Katerina Plew, a 38-year-old mother of four, including triplets, said she filed for a patent for her invention in the hopes of making some money to help her raise her kids on her own.
"I thought it was the answer to my dreams, but it was the answer to their dreams," she said.
Frank Joseph Colucci, a lawyer for Victoria's Secret, did not immediately return a telephone message for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The retailer is part of Columbus, Ohio-based Limited Brands.
The suit seeks unspecified damages, and an order to force the company from infringing on her patent.
After Plew demonstrated her bra design on Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez asked her if she wanted an apology from the company.
"No," Plew said, "I didn't make the bra for an apology. I made the bra so that I can live a comfortable life with my kids."
Plew, who works as a paralegal in a family law office, said she created the bra in 1999 after she became frustrated that she could not hide her bra straps.
Her design calls for a strip of fabric loops along the top of the cups and torso band so the straps can be detached and reattached in different ways to hide them under the outer garment. She said she filed for a patent for the bra in 2002 and received it in 2004.
Plew said she arranged a meeting with Victoria's Secret to pitch the product two years ago, after telling them she had secured a patent and e-mailing them a mock-up of the bra she had made.
She said the company canceled the meeting as she was driving into Manhattan from her home on Long Island.
"They said their legal team advised them against it. Then a year later I walked into Victoria's Secret and guess what I saw on their shelf?" she said.
Victoria's Secret sells a 100-way strapless convertible bra that it describes as having three sets of straps that hook into eyelets to wear 100 ways.
Plew said she had no doubt about where the product originated.
"That's my bra. They made my bra," she said she recalled thinking, before bursting into tears. "The young girl at the register would have thought I was a loon."