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United States Patent Application 20190082748
Kind Code A1
Mazourik; Sergei ;   et al. March 21, 2019

FUNCTIONAL BRASSIERE

Abstract

While the described functional brassiere can include any suitable component, in some cases, it includes a first breast cup that has a medial portion and a lateral portion, with the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest. The brassiere further includes a first breast cup connector that is made from an elastomeric material and that extends along the lateral portion of the first breast cup. The brassiere further includes a first shoulder strap that is coupled to the first breast cup connector. In some cases, a first end of the first shoulder strap is coupled to the first breast cup connector, the first shoulder strap includes an elongated portion that is configured to extend around a torso of the user, and a second end of the first shoulder strap couples to the medial portion of the first breast cup. Other implementations are disclosed.


Inventors: Mazourik; Sergei; (Delemont, CH) ; Mazourik; Oksana; (Delemont, CH) ; Mazourik; Katharina; (Delemont, CH) ; Mazourik; Michael; (Delemont, CH)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Mazourik; Sergei
Mazourik; Oksana
Mazourik; Katharina
Mazourik; Michael

Delemont
Delemont
Delemont
Delemont

CH
CH
CH
CH
Family ID: 1000003708919
Appl. No.: 16/193434
Filed: November 16, 2018


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
15946081Apr 5, 2018
16193434
15457805Mar 13, 20179936741
15946081
14871393Sep 30, 20159591877
15457805
13977245Jun 28, 20139265288
14871393

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: A41C 3/10 20130101; A41C 3/0028 20130101; A41C 3/0071 20130101; A41C 3/0007 20130101
International Class: A41C 3/00 20060101 A41C003/00; A41C 3/10 20060101 A41C003/10

Foreign Application Data

DateCodeApplication Number
Dec 11, 2012CNPCT/CN2012/086384

Claims



1. A brassiere comprising: a first breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a first breast cup connector comprising an elastomeric material extending along the lateral portion of the first breast cup; and a first shoulder strap that is coupled to the first breast cup connector.

2. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein the shoulder strap comprises a material that is less elastomeric than the elastomeric material of the first breast cup connector.

3. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein a first portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled to the first breast cup connector, wherein the first shoulder strap is configured to extend around a torso of the user when the user wears the brassiere, and wherein a second portion of the first shoulder strap couples to the medial portion of the first breast cup.

4. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein a first portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled at a proximal portion of the first breast cup connector such that the first portion of the first shoulder strap is configured to extend over a shoulder of the user when the user wears the brassiere.

5. The brassiere of claim 4, wherein a second portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled to a distal portion of the first breast cup connector such that the second portion of the first shoulder strap is configured to extend below an arm of the user when the user wears the brassiere.

6. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein the first shoulder strap forms a continuous loop of a material that is less elastomeric than the elastomeric material of the first breast cup connector, wherein the continuous loop comprises an arm hole through which an arm of the user is configured to extend when the user wears the brassiere, and wherein at least a portion of the first breast cup connector is disposed between the first breast cup and the first shoulder strap.

7. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein the first shoulder strap comprises a material that is less elastomeric than the elastomeric material of the first breast cup connector, and wherein the first shoulder strap and the first breast cup connector are coupled together to form an arm loop that is configured to receive an arm of the user when the user wears the brassiere.

8. The brassiere of claim 1, further comprising: a second breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion of the second breast cup being configured to be disposed near the midline of the user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a second breast cup connector comprising the elastomeric material, the second breast cup connector extending along the lateral portion of the second breast cup; a second shoulder strap, the second shoulder strap being coupled to the second breast cup connector, and an elastomeric connecting band, wherein the first breast cup and the second breast cup are coupled together via the elastomeric connecting band.

9. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein the first shoulder strap comprises an inner surface that is configured to contact a shoulder of the user when the user wears the brassiere, and wherein the inner surface comprises an anti-slip grip.

10. The brassiere of claim 10, wherein an anterior portion of the inner surface of the first shoulder strap comprises the anti-slip grip.

11. The brassiere of claim 1, wherein the first breast cup comprises an inner surface and an outer surface, and wherein the inner surface of the first breast cup comprises an anti-slip grip.

12. A brassiere comprising: a first breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a first breast cup connector comprising a first elastomeric material that extends along the lateral portion of the first breast cup; and a first shoulder strap, wherein the first shoulder strap and the first breast cup connector are coupled together such that a portion of the first shoulder strap and a portion of the first breast cup connector mutually define a first arm hole in the brassiere.

13. The brassiere of claim 12, further comprising: a second breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion of the second breast cup being configured to be disposed near the midline of the user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a second breast cup connector comprising a second elastomeric material that extends along the lateral portion of the second breast cup; a second shoulder strap; and an elastomeric connecting band, wherein the second shoulder strap and the second breast cup connector are coupled together such that a portion of the second shoulder strap and a portion of the second breast cup connector mutually define a first arm hole in the brassiere, and wherein the first breast cup and the second breast cup are coupled together via the elastomeric connecting band.

14. The brassiere of claim 12, wherein a first portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled at a proximal portion of the first breast cup connector such that the first portion of the first shoulder strap is configured to extend over a shoulder of the user when the user wears the brassiere.

15. The brassiere of claim 12, wherein the first shoulder strap comprises an inner surface that is configured to contact a shoulder of the user when the user wears the brassiere, and wherein the inner surface comprises an anti-slip grip.

16. The brassiere of claim 14, wherein the first shoulder strap couples to the proximal portion of the first breast cup connector via an adjustable coupler that is configured to selectively tighten and loosen the first shoulder strap with respect to the first breast cup.

17. A brassiere comprising: a first breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a first breast cup connector comprising an elastomeric material that extends along the lateral portion of the first breast cup; and a first shoulder strap, wherein the first shoulder strap and the first breast cup connector are coupled together such that a portion of the first shoulder strap and a portion of the first breast cup connector mutually define a first arm hole in the brassiere, wherein the first shoulder strap comprises a material that is less elastomeric than the elastomeric material of the first breast cup connector, and wherein a first portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled at a proximal portion of the first breast cup connector such that the first portion of the first shoulder strap is configured to extend over a shoulder of the user when the user wears the brassiere.

18. The brassiere of claim 17, wherein a second portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled to a distal portion of the first breast cup connector such that the second portion of the first shoulder strap is configured to extend below an arm of the user when the user wears the brassiere.

19. The brassiere of claim 17, wherein the first shoulder strap comprises an inner surface that is configured to contact a shoulder of the user when the user wears the brassiere, wherein the inner surface comprises an anti-slip grip, and wherein an anterior portion of the inner surface of the first shoulder strap comprises the anti-slip grip.

20. The brassiere of claim 17, wherein a first portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled to the first breast cup connector, wherein the first shoulder strap is configured to extend around a torso of the user when the user wears the brassiere, and wherein a second portion of the first shoulder strap couples to the medial portion of the first breast cup.
Description



RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/946,081 (Attorney Docket No. 24344.10), entitled "FUNCTIONAL BRASSIERE", filed Apr. 5, 2018, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/457,805 (now U.S. Pat. No. 9,936,741; Attorney Docket No. 24344.8), entitled "FUNCTIONAL BRASSIERE", filed Mar. 13, 2017, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 14/871,393 (now U.S. Pat. No. 9,591,877; Attorney Docket No. 24344.6), entitled "FUNCTIONAL BRASSIERE", filed Sep. 30, 2015, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 13/977,245 (now U.S. Pat. No. 9,265,288; Attorney Docket No. 24344.2), entitled "FUNCTIONAL BRASSIERE", filed on Jun. 28, 2013, which is a nationalization of PCT Application No. PCT/CN2012/086384, entitled "FUNCTIONAL BRASSIERE", filed Dec. 11, 2012; the entire disclosures of each of the foregoing being hereby incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Field of the Invention

[0002] This invention relates to a brassiere (a functional garment). More specifically, some implementations relate to a functional brassiere that simultaneously provides orthopedic benefits as well as visual breast enhancement.

Background and Related Art

[0003] Throughout history, attempts have been made to design garments that improve a physical and/or a visual appearance of a wearer. An improved physical appearance can lead to an increase in self-esteem and confidence of the wearer and can produce additional physiological and physical benefits. Because of these benefits, many people continue to develop and produce garments that increase the wearer's physical appearance and that are configured to provide support to a portion to a wearer's body. Among such garments is a bra (or brassiere), an undergarment designed to support a woman's breasts and/or to improve a physical and/or visual appearance of the wearer.

[0004] A plethora of different bra models have been designed to provide support to a wearer's breasts, to enhance the size, shape, and/or appearance of the wearer's breasts, to elevate the wearer's breasts, to increase comfort, and/or to be fashionable. For example, a push-up bra is designed to elevate and draw the breasts together to create cleavage, to give the appearance of increased breast size, and to improve the appearance of the wearer's body outline.

[0005] While push-up bra designs can increase physical appearance, some such bras can also cause discomfort and physiological strain. These bras are typically designed with a pair of breast cups statically attached to a back strap that encircles the wearer's torso. In some cases, shoulder straps (which is some cases comprise shoulder loops) are statically attached to the top of each breast cup and extend over the wearer's shoulder and then statically attach to the back strap. Because the shoulder straps (in some conventional push-up bras) provide the primary or only mechanism for achieving an upward force to elevate the breasts, the shoulder straps often also exert a countervailing downward force on the shoulder, back, and/or neck. This countervailing downward force can increase static and dynamic pressure and/or load on these areas, leading to discomfort, pain, poor posture, and stooping of the back. It can also cause the thoracic section of the spine to protrude backwards, bending of the head forward, flattening of the chest, slouching of the shoulders forward, rounding of the back, protrusion of the stomach forward, and/or protrusion of the shoulder blades from the back. Incorrect posture and stoop can also lead to strain to the skeletal structure; motor apparatus disorder; headaches; malfunctions of the respiratory, nerve, and/or cardiovascular systems; a droopy abdomen; spine aches; weakening of the sural and hip muscles; reduced waist mobility; flaccid facial skin; appearance of a double chin; and/or other physiological maladies.

[0006] Some orthopedic bras have been developed to improve posture and counteract stoop caused by wearing a bra. Oftentimes, these orthopedic bras are designed to pull the shoulders back and to draw the shoulder blades together, thereby decreasing the pressure on the shoulders, back, and neck while improving posture and combating stoop. Although some orthopedic bras may provide these physical benefits, some may also reduce the aesthetic appearance of the breasts and the bodyline. For example, by bringing the shoulders back, some orthopedic bras greatly reduce the appearance of cleavage and cause the breasts to point outwardly rather than forward.

[0007] Thus, while a variety of bra designs currently exist, challenges still exist, including those listed above. Accordingly, it would be an improvement in the art to augment or even replace current techniques with other techniques.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The present application relates to functional garments and more specifically to functional brassieres. In some implementations, a functional brassiere comprises a first single breast supporting device. In some implementations, the first single breast supporting device comprises a first breast cup, a first breast cup connector, and a first support strap. The first breast cup can be configured to support a first single breast of a user. The first breast cup can also include an inner edge configured to be disposed near a medial portion of the user's chest when the user wears the functional garment. The first breast cup connector can comprise any suitable material, including, without limitation, a first piece of elastomeric material extending along a lateral side of the first breast cup. The first support strap can include a first shoulder loop, a first connecting panel, and/or a first cross strap. Indeed, in some implementations, the first support strap comprises a first shoulder loop and/or a first cross strap. A first portion of the first shoulder loop can be connected (and/or the first support strap), at least in part, to an upper lateral portion of the first breast cup connector and/or can be configured to extend over a first shoulder of the user. A second portion of the first shoulder loop can be connected (and/or support strap), at least in part, to a lower lateral portion of the first breast cup connector and can be configured to extend, at least in part, around a portion of the user's torso. The first portion and the second portion can be configured to join together to form a first connecting panel with the first connecting panel extending into a first cross strap that can be configured to extend around a portion of user's torso and attach to the inner edge of the first breast cup.

[0009] In some implementations, the described brassiere includes a first breast cup that has a medial portion and a lateral portion, with the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest. The brassiere further includes a first breast cup connector that is made from an elastomeric material and that extends along the lateral portion of the first breast cup. The brassiere further includes a first shoulder strap that is coupled to the first breast cup connector. In some cases, a first end of the first shoulder strap is coupled to the first breast cup connector, the first shoulder strap includes an elongated portion that is configured to extend around a torso of the user, and a second end of the first shoulder strap couples to the medial portion of the first breast cup.

[0010] In some implementations, the brassiere includes a first breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a first breast cup connector comprising a first elastomeric material that extends along the lateral portion of the first breast cup; and a first shoulder strap, wherein the first shoulder strap and the first breast cup connector are coupled together such that a portion of the first shoulder strap and a portion of the first breast cup connector mutually define a first arm hole (or loop) in the brassiere.

[0011] In still other implementations, the brassiere includes a first breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a first breast cup connector comprising an elastomeric material that extends along the lateral portion of the first breast cup; and a first shoulder strap, wherein the first shoulder strap and the first breast cup connector are coupled together such that a portion of the first shoulder strap and a portion of the first breast cup connector mutually define a first arm hole in the brassiere, wherein the first shoulder strap comprises a material that is less elastomeric than the elastomeric material of the first breast cup connector, and wherein a first portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled at a proximal portion of the first breast cup connector such that the first portion of the first shoulder strap is configured to extend over a shoulder of the user when the user wears the brassiere.

[0012] In some implementations, the described brassiere includes a first breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a first breast cup connector comprising an elastomeric material extending along the lateral portion of the first breast cup; and a first shoulder strap that is coupled to the first breast cup connector.

[0013] In still other implementations, the functional brassiere includes a first breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a first breast cup connector comprising a first elastomeric material that extends along the lateral portion of the first breast cup; and a first shoulder strap, wherein the first shoulder strap and the first breast cup connector are coupled together such that a portion of the first shoulder strap and a portion of the first breast cup connector mutually define a first arm hole in the brassiere.

[0014] In yet other implementations, the brassiere includes a first breast cup having a medial portion and a lateral portion, the medial portion being configured to be disposed near a midline of a user's chest when the user wears the brassiere; a first breast cup connector comprising an elastomeric material that extends along the lateral portion of the first breast cup; and a first shoulder strap, wherein the first shoulder strap and the first breast cup connector are coupled together such that a portion of the first shoulder strap and a portion of the first breast cup connector mutually define a first arm hole in the brassiere, wherein the first shoulder strap comprises a material that is less elastomeric than the elastomeric material of the first breast cup connector, and wherein a first portion of the first shoulder strap is coupled at a proximal portion of the first breast cup connector such that the first portion of the first shoulder strap is configured to extend over a shoulder of the user when the user wears the brassiere.

[0015] These and other features and advantages will be set forth or will become more fully apparent in the description that follows and in the appended claims. The features and advantages may be realized and obtained by means of the instruments and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims. Furthermore, the features and advantages of the invention may be learned by the practice of the invention or will be obvious from the description, as set forth hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] In order that the manner in which the above recited and other features and advantages may be obtained, a more particular description of the invention will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof, which are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that the drawings depict only typical embodiments of the present invention and are not, therefore, to be considered as limiting the scope of the invention, the present invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:

[0017] FIG. 1 provides a perspective view of a representative embodiment of a functional brassiere;

[0018] FIG. 2 illustrates a view of a representative embodiment of the brassiere;

[0019] FIGS. 3A-3H each provide a view of a different embodiment of a shoulder strap configuration;

[0020] FIG. 3F shows a front portion of the brassiere in accordance with a representative embodiment;

[0021] FIGS. 4A-4C each provide a different view of a different embodiment of a cross strap fastener location;

[0022] FIGS. 4D-4E each provide a perspective view of a representative embodiment of the brassiere;

[0023] FIGS. 5A-5B each provide a back view of a representative embodiment of a cross cut band;

[0024] FIG. 6 provides a front view of a representative embodiment of the brassiere;

[0025] FIG. 7 provides a front view of the bra comprising a buckle in accordance with some embodiments;

[0026] FIGS. 8A-8B provide front views of representative embodiments of the brassiere;

[0027] FIGS. 9A-9B respectively provide a front and back view of an embodiment of the brassiere, depicting some embodiments of directional forces applied by the brassiere;

[0028] FIG. 10 provides a perspective view of an embodiment of the brassiere comprising a supporting or shaping structure;

[0029] FIGS. 11A-11B respectively provide a front and back view of a representative embodiment of the brassiere;

[0030] FIGS. 12A-12F provide front and back views of some embodiments of the functional brassiere;

[0031] FIGS. 13A-13B provide a front and back view of some embodiments of the functional brassiere with a connecting band;

[0032] FIGS. 13C-13E provide various views of the functional brassiere with the connecting band in accordance with some embodiments;

[0033] FIGS. 14A-14D provide front and back views of the functional brassiere with the cross strap connector located in back in accordance with some embodiments;

[0034] FIGS. 15A-15C provide side views of the functional brassiere with the cross strap connector located on a lateral side in accordance with some embodiments;

[0035] FIGS. 16A-16D provide front and back views of the functional brassiere with the cross strap connector located on a front side in accordance with some embodiments;

[0036] FIG. 17 provides a front view of a representative embodiment of the functional brassiere with an adjustable cross strap connector;

[0037] FIGS. 18A-18B provide views of the functional brassiere with various coupling devices in accordance with some embodiments;

[0038] FIG. 19 provides a view of the functional brassiere with shoulder loops that connect to the cross strap in accordance with some embodiments;

[0039] FIGS. 20A-20H provide several views of the functional brassiere in accordance with some embodiments;

[0040] FIGS. 21A-21O provide several views of the functional brassiere in accordance with some embodiments;

[0041] FIGS. 22A-22F provide several views of the functional brassiere incorporated into shapewear in accordance with some embodiments;

[0042] FIGS. 23A-23J provide several views of the functional brassiere as worn by a user in accordance with some embodiments;

[0043] FIGS. 24A-37 illustrate various views of some embodiments of the functional brassiere;

[0044] FIGS. 38A, 38C, 38E, and 38F (Prior Art) illustrate a user wearing a prior art bra; and

[0045] FIGS. 38B, 38D, 38G, 38H, 381, 38J, 38K, 39A-39L, 40A-40R, 41A-41B, 42A-42H, and 43A-43I illustrate a user wearing some embodiments of the described functional brassiere.

[0046] The Figures illustrate specific aspects of some embodiments of the functional brassiere. Together with the following description, the Figures demonstrate and explain the principles of the structures, methods, and principles described herein. In the drawings, the thickness and size of components may be exaggerated, reduced or increased in size, and/or otherwise modified for clarity. The same reference numerals in different drawings represent the same element, and thus their descriptions will not be repeated. Moreover, to avoid redundancy, various element numbers in several of the figures are not included, though being easily identifiable. Furthermore, well-known structures, materials, or operations are not shown or described in detail to avoid obscuring aspects of the described devices.

[0047] As the terms on, attached to, or coupled to are used herein, one object (e.g., a material, a layer, a component, etc.) can be on, attached to, or coupled to another object, regardless of whether the one object is directly on, attached, or coupled to the other object or there are one or more intervening objects between the one object and the other object. Also, directions (e.g., above, below, top, bottom, side, up, down, under, over, upper, lower, horizontal, vertical, proximal, distal, lateral, medial, inferior, superior, "x," "y," "z," etc.), if provided, are relative and provided solely by way of example and for ease of illustration and discussion and not by way of limitation. In addition, where reference is made to a list of elements (e.g., elements a, b, c, etc.), such reference is intended to include any one of the listed elements by itself, any combination of less than all of the listed elements, and/or a combination of all of the listed elements, in any order.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0048] The present disclosure relates to functional garments and more specifically to functional brassieres. In particular, some embodiments of the present disclosure relate to systems and methods for providing a functional brassiere configured to increase the visual appearance of a user's breasts, while simultaneously maintaining and/or correcting the user's posture. The description below only lists specific embodiments. The descriptions are to be read in light of what is commonly known in the art. All features or steps commonly known or obvious to be included with this disclosure are to be read into the text of this document. Other configurations or features that are obvious or commonly known are to be deemed as part of the scope of this application.

[0049] In the disclosure and in the claims, the terms functional brassiere, functional bra, and bra (and variations thereof) may be used to refer to any breast supporting device comprising one or more elements set forth herein. While the functional brassiere may, in some embodiments, comprise a first and second breast supporting device, in other embodiments, the functional brassiere comprises a single breast supporting device.

[0050] While the described functional brassiere can have any suitable component that allows it to function as intended, in some cases, it includes a first single breast supporting device comprising a first breast cup configured to support a first single breast of the user, a first breast cup connector, and a first support strap. Additionally, in some embodiments, the first support includes a first shoulder loop, a first connecting panel, and/or a first cross strap. In some cases, the first support simply comprises the first cross strap. Accordingly, in some instances, the terms support strap and cross strap (and variations thereof) may be used interchangeably to refer to one or more pieces of material and/or elements of the functional brassiere that couple to a lateral side of a breast cup (e.g., directly and/or indirectly, such as via a breast cup connector) and that are configured to extend around a portion of a torso of a user to couple (e.g., directly or indirectly) to an inner edge (and/or any other suitable portion) of the same breast cup. In this regard, in some cases, the first breast cup comprises an inner edge configured to be disposed near a medial portion of the user's chest when the user wears the functional brassiere. In other cases, the first breast cup connector comprises an elastomeric material (or any other suitable material) that can be disposed along a lateral side of the first breast cup. In some cases, a first portion of the first shoulder loop (and/or any other suitable portion of the functional brassiere) is connected, at least in part, to an upper lateral portion of the first breast cup connector with the first shoulder loop configured to extend over the user's first shoulder. A second portion of the first shoulder loop (and/or any other suitable portion) can be connected, at least in part, to a lower lateral portion of the first breast cup connector and can be configured to extend, at least in part, around a portion of the user's torso. In some embodiments, the first and second portion of the first shoulder loop are configured to join together to form the first connecting panel. The first connecting panel can extend into (and/or form part of) the first cross strap with the first cross strap configured to extend around a portion of the user's torso and to attach to the inner edge, a lower portion, and/or any other suitable portion of the first breast cup. The functional brassiere can also include a second single breast supporting device that is configured similarly to the first single breast supporting device described above.

[0051] In some embodiments, the present system and methods relate to supporting breasts and providing visual enhancement of breasts while simultaneously maintaining or correcting the user's posture. While the described methods can include any suitable steps for supporting breasts and/or providing visual enhancement of breasts while simultaneously maintaining or correcting the user's posture, in some cases, such methods include providing first and/or second single breast supporting devices (as described above), wearing the devices such that the breast cups support the breasts such that the support straps (or cross straps) extend around the user's torso and such that the shoulder loops place force on the user's shoulders to bring the shoulders back and to bring the shoulder blades closer to the medial line of the user's back, and wearing the devices such that the breast cups place force on the breasts to bring the breasts closer to the medial line of the user's chest and to lift the user's breasts.

[0052] In some embodiments, methods are provided for supporting breasts and providing visual enhancement of breasts while simultaneously maintaining or correcting the user's posture. Although these methods can be described as a series of steps, it should be noted that these steps can be performed in any order, in groups, simultaneously, with additional steps, with the omission of one or more steps, with any suitable modification, and/or in any combination thereof. In accordance with some embodiments, a first step involves placing one or more forces on one or both of the user's shoulders such that at least one of the user's shoulder blades are brought closer to a medial line of the user's back, or closer together along the back of the user. These forces can include one or more forces directed towards the posterior of a wearer's body (e.g., a force that draws or pulls back one or both of the user's shoulders). In some embodiments, a second step includes placing one or more forces on one or both of a user's breasts in such a way that one or both of the breasts are brought together and/or lifted (e.g., drawing the breasts towards the medial line of a user and/or enhancing cleavage).

[0053] In some embodiments, the forces of the first and second steps described above are countervailing forces of each other. Without being bound by theory, it can be understood that, in accordance with some embodiments, a single breast pulls on the shoulder while the shoulder pulls on the single breast. In some cases, the countervailing forces may not be in the same plane. For example, the body can act as a pulley to change the direction of the countervailing forces around it. In other embodiments, a pulling force is applied to an inner portion of the second breast and the second shoulder with the direction of force being changed around a first side of the user's body. A second pulling force may also be applied to an inner portion of the first breast and the first shoulder, the direction of force being changed around a second side of the user's body (e.g., by utilizing a support strap extending around the user's torso to connect an inner portion of a breast cup that is closer to the medial line of the user's chest to the corresponding shoulder). Additionally, the applied forces can cause the inner breasts to press against each other, thereby enhancing cleavage. In some embodiments, one or more secondary shoulder forces are also applied to the user. These secondary shoulder forces can work in cooperation with or independently of the first shoulder forces described above. These secondary shoulder forces can exert a force to draw one or more shoulders posterior and/or to draw the shoulder blades closer together (e.g., by utilizing a shoulder loop configured to attach to the top of the breast cup, loop over the superior portion of the user's shoulder, and to connect to the cross strap extending along the user's back). The cross strap (which may also be referred to as a support strap) extending along a portion of the user's back may be as described above or below.

[0054] In some embodiments, one or more forces applied to a single breast are applied via a bra pad of the functional bra. Although, in some embodiments, the bra pad is substantially fixed in location with respect to the breast cup, in some other embodiments the bra pad is configured to move independently of its corresponding breast cup. In such embodiments, the one or more shoulder forces may still be applied by a support strap connected to the lateral side (and/or any other suitable portion of the breast cup (and/or breast cup connector). Additionally, in some such embodiments, the countervailing nature of the forces are still maintained, even if the bra pad moves while the cup remains substantially static or moves minimally. For example, a portion of the outer distal breast may provide the necessary resistance to slip and/or a non-slip material in the bra pad, the breast cup, the shoulder strap, the cross strap (or support strap), and/or any other suitable portion of the described bra can be used to provide the necessary resistance.

[0055] In some embodiments, the one or more forces applied to the user by the functional brassiere 5 are visualized as shown in FIGS. 9A-9B. Indeed, in some cases, the forces are applied in the direction of the arrows. In this regard, FIG. 9A shows that one or more forces are applied to a front side of the user. For example, one or more forces may elevate the breasts and/or draw them together to enhance cleavage. In accordance with some embodiments, such forces also draw the user's shoulders back. FIG. 9B further illustrates that one or more forces can be applied to a back of the user. For example, one or more forces applied by the described brassiere may draw the user's shoulders back and/or may draw the user's shoulder blades together and closer to a medial portion of the user's back.

[0056] In general (and as mentioned above), some embodiments of the described systems and methods relate to a functional brassiere configured to increase the visual appearance of a user's breasts while simultaneously maintaining or correcting the user's posture. While the functional brassiere can comprise any suitable component or characteristic that allows it to function as intended, FIG. 1 shows that, at least in some embodiments, the functional brassiere 5 comprises a first breast cup 10 and a second breast cup 20, hereinafter generally referred to as the breast cup and/or the breast cups.

[0057] The breast cups (e.g., 10 and/or 20) can comprise any suitable material and can be configured in any suitable manner. For example, each breast cup can be configured to conform to at least a portion of a user's breast and/or to support at least a portion of the user's breast. In some cases, the breast cup can cover the entire breast or a simply portion of the breast. In some embodiments, the breast cup is configured to cover an outer (e.g., lateral) and a lower portion of the breast to leave a portion of the breast exposed for increasing a wearer's appearance while providing adequate support and coverage. In some embodiments, the first breast cup 10 further comprises a first lower edge 12 and a first upper outer (or lateral) edge 14. The second breast cup 20 may further comprise a second lower edge 22 and a second upper (or lateral) edge 24.

[0058] With continued reference to FIG. 1, in some embodiments, the functional brassiere 5 further comprises a first shoulder loop 16 and a second shoulder loop 26. While the first shoulder loop 16 and the second shoulder loop 26 can comprise any suitable material and can be configured in any suitable manner that allows them to function as intended, at least in some embodiments, the first shoulder loop 16 and the second shoulder loop 26 are configured to connect to the first breast cup 10 and second breast cup 20, respectively, via a first breast cup connector 19 and a second breast cup connector 29, respectively. In some alternative embodiments, however, the first shoulder loop 16 and second should loop 26 connect directly to the first breast cup 10 and the second breast cup 20, respectively.

[0059] While the first breast cup connector 19 and the second breast cup connector 29 can comprise any suitable material and can be configured in any suitable manner that allows them to function as intended, at least in some embodiments, the first breast cup connector is configured to attach to the first upper (or lateral) edge 14 of the first breast cup 10, and the second breast cup connector is configured to attach to the second upper (or lateral) edge 24 of the second breast cup 20. Indeed, in some embodiments, at least a portion of the second breast cup connector 29 is attached to the second upper edge 24.

[0060] Although, in some embodiments, the first 19 and/or second 29 breast cup connectors comprise one or more non-stretchable materials, in some other embodiments, the first breast cup connector 19 and the second breast cup connector 29 comprise an elastomeric and/or stretchable material (e.g., as shown in FIGS. 8A-8B) configured to allow the functional brassiere 5 to increase the visual appearance of a user's breasts while simultaneously maintaining or correcting the user's posture. More specifically, in some embodiments, the first breast cup connector 19 and/or the second breast cup connector 29 comprise one or more elastomeric materials (e.g., rubber, elastic, polyurethane fiber, Spandex, LYCRA.RTM., Elastane, synthetic fiber, metallocene-based, cross-linked olefin elastomeric fiber, lastol, elasterell-p, DARLEXX.RTM., elastomeric cloth, elastomeric fibers, elastomeric straps, a relatively elastic nylon, one or more resilient cloths or fabrics, and/or any other suitable elastomeric material). In yet other embodiments, the elastomeric materials are configured to stretch, conform, and/or shrink to conform to the user's movements. In some embodiments, the elastomeric materials are configured to distribute forces applied at a first end (e.g., the end attached to the lateral edge of the breast cup) to a second end (e.g., the end attached to the shoulder strap (or loops) 16 or 26 and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere). In other embodiments, the first breast cup connector 19 and the second breast cup connector 29 comprise an elastomeric material possessing a lower elastic modulus (e.g., the breast cup connector is more elastic) than one or more other components of the functional brassiere (e.g., one or more portions of the shoulder straps, the breast cup, and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere).

[0061] In some embodiments, the shoulder loops (e.g., 16 and/or 26), or at least portions of the shoulder loops comprise a resilient and/or hard stretch material (e.g., cloth, strapping, a relatively non-elastic nylon, synthetic fabric, cord, webbing, mesh, and/or any other suitable material). Indeed, in some embodiments, the shoulder loops are non-stretchable and/or are less stretchable (or elastic) than the material used in the breast cup connectors (19 and/or 29). The shoulder loops can also be configured to allow the user to comfortably pass her arm through openings created by the shoulder loops. The shoulder loops can also be configured to provide the above-described forces to apply sufficient force on the shoulders. In some cases, the applied force may be capable of pulling one or more of the shoulders back so that the user's shoulder blades are drawn closer together. In other cases, the shoulder loops can be configured to reduce stoop in the user.

[0062] While the first shoulder loop 16 and the second shoulder loop 26 can be configured in any suitable manner that allows them to function as intended, at least in some embodiments, the first shoulder loop and the second shoulder loop are configured to balance orthopedic value, to provide user comfort, and/or to enhance breast visual appearance. FIGS. 3A-3C illustrate some embodiments of the shoulder loops 16 and 26. In some embodiments, the shoulder loops configurations are configured to attach to the cross straps (or support straps) and/or breast cup connector in any suitable manner. In some cases, the shoulder loops are configured to attach to the respective cross strap (e.g., 15 or 25) (or support strap) and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere 5 in a substantially perpendicular fashion (e.g., a substantially rectangular configuration, as shown in FIG. 3A). In other cases, the shoulder loop is configured to attach to the respective cross strap (e.g., 15 or 25) (and/or another suitable portion of the brassiere) at an angle approaching the middle of the user's back (e.g., a substantially V-shaped configuration, as shown in FIG. 3B). In yet other cases, the shoulder loop is configured to attach to the respective cross strap (e.g., 15 or 25) (and/or other suitable portion of the brassiere) such that the shoulder straps intersect each other (e.g., the substantially X-shaped configuration, as shown in FIG. 3C). The described configurations may not necessarily conform to the exact shape described by the identifying label (e.g., the X-shaped configuration may not necessarily be a perfectly shaped X).

[0063] In some instances, each shoulder strap 16 and 26 configuration may have certain advantages and may have certain drawbacks. For example, some embodiments of the rectangular shoulder loop configuration shown in FIG. 3A, allow the user to increase the visual appearance of her back, thereby allowing for her back to be at least partly exposed. Some embodiments of the V-shaped shoulder loop configuration, shown in FIG. 3B, provide more orthopedic effect than do some other embodiments (e.g., some embodiments comprising the rectangular shaped configuration). Some embodiments of the X-shaped shoulder loop configuration, shown in FIGS. 3C and 3D, provide more orthopedic benefit than do other embodiments of the brassiere (e.g., than do some embodiments of the rectangular shape configuration and/or the V-shaped configuration), but may prevent the user from exposing certain parts of her back because the shoulder straps would be revealed. While the above described shoulder loop configurations are some examples of possible shoulder loop configurations, the shoulder loop configuration examples are not to be considered as limiting because the shoulder loops may be configured in any suitable manner that allows the functional brassiere to function as intended. Indeed, in addition to the described rectangular, V-shaped, and/or X-shaped configurations, the shoulder straps (or loops) can couple with the cross strap (15 or 25) and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere to provide the backside of the brassiere 5 with a U-shaped appearance, a W-shaped appearance, a trapezoidal appearance, a polygonal appearance, and/or any other suitable appearance. By way of non-limiting illustration, FIG. 3E shows an embodiment in which the back of the brassiere defines a loop 27 and/or any other suitable opening. To this end and as described above, some embodiments of the shoulder straps (or loops) are attached (directly or indirectly) to: the breast cups (e.g., 10 and/or 20), the breast cup connectors (e.g., 19 and/or 29), each other (e.g., as shown in FIG. 3E), and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere 5.

[0064] In some embodiments, one or more of the shoulder straps (or loops) 16 and/or 26 comprise one or more shoulder loop fasteners. While the shoulder loop fasteners can comprise any suitable component and material and can be configured in any suitable manner, at least in some embodiments, the shoulder loop fasteners are configured to allow the user to adjust the configuration of the shoulder loops (or straps). In other embodiments, the shoulder loop fasteners are configured to allow the user to adjust a length and/or a tension of the shoulder loop. In yet other embodiments, the shoulder loop fasteners allow the user to put on and/or remove the functional brassiere. The shoulder loop fasteners can comprise any suitable fastener (e.g., clasps, buttons, fasteners, snaps, zippers, clips, ties, buckles, tacks, hook-and-eye closure, stitches, pins, hook and loop fasteners, loops, rings, sliders, hooks, catches, and/or any other suitable fastener or fasteners). By way of non-limiting illustration, FIGS. 3D-3F show some embodiments in which the brassiere 5 comprises one or more shoulder loop fasteners 31 (e.g., sliders, rings, pieces of a hook and loop fastener, and/or other suitable fastening and/or adjustment mechanisms). Thus, in some embodiments, the shoulder straps can easily be readjusted (e.g., to resize the bra, to change the appearance of the user, to help change posture, to redistribute weight, and/or for any other suitable purpose). In this regard, while the shoulder loops can be adjusted, in some embodiments, one or more other portions or components of the brassiere can comprise one or more adjustment mechanisms--allowing the bra to be readily tailored to individual users. In some embodiments, the brassiere further provides adjustable strap swell to help the bra be better tailored to the user (especially to women of different body shapes, sizes, and heights).

[0065] Where the brassiere 5 comprises one or more shoulder loop (or strap) fasteners 31, the fasteners can be disposed in any suitable location on the brassiere. Indeed, in some embodiments, one or more fasteners are disposed on one or more shoulder straps 16 and 26, one or more cross straps 15 and 25, and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere. Moreover, in some embodiments, the fasteners are disposed on a front side, back side, side, and/or other suitable portion of the brassiere. By way of non-limiting example, FIGS. 3D-3F show some embodiments in which the fasteners 31 are located on a back of the bra 5 and/or on a front of the bra 5 (e.g., at a proximal end of the breast cup 10 and/or 20).

[0066] In some embodiments, the shoulder loop fasteners 31 comprise one or more hook and loop fasteners (e.g., VELCRO.RTM.). In such embodiments, the hook and loop shoulder loop (or strap) fastener can be arranged in any suitable configuration. In general, the hook and loop fastener can comprise a lineal fabric strip with tiny hooks (a hook portion) that is configured to detachably attach with another lineal fabric strip comprising tiny loops (a loop portion). In some embodiments, one or more hook portions run along a portion of the lower shoulder loop strap and one or more loop portions run along a shoulder portion of the shoulder loop. In some other embodiments, one or more hook portions can be placed on a shoulder part of the shoulder loop while a loop portion runs along a portion of the lower shoulder loop strap. This hook and loop configuration can allow for adjustable positioning of the shoulder loop to accommodate the user's specific orthopedic needs (e.g., shortening or lengthening the shoulder loop). In other embodiments, the hook portion is placed on an end of the shoulder loop and the loop portion is placed along a portion of the cross strap to allow a user to detachably attach the shoulder loop along the cross strap (or support strap). Utilizing this hook and loop fastener configuration can allow for the user to position the shoulder strap along the cross strap such that the user can tailor the shoulder strap configuration to her specific orthopedic needs, while leaving the ability to also tailor to her comfort and beauty needs. For example, the user can detachably attach the shoulder straps to the cross straps to achieve a rectangular configuration that allows for the user to wear clothing with an open back. Likewise, the user can detachably attach the shoulder straps to the cross straps to achieve an X-shaped configuration to enjoy greater orthopedic support. In still other embodiments, the brassiere is configured to use one or more fasteners to allow a user to detachably couple: one or more shoulder straps to the breast cups 10 and/or 20, one or more shoulder straps to one or more breast cup connectors 19 and 29, one or more breast cups to one or more other portions of the brassiere, and/or any other suitable portions of the brassiere together such that a user can selectively expose a breast for breast feeding and/or any other suitable purpose.

[0067] Referring back to FIGS. 1 and 2, in some embodiments, the functional bra 5 comprises one or more cross straps 15 and/or 25 (or support straps) that comprise any suitable material and that are configured in any suitable manner that allow the functional bra to function as intended. FIG. 1 shows an embodiment of a first cross strap 15 and a second cross strap 25. While the cross straps can be connected in any suitable fashion, at least in some embodiments, one end (or other portion) of the cross strap is connected to the inner medial portion of the breast cup (e.g., 10 and/or 20) (and/or any other suitable portion of the breast cup) while another end is connected to the outer lateral (and/or any other suitable) portion of the same breast cup. In one example, one end of the first cross strap 15 is connected to the lower first inner edge 12 of the first breast cup 10 and an opposite end of the first cross strap 15 is connected to the first upper outer edge 14 of the breast cup, either directly or via the first breast cup connector 19 (and/or via a separate shoulder loop).

[0068] In some embodiments, the cross strap (e.g., 15 and/or 25) is attached in any suitable manner to the breast cup (e.g., 10 and/or 20). For example, one end of the cross strap can attach to at least a portion, or the entire, length of the outer lateral edge (e.g., edge 14) of the breast cup or breast cup connector. For example, in some embodiments, the second cross strap end 28 connects to a bottom portion of the second breast cup connector 29. Likewise, the first cross strap end 18 can connect to a bottom portion of the first breast cup connector 19. In some embodiments, the connection of the first cross strap and the connection of the second cross strap differ. For example, the location of the second cross strap end 28 connection to the second breast cup 20 (or second breast cup connector 29) may differ from the location of the first cross strap end 18 connection to the first breast cup 10 (or the first breast cup connector 19). For example, the first cross strap end 18 can be attached at a location above the second cross strap 28.

[0069] In some embodiments, the cross strap (e.g., 15 and/or 25) optionally comprises one or more pieces of cross strap angling. While the cross strap angling can comprise any suitable configuration, at least in some embodiments, it comprises an angled (or curved) portion of the cross strap. The angled portion of the cross strap can be disposed at any suitable location along the cross strap (e.g., proximal to the breast cups, along a lateral portion, and/or along a back portion). In some embodiments, the cross strap angling is configured to be located at a portion of the cross strap near the cross strap connection to the inner (e.g., medial) edge of the breast cup. FIG. 2 illustrates some embodiments of a first cross strap angling 13 and a second cross strap angling 23. In some embodiments, the degree of angling (and/or curvature) of the cross strap angling is configured to allow for properly enhancing the visual appearance of the breast while still providing sufficient orthopedic benefit and comfort.

[0070] While the cross strap angling 13 and/or 23 can comprise any suitable angle (and/or curvature), at least in some embodiments, an upper superior angle of the cross strap angling comprises an obtuse angle. In some embodiments, the obtuse angle between portions of the cross strap is between about 90 and about 170 degrees (or within any subrange thereof). In other embodiments, the obtuse angle is between about 90 and about 150 degrees. In yet other embodiments, the obtuse angle is between about 110 and about 145 degree.

[0071] Referring now to FIG. 2, in some embodiments, the cross strap 15 and/or 25 (or support strap) optionally comprises one or more cross strap fasteners 30. While the cross strap fasteners 30 can comprise any suitable configuration and/or any suitable materials that allow the functional bra to function as intended, at least in some embodiments, the cross strap fasteners are configured to detachably couple a portion of the cross strap. The cross strap fastener can comprise any suitable fastener for coupling a portion of the cross strap (e.g., one or more clasps, buttons, fasteners, snaps, zippers, clips, ties, buckles, tacks, hook-and-eye closures, stitches, pins, hook and loop fasteners, and/or any other suitable fasteners). In some embodiments, the cross strap fastener can comprise a hook and loop fastener (e.g.,) VELCRO.RTM.).

[0072] Some embodiments of the brassiere 5 are configured to be pulled down over a user's head and/or up from a user's feet (e.g., some embodiments that are used as a sports bra, a sleep bra, and/or any other suitable bra). Accordingly, some such embodiments are not configured to have a portion of the cross straps 15 and/or 25 (and/or any other portion of the bra that is configured to extend around a torso of the user) selectively open (or separate) to allow the opened brassiere to be placed around the user's torso and the closed to be secured around the torso. In other words, some embodiments of the described brassiere do not have a closure mechanism that allows the cross strap and/or any other portion of the brassiere that extends the user's torso to selectively open (or separate) and close (or be recoupled).

[0073] In some other embodiments, the cross straps 15 and/or 25 and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere that is configured to extend around a portion of the user's torso comprises one or more closure mechanisms that allow a circumference of the bra to be selectively opened and closed (and/or adjusted) so that bra can be placed on the user without having to have the bra be pulled down over the user's head or up from the user's feet. In such embodiments, the closure mechanism can be located at any suitable portion of the circumference of the brassiere (or the portion of the brassiere that extends around the user's torso). For instance, referring to FIGS. 3G, 3H, and 4A-4C, those figures show that, in some embodiments, the cross strap fastener 30 is located at any suitable location on the cross strap 15 and/or 25 that allows the bra 5 to function as intended. For example, the cross strap fastener 30 can be located, without limitation, at a location proximal to, distal to, lateral to, medial to, superior to, inferior to, and/or in any other suitable location with respect to one or more of the breast cups; at a location at the front chest of the user; at a location at a front medial portion of the user's chest; at a location at a front lateral portion of the user's chest at a location at a front of the user's chest, offset from the center; at a location along a lateral portion of the user; at a location along the back of the user (e.g., as shown in FIGS. 3G and 3H); at a location towards the center, off-center, and/or at a side of the user's back; and/or in any other suitable location. As shown in FIG. 4A, at least in some embodiments, the cross strap fastener 30 is located at approximately the middle of the user's back. In some embodiments, this placement can allow the cross strap fastener to be located approximately half way along the length of the cross strap 15 and/or 25. FIG. 4B shows an embodiment in which the cross strap fastener 30 is located along the cross straps 15 and/or 25 at a location at the front chest (and/or side torso) of the user. The cross strap fastener can be located at the front of the user's body and below the breast cups.

[0074] In some embodiments in which the brassiere 5 comprises one or more closure devices (e.g., cross strap fasteners 30 and/or other suitable closure devices) the bra is configured to have only one circumference size. In some other embodiments, however, the brassiere comprises one or more closure devices that are configured to allow the size of the bra's circumference to be increased and/or decreased. In this regard, the closure device and/or any other suitable adjustment mechanism can allow a circumference of the brassiere to be increased and/or decreased by any suitable length, including, without limitation, between about 0.001 cm and about 50 cm (or any subrange thereof). Indeed, in some embodiments the closure devices (and/or any other suitable adjustment device) allow the bra's circumference (and/or the circumference of the first and/or second single breast supporting devices) to be increased or decreased by up to about 10 cm. Additionally, in some embodiments, the closure device (e.g., a hook and loop and/or any other similar closure device) allows the circumference of the brassiere to adjusted to virtually any desired size and in virtually and desired increments (e.g., even to the desired millimeter).

[0075] FIG. 4C shows at least one embodiment in which the location of the cross strap fasteners 30 is configured to be disposed along a single lateral portion of the user's body. In other embodiments, the cross strap fastener of each cross strap is located along a single lateral side of the user. In some embodiments, the placement of one or more cross strap fasteners 30 along a single common lateral side of the user causes the location of each individual cross strap fastener to be at a different relative location along the respective cross strap. FIG. 4C shows at least one embodiment in which the location of the cross strap fasteners 30 is along a single common lateral side of the user. The first cross strap fastener 30 can be located along the end of the first cross strap end 18 and the second cross strap fastener 30 can be located along the second cross strap 15 at a relative location closer to the cross strap connection to the breast cup (or breast cup connector). In some embodiments, the cross strap fasteners are configured to be located along the user's left lateral side. In other embodiments, the cross strap fasteners are configured to be located along the user's right lateral side. In still other embodiments, one cross strap fastener is configured to be disposed on a user's right side while another fastener is configured to be disposed on a left side.

[0076] Referring now to FIGS. 4D and 4E, in some embodiments, the cross strap fasteners (e.g., 30) are configured to directly attach the cross straps (e.g., 15 and/or 25) to the breast cups (e.g., 10 and/or 20). While the cross strap fasteners can be configured to attach the cross straps to the breast cups in any suitable manner, at least in some embodiments, the cross strap fasteners are configured to directly fasten the cross straps (and/or extended shoulder straps 16 and/or 26, as discussed below) to the lower inner edges (and/or any other suitable portion) of the breast cups. FIG. 4D illustrates some embodiments of cross strap fasteners 30 configured to directly fasten the cross straps 15 and/or 25 to the lower inner edges of the breast cups. In some embodiments, the cross strap fasteners are configured to connect to an interior side of the breast cups. FIG. 4E illustrates some embodiments of cross strap fasteners 30 configured to connect to an interior side of the breast cups. The cross strap fasteners can be configured in any suitable manner to connect to an interior side of the breast cups (e.g., by providing one or more hook and loop fasteners, such as VELCRO.RTM.; clips; catches; couplers; hooks; snaps; buttons; buckles; frictional engagements; mechanical engagements; and/or other suitable fasteners to one end of the cross straps and to a portion of the interior side (and/or other suitable portion) of the breast cups).

[0077] Referring now to FIGS. 5A-5B, in some embodiments, the functional bra 5 comprises one or more cross cut bands 50. While the cross cut band 50 can be configured in any suitable manner and can comprise any suitable material(s) to allow the functional bra to function as described herein, at least in some embodiments, the cross cut band 50 is configured to circumscribe a torso of the user below the breasts and across the user's back (e.g., mid back). In some embodiments, the cross cut band is configured to improve the function of the functional bra, including, but not limited to, augmenting breast visual appearance and increasing the ability to form various shoulder loop configurations.

[0078] In other embodiments, the cross cut band 50 is configured to be attached to one or more of the cross straps 15 and/or 25 (or support straps) and/or the shoulder straps 16 and/or 26. In yet other embodiments, the cross cut band comprises one or more channels configured to selectively receive one or more of the cross straps and/or the shoulder straps. The channels can be configured to allow the cross straps and/or shoulder straps to move relative to (and/or independently of) the cross cut band such that the cross cut band does not impair the distribution and/or application of forces by the functional bra 5 to enhance breast appearance and/or to improve support and posture. In some embodiments, the cross straps and/or shoulder straps are replaced at least in part by cording, strapping, webbing, tubing, and/or any other suitable material configured to traverse the channel(s) and/or cross cut band. In some embodiments, the cross cut band comprises a stretchable and/or non-stretchable material configured to allow the functional brassiere to increase the visual appearance of a user's breasts while simultaneously maintaining or correcting the user's posture. Indeed, in some embodiments, the cross cut band optionally comprises one or more elastomeric materials (e.g., rubber, elastic, polyurethane fiber, Spandex, LYCRA.RTM., Elastane, synthetic fiber, metallocene-based, cross-linked olefin elastomeric fiber, lastol, elasterell-p, DARLEXX.RTM., elastomeric cloth, elastomeric fibers, elastomeric straps, a relatively elastic nylon, one or more resilient cloths or fabrics, and/or any other suitable elastomeric material or materials) and/or resilient material or materials. In some embodiments, the elastomeric materials are configured to stretch and/or shrink to conform to the user's movements. In still other embodiments, the cross cut band comprises an elastomeric material possessing a lower elastic modulus than one or more other components of the functional brassiere (e.g., the breast cup connector (19 and/or 29) and/or any other suitable portion).

[0079] Referring now to FIG. 6, an embodiment of the functional brassiere 5 is illustrated. While the functional brassiere can include any suitable component and/or any suitable configuration that allows the functional bra to function as intended, at least in some embodiments, the functional brassiere comprises a first single breast supporting device and/or a second single breast supporting device. In some embodiments, the single breast supporting device is configured to function independently to increase the visual appearance of one of a user's breast while simultaneously maintaining and/or correcting the user's posture.

[0080] FIG. 6 illustrates some embodiments comprising a first single breast supporting device 6. In this regard, the single breast supporting device can be configured as described to increase the visual appearance of a user's single breast while simultaneously maintaining and/or correcting the user's posture. The single breast covering device can also be configured to assist in correcting the user's posture and/or stoop in the corresponding shoulder while simultaneously enhancing the visual appearance of the user's breast on the same side of the body as the shoulder being corrected.

[0081] As shown in FIG. 6, some embodiments of a single breast supporting device 6 comprise a single first breast cup 60. While the single first breast cup can be configured in any suitable manner and can comprise any suitable materials, at least in some embodiments, the first breast cup is configured to support a first breast. In some embodiments, a first shoulder loop 66 is attached to one side of the first breast cup 60 either directly, via the first breast cup connector 69, and/or in any other suitable manner. A first cross strap 65 (or support strap and/or portion of the shoulder strap 66) can also be connected to one side (and/or other portion) of the single first breast cup, either directly or via the single first breast cup connector. In other embodiments, the first cross strap 65 comprises a first cross strap angling 63. The first cross strap angling 63 can be configured to be located in any suitable location on the cross strap (e.g., near the first breast cup 60). In yet other embodiments, the cross strap 65 comprises a cross strap fastener 30. The cross strap fastener 30 can be configured in any suitable manner and can comprise any suitable materials, as described above. In some embodiments, the cross strap fastener is configured to connect the cross strap to the inner medial edge of the single breast cup 60.

[0082] The first single breast supporting device 6 can also be configured as described to function in conjunction with a second single breast supporting device to increase the visual appearance of a user's breast, while simultaneously maintaining and/or correcting the user's posture, as shown in FIGS. 9A-9B. In some embodiments, the user can wear a second single breast supporting device with the second single breast supporting device 7 configured as a mostly mirror image of the first single breast supporting device 6, as shown in FIGS. 7-8B. In other embodiments, the first single breast supporting device is also configured as described herein to function in conjunction with a second single breast supporting device to increase the visual appearance of the user's breasts by elevating the breasts and/or by drawing the breasts together to enhance cleavage.

[0083] Referring now to FIG. 7, some embodiments of the functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 6 and the second single breast supporting device 7 are shown. While the functional brassiere comprising a first single breast supporting device and a second single breast supporting device can be configured in any suitable manner and can comprise any suitable materials that allow the functional bra to function as intended, at least in some embodiments, the functional brassiere comprises a coupling device configured to couple the first single breast supporting device and a second single breast supporting device together. The coupling device can be configured to couple the first single breast supporting device and a second single breast supporting device together in any suitable manner. In some embodiments, the coupling device 70 is configured to couple the cross straps (or support straps), the breast cups 10 and 20, and/or any other suitable components of the first and second bread supporting devices together. In some embodiments, the coupling device 70 is configured to allow for adjustment of the cross straps to provide enhanced breast appearance. Additionally, in some embodiments, the coupling device 70 is configured to couple the cross straps together at a location where the first cross strap 15 and the second cross strap 25 overlap. In some instances, the coupling device is configured to be located on the cross straps between and below the breasts, along the medial line of the user's body. In other instances, the coupling device is configured to allow the user to adjust the support and/or configuration of a single breast independently of the other breast.

[0084] The coupling device 70 can comprise any suitable coupler. In this regard, some non-limiting examples of suitable couplers include one or more buckles, clasps, butterfly clasps, tensioners, fasteners, snap-fit buckles, hooks and loop fasteners, buttons, snaps, zippers, slides, rings, clips, ties, hook-and-eye closures, and/or any other suitable couplers).

[0085] Referring now to FIG. 10, some embodiments of a supporting structure (or support structure) 40 are shown. While the first breast cup 10 and/or the second breast cup 20 may comprise any suitable component and may be configured in any suitable manner that allows the functional brassiere 5 to function as intended, at least in some embodiments, one or more of the breast cups comprise a support structure 40. The support structure 40 can be configured to function with the breast cup to support, elevate, accentuate, pad, prop up, and/or shape the user's breast. The support structure 40 can comprise any suitable component and can be configured in any suitable manner. In some embodiments, the support structure 40 comprises a pad, an underwire, and/or any other suitable component to visually enhance the size and/or shape of a user's breast. In some embodiments, the support structure 40 is configured as an integral component of the breast cup and/or brassiere. In some embodiments, however, the support structure 40 is optionally configured to be detachably attached to the breast cup.

[0086] In some embodiments, the support structure 40 is configured to be attached to one of the cross straps 15 or 25 (or support straps). In other embodiments, the first 15 or 25 second 25 cross straps are attached to a corresponding support structure 40 (e.g., to an inside portion of the support structure 40) in such a way that the support structure 40 moves when the corresponding cross strap 15 or 25 is pulled and/or moved, but the breast cup remains relatively static or moves less than the cross strap. A benefit of this configuration is that the breasts are visually enhanced by the improvement in the push-up effect applied to the breasts. Also, this configuration can enhance the visual appearance of the breast by creating additional cleavage while the breast cup and/or support structure 40 maintain a full looking breast, especially, in some embodiments, along the outer lateral and/or lower inferior side of the breast.

[0087] With respect to the materials comprising the functional bra 5, the bra can comprise any suitable material(s) that allow it to function as intended. Indeed, in some embodiments, the functional brassiere comprises fabric, textile, leather, plastic, nylon, polyester, nylon, acrylic, acetate, wire, synthetic, cotton, latex foam, natural fiber, foam, metal underwire, plastic underwire, lace, mesh, microfiber, strapping, webbing, cording, rubber, elastic, spandex, LYCRA.RTM., Elastane, synthetic fiber, DARLEXX.RTM., polyurethane fiber, metallocene-based, cross-linked olefin elastomeric fiber, lastol, elasterell-p, elastomeric cloth, elastomeric fibers, elastomeric straps, a relatively elastic nylon, one or more resilient cloths or fabrics, elastomeric materials, and/or any other suitable material. In other embodiments, the functional brassiere comprises a blend (or other combination) of materials configured to allow the brassiere to function as intended. For example, the functional brassiere can comprise a blend of materials with some materials comprising a higher elastic modulus (e.g., "stiffer" materials) and some materials comprising a lower elastic modulus (e.g., elastic or "stretchy" materials). In some such embodiments, the blend of stiff and stretchy is configured to function in a synergetic manner to allow the functional bra to function as intended. For example, as described above, the breast cup connector 19 and 29 can comprise one or more elastomeric materials configured to distribute forces applied at a first end (e.g., the end attached to the lateral edge of the breast cup) to a second end (e.g., the end attached to a corresponding shoulder strap), while a component such as the shoulder strap 16 and/or 26 can comprise materials that do not stretch (or do not stretch as much as the breast cup connector). Similarly, the cross cut band can comprise one or more elastomeric materials that are configured to substantially conform to the user's torso while having a lower elastic modulus that is configured to provide support for the user without compromising the functional nature of the functional brassiere. Likewise, the breast cup can comprise a blend (and/or combination) of stretchy materials (e.g., spandex) with less stretchy materials (e.g., synthetic foam) to provide comfort, support, and/or shaping to the breast.

[0088] The various components of the brassiere 5 can have a combination of elastic and non-elastic materials, having one or more elasticities. Indeed, in some embodiments, the shoulder straps 16 and/or 26, the breast cup connectors 19 and/or 29, the cross straps 15 and/or 25, and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere can comprise two or more pieces of elastic materials that have one or more non-elastic (or less elastic materials) disposed between them (or vice versa). By way of non-limiting example, FIG. 30 shows an embodiment in which the shoulder straps 16 and 26 each comprise an elastic material 33 that is disposed between two or more pieces of non-elastic and/or less elastic materials 34. In some other embodiments, instead of having a piece of elastic material disposed between two or more pieces of non-elastic and/or less elastic materials (or vice versa), in some other embodiments, one or more elastic materials flank one or more ends of a non-elastic and/or less elastic material elsewhere in the brassiere 5.

[0089] The various components of the functional brassiere 5 can comprise any suitable elasticity in relation to each other, in some embodiments, the breast cup connectors (e.g., 19 and 29) are more elastic than are: the cross straps (e.g., 15 and 25 or support straps), the breast cups (e.g., 10 and 20), the shoulder straps (e.g., 16 and 26), and/or one or more other portions of the bra. In other embodiments, all components of the bra are less elastic than are the breast cup connectors. Moreover, the cross straps, breast cups, shoulder straps, and/or other components of the bra can have any suitable elasticities relative to each other. Indeed, in some embodiments, while the breast cup connectors are elastic, the shoulder straps, cross straps, breast cups, and/or one or more other components (e.g., cross cut band 50, connecting band 174 (discussed below, etc.) comprise one or more non-elastic (and/or less elastic) materials). In other embodiments, the shoulder straps comprise one or more elastic materials while the breast cups and cross straps (or support straps) comprise one or more non-elastic materials. In other embodiments, the shoulder straps and/or breast cups comprise one or more non-elastic materials while the cross straps comprise one or more elastic materials.

[0090] In some embodiments, the breast cup connectors (e.g., 19 and 29) are more elastic than the shoulder straps (e.g., 16 and 26) or portions thereof, which are more elastic than the breast cups (e.g., 10 and 20), which are more elastic than the cross straps (e.g., 15 and 25). In some other embodiments, the breast cup connectors (e.g., 19 and 29) are more elastic than the shoulder straps (e.g., 16 and 26), which are more elastic than the cross straps (e.g., 15 and 25), which are more elastic than the breast cups (e.g., 10 and 20). In still other embodiments, the breast cup connectors (e.g., 19 and 29) are more elastic than the cross straps (e.g., 15 and 25), which are more elastic than the breast cups (e.g., 10 and 20), which are more elastic than the shoulder straps (e.g., 16 and 26). In some embodiments, the connecting band (e.g., 174, as discussed below) has a modulus of elasticity that is less than, more than, or equal to the elasticity of the breast cup connectors. Indeed, in some embodiments, the connecting band has a modulus of elasticity that is less than that of the breast cup connectors.

[0091] In yet other embodiments, two or more elements of the bra 5 (e.g., the shoulder straps 16 and/or 26, the breast cups (e.g., 10 and 20), cross straps (e.g., 15 and 25), cross cut straps (e.g., 50 and/or 170), connecting bands (e.g., 174, as discussed below), and/or any other suitable components of the bra) have the same or a similar elasticity, which is less elastic than are the breast cup connectors. Indeed, in some embodiments, the shoulder straps, breast cups, and/or cross straps are all non-elastic or have a similar elasticity (e.g., a lower elasticity than the breast cup connectors, e.g., 19 and/or 29). In some other embodiments, the shoulder straps, portions of the shoulder straps, and/or breast cups have a similar elasticity that is less elastic than are the cross straps, which are less elastic than the breast cup connectors. In some other embodiments, the shoulder straps and cross straps have a similar elasticity that is less elastic than are the breast cups, which are less elastic than are the breast cup connectors. In still some other embodiments, the breast cups and/or the cross straps have a similar elasticity that is more elastic than are the shoulder straps and less elastic than the breast cup connectors.

[0092] In some other embodiments, the cross cut band (e.g., 50 and/or 170, as discussed above and below) and/or a connecting band (e.g., 174, as discussed below) is as elastic, or even more elastic, than the breast cup connectors (e.g., 19 and 29). In some such embodiments, the first 6 and/or second 7 breast support devices can be connected to such a band while being able to move independently of each other. In some other embodiments, however, the cross cut band and/or the connecting band comprise one or more non-elastic materials. Indeed, the various components of the bra 5 can have any suitable combination of relative elasticities.

[0093] In some embodiments, the functional brassiere 5 comprises any suitable material configured to reduce slipping of one or more of the components of the functional brassiere against the user's skin surface. In some embodiments, a non-slip material is placed along at least a portion of the cross straps 15 and/or 25, (or support straps), the connecting band 174 to prevent slipping of the cross strap and/or connecting band against the user's torso. For example, the non-slip substance may be placed along the interior side of a first cross strap 15, the second cross strap 25, and/or connecting band, and in some embodiments, along a portion that will correspond to a user's side. In some cases, the non-slip material (or element) may assist in providing the necessary forces on the shoulders and/or breasts by reducing slipping of the corresponding components on the user's body. In other cases, the non-slip material may be affixed at least in part to some components (e.g., shoulder straps, breast cups, breast cup connectors, etc. to prevent slipping of the functional brassiere from the shoulders, breasts, etc.).

[0094] Indeed, in some embodiments, one or more of the shoulder straps 16 and/or 26 (and/or the interior surfaces of one or more breast cups 10 and/or 20, the cross straps, and/or any other surface of the brassiere that is configured to contact the user's skin) comprise one or more anti-slip elements, materials, and/or other grips. In such embodiments, the anti-slip materials can be disposed on any suitable portion of the shoulder straps (and/or other portions of the brassiere), including on an interior portion, an anterior portion, a superior portion, a posterior portion, an inferior portion, and/or any other suitable portion of the shoulder straps (or the breast cups and/or any other suitable portion of the bra). By way of non-limiting illustration, FIGS. 24B-24C show some embodiments in which an interior portion of the cross straps 16 and/or 26 comprises an anti-slip material an anterior, superior, and/or posterior of the straps. In other embodiments, the breast cup connectors 19 and/or 29, the breast cups 10 and/or 20, and/or any other suitable portion of the bra 5 comprises one or more anti-slip elements.

[0095] Where the brassiere 5 comprises one or more anti-slip elements (e.g., materials), the brassiere can comprise any suitable anti-slip component, including, without limitation, one or more pieces of silicon, siliconized fabric, rubber, rubberized fabric, rigged material, plastic, polymer, natural material, synthetic materials, and/or any other suitable slip-resistant material. Additionally, the anti-slip elements can have any suitable texture, including, without limitation, being smooth, soft, rugged, stippled, knurled, ridged, patterned, raised, recessed, ribbed, and/or otherwise textured. Moreover, the anti-slip elements can have any suitable appearance when placed on the brassiere, including, without limitation, having a stippling, V-shaped, Y-shaped, W-shaped, circular-shaped, wave-shaped, zig-zag shape, random shape, and/or any other suitable pattern (e.g., as illustrated in FIGS. 24D-24F). Furthermore, some embodiments of the anti-slip elements are optionally infused with and/or otherwise comprise one or more materials, including, without limitation, one or more fragrances, perfumes, lotions, natural materials, essential oils, natural extracts, aloe Vera, moisturizers, and/or any other suitable materials.

[0096] Where the brassiere 5 comprises one or more anti-slip elements, the anti-slip elements can perform any suitable function, including, without limitation, sticking to skin to hold the brassiere in place, helping the brassiere apply forces need to improve the user's posture and/or appearance, allowing the user to place various components of the brassiere in desired locations and to then have the components substantially remain in position, allowing the user to place and retain the brassiere for a desired posture correction, providing a micro-massage effect to locations on the user's body that are in contact with the anti-slip elements, relieving tension and/or pain in the user, helping the user's muscle memory (e.g., subconsciously or otherwise) readjust to better posture (especially when the user is sitting or slouched), and/or otherwise helping the brassiere to remain in position on the user and to perform its intended purposes.

[0097] In addition to the foregoing, the functional bra 5 can also comprise any suitable materials that are configured to improve the visual aesthetic and/or fashion appearance of the functional brassiere, including, but not limited to, one or more decorations, patterns, styling, lacing, beading, dyeing, coloring, painting, screen printing, stenciling, bedazzling, sequins, pearls, diamonds, jewels, airbrushing, tie dyeing, embroidery, cross-stitching, applique, lace, and/or any other suitable materials. Furthermore, the functional bra can also be configured to reduce the appearance of seam lines, sewing lines, hem lines, and/or other areas where materials join and/or connect thereby improving the appearance of the functional brassiere under the user's outer clothing. In some embodiments, the functional brassiere is configured as one or more of a balconette bra, a minimizer bra, a push-up bra, a molded cup bra, a T-shirt bra, a full coverage bra, a triangle bra, a soft cup bra, a corset bra, a bullet bra, a bralette, a underwire bra, a swim bra, a sports bra, a support bra, a plunge bra, and/or any other suitable type of bra.

[0098] In some embodiments, the functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 6 and/or the second single breast supporting device 7 comprises one or more connecting components configured to connect the first single breast supporting device and the second single breast supporting device together. In this regard, the first and second breast supporting devices can be connected to each other in any suitable manner, including, without limitation, via one or more buckles, one or more connectors (e.g., buttons, snaps, straps, hook and loop fasteners, hook and eye fasteners, catches, hooks, clasps, and/or other suitable connectors), one or more seams, via non-stretchable and/or stretchable stitching, by being connected to a common object (e.g., to each other, a shoulder strap 16 and/or 26, a cross strap 15 and/or 25, a cross cut band 50, a band, a garment, an article of clothing, a connecting band, a girdle, a waistband, a shaping band, a shaping component, and/or any other suitable connecting component), and/or in any other suitable manner that allows the first and second breast supporting devices to move (at least partially) independently of each other. Indeed, in some embodiments, the cross straps (or support straps) and/or shoulder straps of the two supporting devices are connected to each other via stitching (e.g., an elastic stitching or otherwise). In some other embodiments, the first and second supporting devices are each coupled to a connecting component that allows the first 10 and second 20 breast cups and/or other components of the brassiere 5 to resiliently move closer to and/or further from a midline of a user's chest.

[0099] While the connecting component can be configured in any suitable manner and can comprise any suitable materials that allow the functional bra 5 to function as intended, at least in some embodiments, the function brassiere comprises a connecting band configured to connect the first single breast supporting device 6 and the second single breast supporting device 7 together. In some embodiments, the connecting band comprises one or more elastomeric bands that connect the first cross strap 15, the second cross strap 25, and/or any other suitable component (e.g., the first cup 10, the second cup 20, the first breast cup connector 19, the second breast cup connector 29, the first shoulder strap 16, the second shoulder strap 26, the cross cut band 50, and/or any other suitable component of the first supporting device to the second supporting device). In some embodiments, a connecting band is configured to connect (e.g., via stitching, looping, webbing, snaps, buttons, hook and loop fasteners, and/or in any other suitable manner) the first and second cross straps (and/or a first and second cross cut band and/or any other suitable component) along a portion of their circumference. In some embodiments, the connecting band is configured to connect at least part of the first cross strap and at least part of the second cross strap together. In some embodiments, the elastic modulus (or modulus of elasticity) of the connecting band is configured to be less than that of the cross straps and/or the cross cut bands. In some other embodiments, however, the modulus of elasticity of the connecting band is substantially equal to or greater than that of the cross straps and/or the cross cut band.

[0100] Referring now to FIGS. 11A and 11B, some embodiments of a functional brassiere 5 comprising a first single breast supporting device 100 (or 6) are shown. While the first single breast supporting device can comprise any suitable component or characteristic that allows it to function as intended (including those described above), FIGS. 11A and 11B show that, at least in some embodiments, the first single breast supporting device 100 comprises a breast cup 110, a first breast cup connector 120 (e.g., comprising an elastomeric and/or any other suitable material), and a first support strap 130. In some embodiments, the breast cup 110 is configured as described above. In other embodiments, the breast cup 110 comprises a first lower inner or medial edge 112 disposed along or in proximity to the medial line of the user's chest, a lower edge 114, a lateral edge 116, and/or a upper inner edge 118. In yet other embodiments, the first breast cup connector 120 is configured to attach, at least in part, to the lateral edge 116 of the first breast cup 110. The first breast cup connector 120 can further comprise an upper lateral portion 122 and/or a lower lateral portion 124.

[0101] While the support strap 130 (and/or cross strap 160) can comprise any suitable component or characteristic that allows it to extend between the shoulder loop 140, the breast cup connector 120, a lateral portion 116 of the breast cup, and/or a medial portion 112 of the breast cup, at least in some embodiments, the support strap 130 (and/or the cross strap 160) comprises a first shoulder loop 140, a first connecting panel 150, and/or a first cross strap 160. The first shoulder loop 140 can comprise a first (or upper) portion 142 that is connected, at least in part, to the upper lateral portion 122 of the first breast cup connector 120. The first shoulder loop can also comprise a second portion (or lower) 144 that is connected at least in part to the lower lateral portion of the first breast cup connector 120. In some embodiments, the first portion 142 of the shoulder strap 140 and the second portion 144 of the shoulder strap 140 are configured to join together, to comprise a single unitary piece, and/or to otherwise form a first connecting panel 150. In some embodiments, the first connecting panel 150 can be configured to extend at least in part around a portion of a lateral side and/or back of the user. The first connecting panel 150 can be configured to extend into the first cross strap 160. Indeed, in some embodiments, the first connecting panel is simply a portion of the first cross strap 160. That said, in some embodiments, the first cross strap 160 can be configured to extend around a portion of the user's torso. In some cases, the first cross strap 160 is configured to attach to the first breast cup. In other cases, the first cross strap 160 is configured to attach to the first lower inner edge 112 of the breast cup (and/or in any other suitable location).

[0102] In some embodiments, the support strap 130 (an/or its corresponding cross strap 160) is configured as a unitary component, with the first shoulder loop 140, the first connecting panel 150, and/or the first cross strap configured as a single unitary structure to provide support and/or comfort for the user. In other embodiments, the support strap can form any suitable back profile 176. In some cases, the back profile 176 can be configured as a curved half-U profile and/or any other suitable shape to evenly distribute any forces applied by the first single breast supporting device 100 and/or to provide for increased comfort for the user. In other instances the back profile 176 can comprise a rectangular configuration, a V-shaped configuration, an X-shaped configuration, and/or any other suitable configuration (including, without limitation, as described above).

[0103] In some embodiments, the first and/or second single breast supporting device 100 optionally comprises a first cross cut band 170. In some embodiments, the first cross cut band 170 is configured to circumscribe the user's torso below the user's breasts to provide additional support and/or comfort. In such embodiments, the first cross cut band 170 can comprise any suitable material, including, without limitation, a non-stretch and/or elastomeric material. Indeed, in some embodiments, the first cross cut band comprises any suitable elastomeric material. The first cross cut band 170 can be configured to attach at least in part to a portion of one or more of the first cross strap 160, the lower edge 114 of the first breast cup 120, the lower lateral portion 124 of the first breast cup connector 120 and/or any other suitable portion of the functional brassiere 5. In some embodiments, the first cross cut band 170 is configured to attach at a continuous and/or a partial seam (and/or in any other suitable manner) to a lower portion of the first cross strap 160, to the lower edge 114 of the first breast cup 120, and/or to the lower lateral portion 124 of the first breast cup connector 120.

[0104] In some embodiments, the first single breast supporting device 100 optionally comprises a connecting band 174. In some embodiments, the connecting band 174 is configured to connect the first single breast supporting device 100 with a second single breast supporting device 200. Although the connecting band 174 can be configured in any suitable manner to connect the first single breast supporting device 100 with the second single breast supporting device 200 (e.g., by comprising a non-stretch and/or an elastomeric material), at least in some embodiments, the connecting band 174 comprises an elastomeric and/or semi-elastomeric band that attaches at least in part to a lower edge of the cross cut band 170 and/or the cross strap 160. In some embodiments, the connecting band 174 is configured to connect the first single breast supporting device 100 with the second single breast supporting device 200 without interfering with the function of each individual single breast supporting device. In other words, in some embodiments, the connecting band attaches the first and second breast supporting devices, while allowing each to function and move substantially independently from the other.

[0105] Referring now to FIGS. 12A to 12F, some embodiments of the functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 and a second single breast supporting device 200 are shown (particularly as shown in FIGS. 12E-12F). FIGS. 12A and 12B show front and at least partial back views, respectively, of a first single breast supporting device 100. FIGS. 12C and 12D show front and at least partial back views, respectively, of a second single breast supporting device 200. In some embodiments, the second single breast supporting device 200 is optionally configured as essentially a mirror image of the first single breast supporting device 100 comprising the same elements. FIGS. 12E and 12F show front and at least partial back views, respectively, of a representative embodiment of a functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 and the second single breast supporting device 200. In some embodiments, portions of the second single breast supporting device 200 are overlapped by portions of the first single breast supporting device 100. For example, at least a portion of the cross strap 160 and/or the cross cut band 170 may overlap or be overlapped. FIGS. 12E and 12F also show front and at least partial back views, respectively, of a representative embodiment of the connecting band 174.

[0106] Referring now to FIGS. 13A to 13E, some embodiments of the functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 and the second single breast supporting device 200 are shown. FIGS. 13A and 13B show front and back views, respectively, of a functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 and the second single breast supporting device 200. Although the first and second breast supporting devices can be connected in any suitable manner, including, without limitation, via one or more buttons, snaps, stiches, straps, cords, hook and loop connectors, hooks and corresponding catches or eyelets, and/or any other suitable manner, in some embodiments, the cross cut band 170 is configured to be attached to the cross strap 160 at one edge and configured to be attached to the connecting band 174 on another edge. In FIGS. 13A and 13B, embodiments of the first single breast supporting device 100 are shown in a partially inside-out arrangement with an interior surface (e.g., the interior surface of the first breast supporting device configured to contact the user) shown on the outside. FIGS. 13C, 13D, and 13E show, respectively, front, perspective, and back views of some embodiments of a functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 and the second single breast supporting device 200. Additionally, while the first and second supporting devices can be connected by having their cross straps 15 and 25 be connected directly to each other, by having their cross cut bands 170 be connected directly to each other, and/or in any other suitable manner, FIGS. 13A-13E show some embodiments in which the first 100 and second 200 supporting devices are connected via a connecting band 174.

[0107] In some embodiments, the cross strap 160 (and/or any other suitable portion of the functional brassiere 5, such as the cross cut band 170) comprises one or more cross strap fasteners to detachably attach and detach the cross strap 160 along a portion of its length. While the cross strap fastener 162 can comprise any suitable fastener and can be configured to be located at any suitable portion of the cross strap and/or the functional brassiere, at least in some embodiments, the cross strap fastener is configured to be located at a back portion of the cross strap 160, the cross cut band, and/or another suitable portion of the bra. For example, FIGS. 14A-14D show some embodiments of the cross strap fastener 162 placed along a portion of the cross strap 160 that is configured to extend along the back of the user. FIGS. 14A and 14B show, respectively, back views of the second single breast supporting device 200 and the first single breast supporting device 100. FIGS. 14C and 14D show back views of the functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 and the second single breast supporting device 200 with the cross strap fastener 162 placed along a back portion of the cross strap 160 and/or another suitable portion of the bra.

[0108] While FIGS. 14A-14D illustrate some embodiments in which the cross strap fastener 162 is located in a back of the brassiere, in some other embodiments, the cross strap fastener and/or any other suitable closure device that is configured to allow the brassiere to open (e.g., the cross strap 160, the shoulder strap, the cross cut band 170, the connecting band 174, and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere and/or the circumference of the bra) to open such that brassiere can be placed on an individual and such that the closure device can be closed to couple the brassiere around the user's torso. Indeed, in some embodiments, the brassiere (and/or any suitable portion of the brassiere) comprises one or more closure devices at a center back portion; at a lateral, underarm portion; at a front medial portion; at a front lateral portion; at a back lateral portion; and/or at any other suitable location on the circumference of the brassiere (e.g., in the cross strap 160, the shoulder strap, the cross cut band 170, the connecting band 174, and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere and/or the circumference of the bra).

[0109] As described above, the cross strap fastener 162 can comprise any suitable configuration and/or any suitable materials that allow the functional bra 5 to function as intended. At least in some embodiments, the cross strap fastener 162 is configured to detachably couple a portion of the cross strap 160 and/or another suitable portion of the bra with another portion of the cross strap and/or any other suitable portion of the bra. In this regard, the cross strap fastener 162 can comprise any suitable fastener for coupling a portion of the cross strap 160 and/or one or more other portions of the bra, including, without limitation, one or more clasps, buttons, fasteners, snaps, zippers, clips, ties, buckles, tacks, hook-and-eye closure, stitches, pins, hook and loop fasteners, hooks, catches, frictional engagements, mechanical engagements, and/or any other suitable fastener or fasteners. In some embodiments, the cross strap fastener 162 comprise a hook and loop fastener (e.g., VELCRO.RTM.).

[0110] In some embodiments, the cross strap fastener 162 is configured to be placed on a lateral side of the functional brassiere 5. For example, the cross strap fastener can comprise a zipper, hooks and eyelets, and/or other suitable fastener that is placed on a lateral left side of the functional brassiere. In some cases, the first single breast supporting device comprises a cross strap fastener 162 placed on a left side of the functional brassiere and the second single breast supporting device can comprise a cross strap fastener 162 placed on the right lateral side of the functional brassiere. In other instances (as in other embodiments and as mentioned above), the cross strap fastener of the first and second single breast supporting devices is placed on a common lateral side. FIGS. 15A and 15B show some embodiments of a cross strap fastener 162 placed on the left side of the functional bra. FIG. 15C shows some embodiments of a cross strap fastener 162 placed on the right side of the functional bra 5. Additionally, FIGS. 15A-15B show that the cross strap fastener 162 and/or any other suitable closure devices can extend through any portion of the circumference of the brassiere and be any suitable length.

[0111] In some embodiments, the cross strap fastener 162 (which term may be used herein to refer to any closure device that allows a circumference of the brassiere to be selectively opened and closed) is configured to be located on a front portion of the cross strap 160 and/or another suitable portion of the bra 5. FIGS. 16A-16D show some embodiments of a cross strap fastener 162 configured to be located on the front and/or a front lateral portion of the cross strap 160. In some instances, the cross strap fastener of the first single breast supporting device 100 are configured to be located on the front portion of the first cross strap 160 such that the cross strap fastener 162 is located below the breast cup of the second single breast supporting device 200. Likewise, the cross strap fastener of the second single breast supporting device 200 can be configured to be located on the front portion (and/or any other suitable portion) of the cross strap such that the cross strap fastener 162 is located below the breast cup of the first single breast supporting device 100.

[0112] Although in some embodiments, the cross strap fastener 162 (or fasteners) is configured to provide the brassiere 5 with a circumference of one size (give or take some stretching), in some other embodiments, the cross strap fastener 162 is configured to allow the circumference of the bra to be adjustable. By way of non-limiting illustration, FIG. 17 shows some embodiments of a cross strap fastener 162 configured to be adjustable. In some such embodiments, the cross strap fastener 162 is configured such that the user can adjust the length of the cross strap 160 (and/or otherwise adjust the circumference of the brassiere). For example, while the cross strap fastener 162 can comprise any suitable adjustable fastener, including, without limitation, one or more buckles, rings, hook and loop fasteners, hooks and corresponding catches, clips, and/or other suitable fasteners that allow a length of cross strap (or any other suitable portion of the bra) to be adjusted, in some embodiments the cross strap fastener 162 is configured with a hook and a series of receiving eyelets. The user can select the appropriate eyelet that corresponds to the desired length of the cross strap (or the desired circumference of the bra). In some instances the user can shorten the cross strap to provide more support. Likewise, the user can lengthen the cross strap to provide more comfort.

[0113] In some embodiments, in place of and/or in addition to having one or more cross strap fasteners 160, the brassiere 5 comprises any other suitable closure device, which as in the cross strap fastener can be in any suitable location. By way of non-limiting illustration, FIGS. 18A-18B, some embodiments of a breast cup coupling device 119 (which term may, in some cases, be used interchangeably with the term closure device) are shown. In some embodiments, the breast cup coupling device is configured to selectively couple the first and the second breast cups to provide additional stability and support, to selectively open and close a circumference of the bra, and/or to selectively couple the first 100 and second 200 single breast supporting devices together. While the breast cup coupling device 119 can comprise any suitable configuration and/or any suitable materials that allow the breast cups to be coupled to provide additional stability and support (and/or for any other suitable purpose), at least in some embodiments, the breast cup coupling device 119 is configured to detachably couple a portion of each breast cup (and/or any other suitable portion of the breast cup) from the first single breast supporting device 100 and the second breast supporting device 200. In some embodiments, the breast cup coupling device 119 is configured to couple the upper inner edge 118 of each breast cup together. In other embodiments, the breast cup coupling device 119 is configured to enhance visual appearance by increasing cleavage. In yet other embodiments, the breast cup coupling device 119 is configured to provide additional stability and support by further securing the breasts. In some embodiments, the user couples the breast cup coupling device 119 when more stability, more support, and/or enhanced cleavage are desired and uncouples the breast cup coupling device 119 when more comfort is desired.

[0114] The breast cup coupling device 119 can comprise any suitable device for coupling the breast cups together including, but not limited to, one or more ribbon ties, buttons and eyelets, bows, buckles, clasps, butterfly clasps, tensioners, fasteners, snap-fit buckles, hook and loop fasteners, buttons, snaps, zippers, clips, ties, straps, hook-and-eye closures, frictional engagements, mechanical engagements, catches, and/or any other suitable coupler. By way of non-limiting illustration, FIG. 18A illustrates the breast cup coupling device 119 comprising a ribbon tie device. FIG. 18B illustrates the breast cup coupling device 119 comprising a button and eyelet device.

[0115] Referring now to FIG. 19, some embodiments of the functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 and the second single breast supporting device 200 are shown. In some embodiments, the support strap 130 is configured with the first shoulder loop (or strap) 140 attaching to the lateral edge of the breast cup connector 120 (and/or the breast cup itself) to pass over the user's shoulder on one end and along the user's lateral side on another end. In some instances, both ends of the shoulder loop 140 join to form the cross strap 160. In other instances, the cross strap 160 can extend around the user's torso and attach to the cross cut band 170. In some embodiments, one or more ends of the shoulder loop 140 are connected to the connecting panel 150. In other embodiments, one or more ends of the shoulder loop 140 are configured to pass through channels formed in the connecting panel 150 such that the shoulder loop 140 can move with respect to the connecting panel 150 to provide support and visual enhancement. In yet other embodiments, the cross strap band 160 is configured to fixedly and/or adjustably pass through channels in one or more of the connecting panel 150 and/or the cross cut band 170. In some embodiments, at least a portion of the support strap 130 is configured to pass through channels formed in (or otherwise associated with) the connecting panel 150 and/or the cross cut band 170 to allow for the single breast supporting device to move with respect to the connecting panel 150 and/or the cross cut band 170 to allow the functional brassiere to distribute and/or apply forces to draw the shoulders back, improve posture, and/or enhance visual appearance of breasts. In other embodiments, at least a portion of the support strap 130 is configured to pass through channels formed in the connecting panel 150 and/or the cross cut band 170 to allow for each individual single breast supporting device to function independently or at least substantially independently.

[0116] Referring now to FIGS. 20A-20H, some ornamental designs of a functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 and a second single breast supporting device 200 are shown. FIGS. 20A-20B illustrates a front and back perspective view. FIGS. 20C-20D illustrates a front and back view. FIGS. 20E-20F illustrates a top and bottom view. FIGS. 20G-20H illustrates side views.

[0117] In addition to the aforementioned, embodiments, the functional brassiere 5 can comprise any other suitable component and/or otherwise be incorporated in any other suitable piece of clothing. Indeed, referring now to FIGS. 21A-21O and FIGS. 22A-22F, some embodiments of a functional brassiere 5 incorporated into other configurations of underclothing and clothing are illustrated. While the functional brassiere can be incorporated into any other suitable configuration of underclothing or clothing that allow it to function as intended, FIGS. 21A-21O and FIGS. 22A-22F show that, at least in some embodiments, the functional brassiere 5 is included where there is a desire to increase the visual appearance of the user's breasts and/or to simultaneously maintain or correct the user's posture.

[0118] For example, the functional bra 5 can be incorporated into swimsuits, bikinis, bra shirts, shirts, blouses, camisoles, tops, bra dresses, dresses, vests, nightgowns, pajamas, lingerie, shapewear, support wear, undergarments, foundation garments, exercise clothing, bicycling clothing, sports clothing, girdles, shaping undergarments, shapewear, waistbands, and/or any other suitable clothing or garments. By way of non-limiting illustration, FIGS. 21A-21C illustrate some embodiments in which the functional bra 5 is incorporated into upper body shapewear (e.g., a girdle, shaping band, waistband, etc.). FIGS. 21D-21F illustrate some embodiments of a functional bra 5 incorporated into an upper body shapewear camisole. FIGS. 21G-21I illustrates some embodiments of a functional bra 5 configured as a balconette style bra. FIGS. 21J-21L illustrate some other embodiments of the functional bra 5. FIGS. 21M-21O illustrate some embodiments of the functional bra 5 configured with a front panel. FIGS. 22A-22B illustrate some embodiments of the functional bra 5 incorporated into upper body shapewear. FIGS. 22C-22D illustrate some embodiments of a functional bra 5 incorporated into body shapewear. FIGS. 22E-22F illustrate some embodiments of a functional bra incorporated into a bra dress or a bra and slip combination.

[0119] Referring now to FIGS. 23A-23F, some embodiments of the functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 or the second single breast supporting device 200 are shown as worn by the user. FIGS. 23A-23C show views of a first single breast supporting device 100 as worn by the user. As shown, the first single breast supporting device supports a first breast to enhance visual appearance, provide support, and/or improve posture. FIGS. 23D-23F show views of a second single breast supporting device 200 as worn by the user. As shown, the second single breast supporting device 200 supports a second single breast to enhance visual appearance, provide support, and/or improve posture. FIGS. 23G-23H show views of some embodiments of the functional brassiere 5 comprising the first single breast supporting device 100 and the second single breast supporting device 200 as worn by the user. The first single breast supporting device and a second single breast supporting device can be connected in any suitable manner, including, without limitation, by a connecting band 170. Although a user can put on such a bra in any suitable manner, in some embodiments, the user can optionally fit the first single breast supporting device onto her body and then can fit the second single breast supporting device on to her body as shown in FIGS. 23G-23J.

[0120] While the functional brassiere 5 can be used in any suitable manner, in accordance with some embodiments, the bra is used in a method for supporting breasts and for providing visual enhancement of breasts, where the method comprises: providing a first single breast supporting device comprising: a first breast cup configured to support a first single breast of a user, the first breast cup comprising an inner edge configured to be disposed near a medial portion of the user's chest when the user wears the functional garment; a first breast cup connector comprising a first piece of elastomeric material extending along a lateral side of the first breast cup; and a first support strap comprising a first shoulder loop, a first connecting panel, and a first cross strap; wherein a first portion of the first shoulder loop is connected at least in part to an upper lateral portion of the first breast cup connector and is configured to extend over the user's first shoulder, wherein a second portion of the first shoulder loop is connected at least in part to a lower lateral portion of the first breast cup connector and is configured to extend at least in part around a portion of the user's torso, wherein the first portion and the second portion are configured to join together to form the first connecting panel, the first connecting panel extending into a first cross strap that is configured to extend around a portion of user's torso and attach to the inner edge of the first breast cup; wearing the first single breast supporting device such that the first breast cup supports the first single breast such that the first cross strap extends around a portion of the user's torso and such that the first shoulder loop extends over a first shoulder of the user and places a first force on the user's first shoulder in such a way as to perform at least one of bringing the first shoulder back and bringing a shoulder blade of the first shoulder closer to a medial line of the user's back; and wearing the first single breast supporting device such that the first cross strap extends around the portion of the user's torso, the first shoulder loop extends over the user's first shoulder, and the first breast cup supports the first single breast and places a second force on the first single breast in such a way as to perform at least one of bringing the first single breast closer to a medial line of the user's chest and lifting the first single breast.

[0121] In some cases, the method further comprises: providing a second single breast supporting device comprising: a second breast cup configured to support a second single breast of a user, the second breast cup comprising an inner edge configured to be disposed near a medial portion of the user's chest when the user wears the functional garment; a second breast cup connector comprising a second piece of elastomeric material extending along a lateral side of the second breast cup; and a second support strap comprising a second shoulder loop, a second connecting panel, and a second cross strap; wherein a first portion of the second shoulder loop is connected at least in part to an upper lateral portion of the second breast cup connector and is configured to extend over the user's second shoulder, wherein a second portion of the second shoulder loop is connected at least in part to a lower lateral portion of the second breast cup connector and is configured to extend at least in part around a portion of the user's torso, wherein the first portion and the second portion are configured to join together to form the second connecting panel, the second connecting panel extending into a second cross strap that is configured to extend around a portion of user's torso and attach to the inner edge of the second breast cup; wearing the second single breast supporting device such that the second breast cup supports the second single breast such that the second cross strap extends around a portion of the user's torso and such that the second shoulder loop extends over a second shoulder of the user and places a first force on the user's second shoulder in such a way as to perform at least one of bringing the second shoulder back and bringing a shoulder blade of the second shoulder closer to a medial line of the user's back; and wearing the second single breast supporting device such that the second cross strap extends around the portion of the user's torso, the second shoulder loop extends over the user's second shoulder, and the second breast cup supports the second single breast and places a second force on the second single breast in such a way as to perform at least one of bringing the second single breast closer to a medial line of the user's chest and lifting the second single breast.

[0122] Additionally, in some cases, the method further comprises: adjusting one or more of the first breast cup, the second breast cup, the first breast cup connector, the second breast cup connector, the first support strap, the second support strap, the first shoulder loop, the second shoulder loop, the first connecting panel, the second connecting panel, the first cross strap, the second cross strap, and/or any other suitable portion of the brassiere to provide support that visually enhances the user's breasts by at least one of bringing the user's breasts closer together and lifting the user's breasts and further performs at least one of drawing the user's shoulders back and bringing the user's shoulder blades closer together.

[0123] In some embodiments, the described device also comprises a functional garment comprising: a first single breast supporting device comprising: a first breast cup configured to support a first single breast of a user, the first breast cup comprising an inner edge configured to be disposed near a medial portion of the user's chest when the user wears the functional garment; a first breast cup connector comprising a first piece of elastomeric material extending along a lateral side of the first breast cup; and a first support strap comprising a first shoulder loop, a first connecting panel, and a first cross strap; wherein a first portion of the first shoulder loop is connected at least in part to an upper lateral portion of the first breast cup connector and is configured to extend over the user's first shoulder, wherein a second portion of the first shoulder loop is connected at least in part to a lower lateral portion of the first breast cup connector and is configured to extend at least in part around a portion of the user's torso, wherein the first portion and the second portion are configured to join together to form the first connecting panel, the first connecting panel extending into a first cross strap that is configured to extend around a portion of user's torso and attach to the inner edge of the first breast cup.

[0124] In still other embodiments, the described device further comprises: a second single breast supporting device comprising: a second breast cup configured to support a second single breast of the user, the second breast cup comprising an inner edge configured to be disposed near a medial portion of the user's chest when the user wears the functional garment; a second breast cup connector comprising a second piece of elastomeric material extending along a lateral side of the second breast cup; and a second support strap comprising a second shoulder loop, a second connecting panel, and a second cross strap; wherein a first portion of the second shoulder loop is connected at least in part to an upper lateral portion of the second breast cup connector and is configured to extend over the user's second shoulder, wherein a second portion of the second shoulder loop is connected at least in part to a lower lateral portion of the second breast cup connector and is configured to extend at least in part around a portion of the user's torso, wherein the first portion and the second portion are configured to join together to form the second connecting panel, the first connecting panel extending into a second cross strap that is configured to extend around a portion of user's torso and attach to the inner edge of the second breast cup.

[0125] In some embodiments, the first connecting panel is configured to attach to the first cross cut band and wherein the second connecting panel is configured to attach to the second cross cut band.

[0126] Additionally, in some embodiments, a bottom portion of the first breast cup is configured to attach to the first cross cut band and wherein a bottom portion of the second breast cup is configured to attach to the second cross cut band.

[0127] In addition to the aforementioned embodiments, the functional brassiere 5 can have any other suitable feature. Indeed, in some embodiments, the first 16 and/or second 26 shoulder straps (or loops) cross straps 15 and/or 25, and/or any other suitable component of the bra actually form a loop (which may also be referred to herein, in some cases, as the shoulder loop). Although some embodiments of such a shoulder loop can comprise one or more elastic portions, in some embodiments, the shoulder strap, cross strap, and/or other portion of the brassiere form a continuous loop of one or more materials that are less elastic than the breast cup connector (19 and/or 29). Additionally, in some embodiments (as shown in FIG. 1), the breast cup connectors 19 and 29 are disposed between and separate the shoulder loops 16 and 26 from their corresponding breast cups 10 and 20.

[0128] FIGS. 24A-37 show that the functional brassiere 5 can comprise a variety of different materials in different positions. Indeed, the functional brassiere has virtually a limitless number of permutations and variations. In this regard, some embodiments of the functional brassiere have a closure device at the bra's backside (e.g., cross strap fastener 162, shown in FIG. 26), thicker shoulder straps 26 (e.g., as shown in FIG. 24A), thinner shoulder straps, less side padding, more side padding, longer cross cut band 50 and/or connecting band 174, shorter cross cut bad and/or connecting band, and/or any other suitable characteristic.

[0129] Indeed, some embodiments of the brassiere 5 (as discussed above) comprise a continuous shoulder loop (16 and/or 26) that comprises a material that is less elastic than the corresponding breast cup connector (19 and/or 29; see e.g., FIG. 1). In some other embodiments, however, the brassiere comprises a shoulder strap that connects to its corresponding breast cup connector, but in which the shoulder strap does not form a continuous shoulder loop that comprises or consists of a material that is less elastic than the corresponding breast cup connector. In this regard, the shoulder strap can couple to the breast cup connector in any suitable manner. By way of non-limiting illustration, FIG. 24A shows an embodiment, in which the shoulder strap 26 (which comprises a material that is less elastic than the breast cup connector 29) couples to a proximal, superior, or upper portion of the breast cup connector 29. Additionally, FIG. 24A shows that, in some embodiments, the shoulder strap 26 is configured to wrap from the proximal portion of the breast cup connector 29 around the user's torso and to the breast cup 20. Accordingly, in some embodiments, the shoulder strap 26 acts as part of (or as the complete) cross strap 25.

[0130] Furthermore, FIG. 25 shows that, in some embodiments, the breast cup connector 19 couples with the shoulder strap to that the two components together define an arm loop 305 through which the user's arm extends. Thus, in some embodiments, a portion of the arm loop (e.g., the breast cup connector 19) is more elastic than is another portion of the arm loop (e.g., the shoulder strap 16).

[0131] FIG. 26 shows that, in some embodiments, the shoulder strap 16 couples to the breast cup connector (which can extend from the breast cup 10 to any other suitable portion of the bra 5, including, without limitation, to the shoulder strap 16, as shown in FIG. 26) in any number of places and in any suitable manner. Indeed, while the shoulder strap 16 can directly couple to any portion of the breast cup connector 19, in some embodiments, a portion of the shoulder strap is coupled to a portion of the breast cup connector via one or more straps, elastic materials, pieces of netting, pieces of fabric, and/or in any other suitable manner. By way of non-limiting illustration, FIG. 26 shows an embodiment in at least one strap 310 couples a portion of the shoulder strap 16 to a portion of the breast cup connector 19. In so doing, FIG. 26 illustrates that the strap 310 is (at least in some embodiments) less elastic than is the breast cup connector 19.

[0132] FIGS. 27-30 show that, in some embodiments in which the functional brassiere 5 comprises a first 16 and a second 26 shoulder strap, the two straps can overlap each other at a backside of the brassiere and/or be coupled together. Indeed, FIG. 27 shows that in some embodiments, the first 16 and second 26 shoulder straps are coupled to each other at a back portion of the brassiere 5.

[0133] While FIGS. 27-28 show that, in some embodiments, shoulder straps 16 and/or 26 couple to their corresponding breast cup connectors 19 and/or 29 at a straight line 315, the shoulder straps and the breast cup connectors can (at a proximal portion of the breast cup connector) join in any suitable configuration. By way of non-limiting illustration, FIG. 29-30 show that, in some embodiments, breast cup connectors 19 and 29 couple to a proximal portion of their corresponding shoulder strap 16 and 26 at an angled juncture 320. Additionally, FIGS. 31-47 show that the brassiere 5 can be configured in a variety of other manners in which the shoulder strap 16 and/or 26 does not form a continuous arm loop that comprises (or consists of) a material that is less elastic than is its corresponding breast cup connector.

[0134] In some embodiments in which the shoulder straps 16 and/or 26 do not comprise a continuous arm loop of a material that is less elastic than is the corresponding breast cup connector, the bra 5 can have several features. Indeed, in some embodiments, the breast cup connectors are able to cover a larger area of the bra (e.g., providing some embodiments of the bra with additional flexibility in some areas). Additionally, in some embodiments, by having the shoulder strap (and/or another portion of the brassiere) extend from the breast cup connector, over the shoulder, around the user's torso, and to the breast cup 10 (with such material being less elastic than is the breast cup connector), the bra can provide a relatively strong pull backwards on the user and thereby provide a relative strong posture correction to the user. Thus, in some embodiments, the functional bra can increase its desired affects and fashion.

[0135] As mentioned, the functional brassiere 5 can perform many functions, including, without limitation, improving the posture of the user, distributing the brassiere's load in a more even and comfortable manner, allowing the user to move without the functional brassiere unduly binding on the user, improving breast appearance, and/or performing any other suitable function. In this regard, FIGS. 38A, 38C, 38E, and 38F illustrate a user wearing a prior art bra 300. In this regard, these drawings show that, in some cases, some prior art bras can actually make a user's posture worse. Indeed, in some cases, some conventional brassieres carry their users' the breast weight on the users' shoulders and increase the spine load. As a result, some conventional bras can actually cause incorrect posture, back pain, and/or neck pain. For instance, as shown in FIG. 38E some conventional bras 300 cause a user's spine and neck to come out of alignment. This can thereby place the user in an uncomfortable and potentially damaging position, as well as provide the user with an undesirable posture. Indeed, some conventional bras can cause their user to hunch, push the user's shoulders forward, cause headaches, cause back pain, contribute to poor posture, stoop development, form a double chin, and otherwise harm the user's health and/or appearance.

[0136] In contrast, FIGS. 38B, 38D, and 38G-43 show that some embodiments of the described functional brassiere 5 improve a user's posture, appearance, health, comfort, and/or otherwise provide the user with a wide features. Indeed, as shown in FIGS. 38B, 38D, and 38G-43 some embodiments help to better distribute loads from the functional brassiere. For instance, and as shown with the arrows in such figures, some embodiments of the functional brassiere help: pull the breasts together, pull the user's breasts up, straighten alignment of the user's neck and spinal cord, improve the user's posture and/or comfort, provide the user with added flexibility without the brassiere unduly binding on the user, shape the user's body (e.g., with the elastic from the brassiere) move the weight of the user's breasts back, straighten the user's back, pull the user's shoulders backwards, eliminate headaches, and/or otherwise improve the user's posture, health, and/or appearance.

[0137] As another example of a suitable feature, the functional brassiere 5 can (as discussed above) have a closure device in any suitable location. Accordingly, in some embodiments, the user can easily manually adjust a size (e.g., circumference or other size) of the brassiere.

[0138] As another example of a feature of some embodiments of the functional brassiere 5, due to different compression exerted throughout the body, the brassiere can help reactivate and develop muscles that are underused in its users' daily lives. Indeed, by pulling the user's shoulders back, some embodiments of the bra can cause the user's torso to be lengthened and, with daily long-term wear, some embodiments of the bra can strengthen core and chest muscles to provide the user with better balance and improved posture in the long run.

[0139] As still another feature of some embodiments of the functional brassiere 5, in some cases in which the shoulder loop 16 and/or 26 does not comprise a continuous arm loop of material that is less elastic than is the breast cup connector 19 and/or 29, the breast cup connector is able to comprise a relatively large about elastic connecting material. As a result, in some such cases, the brassiere is able to help pull the user's shoulders back, straighten posture, provide additional pushup effect, and/or otherwise provide some desirable features.

[0140] As another example, in some cases a first portion of the first shoulder strap 16 is coupled to the first breast cup connector 19, wherein the first shoulder strap (and/or other suitable portion of the brassiere) is configured to extend around a torso of the user when the user wears the brassiere, and wherein a second portion of the first shoulder strap couples to the medial (and/or any other suitable) portion of the first breast cup.

[0141] As yet another example, in some cases, a first portion of the first shoulder strap 16 is coupled at a proximal (or upper or superior) portion of the first breast cup connector 19 such that the first portion of the first shoulder strap is configured to extend over a shoulder of the user when the user wears the brassiere 5.

[0142] As another example, in some cases, a second portion of the first shoulder strap 16 is coupled to a distal or lower portion of the first breast cup connector 19 such that the second portion of the first shoulder strap is configured to extend below an arm of the user when the user wears the brassiere.

[0143] All the documents cited herein are incorporated into the invention as reference, as if each of them is individually incorporated. Further, it would be appreciated that, in the above teaching of the invention, the skilled artisan could make certain changes or modifications to the invention, and these equivalents would still be within the scope of the invention defined by the appended claims of the present application.

[0144] The terms "a," "an," "the" and similar referents used in the context of describing the invention (especially in the context of the following claims) are to be construed to cover both the singular and the plural, unless otherwise indicated herein or clearly contradicted by context. Recitation of ranges of values herein is merely intended to serve as a shorthand method of referring individually to each separate value falling within the range. Unless otherwise indicated herein, each individual value is incorporated into the specification as if it were individually recited herein. All methods described herein can be performed in any suitable order unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context. The use of any and all examples, or exemplary language (e.g., "such as") provided herein is intended merely to better illuminate the invention and does not pose a limitation on the scope of the invention otherwise claimed. No language in the specification should be construed as indicating any non-claimed element essential to the practice of the invention.

[0145] It is contemplated that numerical values, as well as other values that are recited herein are modified by the term "about", whether expressly stated or inherently derived by the discussion of the present disclosure. As used herein, the term "about" defines the numerical boundaries of the modified values so as to include, but not be limited to, tolerances and values up to, and including the numerical value so modified. That is, numerical values can include the actual value that is expressly stated, as well as other values that are, or can be, the decimal, fractional, or other multiple of the actual value indicated, and/or described in the disclosure.

[0146] Groupings of alternative elements or embodiments of the invention disclosed herein are not to be construed as limitations. Each group member may be referred to and claimed individually or in any combination with other members of the group or other elements found herein. It is anticipated that one or more members of a group may be included in, or deleted from, a group for reasons of convenience and/or patentability. When any such inclusion or deletion occurs, the specification is deemed to contain the group as modified thus fulfilling the written description of all Markush groups used in the appended claims.

[0147] Certain embodiments of this invention are described herein, including the best mode known to the inventors for carrying out the invention. Of course, variations on these described embodiments will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art upon reading the foregoing description. The inventor expects skilled artisans to employ such variations as appropriate, and the inventors intend for the invention to be practiced otherwise than specifically described herein. Accordingly, this invention includes all modifications and equivalents of the subject matter recited in the claims appended hereto as permitted by applicable law. Moreover, any combination of the above-described elements in all possible variations thereof is encompassed by the invention unless otherwise indicated herein or otherwise clearly contradicted by context.

[0148] While several methods are disclosed herein, such methods are only to be limited as required by the claims. Accordingly, the various portions of the described methods can be reordered, omitted, augmented, substituted, and/or otherwise modified in any suitable manner. In closing, it is to be understood that the embodiments of the invention disclosed herein are illustrative of the principles of the present invention. Other modifications that may be employed are within the scope of the invention. Thus, by way of example, but not of limitation, alternative configurations of the present invention may be utilized in accordance with the teachings herein. Accordingly, the present invention is not limited to that precisely as shown and described. Additionally, the various components and characteristics of the described embodiments and examples can be combined in any suitable manner. In this regard, elements shown in one drawing or description can be used with any other suitable elements from another drawing or description contained herein.

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