Ann Deal: Baring It All

November 16 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: The Foundation of Fashion

While at a music festival this summer, I noticed something quite shocking. I hope you can handle it. OK, here it goes: ’90s fashion is coming back. Daisy prints, chokers and flannel are everywhere, like it or not. That’s the thing with fashion. It doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason; it’s just what people are into at the moment, and often, it’s a rebooted trend from a previous decade. (I’m talking to you, leg warmers.)

Today, pull your favorite outfit from the closet and put it on—even if it’s from the ’90s! Maybe the fashion police will wag a finger at you, but who cares? If it makes you feel like a cool, confident diva, then that’s a trend anyone can get behind.


You will be nodding in agreement when you hear today’s Women in Numbers statistic. Twenty-seven percent of women decide against buying a certain piece of clothing because they don’t have the right bra to wear with it. We’ve all been there, right? Looking inquisitively at a beautiful backless dress, trying to figure out how to pull it off.

In 1913, a young New York socialite created the first bra using two silk hankies connected with pink ribbon. It was a liberating invention because it pulled women out of all that corset nonsense. Now if every garment had a built-in bra, we’d all have it made!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Ann Deal, Founder of Fashion Forms

From silk hankies came a whole industry. Now we have everything from strapless to adhesive bras, backless miracle workers, water bras and even gel petals. We have one woman to thank for all of these variations, and her name is Ann Deal.

Ann began her career in the intimate-apparel industry as a sales representative for a lingerie manufacturer, later working as a buyer in an Atlanta department store. That’s where she noticed something quite necessary was missing from the lingerie industry. Women’s clothing silhouettes were starting to include more extreme characteristics, like plunging necklines and backless gowns, but intimates weren’t changing, causing a problem for lots of women who wanted to don a beautiful ensemble without revealing unsightly bra straps. So Ann came up with the perfect solution.

She started Fashion Forms in the early 1990s in her garage. Ann is responsible for coming up with the Original Water Push Up Bra, the first reusable silicon breast petals and many other innovative bra solutions. When Ann discussed the concept for her water bra in 1998, people laughed. But after a million were sold in the first year, people stopped laughing and took notice. In fact, Ann’s Fashion Forms holds 21 patents and 18 trademarks, more than any single other entrepreneur in the intimate-apparel industry.

There’s no doubt Ann has great passion for her growing business, and she’s always been determined. As a girl, she tried to sell the most cookies in her Girl Scout troop. And as a teenager, she became determined to become a businesswoman, despite being told young ladies could only be one of three things: a secretary, nurse or teacher. That kind of go-get-’em attitude helped put her products in more than 9,000 stores worldwide, from Macy’s to Target and Saks to J.C. Penney. Fashion Forms has even filled lots of intimate-apparel requests for celebrities like Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson and Lady Gaga.

In 2009, Ann received one of the industry’s most exclusive honors: the Femmy Award for lifetime achievement, presented to her by the Underfashion Club, a nonprofit made up of lingerie manufacturers, suppliers, retailers and industry professionals.

Though Ann’s inventions might not be seen out in public, they’re indispensible additions to any woman’s wardrobe, helping women feel confident to take on every fashion trend imaginable.


Ann Deal’s ingenious approach to lingerie echoes the words of famed fashion designer Christian Dior, who said:

“Without foundations, there can be no fashion.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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