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Title:
SUPPORT GARMENT WITH CANTILEVERED SINUSOIDAL SUPPORT FORM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/143312
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A support garment includes a support band extending laterally around the wearer's torso and two cups. Each cup includes a form-fitting enclosure and a cantilevered support form secured to the support band. Each support form has a first and second lateral appendage; a first and second fulcrum; and a medial support structure. The first fulcrum joins an inferior end of the first lateral appendage with a first end of the medial support structure and the second fulcrum joins an inferior end of the second lateral appendage with the second end of the medial support structure. The weight of the breast is transferred by rotational force around each fulcrum through each lateral appendage to the support band across the back of the wearer by way of tension.

Inventors:
CAHAN, Anthony, Crawford (71 Cross River Road, Pound Ridge, NY, 10576, US)
SKEUSE, Kevin, R. (351 Rosemont Ringoes Road, Stockton, NJ, 08559, US)
DOWN, Paul (9 Ridgecrest West, Scarsdale, NY, 10583, US)
Application Number:
US2017/018543
Publication Date:
August 24, 2017
Filing Date:
February 19, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
CAHAN, Anthony, Crawford (71 Cross River Road, Pound Ridge, NY, 10576, US)
International Classes:
A41C3/10
Domestic Patent References:
WO2009028381A12009-03-05
Foreign References:
US4245644A1981-01-20
DE202014005754U12014-08-20
US2824563A1958-02-25
US2578954A1951-12-18
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KINNEY, Anna, L. (Ferrells, PLLCP.O. Box 31, Clifton VA, 20124-1706, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

A support garment comprising: a support band extending laterally around the wearer's torso and two cups, each having a form-fitting enclosure, each cup further comprising: a cantilevered sinusoidal support form having: a) A first lateral appendage;

b) A second lateral appendage;

c) A first fulcrum;

d) A second fulcrum; and

e) A sinusoidal medial rib; wherein the first fulcrum joins the first lateral appendage and a first end of the sinusoidal medial rib and the second fulcrum joins the second lateral appendage and the second end of the sinusoidal medial rib, and wherein one of the lateral appendages of each cantilevered sinusoidal support form is secured to the cup or to the support band adjacent to each cup such that the support garment is effective to transfer the weight of a breast to the torso of a wearer.

The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the sinusoidal medial rib is provided with at least one peak up to about 100 peaks.

The support garment of Claim 2, wherein the at least one peak extends vertically to a position ranging from the vertical axis of a theoretical center of mass of a breast up to the apex of the breast.

The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 3, wherein the sinusoidal medial rib simulates the arc of a convex undersurface of an idealized breast.

5. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 4, wherein the support form comprises at least two peaks separated by a distance greater than the distance between the first fulcrum and the second fulcrum.

6. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 5, wherein the support form is

characterized by greater rigidity than the cup, such that the support form is sufficiently rigid to support the weight of the breast.

7. The support garment of any of Claim 1 to 6, wherein the support form is porous or fenestrated, having a pore size or fenestration size effective to allow passage of water vapor and oxygen.

8. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 7, wherein the support form is encased in a porous or perforated material.

9. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 8, wherein at least one edge of the support form has a smooth configuration.

10. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 9, wherein the support form further

comprises tapered projections along at least one edge of at least one element of the support form.

11. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 10, wherein the support form further comprises a suspension element bordered by the first fulcrum, the sinusoidal medial portion, the second fulcrum, and the wearer's chest wall.

12. The support garment of Claim 11, wherein the suspension element is formed of a material selected from the group consisting of: a natural textile, a synthetic textile, a membranous material; a mesh material; a foamed polymer; a porous polymeric material; and a fenestrated polymeric material.

13. The support garment of Claim 11, wherein the suspension element is contiguous and formed of the same material as a remainder of the support form.

14. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 10, wherein the elements of the support form do not enter the inframammary fold.

15. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 14, wherein each support form is

embedded between an outer cup form and an inner cup form.

16. The support garment of Claim 15, wherein the outer cup form and the inner cup form are manufactured from a material selected from the group consisting of: foam; molded polymer; molded fibrous material; and a contour cup.

17. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 16, wherein the two cups each have a support form characterized by a different configuration.

18. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 16, wherein the two cups each have a support form matching with respect to the shape and size.

19. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 18, wherein the support form is

characterized by anti-microbial and/or pH control properties. 20. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 19, wherein the support form is integrally formed into the support garment.

21. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 20, wherein the dimensions of the support form are predetermined to conform to a desired cup size.

22. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 21, wherein the distance between the first lateral appendage and the second lateral appendage is from about 9 cm to about 23 cm. 23. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 22, wherein the sinusoidal medial rib comprises at least one peak that extends from about 1.8 cm to about 12 cm from the first fulcrum and the second fulcrum.

24. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 23, wherein the support garment is selected from the group consisting of: a brassiere, a swimsuit, a sport top, a military foundation garment, and a post-surgical garment.

25. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 24, wherein the support form is formed of a material selected from the group consisting of: a metal, a natural polymeric material, a synthetic organic polymeric material, a silicon-based material, a gel, a resilient plant-derived material, and a resilient animal-derived material.

26. The support garment of Claim 25, wherein the support form further comprises a

material selected from the group consisting of: a natural textile material, a synthetic textile material, a foamed polymeric material, and a perforated polymeric material.

27. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 26, wherein at least one cup is provided with a breast simulacrum suitable for providing symmetry for a wearer lacking at least one breast.

28. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 27, wherein the support garment lacks shoulder straps.

29. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 28, wherein no connecting element is provided between the first cup and the second cup across the wearer's chest.

30. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 29, wherein the first lateral appendage, the second lateral appendage, and the sinusoidal medial rib each have a cross-section selected from the group consisting of: rectangular, circular, oval, and complex polygonal.

31. The support garment of any of Claims 1 to 30, wherein the first lateral appendage, the second lateral appendage, and the sinusoidal medial rib are solid or hollow.

32. The support garment of Claim 31, wherein the first lateral appendage, the second lateral appendage, and the sinusoidal medial rib are hollow and are provided with a gas or a fluid therein.

33. A support garment comprising: a support band extending laterally around the wearer's torso and two cups, each having a form-fitting enclosure, each cup further comprising: a cantilevered support form secured to the support band having: a) A first lateral appendage;

b) A second lateral appendage;

c) A first fulcrum;

d) A second fulcrum; and

e) A medial support structure; wherein the first fulcrum joins an inferior end of the first lateral appendage and a first end of the medial support structure and the second fulcrum joins an inferior end of the second lateral appendage and the second end of the medial support structure, and whereby when a breast is disposed upon the medial support structure, rotational force around each fulcrum urges a craniad end of each lateral appendage posteroanteriorly, thus transferring the weight of the breast to the support band by way of tension across the back of the wearer.

34. The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the medial support structure is provided with at least one peak up to about 100 peaks.

35. The support garment of Claim 34, wherein the at least one peak extends vertically to a position ranging from the vertical axis of a theoretical center of mass of a breast up to the apex of the breast.

36. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 35, wherein the medial support structure simulates the arc of a convex undersurface of an idealized breast.

37. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 36, wherein the cantilevered support form comprises at least two peaks separated by a distance greater than the distance between the first fulcrum and the second fulcrum.

38. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 37, wherein the cantilevered support form is characterized by greater rigidity than the cup, such that the cantilevered support form is sufficiently rigid to support the weight of the breast.

39. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 38, wherein the cantilevered support form is porous or fenestrated, having a pore size or fenestration size effective to allow passage of water vapor and oxygen.

40. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 39, wherein the cantilevered support form is encased in a porous or perforated material.

41. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 40, wherein at least one edge of the

support form has a smooth configuration.

42. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 41, wherein the cantilevered support form further comprises tapered projections along at least one edge of at least one element of the cantilevered support form.

43. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 42, wherein the cantilevered support form further comprises a suspension element bordered by the first fulcrum, the medial support structure, the second fulcrum, and the wearer's chest wall.

44. The support garment of Claim 43, wherein the suspension element is formed of a material selected from the group consisting of: a natural textile, a synthetic textile, a membranous material; a mesh material; a foamed polymer; a porous polymeric material; and a fenestrated polymeric material.

45. The support garment of Claim 43, wherein the suspension element is contiguous and formed of the same material as a remainder of the cantilevered support form. The support garment of any of Claim 33 to 45, wherein the medial support structure is laterally deformable, whereby when vertical force on the breast is increased, the medial support structure is urged to transiently distend, inducing tension in the suspension element, thereby transferring the increased vertical force laterally through the cantilevered support form.

The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 42, wherein the elements of the cantilevered support form do not enter the inframammary fold.

The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 47, wherein each cantilevered support form is embedded between an outer cup form and an inner cup form.

The support garment of Claim 48, wherein the outer cup form and the inner cup form are manufactured from a material selected from the group consisting of: foam; molded polymer; molded fibrous material; and a contour cup.

The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 49, wherein the two cups each have a cantilevered support form characterized by a different configuration.

The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 50, wherein the two cups each have a cantilevered support form matching with respect to the shape and size.

The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 51, wherein the cantilevered support form is characterized by anti-microbial and/or pH control properties.

The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 52, wherein the cantilevered support form is integrally formed into the support garment.

The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 53, wherein the dimensions of the cantilevered support form are predetermined to conform to a desired cup size.

The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 54, wherein the distance between the first lateral appendage and the second lateral appendage is from about 9 cm to about 23 cm.

56. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 55, wherein the medial support structure comprises at least one peak that extends from about 1.8 cm to about 12 cm from the first fulcrum and the second fulcrum.

57. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 56, wherein the support garment is

selected from the group consisting of: a brassiere, a swimsuit, a sport top, a military foundation garment, and a post-surgical garment. 58. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 57, wherein the cantilevered support form is formed of a material selected from the group consisting of: a metal, a natural polymeric material, a synthetic organic polymeric material, a silicon-based material, a gel, a resilient plant-derived material, and a resilient animal-derived material. 59. The support garment of Claim 58, wherein the cantilevered support form further comprises a material selected from the group consisting of: a natural textile material, a synthetic textile material, a foamed polymeric material, and a perforated polymeric material. 60. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 59, wherein at least one cup is provided with a breast simulacrum suitable for providing symmetry for a wearer lacking at least one breast.

61. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 60, wherein the support garment lacks shoulder straps.

62. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 61, wherein no connecting element is provided between the first cup and the second cup across the wearer's chest. 63. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 62, wherein the first lateral appendage, the second lateral appendage, and the medial support structure each have a cross- section selected from the group consisting of: rectangular, circular, oval, and complex polygonal.

64. The support garment of any of Claims 33 to 63, wherein the first lateral appendage, the second lateral appendage, and the medial support structure are solid or hollow.

65. The support garment of Claim 64, wherein the first lateral appendage, the second lateral appendage, and the medial support structure are hollow and are provided with a gas or a fluid therein.

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 22 July 2017 (22.07.2017)

1. A support garment comprising: a support band extending laterally around the wearer's torso and two cups, each having a form-fitting enclosure, each cup further comprising: a cantilevered sinusoidal support form having: a) A laterally terminating first lateral appendage having a proximal end and a distal end;

b) A laterally terminating second lateral appendage having a proximal end and a distal end;

c) A first fulcrum;

d) A second fulcrum; and

e) A sinusoidal medial rib; wherein the first fulcrum joins the proximal end of the first lateral appendage and a first end of the sinusoidal medial rib and the second fulcrum joins the proximal end of the second lateral appendage and a second end of the sinusoidal medial rib, and wherein one of the lateral appendages of each cantilevered sinusoidal support form is secured to the cup or to the support band adjacent to each cup such that the support garment is effective to transfer the weight of a breast to the torso of a wearer.

2. The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the sinusoidal medial rib is provided with at least one peak up to about 100 peaks.

3. The support garment of Claim 2, wherein the at least one peak extends vertically to a position ranging from the vertical axis of a theoretical center of mass of a breast up to the apex of the breast.

4. The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the sinusoidal medial rib simulates the arc of a convex undersurface of an idealized breast.

5. The support garment of any one of Claims 1 to 4, wherein the sinusoidal medial rib comprises at least two peaks between the first fulcrum and the second fulcrum.

6. The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the support form is characterized by greater rigidity than the cup, such that the support form is sufficiently rigid to support the weight of the breast.

7. The support garment of any one of Claims 1 to 4, wherein the support form is porous or fenestrated, having a pore size or fenestration size effective to allow passage of water vapor and oxygen.

8. The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the support form is encased in a porous or perforated material.

9. The support garment of Claim 1 , wherein at least one edge of the support form has a smooth configuration.

10. The support garment of any one of Claims 1 to 4, wherein the support form further

comprises tapered projections along at least one edge of at least one element of the support form.

11. The support garment of any one of Claims 1 to 4, wherein the support form further

comprises a suspension element bordered by the first fulcrum, the sinusoidal medial portion, the second fulcrum, and the wearer's chest wall.

12. The support garment of Claim 1 1, wherein the suspension element is formed of a material selected from the group consisting of: a natural textile, a synthetic textile, a membranous material; a mesh material; a foamed polymer; a porous polymeric material; and a fenestrated polymeric material.

13. The support garment of Claim 11, wherein the suspension element and the support form have monolithic construction.

14. The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the elements of the support form do not enter the inframammary fold. The support garment of Claim 1, wherein each support form is embedded between an outer cup form and an inner cup form.

The support garment of Claim 15, wherein the outer cup form and the inner cup form are manufactured from a material selected from the group consisting of: foam; molded polymer; molded fibrous material; and a contour cup.

The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the two cups each have a support form characterized by a different configuration.

The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the two cups each have a support form matching with respect to the shape and size.

The support garment of any one of Claims 1 to 4, wherein the support form is characterized by anti-microbial and/or pH control properties.

The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the support form is integrally formed into the support garment.

The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the dimensions of the support form are predetermined to conform to a desired cup size.

The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the distance between the first lateral appendage and the second lateral appendage is from about 9 cm to about 23 cm.

The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the sinusoidal medial rib comprises at least one peak that extends from about 1.8 cm to about 12 cm ftom the first fulcrum and the second fulcrum.

The support garment of any one of Claims 1 to 4, wherein the support garment is selected from the group consisting of: a brassiere, a swimsuit, a sport top, a military foundation The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the support form is formed of a material selected from the group consisting of: a metal, a natural polymeric material, a synthetic organic polymeric material, a silicon-based material, a gel, a resilient plant-derived material, and a resilient animal-derived material.

The support garment of Claim 25, wherein the support form further comprises a material selected from the group consisting of: a natural textile material, a synthetic textile material, a foamed polymeric material, and a perforated polymeric material.

The support garment of Claim 1. wherein at least one cup is provided with a breast simulacrum suitable for providing symmetry for a wearer lacking at least one breast

The support garment of Claim I, wherein the support garment lacks shoulder straps.

The support garment of any one of Claims 1 to 4, wherein no connecting element is provided between the first cup and the second cup across the wearer's chest.

The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the first lateral appendage, the second lateral appendage, and the sinusoidal medial rib each have a cross-section selected from the group consisting of: rectangular, circular, oval, and complex polygonal.

The support garment of Claim 1, wherein the first lateral appendage, the second lateral appendage, and the sinusoidal medial rib are solid or hollow.

The support garment of Claim 31, wherein the first lateral appendage, the second lateral appendage, and the sinusoidal medial rib are hollow and are provided with a gas or a fluid therein.

A support garment comprising: a support band extending laterally around the wearer's torso and two cups, each having a form-fitting enclosure, each cup further comprising: a cantilevered support form secured to the support band having: a) A laterally terminating first lateral appendage having an inferior end and a craniad end;

b) A laterally terminating second lateral appendage having an inferior end and a craniad end;

c) A first fulcrum;

d) A second fulcrum; and

e) A medial support structure; wherein the first fulcrum joins the inferior end of the first lateral appendage and a first end of the medial support structure and the second fulcrum joins the inferior end of the second lateral appendage and a second end of the medial support structure, and whereby when a breast is disposed upon the medial support structure, rotational force around each fulcrum urges the craniad end of each lateral appendage posteroanteriorly, thus transferring the weight of the breast to the support band by way of tension across the back o the wearer.

34. The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the medial support structure is provided with at least one peak up to about 100 peaks.

35. The support garment of Claim 34, wherein the at least one peak extends vertically to a position ranging from the vertical axis of a theoretical center of mass of a breast up to the apex of the breast.

36. The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the medial support structure simulates the arc of a convex undersurface of an idealized breast.

37. The support garment of any one of Claims 33 to 36, wherein the medial support structure comprises at least two peaks between the first fulcrum and the second fulcrum.

38. The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the cantilevered support form is characterized by greater rigidity than the cup, such that the cantilevered support form is sufficiently rigid to support the weight of the breast.

39. The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the cantilevered support form is porous or fenestrated, having a pore size or fenestration size effective to allow passage of water vapor and oxygen. 40. The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the cantilevered support form is encased in a porous or perforated material. 1. The support garment of Claim 33, wherein at least one edge of the support form has a smooth configuration.

42. The support garment of any one of Claims 33 to 36, wherein the cantilevered support form further comprises tapered projections along at least one edge of at least one element of the cantilevered support form. 43. The support garment of any one of Claims 33 to 36, wherein the cantilevered support form further comprises a suspension element bordered by the first fulcrum, the medial support structure, the second fulcrum, and the wearer's chest wall.

44. The support garment of Claim 43, wherein the suspension element is formed of a material selected from the group consisting of: a natural textile, a synthetic textile, a membranous material; a mesh material; a foamed polymer; a porous polymeric material; and a fenestrated polymeric material.

45. The support garment of Claim 43, wherein the suspension element and the cantilevered support form have monolithic construction.

46. The support garment of any one of Claims 33 to 36, wherein the medial support structure is laterally deformable, whereby when vertical force on the breast is increased, the medial support structure is urged to transiently distend, inducing tension in the suspension element, thereby transferring the increased vertical force laterally through the

cantilevered support form.

47. The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the elements of the cantilevered support form do not enter the inframammary fold. The support garment of Claim 33, wherein each cantilevered support form is embedded between an outer cup form and an inner cup form.

The support garment of Claim 48, wherein the outer cup form and the inner cup form are manufactured from a materia! selected from the group consisting of: foam; molded polymer molded fibrous material; and a contour cup.

The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the two cups each have a cantilevered support form characterized by a different configuration.

The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the two cups each have a cantilevered support form matching with respect to the shape and size.

The support garment of any one of Claims 33 to 36, wherein the cantilevered support form is characterized by anti-microbial and/or pH control properties.

The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the cantilevered support form is integrally formed into the support garment.

The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the dimensions of the cantilevered support form are predetermined to conform to a desired cup size.

The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the distance between the first lateral appendage and the second lateral appendage is from about 9 cm to about 23 cm.

The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the medial support structure comprises at least one peak that extends from about 1.8 cm to about 12 cm from the first fulcrum and the second fulcrum.

The support garment of any one of Claims 33 to 36, wherein the support garment is selected from the group consisting of: a brassiere, a swimsuit, a sport top, a military foundation garment, and a post-surgical garment.

The support garment of Claim 33, wherein the cantilevered support form is formed of a material selected from the group consisting of: a metal, a natural polymeric material, a

Description:
SUPPORT GARMENT WITH CANTILEVERED SINUSOIDAL SUPPORT FORM

Claim for Priority

This Non-Provisional patent application is based on United States Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 62/297,773, filed on February 19, 2016, the priority of which is claimed and the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference.

Background of the Invention

In larger-breasted women with significant ptosis, existing brassiere and breast support garment designs do not adequately lift the lower portion of the breasts away from the chest wall. This results in the buildup of heat and perspiration in the central inframammary region which, in turn, can result in uncomfortable fungal infections and rashes requiring treatment. Conventional underwires provide little to no support to address supplemental forces present during moderate to high activity. In addition, existing breast support garments generally have a support structure in contact with specific areas that are common location for incisions, for example, as a result of mastectomy or breast reduction surgery. In certain post-operative settings, scarring is more likely to occur due to contact with abrasive and non-breathable materials.

The general structure of the human breast is illustrated in Figures 1A and IB for reference. In an upright position, the center of mass 20 of the human breast 10 can be several centimeters in front of the chest wall 12 depending on the breast size. The nipple areolar complex 14 in most cases represents the most distant portion of the breast from the plane of the chest wall 12. As the base of the breast is fixed to the chest wall 12, the portion of the breast mass extending outward acts as a lever arm at the center of mass 20. Forces 60 created by activities such as walking, running, jumping, and horseback-riding result in repeated vertical acceleration/deceleration of the breast center of mass 20. The theoretical lever arm is fixed at a point at which the chest wall 12 intersects with horizontal plane 21 at plane A-A, shown in

Figure IB. The center of mass 20 is located at the intersection of plane A-A with vertical axis of force 23 and horizontal plane 21. The distance 22 from the chest wall to the center of mass is illustrated in Figure 1A.

If the human breast, viewed from the side, is idealized as a hemisphere of uniform density with its axis in the horizontal plane, the center of mass, X c , will be 3/8 of the radius from the chest wall, as calculated below.

where: M = Mass of hemisphere

R = radius of hemisphere, and

P = density of hemisphere m = J 0 π (R 2 - x 2 ) (x) dx where:

m = moment and

x = distance from plane

Xc = m / M

As the differential moment approaches zero, Xc ~ 3/8 R.

Viewed from the front, by symmetry, the center of mass lies in the middle of the hemisphere directly behind the nipple/areolar complex.

In actuality, the human breast is far from uniform in density. In most cases, the glandular and more dense tissue (as opposed to less dense fatty tissue), is asymmetrically located farther from the chest wall in the region behind the nipple/areolar complex. This has the effect of moving the center of mass farther out from the chest wall.

Existing brassiere and breast support garment designs seek to provide support and dampening of these forces by enclosing the breast in a close-fitting fabric and/or molded and/or foam and/or contour cup attached to an elastic vertical strap that extends over the shoulder and which are attached to the band encircling the torso. Some brassiere and breast support garment designs include two-dimensional U-shaped metal or plastic underwires stitched into the lower edge of each cup of the brassiere or breast support garment such that when the brassiere or breast support garment is in place, the underwires lie flat against the chest wall. When the brassiere or breast support garment is worn, the underwire defines the inferior base and the side of the cup adjacent to the ribcage. As the center of mass of the breast is in front of this, the underwire contributes little to vertical support and force dampening. The majority of these effects are therefore borne by the cup, through the vertical straps, to the shoulders. Over time, this can result in an uncomfortable condition of the shoulders called "notching." Several attempts have been made to address the shortcomings of a two-dimensional underwire, including US 2015/0087203 to Turlan-Van Der Hoeven, US 8,747, 184 to Liu, US 7,407,428 and US 8, 105, 130 to Fildan et al, US 7,377,833 to Wanzenboeck et al, and US 7,607,966 to Fox. Other prior art references disclose main support structures that lie in the conventional position of an underwire at the inframammary fold or are to be used as a shape enhancer or support in conjunction with an underwire bra, such as US 9,161,574 to Swenseid, US 7,452,260 and US 7,497,760 to Redenius, US2016/0165964 to West et al., and US 2015/0044941 to Luxi et al.

Garments that lift and reshape breasts to accentuate breast volume and cleavage generally result in regions of the breast and surrounding chest that receive poor air circulation and moisture removal. US 8,864,549 to McKeen teaches a bustier with a support structure and/or flexible structure. The McKeen support structure has a caudal conformation, with a fulcrum superior, or craniad, to the support element coming off the chest wall. This creates a posterior force in the lateral vertical element, which in turn requires counterforce with a circumferential band on the front of the wearer's chest.

There remains a need for a support garment that addresses aeration of infection-prone regions of the wearer's chest, promotes breast healing after medical procedures, and dampens vertical forces on the breast during moderate to high physical activity.

Summary of the Invention

There is provided in accordance with the present invention a support garment that provides lift, support, and cushioning of the breast. This design is a novel support form configured to support the breasts directly under their center of mass in a way that conventional U-shaped underwires cannot do. As a result of the novel shape and positioning of the support form, the breast weight and acceleration is assumed by the support form, leading to less force being transferred to the shoulders. This reduces motion and weight-associated breast discomfort. Additionally, the invention better lifts the breasts off of the chest wall/ribcage, affording improved aeration which decreases temperature and perspiration in the inframammary fold. Thus, a support garment according to the present invention provides increased comfort and reduced fungal infections and rashes.

The support garment according to the invention comprises a support band extending laterally around the wearer's torso and two cups, each having a form-fitting enclosure. Each cup further comprises a cantilevered sinusoidal support form having a first and a second lateral appendage; a first and a second fulcrum; and a sinusoidal medial rib. The first fulcrum joins the first lateral appendage with a first end of the sinusoidal medial rib and the second fulcrum joins the second lateral appendage with the second end of the sinusoidal medial rib. One of the lateral appendages of each cantilevered sinusoidal support form is secured to the cup or to the support band adjacent to each cup such that the support garment is effective to transfer the weight of a breast to the torso of a wearer.

Other aspects and advantages of the present invention are described in the detailed description below and in the claims.

Brief Description of the Drawings:

The invention is described in detail below with reference to the appended drawings, wherein like numerals designate similar parts. In the Figures:

Figures 1A and IB illustrate the center of mass in an idealized breast, with Figure 1A showing a cross-section at line A- A;

Figure 2 depicts a right elevation of a conventional brassiere with underwire;

Figure 3 is a perspective view of a brassiere, illustrating differences between a support form of the present invention as compared to a conventional underwire;

Figure 4 is a right elevation and a front elevation of an embodiment of the inventive support form illustrating the position of the support form on the wearer;

Figure 5 is a right elevation of a partial garment according to the invention, illustrating the transfer of forces provided by the invention to the back strap of the wearer;

Figure 6 is a front view of an inventive brassiere, illustrating the vertical force dampening effect provided by expansion of the support form;

Figure 7 is a perspective view of a garment according to one embodiment of the invention, illustrating the transfer of forces to the wearer's back;

Figure 8 is a front view of a garment according to one embodiment of the invention, in which each cup is provided with a different support form configuration;

Figure 9 is a perspective view of a garment according to an embodiment of the invention;

Figure 10 is an exploded view of the garment shown in Figure 9;

Figure 11 is a right elevation of a support form according to an embodiment of the invention;

Figure 12 is a front elevation of the support form of Figure 11;

Figure 13 is a left elevation of the support form of Figure 11;

Figure 14 is a bottom elevation of the support form of Figure 11;

Figure 15 is a right elevation of a support form according to another embodiment of the invention;

Figure 16 is a front elevation of the support form of Figure 15;

Figure 17 is a left elevation of the support form of Figure 15; Figure 18 is a bottom elevation of the support form of Figure 15;

Figure 19 is a right elevation of a configuration of the inventive support form illustrating the position of the support form on the wearer;

Figure 20 is a front elevation of support form of Figure 19;

Figure 21 is a right elevation of another configuration of the inventive support form illustrating the position of the support form on the wearer;

Figure 22 is a front elevation of support form of Figure 21;

Figure 23 is a right elevation of yet another configuration of the inventive support form illustrating the position of the support form on the wearer;

Figure 24 is a front elevation of support form of Figure 23;

Figure 25 is a right elevation of still another configuration of the inventive support form illustrating the position of the support form on the wearer;

Figure 26 is a front elevation of support form of Figure 25;

Figure 27 is a right elevation of yet another configuration of the inventive support form illustrating the position of the support form on the wearer; and

Figure 28 is a front elevation of support form of Figure 27.

Detailed Description of the Invention

The invention is described in detail below with reference to several embodiments and numerous examples. Such discussion is for purposes of illustration only. Modifications to particular examples within the spirit and scope of the present invention, set forth in the appended claims, will be readily apparent to one of skill in the art. Terminology used herein is given its ordinary meaning consistent with the exemplary definitions set forth immediately below.

With respect to the various ranges set forth herein, any upper limit recited may, of course, be combined with any lower limit for selected sub-ranges.

The transitional phrase "consisting essentially of limits the scope of a claim to the specified materials or steps "and those that do not materially affect the basic and novel characteristic(s)" of the claimed invention. As used herein with respect to product claims, "consisting essentially of and like terminology refers to the recited components and excludes other ingredients which would substantially change the basic and novel characteristics of the composition or article. Unless otherwise indicated or readily apparent, an article consists essentially of the recited components when the article includes 90% or more by weight of the recited components. That is, the terminology excludes more than 10% unrecited components.

Unless specified or limited otherwise, the terms "mounted," "connected," "supported," and "coupled" and variations thereof are used broadly and encompass both direct and indirect mountings, connections, supports, and couplings. Further, "connected" and "coupled" are not restricted to physical or mechanical connections or couplings.

As used herein, the term "support form" refers to a structural element for use with or for incorporation into any part of any kind of a brassiere or garment that provides support for the breasts (as an example, foam or molded or contour cups). The term is not meant to be limiting, as the inventive support form is not limited to the position and location in which a conventional underwire is typically found. The inventive support form may be made of any number or combination of materials. These distinctions and more will be apparent in the context of the following detailed description.

The term "hammock-like plane of support" as used herein, also described as a

"suspension element", is not intended to be limited to a 2-dimensional, flat, planar surface, but is rather intended to include a moderately curved, 3 -dimensional surface that lies in direct apposition to the breast surface, approximating the surface of a spherical cap.

The following terms indicating direction are used herein. "Craniad" as used herein means toward the head end of the wearer. "Caudal" or "caudad" means towards the lower end of the wearer. "Posterior" means toward the back. "Medial" as used herein means towards the center. "Lateral" means towards the side (left or right). Thus, a "medial limb" refers to an element of the support form extending upward in the area between the breasts and is sometimes also referred to as a "lateral appendage", meaning that the appendage is positioned to the side of the breast. "Proximal" means toward ajoint or junction. "Distal" means toward an extremity of the element. "Posteroanterior" as used herein means from the back toward the front of the wearer. As used herein, "inferior" refers to a lower position on the garment as determined on a wearer in an upright position.

A "support band" according to the present invention refers to any strap or structure joining a support garment across the back of a wearer. The support band may be unitary or may have two sections joined by clasps, hooks, etc.

As used herein, a "cup" may include a collapsible fabric structure having an

approximately hemispherical shape when a breast is placed therein as well as a pre-formed structure that maintains an approximately hemispherical shape even when not in use; a "cup" may also include structures that cover the entire surface of the breast or only a fraction of the breast surface when in use, such as a demi-cup, for example. A "molded cup" refers to an unlined cup that is pre-shaped and designed to mirror the natural shape of the breast. A "contour cup" is similarly pre-shaped but further comprises padding or lining.

The term "idealized" refers to a hemispherical shape that approximates a human breast, as well as the associated radius and arc length from chest wall to an apex at the nipple areolar complex, and/or to a mass of uniform density approximating the human breast mass. In actuality, human breasts generally do not exhibit a truly hemispherical shape, particularly ptotic breasts. Nor do human breasts generally exhibit uniform density throughout the mass.

The support form presented herein when incorporated into a support garment, such as a brassiere, swimsuit, or yoga/sport top with built-in bra, provides support and cushioning for the breasts by a different mechanism than conventional support garments. In contrast to existing underwires whose shapes lie within a two-dimensional plane against the chest wall, a medial portion of the novel support form described bends upward and outward from the chest wall, creating a three-dimensional undulation(s) that parallels the convex undersurface of the breast.

The novel three-dimensional shape and recoil properties of this design create lift and support by cradling the breast from beneath around its center of mass. This results in the following enhancements over existing designs: 1) transference of part or all of the breast's weight, through a cantilever effect, to the wearer's back and away from the shoulders; 2) dampening of downward acceleration due to the cantilever effect and expansion and recoil in the horizontal/circumferential direction; 3) increased separation between the inferior breast and chest wall; and 4) improved aeration that would decrease temperature and perspiration in the inframammary fold area and between the breasts. In addition, the enhanced cradling and shock absorbing effects of the present support form design may be especially beneficial to female athletes and military personnel, as well as individuals with augmentation or reconstructive implants in whom the breast center of mass may be particularly distant from the plane of the chest wall. Since the present support form does not lie in the central inframammary fold, this design may also find application in those women who have had surgical incisions in that area, such as but not limited to reduction mammoplasty, breast biopsies, and partial mastectomies. In contrast to the horizontal rigidity of existing underwires, the circumferential flexibility of the present design can accommodate different breast shapes and sizes. This design may prove beneficial for those women with breast size/shape asymmetry. In the manufacturing process, this flexibility allows a broader range of breast sizes to fit within a smaller range of brassiere and/or breast support garment sizes, resulting in reduced production costs.

As compared to existing rigid, U-shaped underwires, the present design provides better dampening of repeated downward acceleration/deceleration associated with walking, running, jumping, horseback riding, or other activities that result in repeated vertical movement of the torso. This shock-absorbing effect is achieved through two means: 1) the inherent springiness of the lateral portion of the support form, acting as a cantilever in conjunction with the elasticity of the garment's fabric or material into which the support form is incorporated or attached, work in concert to resist downward deflection, and once deflected, to return to the starting position; 2) expansion and recoil in the horizontal/circumferential direction of the support form material at the undulation(s) in conjunction with a hammock-like plane of support fabric or material underlying the breast center of mass bridging the area between the limbs of the undulation(s). Expansion of the garment's horizontal circumference will cause the width of the undulation(s) to increase, causing tension in the intervening fabric or material to rise and resulting in a lifting force on the breast. These actions together provide a superior level of support and shock absorption over existing designs, especially during vigorous activity and accentuated respiration.

The invention provides a dynamic structure designed to flex and twist under the weight and movement of the wearer's breast and body and accommodate different forces of the individual wearer. It is also designed to accommodate a broader range of sizes within one size of the support form. The inventive support garment provides the following advantages: a) optimizes the smooth transmission of force of the breast weight to the support form;

b) distributes breast weight over a broad surface area;

c) creates a tapered cross-section that when incorporated into the garment (cup) will disguise its presence.

The inventive support form lifts the breast mass from the inframammary fold without the need to transfer weight to a shoulder strap. As such, the invention contemplates strapless support garments as well as garments comprising shoulder straps. The present invention also moves the support structure away from the inframmary fold and obviates the need for any circumferential support band beneath the garment on the anterior chest wall.

In the inventive support form, the fulcrum is inferior to the medial support structure extending from the chest wall, i.e., the support form exhibits a craniad conformation. The force of the weight of the breast creates a torque which when transmitted to the lateral vertical element creates a force forward, which is counteracted by the circumferential band on the wearer's back, away from the inframmary area. Due to the novel structure, there is no need for additional supporting elements in the inframmary area, resulting in improved aeration and moisture management in this region. The craniad conformation of the invention surprisingly provides superior support, force dampening, and aearation as compared to a conventional conventional garment with underwire as well as a conventional strapless support garment, such as a bustier. At the time of the invention, support garments generally comprise a conventional underwire or require additional support from a band or like element to provide support and shape. Existing support garments without shoulder straps generally need further support below the breasts. The invention also introduces lateral flexibility into the support structure to dampen vertical movement during activity.

The support form provides support without significant mechanical pressure to regions in the inframammary fold and the underside of the breast. These regions, as well as the area between the breasts, are particularly prone to infection without exposure to air. The inventive garments allow air to reach these areas, preventing infection. These embodiments also allow for garments that better accommodate, e.g., the needs of a patient recovering from certain medical procedures, such as surgical incisions below the nipple and within the inframammary fold. Such incisions may result, for example, from a reduction mammoplasty.

The medial horizontal strap may be a noncontinuous clasp or junction between the garment cups as the strap only serves as a mechanical connection over the sternum to join two halves of the garment and to hold the garment around the wearer. In some embodiments, a garment is provided without a band or strap between breast-supporting cups, as the garment does not require the medial strap to support breast weight which is transferred to the back of the garment.

The dimensions of the support form may vary, as may the stiffness or rigidness of its components. Its width and thickness may vary. For example, the width of the support form, between the upper edge and the lower edge, may vary from a few millimeters to over a centimeter, and may also vary along its length. The thickness may vary from about 0.5 mm to about 15 mm or more, which may also vary across the support form. For example, the thickness may be at least about 1 mm and less than about 10 mm. A suitable thickness may be about 1 mm to about 5 mm, such as about 2 mm.

The support form stiffness, or rigidity, is a function of the material selected and the thickness employed. The rigidity may vary along its width and length as well. Durometer, a unitless measure of hardness, may range from about 10 "Shore OO" to about 100 "Shore D". Hardness values may be, in some embodiments, durometers of at least about 15 "Shore OO", at least about 20 "Shore OO", at least about 30 "Shore OO", at least about 70 "Shore OO", at least about 25 "Shore A", or at least about 55 "Shore A". Hardness values may also be, for example, durometers of less than about 75 "Shore D", less than about 50 "Shore D", less than about 100 "Shore A", less than about 90 "Shore A", less than about 80 "Shore A", or less than about 70 "Shore A". A suitable durometer may be, for example, between about 50 and about 80, such as about 60.

The support form may be formed in a plurality of sizes to fit a plurality of brassiere or breast support garment wearers. Without being bound by theory, the fundamental principle of the invention is that the geometry of the support form supports the force of the breast center of mass in the vertical position. Therefore, the support form and its elements must have dimensions that accommodate a breast center of mass whose position may vary from less than 3/8 of the radius to just short of the idealized breast radius.

The inventive support form is provided with a medial limb and a lateral limb. Generally, the medial limb is shorter than the lateral limb, though in some instances the limbs may be the same length.

Since the medial and lateral limbs of the support form lie roughly in the same area as the corresponding components of an underwire of the same size in a conventional brassiere, the range of medial to lateral dimensions for the support form is roughly equivalent to the underwire diameters used in various cup sizes, as listed in Table I.

Table I: Underwire Diameters for Various Bra Cup Sizes

UW 1 Diameter 2

UW^ Size Cup Size (US System) (cm)

30 32A 30B 28C 9.7

32 34A 32B 30C 28D 10.6

34 6A 34B 32C 30D 28E 11.4

36 8A 36B 34C 32D 30E 28F 12.3

38 40A 38B 36C 34D 32E 3 OF 28G 13.1

40 42A 40B 38C 36D 34E 32F 30G 28H 14

42 44A 42B 40C 38D 36E 34F 32G 3 OH 281 14.8

44 44B 42C 40D 38E 36F 34G 32H 301 28J 15.7

46 44C 42D 40E 38F 36G 34H 321 30J 28K 16.5

48 44D 42E 40F 38G 36H 341 32J 3 OK 28L 17.4

50 44E 42F 40G 38H 361 34J 32K 30L 28M 18.2

52 44F 42G 40H 381 36J 34K 32L 30M 28N 19

54 44G 42H 401 38J 36K 34L 32M 30N 280 19.9

56 44H 421 40J 38K 36L 34M 32N 30O 28P 20.7

58 441 42J 40K 38L 36M 34N 320 30P 21.6

60 441 42J 40K 38L 36M 34N 320 30P 22.4

'uw = Underwire

2 Diameters are approximate, as shapes may vary

Table II lists the idealized distances from the chest wall to the breast apex for the various cup sizes. These distances define the maximum dimensions of the support form and its elements according to cup size. Table II: Idealized Distance from Chest Wall to Breast Apex

Distance 2

UW^ Size Cup Size (US System) (cm)

30 32A 30B 28C 4.9

32 34A 32B 30C 28D 5.3

34 6A 34B 32C 30D 28E 5.7

36 8A 36B 34C 32D 30E 28F 6.2

38 40A 38B 36C 34D 32E 30F 28G 6.6

40 42A 40B 38C 36D 34E 32F 30G 28H 7.0

42 44A 42B 40C 38D 36E 34F 32G 30H 281 7.4

44 44B 42C 40D 38E 36F 34G 32H 301 28J 7.9

46 44C 42D 40E 38F 36G 34H 321 30J 28K 8.3

48 44D 42E 40F 38G 36H 341 32J 30K 28L 8.7

50 44E 42F 40G 38H 361 34J 32K 30L 28M 9.1

52 44F 42G 40H 381 36J 34K 32L 30M 28N 9.5

54 44G 42H 401 38J 36K 34L 32M 3 ON 280 10.0

56 44H 421 40J 38K 36L 34M 32N 30O 28P 10.4

58 441 42J 40K 38L 36M 34N 320 30P 10.8

60 441 42J 40K 38L 36M 34N 320 30P 11.2

'uw = Underwire

2 Distance is calculated as underwire diameter / 2

Therefore, the peak or peaks of the support form medial support structure distal from the chest wall extends from about 1.8 cm up to about 12 cm outward from the chest wall, or more in some cases, depending upon the wearer's breast size. The medial support structure does not contact the inframammary fold. The support form, when positioned on a wearer, extends vertically no higher than the nipple region of the breast.

Each fulcrum is configured such that, prior to the application of load, the lateral appendage arising from the fulcrum and extending out onto the breast, as viewed from the side, creates an angle of between about ½° and about 90° to the proximal end of the medial support structure.

In any case, the fulcra lie proximal to the chest wall, closer to the chest wall than the breast center of mass. In an upright position, the fulcra lie in a horizontal plane below the position of the support form peak(s).

According to the invention, the load provided by a breast produces a compressive force, pushing the fulcra down and back. As the fulcra will be subject to the forces being transferred, the fulcra may be manufactured of enhanced materials or dimensions or otherwise be provided with properties that provide increased strength.

In some embodiments, the support form is provided with elements that extend into the inframammary fold.

To improve aeration as well as heat and moisture management, the support form may be fenestrated with multiple openings of different sizes, spacing, and shapes. This function may, in some cases, be achieved using a porous material having a pore size sufficiently large to allow dissipation of water vapor and the passage of oxygen.

In some embodiments, the support form is encased in a fenestrated foam or

molded/contour cup that is incorporated into the final garment.

In addition to the various overall shapes described, the support form may have various geometries along its length, from smooth-edge, ribbon-like shape, to repeated phalanx-like tapered projections extending out from either or both edges. These projections may be along a part of or the entire length of the form. The projections may vary in size, stiffness/rigidity and location. The projections are generally tapered in both thickness and length. The number of projections is dependent, in part, upon the dimensions (e.g., length, width, thickness, degree of taper) of the projections.

Additional geometries of the support form include one or more undulations of various sizes and degrees. The size and number of undulation(s) may be altered to accommodate different breast anatomies, including different configurations in the same brassiere; i.e., left differs from right. The criteria for increasing or decreasing the number of undulations, and the width, shape, and spacing of the undulations, may be determined by the individual support needs of different breast anatomies. For example, larger, broader breasts may require an increased number of undulations and/or wider spacing of undulations, whereas smaller, narrower breasts may require fewer undulations and/or less spacing. In embodiments having multiple undulations, the top and bottom surfaces of the support form may resemble sine or cosine waves in phase.

The fabric or other material underlying the breast center of mass between the limbs of the support form creates a hammock-like plane of support, thereby distributing the breast weight over a broad surface area. The force created by the weight of the breast on this region is borne by the hammock-like support and transferred laterally through the support form, acting as a cantilever, to the lateral limb lying along the side of the chest wall. In this manner, the hammock-like membrane creates a broader distribution of the weight of the breast onto the structural element, which is then transferred to the wearer's back.

The material of the hammock-like plane of support may include textile and non-textile materials, including materials identical to that of the support form itself. The material may include, but is not limited to, a thin, fenestrated or non-fenestrated membrane or mesh, such as a medicinal membrane or gauze, either incorporated into the support form as one piece or added as a separate component. As such, the inventive garment may provide support while promoting healing of incisions and/or infections.

This support form may be manufactured from pliable and resilient material that allows the support form to return to its original shape despite significant deformation, deflection or twisting. The support form may be made from, but not limited to, the following materials: steel or other metal, including wire; plastic, i.e., natural and synthetic organic polymers in the form of resin, composite, gel, foam, elastic, spandex, fabric, compound elastomer resins, plasticized rigid PVC compounds, poly olefin reticulated compounds, polyolefinic reticulated compounds, a closed-cell resin, an ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) material, rubber, or foam rubber; silicon-based materials including silicone or silica gel; other shape-memory material that has spring-like properties; and/or some combination thereof. It may also be comprised of an appropriately shaped gas-filled or fluid-filled tube.

In cross section, the support form may be flat, circular, oval, or complex polygonal. It may be solid or hollow. The cross-sectional shape and area may change along the course of the support form to achieve different degrees of recoil, flexibility, and stiffness/rigidity.

The support form according to the invention may be used with traditional lingerie textiles, fabrics, and material, or with performance-enhancing and/or technologically - advanced/high-tech/nanotech/smart-fabric textiles and materials suitable for use in a garment to be worn against the body to overcome at least some of the deficiencies exhibited by some of those of attempted previous solutions.

Furthermore, connection of the support form into the brassiere and/or breast support garment includes methods used in existing brassiere or breast support garment construction whereby the support form is encased in a channel or tube and stitched into the brassiere, brassiere cups, or breast support garment, as well as anchored, connected, or supported by alternative securing means whereby the support form is attached to the inner or outer portion of the brassiere, brassiere cup, or breast support garment with snaps, hooks, and similar devices. For example, securing means may include sewing, chemical bonding, gluing, and/or heat bonding. Similarly, the inventive support form may be attached externally to a conventional brassiere or breast support garment already having a conventional U-shaped underwire. In some embodiments, the support form may be glued, bonded, or otherwise encased between layers of foam, pad, fabric, 3D spacer fabric or other cup materials used to make brassiere and breast supporting garment cups. The support form may also be manufactured directly into the material of the brassiere or breast support garment as, for example, by 3D printing.

The support form may be a gas-filled or fluid-filled tube that forms the support form and is incorporated into the brassiere and/or breast support garment by any of the methods mentioned above.

In some embodiments, the support garment is provided with an internal textile layer and an external textile layer. However, in other embodiments, one or both textile layers are not necessary and are thus excluded. The support form and/or the material underlying the breast center of mass may be fabricated of materials including, but not limited to, performance-enhancing and/or

technologically-advanced/high-tech/nanotech/smart-fabric textiles and/or other materials that preferably include one or more of the following features: wi eking, evaporation or other moisture management capabilities, anti-microbial characteristics, and pH-control properties.

Figures 1A and IB demonstrate the theoretical position of the breast center of mass 20 and the location in which a conventional underwire 40 lies within the inframammary fold 16. The breast center of mass 20 is theoretically positioned at the intersection of the vertical plane A- A intersecting the nipple areolar complex 14, the horizontal plane 21 intersecting the nipple areolar complex, and the vertical axis of force 23 a distance 22 from the plane of the chest wall 12.

Figure 2 demonstrates the force transfer provided by a conventional brassiere with underwire. In the Figure, a support garment such as a brassiere 30 is positioned on a wearer such that the breast and nipple areolar complex 14 are contained within a cup 32, support for which is provided by underwire 40 positioned at the inframammary fold 16 at the chest wall 12. The brassiere is secured by way of a lateral posterior horizontal strap 36 that circles around the wearer's back, as well as a vertical strap 34 that extends across the wearer's shoulder 18. The vertical gravitational force 60 acting upon the breast is counteracted by force 62 exerted on the shoulder strap 34, transferring the force due to the weight of the breast to force 64 exerted on the wearer's shoulder 18.

Figure 3 illustrates the different configuration of the inventive support form 140 as compared to a conventional underwire 40. The inventive support form is shown in more detail in Figure 4. As shown in Figure 3, the breast center of mass 20 is projected vertically onto a surface of the garment 30 by force 60 at projection point 24.

Figure 4 illustrates a support form 140 according to the invention without the surrounding support garment 30 and demonstrates the position of the support form 140 on the wearer's breast. The support form 140 generally has a medial support structure or rib 46 with an undulating or sinusoidal peak or peaks positioned craniad, communicating with a lateral limb or appendage 42 via a lateral fulcrum 48 and communicating with a medial limb or appendage 44 via a medial fulcrum 49, such that the fulcrums 48, 49 are positioned caudally and the distal end of the lateral limbs 42, 44 extend craniad. The lateral and medial limbs 42, 44 of the support form 140 follow the curvature of the base of the breast and the fulcrums 48, 49 lie adjacent to the inframammary fold 16. The peak(s) or undulation(s) of the medial support structure 46 extends upward and outward from the chest wall 12 to a location between the nipple-areolar complex 14 and the vertical axis of force 23 associated with the breast center of mass, laterally midway across the breast. In other words, the medial support structure 46 encircles or borders a lower region of the breast when the wearer is in a vertical position, providing direct support to the area when incorporated into a support garment 30. For convenience, the support form illustrated in Figure 4 is described herein as the "Wave Configuration".

As demonstrated in Figure 5, the force 60 created by the weight of the breast is transferred laterally through the support form 140, acting as a cantilever, to the lateral limb 42 lying along the side of the chest wall 12 via a torque force 66 at the fulcrum 48, where the distance from the fulcrum 48 to the axis of the vertical force 60 functions as a moment arm. Lateral limb 42 experiences a forward rotational action counteracted by the fabric of the lateral band 36 wrapped around the wearer's torso, thereby transferring the force 68 to the wearer's back. In turn, some or all of the vertical forces 60 on the breast are redirected to the back and away from the shoulder 18.

A support garment with the inventive support form 140 additionally provides superior vertical force dampening characteristics, as illustrated in Figure 6, due to the flexibility and expandability of the sinusoidal design. The material underlying the breast center of mass 20 between the limbs 42, 44 of the support form 140 distributes the breast weight over a broad surface area. When a vertical force is exerted on the support form 140, it will temporarily expand; i.e., the distance between fulcra 48 and 49 will increase. Expansion is indicated by 70. Expansion of the garment's horizontal circumference causes tension in the intervening material, resulting in a lifting force 61 on the breast. Thus, the increased vertical force is transferred laterally through the support form 140. Once the amplitude of the force decreases, the support form 140 and garment material recoil in the horizontal/circumferential direction.

Figure 7 illustrates a support garment 30 for which additional support is provided by a hammock-like plane of support or suspension element 39 which may extend from the peak of the undulation 46 downward and inward to the inframammary fold 16. In Figure 7, the hammocklike plane of support 39 is shown as a perforated, fenestrated, or porous material. The function of the support form illustrated in Figure 5, discussed above, is additionally illustrated in Figure 7.

Figure 8 illustrates a support garment 30 in which the support form for the left cup 32 has a different configuration than the support form for the right cup 32. The two cups are connected via a medial horizontal strap 38.

Figures 9 and 10 show an embodiment of the invention in which the support form 140 is provided with tapered phalanx-like projections, or fingers 52 along the upper edge of the form in addition to the hammock-like plane of support 39 having fenestrations 50. Figure 10 further illustrates the support form 140 embedded between a formed inner cup 54 and a formed outer cup 56. Figures 11-14 show right, front, left, and bottom views, respectively, of an inventive support form 140 having upper finger-like projections 52 along the upper edge of the support form 140 as well as lower finger-like projections 52 along the lower edge of the support form 140. Figures 15-18 show right, front, left, and bottom views, respectively, of another embodiment of the inventive support form 140 having upper finger-like projections 52 as well as an integrally-formed hammock-like plane of support 39.

Figures 19-28 present a variety of configurations suitable for the inventive support form. Figures 19-20 illustrate a narrower wavelength of the configuration identified as the "Wave Configuration". Figures 21-22 present a configuration identified for convenience as the "Omega Configuration". Figures 23-24 present a configuration having a dimple in the undulation, identified for convenience as the "Fishtail Configuration". Figures 25-26 present a configuration in which the medial support structure has two independent peaks, identified for convenience as the "M Configuration". While not intended to be limiting, Figures 27-28 present a configuration with seven distinct peaks, identified for convenience as the "Multiwave Configuration". Each title is evocative of the respective general shape of the support form.

While the invention has been described in detail, modifications within the spirit and scope of the invention will be readily apparent to those of skill in the art and is not limited to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth herein. In view of the foregoing discussion, relevant knowledge in the art and references discussed above in connection with the Background and Detailed Description, the disclosures of which are all incorporated herein by reference, further description is deemed unnecessary. In addition, it should be understood that aspects of the invention and portions of various embodiments may be combined or interchanged either in whole or in part. Furthermore, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the foregoing description is by way of example only, and is not intended to limit the invention.