String Halter Defined
A halter is a soutien-gorge, or bikini top, which includes cups for each breast, and is held on by a backstrap and a neck strap. Halters are probably the most common bikini top, and the string halter, in which one or both of these straps is in fact a string, is among the most common of this most common species (VB8402).
The string halter leaves the back, arms and midriff bare and, depending upon size, may express extreme cleavage to none at all. Toplogically the halter has three edges: a neckline, two merged armholes that form a backline, and a cutoff line.
Strings obviously play a major role in this species. They are not only small, but they may or may not be fastened at the neck or the back. The halter is topologically more complex than a bandeau, but it can be reduced to bandeau by untying the neck straps and retying them behind the back. Halters can also be retied into bras. As with the bandeau, the torso fastener, if there is one, may lie at the front or the back.
String halters often involve two triangle cups which may or may not have slide casings on the bottom to permit the cups to slide on the string and be adjusted into position.
The wearer of a halter is sometimes called a halterite. A small halter, especially the mini (VB8403) and micro type which barely covers the nipples, is sometimes called a halterette.
String Halter Evolution
In historical terms the string halter predates the bikini. In the early 1900s the string halter is a costume reserved for dance hall girls (OA1410) and other ladies of noire.
After the introduction of the deux-pieces swimsuit in the late 1930s, halters (and bras and bandeaus) all put the straps into play as a design element. Réard introduces neck strings on his first bikini (LR4601), but it is not until the late 1940s that the string halter emerges in pin-up literature (AB194810, MJ194901, SS194910). While no respectable woman would think of wearing such scanty attire to a real beach, a young starlet like Marilyn Monroe might oblige (MM4810, MM4925, MM5101). Bikinis have always been as much about fantasy and lifestyle as getting wet.
In the 1950s the string requirement extends to cover girls (US5056), the exercise crowd (SS195130); as for pinup girls, who took the lead in the first place, string halters get mini (SA5810).
By the 1950s the string requirement extends to cover girls (US5056), exercise instructors (SS195130); but the clue for the future still lies with the dancers, who took the lead in the first place, and reduce the size of the halter (SA195810).
The journey of the string top from the dance hall to the real world beach occurs slowly and from multiple directions. It involves not just the string, but the reduction in the bulk of the halter itself: 1950s' foundations give way to late 1960s soft-tops.
String straps are introduced by Cole in the late 1950s (C195910). Throughout the early 1960s a succession of movie actresses wear increasingly revealing halters that evolve by thinning their neck and back straps to strings, shedding their linings and foundation, and splitting open the cleavage so the top separates to become two independent triangle cups (PE7410). Once equipted with slide casings, the cups may slide around independently on the chest string. In pure form the neck straps tie behind the neck, and the backstrap ties in back. This is the string halter (WB8408, FL8603).
Strap and Fastener Variations
In the late 1960s as the halter coalesced into the string it passes through two complementary variations when either the neck strap, or the back strap, but not both, incorporate a string tie. Examples of a cloth halter with adjustable casings riding on a chest string are worn by Jacqueline Bisset (JB6810) and an Florida postcard lady (TD6710). The opposite is amply demonstrated by (Raquel Welch), who models a low-cut cross-your-heart halter with a neck string (RW196710). Any Bikini Scientist will recognize that in both cases that the briefs are decidedly mid-1960s pre-string, providing insight into a silhouette in transition.
Of course, the fully developed string halter incorporates both a string neck strap as well as a string around the chest (JR197710).
And of course, either or both may be tied (RS7501). Technically speaking, in terms of fastening, the neck string is typically tied behind the neck, however the chest string can be tied in the front or the back, in fact anywhere, although the back is the most common.
Untie & Retie Transformations
One pleasure in life is to explore the ways in which the halter can be partially untied in public. This is a topic of both mechanical as well as psychological dimensions. That is, there is a way to execute the maneuvers, and there is the effect/interpretation. This is the art and craft of tieology, and because it is not specific to the string halter; it is detailed in its own topic. Obviously the string halter is perhaps the most versatile device to practice with. All of the basic maneuvers, such as unfastening the back and/or neck strap and lying belly down on one's top demonstrate courage and require a constrained physical position to maintain decency (fig. TC).
The craft of tieology also explores reties that enable species transformation. When halter neck straps are retied behind the back, the halter changes into a bandeau. The top is destabilized, deprived it of lift, and invites the risk of nipple exposure. But the act eliminate those nasty tan lines at the neck!
A string halter can also be retied as a string bra (SE9114C), (and visa versa), although debate continues to rage as to whether a correctly engineered bra cup has a slightly different bias than the halter triangle. At least one manufacturer votes they are the same, and promotes the "six-way string top" (fig. 21-9), a system utilizing a single multi-position string slide-casing top that can be a halter, a bandeau, a bra.
Wild, experimental styles involve lower tension points (JD89I0), independence of the cups from a common string (fig. 21-11). And when the string halter is invited to interact with the string brief even more angles emerge.
The early string halters have no adjustable casings and a very full cup (fig. 20-3.4). But within two seasons this has given way to the slide-triangle halter (FL8603), a most versatile arrangement in which the two triangle cups are made with slide casings so that the strings around the chest slide through them (SAF7301, fig. 21-5b). No longer rigidly positioned, molded or uplifted, the cloth triangles support each breast independently (JE8906).
Slide-casings enable the wearer to adjust the position and width of the cups. The triangles may be moved left or right allowing the bikiniitte to balance centros cleavage between the breasts with cleavage on the sides of the breasts (AV198210). Furthermore, the adjustable casing enable the advanced bikiniite to gather them together and make them narrower still (fig. 21-5d).
In geometric terms each cup is an isosceles triangle with a width and a height, and it can be wide and tall, narrow and tall, wide and short, or narrow and short (fig. 21-5a).
In the late 1970s the string halter finally becomes married with the string culotte, and the two together define become one of the most recognizable fashion silhouettes on the planet, the string bikini (JR197710). It is a silhouette that becomes a perennial, holding its own throughout the 1980s (KR8610, RT850CC), 1990s and the millennium beyond (EC0732A, MPA230).
Nor is the string halter about to be easily displaced, even though the bottoms evolve. In the early1980s it gets paired with a string version of the v-kini, the microkini, another combination with a natural feel. During the late 1980s slide casing triangle cups combine with the late-blooming slide-casing brief to create a new bikini silhouette called the adjustable, and although the initial instances of this don't necessarly have slide casings (VB8423), the pure silhouette does. Strings and slides are now everywhere.
In another venue, the string halter gets comboed with shorts and is worn as streetwear (MP96A1).
And the Related Species Are...
If the strings from the top of the cups are not tied behind the neck, but instead are routed over the shoulders and tied to the chest string in back, then the species is more correctly called a string bra.
String straps fastened to a bandeau create a dilemma for Bikini Scientists--should the result be a bandeau or a string halter? There is no easy answer to this question and the concerned scientist is advised to consider context and the construction of the garment as a whole--if it can stay up with the neckstrap untied it is probably not a string halter.
The string halter that incorporates a web of fabric in the cup is often classified as a separate species, the spider, and the halter in which the cups are cut below the areola is classified as a demi-bra.
Finally, the Bikini Scientist is advised to not confuse the string halter with the string slide-side halter, a species which emerges in the early 1980s. Like the string halter, the slide-side incorporates slide casings and is topologically identical. But my moving the slide casing to the side of the breast rather then below it, the tensioning and momentum of halter is completely different. The Bikini Scientist who misdiagnosis this one should worry that his or her beach date will be on the lookout for a more astute observer.
String Halter and String Culotte.