra but fastened from the front to back of the garment along substantially the length of the garment shoulder support.
 As used herein, the term “substantially” is used to indicate some variation in, for example, the location of a fastener, but the variation still providing the function within the scope and principles of the invention.
 As will be disclosed below, the bra straps of the invention can be fastened to the garments to provide for removal of the bra from the garment. In some embodiments, the body of the bra can be detached from the straps, regardless of whether the straps are removable or non-removable from the garment supports. This feature advantageously provides for using the bra, or body of the bra, with different garments or the same garment with different bras or bra bodies. This aspect of the invention provides for articles of clothing to be available which have bra straps fastened to the garment supports, but no bra body. A selectively detachable bra body would be available separately. Alternatively, an article of clothing can be available with garment supports which include a fastener capable of fastening a removable bra, but no bra. Separate removable bras would also be available. These embodiments allow the consumer to mix and match garments and bras, or bra bodies.
 In some embodiments, the invention provides for selective adjustment of the position of the bra strap or garment support relative to the bra. For example, in one embodiment, the front, back, or front and back of the bra can include a selectively adjustable attachment arrangement for mounting to a bra strap or garment support. In one such embodiment, a strap attachment arrangement can be positioned sequentially along the front or back portion of the bra. Hence, attaching the bra to a strap attachment arrangement further from the over-the-shoulder region, causes less upward pull to be exerted under the breasts than if attached to a strap attachment arrangement nearer to the over-the-shoulder portion. The selectively adjustable attachment arrangements can alternatively be positioned on the bra strap or garment support. The strap attachment arrangement of the selectively adjustable systems can be any suitable arrangement as described throughout the disclosure.
 The back
 As illustrated, an adjustment arrangement
 Referring to
 Referring now to
 In another embodiment of a halter top
 In addition, a bra of the invention can also include a bra body having a clasp arrangement at the front and back of the body of the bra to facilitate putting on and taking off the bra. Such a bra body can be removable or non-removable from the garment and the bra body can be non-detachable or selectively detachable from the bra straps. Also, an article of clothing can also have a hook member mounted at the front ends and back ends of the garment supports. A previously described bra body can include loop members at the front and back of the bra body to selectively detach the bra body from the hook members at the garment supports. As discussed previously, the relative locations of the hook members and loop members (or other strap attachment arrangements) can be inverse to that stated. However, because this embodiment lacks bra straps, it is less preferred for providing support than other embodiments of the invention.
 The disclosed arrangements provide for the bra straps to fully support the body of the bra without relative displacement of the bra straps from beneath the garment supports. Thus, an article of clothing according to the invention eliminates the need for repeated rearrangement of the garment support and the bra strap to keep the bra strap hidden beneath the garment support. Also, unlike safety pins, clasps or other devices that provide a point fixation between the garment support and the bra strap, the fasteners of the present invention not only maintain the relative position of the garment support to the bra strap but also eliminate visualization of the bra strap in regions away from single point fixation when bending, turning or performing some other movement that can cause the bra strap to separate from the garment support if only fixed together at a single point.
 Fixation of the bra strap to the garment shoulder support is advantageous for use with sleeveless garments, and particularly garments with a narrow (thin) shoulder supports (e.g., spaghetti straps) for providing a neater appearance. Fastening the bra strap to the garment support according to the invention is particularly beneficial to women needing a B-cup bra or larger as well as women needing an A-cup who may wish to include padding within the bra. It will be appreciated that an article of clothing according to the invention can include bras having varied cup sizes, thicknesses, with or without underwires, pads, push-ups or any other components which may be used with or as a part of the bra.
 The articles of clothing according to the invention advantageously provide breast support with increased comfort for regular use or for jogging, running, skiing or other physical activity with a feeling of security and without the pain or uncomfort that can be associated with unsupported breasts.
 Referring to
 It will be appreciated that the loop members of embodiment
 The entire disclosure of all patents cited in this disclosure are incorporated herein by reference.
 From the foregoing detailed description it has been shown how the objects of the invention have been obtained in a preferred manner. However, modifications and equivalence of the disclosed concepts such as those which would occur to one of ordinary skill in the art are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention.