Maillot Tanga Defined
A maillot tanga and tanga maillot are equivalent terms because both express the whole in terms of the other: a maillot tanga is a one-piece swimsuit that leaves the buttocks exposed. Likewise a tanga maillot is a tangaed behind that is extended to a one piece. In Bikini Science the terms are used interchangeably, although not without occasional emphasis.
Tanga maillot is a species of the genus maillot swimsuit. It is a sister garment to tanga bikini. And in its maillot g-string form it is a sister garment to g-string bikini. And it is related to, and sometimes convertible into a topless tanga, via a number of migration pathways, sometimes a la maillot rolldown. Most any maillot neckline may be worn tangaed, although the development of tanga in modern times has favored certain necklines and leglines. These are discussed next.
Maillot Tanga Evolution
Maillot tanga makes an early appearance in media in Playboy in 1965 (PB6501), but the appearance is presentiment and fuller acceptance will wait until the rising legline of the 1980s reaches well above the waist, and for the hipline to slide firmly into the cleft of the buttocks.
Maillot tanga's modern introduction occurs at the hand of Rudi Gernreich, documented by Helmut Newton for American Vogue in 1975 (HN7501), an event which is congruent with bikini girl Christie Brinkley debut of tang in the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (CB7501). In 1976 French Vogue features a hooded maillot tanga (FV7601), showing how swimwear can simultaneously uncover and cover up. Gernreich, always fair to both sexes, also introduces a maillot tanga for men (RG7910). Aside from these limited ventures tanga remains a rarity in the last 1970s, and when it is brought forth it is with hesitancy and compromise, for example, a treatment in the Elite model agency book (E79P103).
Events begin to accelerate in the early 1980s as the narrowing front and back of the swimsuit reveal increasing buttage. In 1981 Brinkley, now a superstar model, brings the maillot tanga silhouette into mass media view, and models a maillot g-string in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue that year (CB8101). In the following year she produces a sideways view of her buns for Life, truly a family magazine. Maillot tanga is still a curiosity, but it has migrated into family view. But it must still migrate to family practice if it is to be a "popular" style.
The 1982 Sports Illustrated drafts another emerging supermodel, Kim Alexis, to demonstrate a single strapped topless suspender maillot tanga. Alexis is sitting and photographed from the side with her arm politely blocking her breasts (KA8201). Kim returns again the following year in a purple maillot tanga, still sitting, and it is not until 1985 in Sports Illustrated that Elle Macpherson finally models maillot tanga full figured, and not sitting on her own buttocks.
This trend is not only indicative of maillot but also bikini; not until 1986 does Paula Porizkova perform the first full-figured bikini tanga. Obviously, the treatment of buttage in Sports Illustrated is not the only yardstick by which to measure change, but it is a very popular mass media window.
During the early 1980s the maillot tanga maintains somewhat of a wild thing, without disciplined rules. Supermodel Brinkley certainly exploits this (CB8401), as does starlet Pia Zadora, who takes the maillot tanga public, wearing one to the hotel pool at the summer Cannes Film Festival in 1982 , an event documented by Newsweek with a meaningless shot of her front in June, and which finally fesses up a shot of her rear in December (PZ8201). Like Brinkley, Zadora actually wears a maillot g-string. Another challenger is Brazilian Barbara Carrera (BC8301), who models maillot tanga in Playboy in 1983 as part of a James Bond feature. Unlike Brinkley, Carrera has no hesitancy to also model nude, so her tanga history is almost overlooked.
Like pinup media, the fashion press likewise fleetingly displays tanga through the early 1980s, both in maillot (V8001) and bikini forms. Fashion only acquires confidence in the late 1980s (e.g., V8701), when the first advertising appearances also emerge (e.g., LE198701). Even the more liberal Elle sometimes shows the silhouette sideways (EL8801).
Hollywood is asleep, and scooped by the Australians in Crocodile Dundee (LK8701). Playboy almost misses the trend, not catching on till the early 1990s (PB9201, PB9202), when they eventually introduce maillot topless tanga (PB9207), which matures in the late 1990s. Perhaps they are anesthetized to the new exposure because their models are already nude.
One may argue that in mass media the presentation of maillot tanga precedes the presentation of bikini tanga by about 24 months. This may be because the maillot is initially more conservative than a bikini (having no bare midriff) and thus the shock of uncovering the buttock is compensated by already covered midriff. Or, "the maillot had more to take in, so it went first," to quote another theorist. Still another has argued that the maillot's progression to tanga enabled new forms of torsion and support, and that structural factors catalyzed the flash point.
Maillot Tanga Wildlife
Ironically the introduction of maillot tanga on the real beach (as opposed to in media) tends to follow, not precede bikini tanga; furthermore, maillot tanga remains rarer thereafter. One explanation may be that women who wear tangas want to expose more of themselves in the first place.
The first maillot tanga spotted on an American beach is at Ft. Lauderdale in 1987 (FL8717), a site of previous bikini tanga activity. Antidotal accounts also emerge from Ft. Lauderdale (PB87JA). Sightings occur the following year in New York (RP8803) and into the 1990s (CI9008). Sightings remain significantly more rare than bikini tanga, which is itself rare (less than 1%). For example in 1991 there are only a two maillot tangas amongst dozens of bikini tangas at Cocoa Beach in 1991 (CB9116, CB9160), a smattering of miokinis at the mostly bikini tanga beaches of Rio (RL9136K, RL9110, RL9125), and only one at the very topless Sesembra (SE9112B). Maillot tanga is spotted in Chicago in 1992 (OB92040), but not at Coney Island or Fire Island (although bikini tanga is abundant at both).
In 1993 the pretzel style maillot tanga pops up at the Coconuts bikini contest, where it smothers competition from normal bikini tanga and g-string.
Maillot Tanga on Topless Beach
One place where maillot tanga advances during the 1990s is on topless beach. Rolled up it remain bare-butted and somewhat complementary with a tanga bikini--both provide "street" decency. But rolled down the maillot tanga bares the breasts from the front and the buttocks from behind--an exposure equal to the topless tanga. But more fundamentally the maillot confers flexibility: the hip line may be rolled into tanga and the top is easy to roll down to topless. A single garment can be TL, TLB, TMLB, TLA, TLBA, or TMLBA. The only thing it cannot be is bikini, TML, or tanga bikini, TMLA. Topless bikini states, be they TMLB or TMLBA, are also enabled with the rolldown maillot, with its six exposure possibilities, vs. the bikini adjustable to tanga, which has four.
The rolldown maillot implies no foundations, thin materials, typically few or no fasteners. On American Bikini Beach subjects roll down but lie on their bare breasts (KW8605). At European-style beaches maillots are usually rolled down, and some are also tangaed (SM8820B, G8835, C8986).
Adoption of maillot tanga topless is more advanced at Martinique in 1992 and includes two vectors. The first is the classical approach already described, in which a maillot is rolled down and tangaed (KP88H1). The second vector consist of maillots which are permanently tangaed. Purchased by the likes of M92553, it is only necessary to roll them down to achieve topless tanga state (M92554). These are the first recorded maillot tanga topless that originated with a maillot tanga and not with a maillot fullback. There is a single, rare maillot tanga topless at St. Lucia in 1993, and an equally rare sighting at Riis Park in New York in 1993, the year after toplessness becomes legal in New York state.
A final relation between maillots and tanga on topless beaches is that maillots are sometimes worn overtop tanga or g-string culotte. And some of the bikini and maillot swimsuit peddlers at Guadeloupe and Martinique perpetually dress, model, and undress maillot wares overtop a topless tanga (G8817A, G8822, M92017, M92356).
All of the dynamics of the 1980s' maillot high-legline apply to maillot tanga as well. In the late 1980s the rising legline narrows the front of the maillot, exposing inguinal (HN7501, E79P103, PB9202) and sometimes even hairage (M92553). The rising legline also narrows the back, first cheeking, then increasing buttage. Leaning over can also produce hairage from behind (e.g. M92554). Thus the maillot halfback advances similar exposures as the culotte v-kini. And the higher leglines drive halfback into maillot tanga or even maillot g-string.
As with bikini, flaps sometimes cover part of the buttocks (CB9116, M92553). And a maillot tanga can be see-through or see-through- when-wet (SI198640).
Like the high-legged maillot and the halfback, the tangaed maillot effects neckline and backage.
Strapless maillot tanga is of course possible, but risky (V8001, FL8717); if thin enough it may be de roulè (KP88H1).
The advantage of strapped designs is that they can support even high leglines than culotte tanga (E79P103, CB8401, PB9202). Strapped tangas may also scoop back (LK8701), until at the extreme back and hip line collide (CB9116, M92553, M92554, SE9112B, CI9008, LE198701).
Shoulder straps are also popular in exercise wear and suspender designs (JE9346). The shoulder strap can also descend in the back and wrap around to the front, producing the x-side maillot tanga (CB9160, RL9136K).
Halter straps enable the bareback to advance around and scoop out side-of-breast exposures (HN7501, PZ8201, PB9201).
V-necks that strike toward navel and below (PB9207, CB93) provide stable but extremely unique platforms, and provide for a different blend of exposures.
Crisscrossing the strings of the halter and descending them to the waist produces the x-back (CB8101, BC8301), which combines with the g to frame a diamond-back. Another x-back variation occurs when a string halter is tied to the brief, lifting it to form a "one piece" (RL9110, RL9125, CB9184A).
T-back maillot tanga is another aesthetic play, repeating the vertical line twice in the back. It also provides holes of exposures around the arms, baring from the shoulder blades and clavicles to the crest of the ilium, and baring the sides of the breast en passant (V8701, EL8801, JE9346).
A maillot tanga may also be a maillot cutout (AB9343), or, God forbid, a sideless (PB9001).
Obviously, the maillot tanga is a very versatile species.