Monday, July 20, 2009

I'll Huff and I'll Puff: Inflatable Bras

Was on the phone with Mom the other day. Hard on the heels of her reminiscences of her white Mod go-go boots, the subject of vintage fashion (hers) came up again.

". . . and you know, I also had that bathing suit, where you blew up the cups for more oomph"

"Uh, blow up as in explode?"

"No! Blow as in puff. It was made for gals with dainty figures."

(Friends of mine: Shut. Up.)

Needless to say I was Googling posthaste. And getting nothing. The keywords "blow up" and "bathing suit" insisted on calling up childrens' floaties, or latex dolls gussied up in beach togs. Not what I wanted.

Finally some joy over at the delightful GlamourSplash site. Not inflatable swimwear per se, but bras themselves, a product of Frederick's of Hollywood known simply as "BLOWUPS", which came with "their own straw".

Incrementally, the information expanded. A blow-up bra surfaced in a Canadian regional museum. It was name-checked (somewhere, can't find it now) in the Walcoal Museum of Bras and Bra History in Taiwan (whose energetic English translation makes for great reading).

As I searched, I couldn't help but think that an inflatable bra (as opposed to a inflatable bathing suit, which might have useful bouyancy value-added in case of accident at sea) is trouble just waiting to happen. Not only due to the threat of a slow leak (a flat that needed fixing twice over . . . )

No, I'm thinking about the actual blow-up potential of the blow-up bra. I'm not alone in the apprehension, for more Googling turned up an actual urban legend involving a a lingerie model, a blow-up bra (the "Tres Secrete Airup") and a depressurized airplane cabin. The teller swears it's true. Sciencers (among them an MIT professor of aeronautics) with time on their hands have consulted their calculators and gas-expansion formulae and are saying impossible.

Mythbusters indeed. Now if only I could locate a bathing suit with this function -- presently, the inflatable cup quest is half full.


  1. What a delightful and highly interesting post! I've never heard of this style of swimsuit before, but can image it had its legions of fans in the pre-Wonder Bra days (perhaps more males than females).

    Hope you're having an uplifting week! :D
    ♥ Jessica

  2. On a plane years ago I removed my air-up inserts and put them in overhead luggage just in case there could be a "blow-up" en flight!!