This stick-on bra swimsuit from 1949 was kind of brilliant

1949 The adhesive bra

A pair of unidentified models, dressed in shorts and ‘Poses,’ an adhesive, strapless brassiere designed by Charles L Langs, Jones Beach, New York.

Image: Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Around 1945, Charles L. Langs was watching his wife fiddling with her swimming costume straps in order to get an even tan on her back, when he was suddenly struck by a brilliant idea. Why not do away with the strap, without a dress? Individual strapless cups for each breast, stuck on with adhesive.

Strapless bras were not a new idea. They made their debut in the 1930s, but gained their greatest popularity in the 1950s, when strapless evening gowns were in fashion. But what Langs was proposing was the idea that they were worn with nothing else covering them.

Langs had an unlikely background for this enterprise, having made a fortune chromium plating the grilles for Cadillac and Ford cars. He teamed up with industrial chemist Charles W. Walton, who in 1947 moved from the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company to the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (or 3M as it was later known). Langs tasked Walton with producing an adhesive that remained in place when required and did not leave a sticky residue when removed.

Walton and Langs worked for four years before they filed for a patent on Feb. 14, 1949. Langs called them Posēs, pronounced “pose-ease,” a typographic device known as a Macron above the e, giving the “ease.” He said they would stick tight even if the wearer dived from a 10-foot board.

Yet things didn’t go so smoothly after the launch. The enterprise quickly became too large to handle, and Langs sold out to another company Textron Inc. later that year.

Customers complained about poor workmanship and non-delivery of items. That and the fact that strapless bras are not for every woman, especially those allergic to the adhesive, meant that the fashion was short-lived. By the time the patent was finally granted, in 1952, Posēs had their day in the sun.

The Inventor of Poses, Charles L. Langs sitting at his desk full of his inventions – strapless, backless, wireless bras gumming the adhesive strip which holds the cup on.

Image: Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

It is one of the objects of this invention to independently secure the breast receiving pockets to the body of the wearer laterally beyond the breasts by a ring secured to the inner side of each breast pocket at the periphery of the latter and having an adhesive on the exposed face.
US Patent 2596567 A

The Inventor of Poses, Charles L. Langs sitting at his desk full of his inventions – strapless, backless, wireless bras gumming the adhesive strip which holds the cup on.

Image: Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

For 5,000 years clothes have been draped, tied, buttoned, pinned and buckled on the human form. This year, for the first time in history, they will be glued on.
LIFE magazine, 16 May 1949

Image: Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Image: Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Models wearing the new Poses, strapless, backless, wireless bras adhesively gummed to hold the cup on at Jones Beach.

Image: Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Image: Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Image: Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Image: Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images