The Undershirt Defined
The undershirt is a thin, usually male, loose fitting sleeveless undergarment with a collarless, open neckline and large armholes. Unlike a tankini or other soutien-gorge with four edges it contains no support, and is partly see-through. In the world of Bikini Science the undershirt is defined to include the pure garment (CI9270), as well as more colorful replicas designed for exterior wear by the female (VB8605). The undershirt, when worn on the beach by the more daring bikiniite, tends to expose cleavage to the side and headlights in the front, especially if it gets wet. Waistlines for the undershirt can be low, or the garment can be cut or trimmed shorter so that belly flashing in the front (VB8604) or back (LV9111B) is inevitable.
The Camisole Defined
The camisole takes its name from the Arabic word kamis, meaning under-tunic. In traditional terms the camisole is a fitted or loose-fitting underwear bodice originally worn over a corset and under a dress, and characterized by a straight top, narrow or string shoulder straps, thin material, and a lack of foundation. But during the 1960s and 1970s, the camisole emerges as streetwear and is worn braless without a shirt or dress over top of it. It is often allowed to float more freely from the body (fig. 12-4.5) and made from material like silk. It is occasionally worn as a bikini top, and, like the undershirt, is almost always see-through-when-wet.
The Common Element
The common element between the undershirt top and the camisole and the reason they are treated here together is that they are peripheral bikini garments, more in the tradition of underwear and streetwear than the beach, but are occasionally drafted for swimwear duty. The two garments share a commonality of lack of fasteners, lack of foundation, an open neckline, thinness, and a cutoff line that may or may not induce bellage. Although obviously sleeveless, they especially differentiate from the sleeveless by their reduction to shoulder straps.