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Genus & Species of Swimwear

North America
1988 BSD8803



   The idea of a classification scheme for clothes is not original with Bikini Science. Clothing sociologist Roland Barthes, writing in The Fashion System, adopts from the biologists the idea of genus and species, and from linguistics the idea of modifiers. Barthes' nomenclature describes a bathing costume as an ensemble, and calls it a genus of clothing." Taken in this light, the individual forms of bathing costumes comprise species, such as the maillot, the "bikini and the leotard."
   Classification and definition of individual genus and species of swimwear (1) include an analysis of evolution, usage, pattern, popular terminology, as well as an element of capriciousness (2). A bathing dress, also called a swimdress or sundress (introduced in 1860) usually incorporate a long skirt and has various sleevelengths. A unitard (introduced 1909) covers the legs and arms as well as the torso, but dispenses with the dress. A leotard has the legs uncovered and is similar to a maillot, or one-piece swimsuit, which leaves the arms and legs bare. A deux-pièces separates the top and bottom, leaving the midriff bare, but covering the navel. A bikini always uncovers the navel and may be reduced to a very small size. A monokini has no top and consists of bottoms only. A tanga is bare-bottomed.

   Barthes is not the only researcher to study fashion, others such as Kroeber and Richardson (1940) have take a more quantitate, or numbers, approach.
   For a mature understanding of the genus and species of swimwear in Bikini Science, go to the Costumes on the Main Menu. For more discussion of the soutien-gorge and culotte species see BSD8805; for more on the concept of a silhouette see BSD8807; for more on Barthes' concept of modifiers and adjectives see BSD8808.

   Judson Rosebush, Bikini Science Hypercard Stack, 1988. 2 pictures.
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