The maillot pantaloon is essentially a sleeveless scoop-neck maillot with a pantaloon legline at mid-thigh. It may be sleeveless or strapped, also shortsleeve and under duress, longsleeve. So although the neckline and armhole are negotiable, the pantaloon leg is a given, although how long it is is an important variable. By definition a pantaloon cannot cover the knee, and it must have some length below the crotch. It must lie somewhere on thigh.
Much of the credit for the invention of the one-piece bathing suit goes to Annette Kellerman, the Australian swimming star who championed not only swimming as a sport, but the liberation of women.
Kellerman's initial contribution was the introduction of the "one piece all-over Black Diving Suit" (AK0650), in which she reduced the bathing dress with hose silhouette of the Gibson Girl (GG0550) to a fitted garment; this is the bathing unitard and it covers the torso and legs, leaves the arms bare, and inconspicuously absent a skirt. This is the origin of the unitard silhouette in swimwear.
Long before the unitard would catch on with movie stars, Kellerman chops off the legs below the mid-thigh, baring her knees and calfs. Her second swimsuit invention is called a maillot pantaloon. It is this first maillot pantaloon that leads to her arrest at Revere Beach near Boston in 1907 (AK0750), and the sensational publicity which follows. Again, see the Annette Kellerman page for this full story.
Kellerman's swimming costume--worn on a real beach--resonates with similar costumes posed for postcard pinups. Illustrated, indeed scandalous depictions predate 1900 (C189501). Postmarks suggest that the maillot pantaloon silhouette worn by a real girl on a faux beach is an established postcard pinup by the middle part of the decade: tight-fitting with hose, shoes and a hat (PC0H30), painted on (PC0H60), barelegged (VG0H10BS), and even barefoot (PC0H40, PC0H42, PC0HA0). The popularity of this silhouette in the color postcard endures well into the 1910s (PC086S).
The maillot pantaloon costume is further adopted by cabaret stars such as the German Asta Westergaard (GC0L246BS). Westergaard's colorful stripped maillot with its open armholes, mid-thigh legline, and single layer of fabric is remarkably prescient of how the maillot pantaloon will look ten years later in late 1910s. The belt around the maillot and the shoes will continue to be points of interest, although this unnamed pinup gal doffs her shoes, and goes barefoot (VG1L30_573).
So Kellerman, in 1907, does not necessarily invent the bathing maillot, but she does take it from the faux beach to the real beach.
Developments During the 1910s
After 1910 pinup girls who wear the maillot pantaloon retrench a little bit. Unlike their pioneers, the newer girls wear it with hose. In fact this striptease of stockings will preoccupy much of this decade.
Throughout the late 1910s the maillot pantaloon is worn in public by only the daring. Kellerman poses in for a pinup postcard (AK1E60), and Alfred Stieglitz photographs a dripping wet Ellen Koeniger climbing onto a dock at Lake George that reveals most of the secrets of her body underneath (EK1610). Girls on stage might bare their bellies and breasts, but for the beach and pool, Kellerman and Koeniger represent the breaking edge. Here is the silhouette is depicted in a pinup postcard (VG00S5_1029).
The Stocking Line
The complete silhouette of the maillot pantaloon of the late 1910s, especially as seen on the pinup postcard and in the movies, combines the rising legline of the pantaloon with the descending legline of stockings (BSD8832). Pinup girls leave little to the imagination as their figures are outlined in form-fitting maillots (MP1750).
Hose and leg frame much of the momentum now. Rolled down hose is a big turn-on (VG00B0_068), and the legline rises up toward the crotch (VG00Q0_590). This postcard sweetheart has also abandoned her hose...but not her shoes (PC2030). This one has abandoned her shoes and rolled down her socks (VG1050_912). A Belgian pinup has no stocks but compensates with strappy shoes (VG00Y0_3139), and this Parisian has simple shoes (VG1L20). This bathing beauty gets caught in the act of taking her shoes off (VG1L30_573). And these Super Girls (VG00T0BS) and baigneuses (PP1810) are completely barefoot.
The Roaring Twenties
During the late teens and early 1920s the public and their movie stars migrate from the bathing dress to the more fitted Maillot skirted pantaloon but show little appetite for the more risqué maillot pantaloon. Bare legs are enough provocation without implicating the crotch. But postcard pinup girls are exempt from such strictures, especially those that are French (EK2E10BS). Many of these same bathing beauties slso strike glamour poses (VG000BBS), model partly undressed (DX25BS), or topless (VG00T0_0766). The bathing beauty genre they help create provides a willful alternative future (AN2X10BS), much of it with rich detailing (VG0095BS), and occasionally with bare feet (VG0064BS).
In Hollywood the maillot pantaloon retains influence throughout the 1920s, where it compresses to a tighter fit; At some time or another Clara Bow wears almost every contemporary species of maillot and maillot pantaloon is but one of them. Both of these costumes (CB2L60-62, CB28C0) are actually late 1920s.
Although the maillot pantaloon can be longsleeve, shortsleeve, sleeveless, or strapped (VG00Q0_590), and in theory haltered or even strapless, the sleeve length is not used as a species differentiator (as it is with the bathing dress). This is because, for all practical purposes, by the time the maillot pantaloon emerges, either in its initial burst with Kellerman or in its subsequence more mainstream popularity after abandoning the skirt, the bare arm in the swimsuit is a given. Annette Kellerman prevails; and the maillot becomes an unrestricted swimming costume of merit.
The unbuttoned front maillot pantaloon is strictly a novelty garment and not treated as a separate species, although it does appear to be a perennial. Here it is seen in the oughts (VG1030) here in the 1920s (Super_766).
A maillot pantaloon is topologically equivalent to a biketard, an exercise silhouette which evolved during the 1980s and made with skin-tight Spandex, Nylon or cotton blends (JE9203). Like the original maillot pantaloon, the biketard is created by regressing a unitard, and were it not for the fact that the two silhouettes are identical one would be tempted to add the biketard to one of the -tard silhouettes. That temptation has been resisted, if only to illustrate how history can repeat itself.
Ironically, it is the more conservative maillot skirted pantaloon which actually dominates swimsuit evolution during the late teens. Kellerman and the other early adopters aside, fashion favors the added skirt, possibly because it represents an evolution from the bathing dress pantalooned as well as an evolution from the rather daring maillot pantaloon by adding a skirt. The convergence of these two separate species into a single new one--the maillot skirted pantaloon-gives the new species special oomph.
Reduction of the maillot pantaloon occurs in the sleeves, neckline, but primarily the legline, and as the pantaloons disappear during the 1920s the pure maillot tank silhouette emerges. And with this development the path into the future becomes singular. The maillot pantaloon might emerge as the confluence of several different directions of pressure, but once established, its descendant species follow a more linear path.
Finally there does exist a culotte pantaloon, also know as bicycle shorts, or just pantaloons.