During World War II the vast number of men who were involved in the war meant that, for the first time ever, women had to take over the jobs that had always previously been filled by men. Women started working as mechanics, bus drivers, volunteer policewomen and many other jobs previously considered unsuitable for women. As their role in society changes, so did their clothing, and women’s fashion became more masculine than it had been before the war. Square shoulders and straight skirts were à la mode.
However, once the war was over, women were expected to resume their roles as the mother, wife and homemaker (ugh yeah, I know). Fashion followed suit and curves were back in favour. Dior exploded onto the scene in 1947 with their ‘New Look’, an image of radical femininity, achieved by tight-fitting jackets with padded hips, petite waists, larger busts and A-line skirts.
Actresses such as Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe possessed the high, full breasts that were considered ‘ideal’ at that time, especially with the new Dior silhouette becoming very desirable.
Women who wanted fuller bosoms like their idols would sometimes insert falsies in their brassieres. The ‘Trés Secret‘ inflatable bra went on sale in the early 1950s and had bra cups were fitted with plastic pads that came with a straw for the wearer to inflate herself.
My guess is that these pouches could also be bought on their own and inserted into the bra of the ladies’ choice.
Although some may mock this gadget, there are several similar options that are available today for the modern woman. I remember myself all those years ago buying a bra with different sized gel inserts to give me the desired size or lift.
Originally marketed as a fashion brand to women with small busts, these inflatable bras were in fact mainly worn by women who had undergone mastectomies. Breast cancer diagnoses rose after WWII and radical surgery the most frequent treatment.
I have to say though, I can imagine the embarrassment of accidentally putting a brooch pin through one of the inflatable pouches, and being left with one full breast and one sad looking deflated cup!