The Panty Species Defined
The panty, as the term is used in Bikini Science, is not used to refer to garment of underwear, but as a species of culotte characterized by a horizontal waistline at or above the navel and a straight, or slightly rising, legline, at or just below crotch.
Because a panty does not reveal the navel and involve the revelation of the lower belly it cannot by definition be a component of the bikini; it is more typically the bottom half of the deux-pièces. The bikini only emerges once the waistline is lowered below the belly button, and the culotte nombril emerges.
Like the other components of the deux-pièces, the swimsuit panty evolves from first the theater and dance stage, and subsequent to its invention, the moving pictures. The panty implies a bare belly and bare legs; by the early 1930s the silhouette is crisply defined in the movies (JC3310) and enjoys its first tentative exploits at the resort (LA3303). By the early 1940s it is adopted by Hollywood stars and pinups alike, but throughout the 1950s the deux-pièces will compete with the maillot for the affection of mainstream America. During these decades the culotte becomes simplified, losing its sheath or sarong (fig. 13-6). Earlier versions of the panty, such as those modeled by Marilyn Monroe, obscure the true contours of the crotch, and encase it in a construction seamed horizontally across the base. This pattern disappears after 1950.
A trend toward simplicity marked the evolution of the panty brief, particularly a reduction of layers and seams. In the late 1940s, designers struggle with the integration of the gusset. Earlier designers tended to fabricate the brief from at least three pieces--a front, back and gusset--as in this swimsuit contestant (fig). By the late 1940s and early 1950s, variations were emerging: Ann Bancroft's briefs have a vertical seam, they are tighter on the crotch, and are suggestive of the pudenda underneath (fig. 13-7, fig. 13-8). And, Elaine Stewart, a 1950 calendar pin-up, wears a tight-fitting panty made of two pieces of fabric--its only seams are at the sides and between the legs (fig. 13-7, fig. 13-8). Elasticized, it is molded completely to the contours of the pubis and is thus more revealing than the looser-fitting boxed panty or Bancroft's fluffy center seam. Stewart's bandeau is also indicative of the times. Elasticized and tightly contoured to the breasts, it obviously includes a necktie, untied of course, and tucked into the front.
Virtually all top combinations are found with the panty. During the Second World War, the zenith of panty's emergence, these especially included the full halter and the bandeau.
The Panty has a closed legline that is horizontal with or rises from the crotch.