CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/265,299, filed Jan. 31, 2001, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated by reference herein for all purposes.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates generally to clothing, and more particularly to exercise apparel.
Probably since the time that Adam and Eve donned their first fig leaves (and maybe even before doing so), mankind has recognized the benefit of pockets or pouches of various forms for carrying personal items with them as they carry out daily activities. Pockets are now virtually ubiquitous in our lives, and are included in or on almost every type of wearing apparel. In some instances, pockets are configured for specific uses, such as for example, watch pockets, pockets sized and shaped to receive pens or pencils, and pockets configured for carrying airline tickets in travelers' jackets. Other pockets are configured for general use.
One type of apparel that often lacks sufficient pockets, however, is exercise wear. In recent years, the popularity of aerobic and other forms of exercise has exploded. Participants in many exercise activities often enjoy listening to inspirational music while working out through the use of MP3 players, cassette players, CD players, and other types of portable listening devices carried with the user while exercising. Other items such as pagers, cell phones, wallets, keys, money, identification cards, credit cards and/or access cards are also often carried during exercise. Many women's exercise garments, in particular, have been found to lack pockets for carrying items such as these.
As a result of this lack of sufficient pockets, walkers, joggers, weight lifters and other exercise participants often must carry these items in their hands, or in floppy and awkward packs. Carrying items in this manner during exercise can be distracting and thereby render the workout less effective. Also, carrying items by hand limits the ability to engage in many forms of exercise that require free use of both hands. The exercise thus becomes secondary, because the wearer is preoccupied with holding everything, or finding a safe place to set it all down.
Although some apparel and electronics manufacturers have attempted solutions to this dilemma, these solutions have not been completely successful in solving the needs for convenience, security, stability, and freedom of movement. For example, pockets that are included in or on some previously known garments have been found lacking for several reasons. Many pockets allow stowed items to move around in the pocket due to the size of the pocket and/or the bagginess of the garment, often resulting in discomfort, distraction and potential damage to electronic devices. Also, the pockets of previously known garments are typically located over the larger muscle groups of the wearer, further resulting in discomfort, chafing or bruising from contact between items stored in the pocket and the underlying body part. Moreover, the pockets are typically located at positions on the body that are subjected to substantial movement and/or impact during exercise. For example, items stowed in a typical hip pocket may bounce considerably during running, subjecting the items to potentially damaging movement and impact, and leading to discomfort to the wearer. Similarly, pockets of known non-elastic and/or loose-fitting garments may subject stowed items to unacceptable movement and impact during physical activity, regardless of the pocket location. In addition, many previously known pocket locations are too remote from the user's ears to be comfortably reached by headset wires from a portable music device without restricting the movement of the user or interfering with exercise movement.
Nor have other manners of storing items during exercise proven fully satisfactory. Fanny packs often get in the wearer's way during exercise and can flap around causing discomfort and distracting the wearerfrom exercise, as well as subjecting sensitive items such as electronic music devices to potential damage. Also, the headset wires for many music players are barely long enough to reach fanny packs, so the wire tethers the wearer's movements. And although some manufacturers of electronic music players include armbands or clips for securing the device to the wearer or her clothing, these also frequently cause discomfort or chafing to the user, or fail to secure the devices sufficiently to prevent damage from shaking, vibration or impact, or from the device coming loose and dropping to the ground.
These and related difficulties affect both women and men in exercising and in a number of other activities. For example, more secure and comfortable storage pockets would be desirable in many instances on both men's and women's exercise wear, on attire for workers and professionals who need to carry tools of their trade and/or other work-related items, on garments for medical patients who must carry external treatment and monitoring devices such as pacemakers and infusion pumps, on special activity garments such as diving suits, and even on everyday casual wear and formalwear.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Thus it can be seen that needs exists for improved apparel, pocket locations, and methods for storing various items during exercise and other activities. It is to the provision of various devices and methods meeting these and other needs that the present invention is primarily directed.
Preferred embodiments of the present invention provide apparel with pocket configurations resulting in improved comfort to the wearer during exercise and other activities and allowing maximum freedom of movement to the wearer. The preferred embodiments of the invention also provide greatly improved stability and security for the items carried in pockets, protecting electronic devices from damage due to vibration and impact, even during vigorous physical activity. Pockets of the preferred embodiments are located over parts of the body that are generally stable during physical activity, and where the pocket is less likely to interfere with arm or leg movement or to be subjected to substantial movement during many common physical exercises and other activities. For example, pockets are preferably located generally centrally on the body, such as on the front and/or the back of the torso along the midsagittal plane (i.e., a plane extending front to back through the center of the body, dividing the body into generally symmetrical left and right halves). Particularly preferred pocket locations are, for example, on the chest over the sternum, over the abdomen, over the pelvis, on the back between the shoulder blades, in the middle of the back, and in the small of the back.
The present invention is truly revolutionary, breaking hundreds of years of clothing tradition by positioning pockets on center on the wearer's body. Pockets have traditionally been placed on the sides of the body, away from the midsagittal plane. This traditional pocket location may result from the historical need of wearers to be able to easily put on a garment and fasten it with buttons, laces, zippers or other fasteners. Because both hands are typically required to secure these types of fasteners, the fasteners are most conveniently located along the center of the body, relegating pockets to off-center locations of a garment. Or it is possible that the traditional off-center pocket location is the result of early manufacturing techniques, aesthetic preferences, and/or other reasons. Whatever the historical reason for traditional off-center pocket placement, it has now been recognized that today's flexible and stretchable fabrics allow many well-fitting garments to be pulled on, without the need for buttons or other fasteners, thereby leaving the center area of a garment available for placement of pockets.
Briefly described, in one embodiment, the present invention is a garment to be worn over the body of a wearer. The garment preferably includes an elastic material and at least one pocket. The at least one pocket is preferably located generally centrally on the garment whereby at least a portion of the pocket is located midsagittaly when the garment is worn by the wearer.
In another embodiment, the present invention is a garment preferably having a front portion, a back portion, a left side portion, and a right side portion. Preferably, at least one of said front and back portions includes an elastic material and at least one pocket located generally midway between the left side portion and the right side portion.
In still another embodiment, the present invention is a method of carrying an item while engaging in physical exercise. The method preferably includes wearing a form-fitting garment having a pocket located over a body portion that is generally stable during physical activity; and storing the item in the pocket of the form-fitting garment during physical exercise.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The specific techniques and structures employed by the present invention to improve over the drawbacks of the prior art and accomplish the advantages described herein will become apparent from the following detailed description of example embodiments of the invention and the appended drawings and claims.
FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a wearer of exercise apparel according to preferred forms of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a rear perspective view of a wearer of exercise apparel according to other preferred forms of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a rear perspective view of a wearer of exercise apparel according to still other preferred forms of the present invention.
FIG. 4 is a rear perspective view of a wearer of exercise apparel according to other preferred forms of the present invention.
FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of a wearer of exercise apparel according to yet other preferred forms of the present invention.
FIGS. 6-8 are front and rear views of wearers of various forms of the apparel of the present invention, showing preferred pocket locations.
FIGS. 9a and 9 b are side and rear skeletal views indicating preferred pocket locations.
FIG. 10 is a side view indicating preferred pocket locations relative to the spinal column of a wearer.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS
FIGS. 11a and 11 b are front and side skeletal views indicating preferred pocket locations relative to the ribcage of a wearer.
Referring now to the drawing figures, in which like reference numbers refer to like parts throughout, preferred forms of the present invention will now be described by way of example embodiments. It is to be understood that the embodiments described and depicted herein are only selected examples of the many and various forms that the present invention may take, and that these examples are not intended to be exhaustive or limiting of the claimed invention.
As seen best with reference to FIGS. 1-8, preferred embodiments of the invention include garments such as shorts 10, tank tops 12, jog bras 14, short-sleeved or long-sleeved tops 16, and full-length or capri pants 18. Although the embodiments depicted in the figures primarily relate to women's exercise apparel, it will be understood that the invention also includes other garments such as men's exercise apparel, women's and men's casual and formal attire, leotards, trade and profession-specific attire, garments for medical patients to carry treatment and monitoring devices, and/or special activity garments such as diving suits and protective attire. Garments according to the present invention are generally sized and shaped to be worn on the body of a human wearer in standard fashion, and are preferably fabricated in different sizes to accommodate different body sizes and shapes as is known in the art.
Typically, the garment will include a front portion adapted to cover an anterior portion of a wearer's body, a back portion adapted to cover a posterior portion of the wearer's body, a left side portion adapted to cover a left side portion of the wearer's body, and a right side portion adapted to cover a right side portion of the wearer's body. Of course, one or more of the front, back, left side and/or right side portions may be omitted in a particular garment, in known manner, as in the case of a halter or backless top garment. One or more of the front, back, left side and/or right side portions can be formed in combination from a single unitary piece of material, or alternatively separate pieces of material comprising each portion of a garment are joined together to form the garment, as by stitching or other fabrication means. Likewise, each portion of a garment may be formed from a single piece of material or from multiple pieces of material joined together.
At least a portion of the garment preferably comprises an elastic material, whereby the garment fits closely to at least a portion of the body to prevent excess bagginess at least in the pocket area(s) of the garment. In this manner, items stowed in a pocket are held in place, against the body of the wearer, in the intended pocket location. In addition, the elastic material preferably permits the garment to be pulled on, eliminating the need for fasteners such as buttons, zippers or the like to secure the garment on the wearer, or reducing the number of fasteners needed and/or allowing fasteners to be moved to off-center locations on the garment. Most preferably, one or more of the front, back, left side and/or right side portions of the garment comprise an elastic material, whereby the garment is substantially form-fitting, closely conforming to the contours of the portions of the wearer's body about which the garment is worn. In example embodiments, the garment of the present invention comprises an elastic tape or cord sewn into or otherwise secured along seams or other locations of the garment, and/or an elastic fabric of natural, synthetic or blended fiber content. Acceptable performance may be obtained, for example, by fabricating one or more of the front, back, left side and/or right side portions of the garment of an elastic cotton/lycra fabric; a 55% cotton, 35% polyester, 10% LYCRA spandex blend fabric; and/or a 55% cotton, 35% polyester, 10% LYCRA spandex with CooLMax® blend fabric. In particular applications, it may be desirable also to provide all or a portion of a garment according to the present invention with a lining and/or outer layer(s) for comfort, insulation, weather-proofing, perspiration wicking or absorption, body feature concealing, and/or aesthetics. For example, it may be desirable to provide a sports bra according to the present invention with a lining layer of nylon or other fabric.
In its preferred embodiments, a garment according to the present invention comprises one or more pockets 20 for receiving items stowed therein by the wearer. The pocket(s) 20 is/are preferably sized, shaped and located for one or more specialized applications, such as for example, stowing an MP3 player or other portable music device, keys, access or ID cards, pager, cell phone, wallet, money, credit cards, flashlight, pedometer, make-up, lip balm, sun-screen, and/or other item(s). Alternatively, the pocket(s) 20 is/are configured for general application. At least one pocket 20 of a garment of a preferred embodiment of the present invention is centrally located on the body of a wearer of the garment, with at least a portion of the pocket lying on the midsagittal plane M (FIG. 9b) of the wearer, generally midway between the left side portion and the right side portion of the garment, or within a central region M′ (FIG. 11a) extending about 2-4 inches on either side of the midsagittal plane. Central pocket locations have been found to position items stowed therein over body locations that remain relatively stable during many physical activities such as aerobics, weightlifting, running, walking, swimming, sit-ups, calisthenics, and the like; whereas off-center stowage locations such as hip pockets, breast pockets, and armband locations subject stowed items to greater degrees of motion and vibration. As a result, items stowed in central pockets are less likely to be damaged or otherwise affected (e.g., disc-skipping by a portable CD player) by motion or impact, and less likely to cause distraction or discomfort to the wearer. Central pocket locations also avoid stowing items over major muscle groups of the wearer, such as the pectorals, deltoids, biceps, triceps, latisimus dorsi, gluteus maximus and quadriceps, which are commonly trained during physical exercise. As a result, items stowed in central pockets are less likely to interfere with the range of motion of these major muscle groups, or to cause bruising or discomfort to the wearer.
In example embodiments of the invention, several particular central pocket locations have been identified as well-suited for use, and are depicted in the drawing figures. Of course, various other central pocket locations are also within the scope of the invention, as will be recognized by those skilled in the art. For example, and with particular reference now to FIGS. 6-11, the following midsagittal pocket locations are identified (pocket locations are identified with reference to that portion of a typical wearer's body immediately underlying a pocket of a properly-sized garment, when worn in the normal manner of the particular type of garment):
Upper Back: The upper back location A (pockets 20 a) is on the center of the back, generally above and between the shoulder blades, spanning approximately from the 5th cervical vertebra through the 4th thoracic vertebra, and more preferably from the 1st through the 4th thoracic vertebrae.
Mid-Back: The mid-back location B (pockets 20 b) is on the center of the back, generally between the 9th and 11th thoracic vertebrae.
Lower Back: The lower back location C (pockets 20 c) is on the center of the back, above the curve of the buttocks but below that part of the lower back that is flexed during sit-ups, or lifting light objects. This area spans approximately from the 4th lumbar vertebra to the coccyx, more preferably over the sacrum.
Breastbone: The breastbone or sternum location D (pockets 20 d) is on the chest, overlying the body of the sternum, most preferably with the bottom of the pocket located between one-quarter to one-half way down the body of the sternum.
UpperAbdomen: The upper abdominal location E (pockets 20 e) overlies the abdominal area spanning from the bottom of the sternum to the navel.
Lower Abdomen: The lower abdominal location F (pockets 20 f) overlies the abdominal area below the navel and the area over the pelvis.
Certain of these pocket locations have been found particularly well-suited for stowing specific items. Accordingly, in further preferred embodiments of the invention, pockets in these locations are selectively sized and shaped to more securely retain such items. For example, pockets in locations A, B, C, D and E can be sized and shaped to generally match the external housing geometry of an MP3 player. For example, the Rio Diamond® MP3 player and other similar players are about the size of a standard deck of playing cards, and are securely retained in a generally rectangular pocket having dimensions of about 5″×3″. For women's garments, the pocket in location D may be tapered to better fit the curves of a woman's bosom to reduce jiggling during physical activity. Pockets in location F may be sized and shaped to receive identification cards, credit cards, and access cards, for example a generally rectangular pocket having dimensions of about 3″×2″. In addition to the central pockets, garments according to the present invention may also include one or more off-center pockets, such as hip pockets, pockets on the outside of the thighs above the knee, etc., in known fashion. The provision of multiple pocket locations on a garment allows the wearer to move stowed items from one pocket to another pocket between exercises, allowing selection of the most comfortable location for any given exercise. Each pocket preferably is hemmed along its opening to maintain an attractive pocket look, and may or may not include a cover flap, button, hook-and-loop fastener, or other closure. In general, no closure is required on pockets of garments formed of an elastic fabric, as this fabric generally contours to the item automatically causing the stowed items to fit snugly to the body.
While the invention has been disclosed in preferred forms for illustration purposes, those skilled in the art will readily recognize that many modifications, additions, and deletions can be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims.