One of the subjects I looked at in my new book A Splendidly Smutty Dictionary of Sex was something that I was always intrigued about – Falsies
These first appeared in 19th century Paris in the form of a device known as the Bust Improver, which consisted of wool pads being inserted into a boned bodice.
Smaller breasted women had been previously stuffing the bodice of their corsets with paper, rags, or anything else at hand. The wool pads tended to itch a bit, but they were said to give a smooth “inflation” that did not go flat with extended wear.
Later that century, French women could purchase the first rubber breast pads, called “lemon bosoms” because of their shape and size, not colour. They were black, the only colour available for rubber at the time, and as result easily showed through thin fabric.
In The Handbook of the Toilette (1841), the (presumably male) author warns of “This obsession with trying to counteract personal defects with these fictitious charms and trying to improve the work of nature was invented to boost the profits of those who fashioned and wrought these things”
A 1929 article in the Tailor and Cutter goes one step further and complains that “sights that are thrust upon the sons of men are enough to stifle young love and drive romance away”.
In Katherine Ott’s Artificial Parts and Practical Lives (2002), an inventor called Frederick Cox designed rubber breast pads in 1874. They were blown up like balloons and were allegedly puncture proof.
New forms of plastic developed in the 1950s allowed inventors to devise “air inflation bladders”… bras with built-in blow-up falsies. The idea was that a woman could wear one and, with the help of a small, hidden hand pump, inflate her breasts at will.
As the blow-up titties were not leak proof, a bosom would slowly deflate if left unattended. They also suffered from a serious drawback; if left fully inflated they would explode in the poorly pressurised aeroplanes of the time. A lady with a large bosom on take off would have a chest like Kate Moss upon landing. In 1958, William Buckley tried to address the problem by designing a bra with multi-compartmental bladders and a battery pump. It came as no surprise that it never caught on.