The String Culotte
The string culotte, a.k.a. the culotte coulisse, exploits the progressive reduction of the depth of the side of the nombril brief until it reaches its natural minimum, a string side (KR8610). The string also suggests itself as a closure device, with all the erotic implications thereof, and culminates a tradition of fastening devices that progress (in the bikini bottom) from the sidegather and sidetie to this both functional and minimal design (Vero8409).
The Ultimate Resting Point
The precursor of the string bikini begins life as a showgirl costume in the French follies of the Roaring Twenties (MR192510). By the late 1940s the costume has jumped the Atlantic, but it is adopted by only those pinup models prepared to be the exception rather than the rule and to make extreme exposures (MM4945).
By the end of the 1960s the string bikini gathers more pinup momentum (SK196810) as the lowering waistline collides with a rising legline, creating first the sidestrap and sidetie before the pure string species emerges (RW196910, E197003).
By the early 1970s only a few rare early adopters may actually be seen wearing a string bikini (SL7120, CN7310, EE7410). Those that do stand out from their friends (RS7501).
In Europe, the string becomes de regur by the late 1970s, when Elle, the paragon of French fashion magazines, features the mature string bikini (E197610), which combines a string halter with sidetie string briefs. Raquel Welch is caught in a see-through version (RW197610), and during this period this fundamental bikini silhouette also appears in American advertising (JR197710), where it will remain a perennial silhouette for decades to come, possibly because it allows the wearer a statement of extreme advancement.
American women adopt to these more extreme exposures gradually, and are more prone to wear string bikinis in private (SF198101), in the garden (MH7610) and other suburban settings (ED7610). Fashion models flirt with the possibilities of the new exposure (PH8220). But by the early 1980s the reservations are overcome (FI198210) and many explore the beach and the pool (FI8317), often in a most exhibitionistic fashion (PB8301, FI8303, Vero8409). By the late 1980s even big women and older women (FL8602) wear the small bikinis.
Elsewhere, in Brazil, the minimalist string explodes (N197912, N197916). In Brazil the reductionism only accelerates toward the ultimate string, the g-string.
In France, where toplessness is the rage on the Riveria, the string emphasizes the minimalist nature of the bikini and becomes topless's most frequent companion (E197701, EE197810, EE197820). This is also true in the colonies (G8853, SM8808), and remains true when Americans finally flirt with toplessness in the early 1990s (CT199150).
The venue of the string bikini also includes the rock concert, sports (VB8406), and ultimately, the urban street.
Hairage and Rugage
The waistline lowers until it shoals on the pubic hair (BSD8820, DB8201), leaving the bikiniite with the constant risk of exposing of the top of the pubic hair (FL8602, FI8803, SM8808), or with no choice in the matter (JE8910A). This is part of the sport. With a waistline below the points of the pubic bone and the base of the spine, the bikiniite must counter the effects of gravity (the hands tugging the suit up), as well as sagging due to water when emerging from the ocean (WB8504). Or pretend that her hairage is invisible.
In the back, the lowering waistline shoals on the cleft of the buttocks (JD89LB, JE9024B). The immodesty of a lowered waistline in the back is easier for the bikiniite to ignore, because the rugage and the exposed posterior rugae are always behind the subject (FI8303, VB8416, G8853)
Another problem the bikiniite must adjudicate is the tendency of the elastic to pull the suit into the cleft of the buttocks, forcing the wearer to keep tugging her briefs down. This adds buttage to the list of string exposures (MPA230). It is a tight compromise.
A major variation in the classic string bikini brief is whether it ties on one side, both sides (G8853), or not at all. With sufficient elastic it is not essential to add a tie at the side, but many feel the purest form of the silhouette is the sidetie string bikini (KP88F7).
By the early 1980s the string looses its horizontal nombril waistline. The elastic string tie enables both the front and back of the culotte to become more narrow, so that the bikiniite may reveal more side, front, and hips. By the early 1980s the legline is rising and a new silhouette, the v-kini emerges, sometimes with string sides (CA198210, V198310, FI8301). Examples of transition designs are seen throughout the early 1980s (FI8309, FI8315), but by late 1980s the rising waistline, narrowed front and behind, and increased exposure of inguinal, argue that the new ultra-mini v-kini, or microkini v-kini is indeed a unique species (RS8501), and if not that, an extreme position.. Multiple side strings also resonate duing the v-kini period (e.g., JE8906) and these and other multiple-string culotte are addressed in the sidestrap species section.
To a large extent the sidetie string gets lost but not forgotten in the midst of the v-kini actions. It's waistline and knot business pulls focus away from inguinal and butt, and it is not until the early 1990s that the sidetie string reappears, first grafted onto the side of a wide and gently scouping v-kini (GO9320), and then onto the flatter lower waistline of nombril, but one with fast-rising leglines (KM9410).
Another string variation is the adjustable. It emerges in the 1980s post-v-kini and is characterized by waistband strings that pass through slide casings in the front and/or back of the culotte (VB8423). Because the adjustable involves an ability to narrow the front and/or back of the brief it is classified as a separate species. It can incorporate wide or narrow strings, and have a high or low waistline.
String Bikini Silhouettes
The string culotte forms a natural companion with the string halter in one of the most definitive bikini silhouettes of all time--the string bikini (E197610). Excessive cleavage (Vero8409) and a very low waistline (SF198101) are among its trademarks, often in tandem (JR197710). This silhouette is one of the most perennial in Bikini Science, even into the 21st Century (FAA976).
The bandeau is a less common companion (AC198210, V198310), perhaps because the wider bandeau is not as natural a combination as the string halter.
The bra, like the halter, easily adapts string straps, but at the time of the string culotte's emergence the bra soutien-gorge is less in vogue and combinations with bra tops do not occur in any significance until well into the 1980s.
In unusual situations the string is even comboed with pasties (MPA233).
In Europe the string culotte is a natural combination with topless, if only because it synergizes the minimization of the bikini. This is especially true after the late 1970s (EE197810, EE197820, G8853), although in time the string will loose favor to the even more minimalist g-string and the more flexiable rolldown.
Material combinations range from cotton to spandex, and plastic to metal (SS7710).
The string, also called a coulisse, obviously manifests itself in many different bikini species. String straps appear in the bra, halter, as accessories on the bandeau, on all forms of maillot, croptop, and minidress. There are so many different variations of ties unties and reties that this topic is addressed in its own section.
With regard to the brief, strings play a role in the waistband, loincloth, and g-string, as well as the already mentioned v-kini and .