Caresse Crosby, born Mary Phelps Jacob, was descended from an old American colonial family. In 1915, she married Richard R. Peabody, from a similar background, and had two children; but the marriage was a failure. She met Harry Crosby, a wealthy heir and poet, in 1920 and quickly began an affair with him that scandalized society. The Peabodys divorced and she married Crosby. They immediately went to Paris, where they joined the literary circles of the Lost Generation and enjoyed a bohemian lifestyle. She took the name Caresse in 1924. The Crosbys started a publishing company called Éditions Narcisse to publish their own poetry in beautifully printed and bound volumes. They later re-named the company Black Sun Press and published some early works of their friends, such as James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Hart Crane, D. H. Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, and Ezra Pound. Caresse published her first book, Crosses of Gold, in 1925. Her next work, Graven Images, was released the following year. Following Harry Crosby's death in 1930, Caresse returned to the USA, opened an art gallery in Washington D.C., and started the magazine Portfolio, on art and literature. She later moved to Rome, where she became the center of another artistic circle. She produced an autobiography, Passionate Years (1953).
Caresse Crosby had come up with the idea of the brassiere, to replace the uncomfortable corsets of the period, in about 1913 and received a patent for her invention. She founded the Fashion Form Brassière Company, but later sold the patent.