The sarong is a garment which wraps and ties; like a pareo it can be formed into a dress, skirt, miniskirt, or culotte. This background is found at the sarong culotte and not repeated here; what is borrowed is the concept of a wrapped cloth sheath adopted to wrap around the body maillot style.
The Maillot Sarong
During the minimization of bikini in the late 1970s and into the early 1980s, sarong style, "wrap maillots" become one of the few one-piece alternatives to the string. The wrap resonates the theme of ties and strings, and catches some of bikini's spirit of stretch (fig. 32-3).
The late 1970s wrap maillot evokes a number of variations but in a formal, fastening sense, the modern, pure maillot sarong silhouette is usually fastened behind the neck via a fastener or tie and then stretches downward across the body, through the crotch and up the hips before wrapping around the waist to tie in the front center (SS8020). The silhouette is a lesson in physicals and exposures: the uplift of the halter balances the downward pull and this in turns enables a plunging neckline, bare sides and a very high legline.
Strapless designs also appear; here too the suit stretches downward across the breasts and torso, narrows on the pelvis, darts between the legs, and rises up the hips and then around the waist to be tied in the front, diaper-style (SS8010). Knots and a high legline open-sided look are unavoidable...and a desirable, contemporary design motif.
The High-Legline Wrap
The early 1980s period follows a time of maximum minimization of the bikini and thus recombines styles of the past with new exposures. One of these directions is a rising legline, and with the maillot sarong leglines can rise so high they approach the armpit; as in this strapless design (FB82P46). In fact, both halter (FL8627) and strapless styles (VB8426) resonate with the maillot high-legline. In all cases the front is narrowed inside inguinal to barely legal, cleavage erupts side and center. the buttocks have a propensity to tanga (fig. 32-4), either by design or by gathering the fabric into the posterior rugage (RP8803).
Alternatives include maillots which capture the dynamics of the sarong, but don't faithfully follow its form, as in this string side loop design (E79P77), this strapless sidetie (FI8308), or this plunging V which wraps around the front but doesn't actually tie (FI8310).
The 1980s more minimal structural requirements suggests a future that could include bizarre swimsuits asymmetrically cut from a single piece of Spandex, wrapped around the torso and legs, and tied (fig. 32-6). Sarong, like the adjustable and the rolldown, meets many of the 1980s notions of flexible exposure, custom adjustment, and transformability, while retaining popular themes like fastening details, very thin elastic fabrics, and easy removability. Its possibilities, especially where topless is permitted, approach the infinite.
It might be noted that sarong is related to the maillot cutout in that both involve exposing patches of skin in the swimsuit, although the strategies are very different. And it anticipates the pretzel in that the latter also involves a wrapping action to affix the maillot to the body.
The maillot sarong silhouette is characterized by a single piece of fabric with wraps down the body, through the legs, and ties in the front and behind the neck.