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This invention pertains generally to articles of clothing and more particularly to a shirt or blouse with integral breast pads so that it can be worn without a bra.
Women typically wear two separate garments above the waist—a bra and a top garment (shirt, blouse, dress bodice, etc.). Many small-breasted or flat-chested women who do not otherwise need the support wear bras for the sole purpose of presenting a smooth frontal appearance. However, many of these small-breasted or flat-chested women prefer to go braless, but nevertheless want adequate coverage to present a smooth frontal appearance.
Prior art patented devices do not address this problem. Instead, they are directed toward providing support and/or contour to the breasts of a wearer. For instance, Fortner's published US Patent Application No 2004/0117895 discloses garment pads and a kit therefor for removably attaching the pads to an outer garment. Also, shelf bras such as the one disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,440,174 to Cordova are intended to provide support using an elastic band around the wearer's ribcage. All these prior art references and others are concerned with full-breasted women and their issues of support, shape, and the enhancement of the outward appearance of the breasts.
The present invention, however, concerns the issues of small-breasted or flat-chested women without the unnecessary issues of support or shaping.
The present invention has resolved the above shortcomings of the current offerings on the market by providing an option to small-breasted or flat-chested women of wearing a single garment—not two separate garments (shirt and bra), and not a garment which must be adjusted (breast panel inserts)—with the frontal coverage they want.
The integral and permanently affixed breast pads of the invention may be offered in many different styles of top garments, such as tank tops, T-shirts, blouses, halter tops, dress bodices, and much more. Likewise, the breast pads of the invention may be offered in many different shapes, such as circular, ovate, and rectangular; however, the optimum shape has been found to be generally triangular and is therefore described in the following section and depicted in the drawings. Likewise, the materials used may vary—especially according to the top garment material.
FIG. 1 is an exterior perspective view of the invention;
FIG. 2 is an interior perspective view of the invention;
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of a breast pad;
FIG. 4 is an exterior perspective view of a second alternate embodiment; and
FIG. 5 is an interior perspective view of the second alternate embodiment.
FIG. 1 shows that the invention 10 is intended to be “hidden,” i.e., not show on the garment's exterior. The idea behind the invention is to present a smooth appearance in the top garment front panel 12 with no gathers, pleats, or nipples showing (as there may be, for instance, with shelf bras). Therefore, the invention must be attached in a way that is “seamless” and so is sewn or otherwise adhered to the top garment at strategic locations—perhaps along its edges.
The invention may be embodied in a design having a single breast pad for e.g. mastectomy survivors. However, the usual configuration will be for two breast pads to be positioned on the interior surface of the top garment in a lateral spaced-apart relation. FIG. 2 shows the interior of the same garment front panel 12 so that the breast pads 14 and 16 can be seen. The breast pads of the invention are generally flat (they are not intended to be “bosom gores” or to offer padding or contour) and are offered in this embodiment as generally triangular in shape. In this embodiment, each breast pad is permanently affixed (perhaps by sewing) within the front panel 12 at at least one point of the triangle (typically at all three points of the triangle) (i.e., not along the sides of the triangle) and takes advantage of the existing garment seams. The top points 20a and 20b of the breast pads extend to the front panel top edge 20 and are typically attached at the top seam. The outside points 22 and 24 extend to the front panel side edges and are typically attached at the side seams. The inside or center points 26a and 26b are oriented toward each other and are typically attached to a connector piece 18, not to the front panel itself, but may alternatively attach directly to each other without the connector piece. Such connector piece may be of any material or shape and may even be elasticized. As a result of this attachment, the breast pads hang loosely within the interior of the garment but are nonetheless permanently and securely fixed therein.
The cross-section of FIG. 3 shows that the generally flat breast pad 14 or 16 is typically constructed of at least two layers of material. It is important that the outer, first layer 30 (next to the garment) be chosen to cooperate with the fabric of the top garment front panel 12, because they will be adjacent each other; therefore, the outer, first layer 30 may be a thin lining constructed from a polyester blend. The inner, second layer 32 (next to the wearer's skin) may be a layer of quilted cotton or some other fabric that will be comfortable to the wearer. The layers, which are typically as thin as possible, may be adhered to each other by sewing, serging, fusing, or some other applicable technique.
FIG. 4 shows how in an alternate embodiment, the front panel of the garment may be decorated with a stitched design, appliqués, or in some other way (to mask the attachment points of the breast pads). In this alternate embodiment, as shown in FIG. 5, the breast pads 42 and 44 may be offered as two distinct pads affixed at their points or outside edges (triangle sides) to the front panel by sewing or the like. The attachment method (sewing or otherwise) will position the pads permanently in place so that they do not shift when worn. The pads must be large enough to provide adequate coverage and to be comfortable to the wearer. The inventor has found that the optimum shape is generally triangular, but may also be ovate, circular, or any other appropriate shape. This design provides maximum comfort to the wearer. The pad will usually be hand-stitched or machine-sewn all along the edges (or at various locations thereat) as well as at the corners to prevent shifting. Alternatively, the pad may be tacked or stitched at the corners, which are typically rounded, and/or at other strategic points along the edges. Regardless of the method of attachment to the garment, the layers of the breast pad may be serged or otherwise adhered together all along the edges before attachment to the garment.