“Why don’t you just use a layer of foam padding for nipple concealment?” Every manufacturer asked me this question during the design process for the Elli Bralette. My answer has always been - and will always be - a resounding hell no. Why? Because the way that foam is being used in bras today is a far cry from what it was invented for, and the intent had very little to do with nipple concealment.
So what was foam padding in bras invented for?
To bra manufacturers, using foam makes sense. It’s readily available and a less expensive textile. Foam padding is now commonly marketed as nipple concealing by established, big name companies in the bra industry, but what was it really created for?
The first padded bra was invented in 1947 by Frederick Mellinger, the man behind Frederick’s of Hollywood. Called the ‘Rising Star’, it was designed to create volume in the breasts without the restrictions or discomfort of a corset. It was a revolutionary design, since prior to its invention the ‘Flatter-U’ brassiere and other similar designs meant to flatten the breasts were most popular.
Throughout this swing of styles, it seems that at no point had a bra truly been invented for comfort and appreciation of the female form - unless you count the very first modern bra designed in 1914 by NYC socialite Mary Phelps Jacob, using two silk handkerchiefs and a pink ribbon.
While the Rising Star completely changed the bra industry, it also introduced polyurethane foam padding into our daily lives and with it, a new kind of discomfort.
Why we’re anti-foam, and you should be too
Polyurethane is a type of plastic. Not only does it not breath, trapping all of your body heat and sweat, it’s a polymer that’s used in all kinds of trades. Polyurethane can be found in paint, sealants and adhesives. Polyurethane foam is also used in automotive interiors, furniture, carpet underlay and packaging.
It’s not that it’s a bad textile, but it’s not something I want to wear against my body, and it’s
definitely not something I want my daughter to wear. Which is why you will never find foam padding in the Elli Bralette. Our design is intended to be comfortable, stay in place and conceal your nipples without bulk and without accumulating boob sweat. Our materials are moisture wicking, whisper thin and butter-soft. In other words, they’re designed to breathe, something the Rising Star and current padded bras aren’t designed for.
While there’s no denying that Frederick Mellinger revolutionized the industry, I’d much rather claim to follow in Mary Phelps Jacob’s philosophy of comfort, function and style by designing a bralette that’s made for women, by a woman.
Without foam, how does the Elli Bralette conceal your nipples?
Each Elli Bralette has a set of nipple concealing petals heat sealed into place. Each nipple concealing petal is made of three, lightweight layers: a polyester mesh layer, a cotton layer, and a coated polyester layer. Both the cotton and polyester mesh layers aid in breathability, while the smallest diameter layer, the coated polyester layer (the most remarkable layer), pulls the most weight in the petal’s concealing properties.
By adding polyester, we’ve increased the durability of the concealing petal without sacrificing breathability. How?
Polyester is made of long, stable polymers, making it both strong and resilient. When added to another fabric like cotton, it increases the overall durability. If you’ve ever worn a 100% cotton shirt before, you know that over time they stretch out and lose their shape. The polyester layers of the petal are both rigid and flexible at the same time, allowing for maximum comfort and coverage.
During the design process, we wanted to make sure that the Elli Bralette could withstand any test - from lounging and watching Netflix to heavy duty jobs - and snap right back to its original shape, including the nipple concealing petals, which, by the way, will never shift inside the bralette.
Coming from a background in construction, it was important to me that other women, even in physically demanding industries, feel comfortable and supported at all times. Over the years our breasts have been confined, flattened, pushed up, poked by wires - you name it.
The Elli Bralette is bringing back the comfort of the very first modern bra, with the added benefit of durability and effortless style.