A suspender maillot is essentially a suspender culotte, that is, a culotte with suspender straps over the shoulders. Unless it is worn very carefully, or with a soutien-gorge, it is safe to assume that a suspender is prone to be barebreasted (BAA110BS).
The suspender is similar to the torpedo, with the difference that the torpedo lacks a waistband. Nor is the suspender a maillot cutout, even when worn with a top so that the result is similar exposures.
Some experts prefer to classify both the suspender and the torpedo as species of strapped culotte--a bikini brief that stays on because it has shoulder straps. This strapped monokini vs. maillot debate is complicated by the fact that the suspender and torpedo are often worn with a top--which argues the case they should be classified as culotte. The counter-argument is that because the suspender and torpedo have straps they, like maillot in general, are a one-piece whole swimsuit, one which encompassés the full torso of the body.
Advocates for the maillot classification position further argue that the suspender has five edges and is topologically equivalent to the tank, whereas the most complex culotte has only three. This argument is less persuasive for the torpedo, of course, because it only has three edges, like culottes in general, but not unlike the strapless maillot.
Spirited debate is always good for the thinking process and will continue, no doubt. But in the meantime the suspender (and the torpedo) needs to reside someplace in our taxonomy and a decision has been made to place them both in the maillot category. Like the miokini, cutout and others where genus is debatable, one must remember that that which catches the eye is not necessarily the same as a deep analysis.
The Suspender Emerges
Although there is precedent in pinup literature (PB6510), it is the introduction of the suspender maillot in the early 1980s by Norma Kamali in a picture for Vogue that makes fashion history and establishes the suspender maillot (V198305). Although it can have any kind of legline or waistline (armhole and neckline to be precise), the 1980 incarnation follows the silhouette of the maillot high-legline. By the late 1980s the suspender appears in tanga form (KP88G2, AB9342), not unlike other maillot variations. These have definite pinup appeal (ZX3K80A).
The suspender maillot plus T-shirt becomes an instant exercise and fitness hit. It is a good workout garment because the loose-fitting T-shirt leaves the breasts free of any encumbrances with the rest of the garment. Crop tops are also an option (AN8610); depending upon the cut of the suspender navelage is either in play or not.
The suspender is also coupled naturally with the bandeau (AN8620); the bandeau's lack of straps and horizontal firmness provide a crisp silhouette. Halter and bra combinations are rare, if only because of strap clutter. Like the miokini, these combinations raise the issue that perhaps the suspender maillot is indeed a soutien-gorge with a strapped culotte.
Whatever top might be chosen in combination the issue of layers immediately presents itself. A bandeau, for example, may be worn inside the straps (AN8620), or on top of the straps (PB87MC, RD8725, LR86E, RT87DA). Ridley Roberts demonstrates how it is possible to change the tube from inside to out without revealing oneself (RD8729A).
Straps play a significant design role, especially when the suspender is worn without any other top; this suggests that the suspender may be worn in the spirit of a topless maillot. Straps may be designed wide, with the intent of covering the breast and nipple (LR86F0), or sufficiently narrow so their function is simply to support the brief.
There are several basic kinds of suspender maillot. The suspender is typically symmetrical left-right and to some extent, front back. Thus the most obvious is with two straps, one over each shoulder, and attaching to culotte in the front and the back (C8933).
Sometimes the straps fuse behind the neck and form a T-back (JE9346); the inverse of this, the T-front, in which a single strap rises between the breasts, divides at the neck and either descends as two straps in the back or reunites to form a T-back, is treated as a separate species.
The double-strap suspender can also have the variation of criss-crossing the straps in the front and/or the back (FI8819, SH9358).
Necklines may be relatively high or scoop below the belly button; in the suspender a low neck and backline can imitate the higher waistline of montante (FI8819, C8933). As already suggested, leglines may range from the pantalooned to the tangaed.