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1930-1935: The Birth of the Deux-Pieces
   The permissiveness of the 1920s encourages more fitted swimwear to inhabit the beach. Indeed, the swimsuit progression is insensitive to the Great Depression of 1929 as well as the rise in censorship in the early 1930s. The Hays Code dictates behavior and dress in the movies, and temporarily breaks the permissive spirit in that milieu: Bare breasts, bare navels, bosom, the inside of the thigh, and lace lingerie are all banned in the cinema. Earlier silent classics like Abel Gance's Napoleon and Griffith's Birth of a Nation are attacked with scissors. Claudette Colbert (CC3220) and Myrna Loy both tease their nipples in Hollwood milk baths (ML3308), but it is Hedy Lamarr's nude romp in the import Ecstasy (HL3310), along with its depiction of female sexual satisfaction, that is banned in America, marking an end of an era. Cinema nudity will remain banned from the cinema until the rules are pushed back again in the late 1960s. Ironically, the Hayes repression does not stop the maillot from getting sleeker, nor stop the swimsuit from breaking into two pieces, although it does ensure that navels remain obscene.

Maillot Advances
   The loose-fitting one-piece maillot of the 1920s becomes a knitted, closer fitting garment with brighter colors as the decade draws to a close. The tank maillot with skirt and pantalooned variations continues to be the mainstay into the early 1930s, with shoes and hat optional (JH3010), and the legline becoming level with the crotch (JH3230), and staying there.
   Throughout the 1930s, the maillot becomes more elastic and molds more to the contours of the body. The tighter fit is coupled with an opening-up of the armhole and cleavage in the neckline, and a daring baring of the back, again, Jean Harlow leads the trend (JH3210). As the back recedes downward, the shoulder straps follow, deepening the armhole and opening up more skin on the side of the torso and breast (JH3320, JH3H10, JH3610). Cleavage (JH3330), often coupled with string straps (JH3H40, JH3580)
   One outcome of this trajectory is the haltered maillot, which erupts during the late 1930s. But as the maillot constricts a multiplicity of pressures conspire to reduce it still further. These will include he maillot cutout, which also takes form during the late 1930s, as well as the emerging deux-pièces.

Hayes Code Effects
   Bare-midriff costumes survive the early 1930s Hayes restrictions but not without repression. Maureen O'Sullivan, wears a bare-sided leather croptop and loincloth in 1934 (TJ3410-70), but her belly and hip exposures are completely covered up in subsequent movies (e.g., TJ3910-30).
   In the years that follow, the stomach opens upward, as Hollywood's finest, like Joan Crawford in Dancing Lady, stand prepared to exhibit themselves in little more than a bra and shorts (JC3310). The bare-midriff, deux-pièces theme is especially popular in the jungle (EB3110-20, CC3301), in ancient Egypt (ZJ3210-30) and lost cities (KB3210), outer space (JR3610), and the dance stage (CB3310).
   Thus most of the soutien-gorge and culotte styles of the about-to-emerge deux-pièces swimsuit already exist in the theater and the motion picture. The repertoire of tops included the bra, halter, and bandeau styles, as well as the camisole and the vest. Bottoms included pants, panties, miniskirts, shorts, tap pants, the lower-cut bikini brief, and even the bare-bottomed g-string. These can be worked together in many combinations.

Reductionist Pressures
   The evolution toward a two-piece swimsuit begins its first murmuring in the first half of the 1930s. In practice, there is no single pathway to the deux-pièces, and the trend is driven from several directions. These include the influences of costumes from the theater, Hollywood (GG3110), cutouts in the maillot, and male chest denudity, which emerges in the late 1920s.
   In 1932 French fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet extracts these Orientalist influences from the stage and introduces the bare midriff evening dress. It meets limited acceptance but by the following summer shorts, as well as skirts and pants, are being combined with a wide variety of bare midriff blouses, as well as bra, halter, and bandeau styles. The result is the maturation of the bare midriff sunsuit (AN3L50).
   Many of these ensembles are for semi-public wearing at the cabana (LA3301), the pool (LA3303), or the resort. And they are primarily for exercise (LA3304), socializing and drinks, and sunning (fig. 7-5). They help establish sunning as an activity in its own right, and sunning, like other specialized activities, demands specialized clothes. The material is typically cotton print or linen, occasionally a knitted wool, although by the end of the decade elasticized fabric, particularly nylon by DuPont, allow a gentle corseted look; nylon is also very easy to dye in bright colors.
   Thus one vector toward the bare midriff exposure derives from the tank top and shorts silhouette of the 1920s amplified by the European sunsuit, where the top and the bottom are truly separated.

The First Deux-Pièces
   The deux-pièce swimsuit is also hinted at by movie stars, especially Europeans Lilian Bond in the late 1920s (BL2L50) and Lilian Harvey (LH3E50), and a surprisingly daring Carol Lombard in 1931 (CL3150), although the latter is conveniently staged at the star's private pool. The first two piece swimsuit in the movies is often attributed to Dolores Del Rio, whose two piece in In Caliente combine a bulky asymmetrical bra with a skirt slung on the hips (DD3410). Strapless on one side and strapped on the other, it is a design lost until it is rediscovered in the 1980s.
   The bare midriff deux-pièces is a disruptive but perhaps inevitable development for the swimsuit. It is inevitable because the steady reduction of the size of the maillot since Annette Kellermann's era finally reaches its limits. Feet, ankles, calves, knees and thighs have been bared; arms, shoulders, and underarms are open to view; Jean Harlow has rendered the maillot backless; and low-cut scoop necklines already display deep cleavage. Because the maillot is a silhouette difficult to reduce in its extremities, the stomach becomes a natural candidate for exposure. Sometimes, as in this costume worn by Ann Sheridan in Murder at the Vanities in 1934, it is hard to tell if one is looking at a dance costume or a swimsuit (AS3420). But the bare belly is advancing rapidly.

The Male Goes Topless
   As the female tank evolves from a loose-fitting to a form-fitting garment, so too does the male tank. Like the female swimsuit, the male tank also opens up the armhole and neck, and shortens the leg. By the early 1920s, still looser fitting tank tops allows indiscriminate nipple displays to be viewed from the sides, while retaining shoulder straps (CU2150).
   But whereas the female tank suit will evolve toward a cutout and eventually the deux-pièces, the male bares his chest entirely. The male topless battle in America is fought in places like Coney Island, where 18 protestors are arrested in 1929 and fined. But as in so many swimsuit advances, the swimsuit manages to get smaller without the public going ma
   The male topless battle rages into the early 1930s. Jantzen is sufficiently concerned about outcomes that it introduces the Topper (JZ3350), a diamond top detachable affair than can keep the nipples covered...or not. It is a zipper which permits the gentleman to prepare for whichever situation is most polite. In the movies Johnny Weissmuller bares his chest in Tarzan (TJ3410-70), and Clark Gable doffs his shirt in It Happened One Night, both in 1934.
   Toward the end of the decade Jantzen consolidates the trunks level with the navel in a newer Jockey short fitted-elastic brief (JZ3660, JZ3850.
   Male chests might become liberated on the beach, but after 1934, the Hayes Code, Hollywood's official dictum of what is proper to be seen, decrees that male chest hair is vulgar, and orders that barechested males be shaven. And shaven they are (TJ3910-30); this period of slickness lasts into the late 1950s, and it is only with the rough and tumble liberations of the 1960s, when the female also goes topless, that the naturally hairy mail chest again express itself in the cinema. The male navel, as with its female compatriot, remains covered throughout the 1930s and beyond.
The top and bottom separate.
   1930s--Gillette introduces the safety razor and women begin shaving their underarms and legs. Underarm flaps on women's suits vanish and the legline rises.
   1930's--Fashion designers Augusta Bernard in Paris and Valentina in New York advocate the bared back. The realization that a bared back below the level of the breasts implies an absence of a brassiere endows this view with a forbidden secret.
   1931--The Jazz Age begins to unwind, ending a period that began after World War I, ran through the Roaring Twenties, and is marred by the Great Depression. Pioneers like Duke Ellington and the big band sound will survive, the novelty song and the flapper will take a nose dive.
   1931--Pasties and the g-string emerge as the minimalist burlesque and stripper costume. One promoter carries sets of matched stars, so that each night during a run the chorus line wears one size smaller.
   1931--The glamour photograph is invented as a Hollywood stable.
   1931--Frances and Mason Merrill introduce naturalism to America with the photography book, Among the Nudists.
   1931--New York City Magistrate Jonah Goldstein rules that the activities of a nudist group in a gymnasium are not lewd, dismissing charges against the participants, and legitimizing the American League for Physical Culture.
   1931--In American the Federal Court of Appeals reverses an obscenity ban on Dr. Stopes' Married Love, a sex manual for adults.
   1931--Jean Harlow introduces the lying-on-the-stomach-topless shot in the Platinum Blonde.
   1931--German Marlene Dietrich stretches her legs playing Lola in The Blue Angel, and becomes an international star.
   1931--James Cagney mashes a grapefruit into Mae Clark's face in The Public Enemy.
   1931--An 18 year old Gypsy Rose Lee arrives in New York. She will dominate Burlesque dancing throughout the decade and beyond.
   1931--Francis Parks strips to the nude and introduces the "horizontal shimmy" at Minsky's Republic Theater, on 42nd Street in New York.
   1931--In New York reformer John Sumner suggests a minimum size for a g-string: three inches in front and four inches in the back.
   1932--French sun worshipers found the naturalist colony Héliopolis on the Ile de Levant.
   1932--Cecil B. de Mille's Sign of the Cross features a nude Claudette Colbert in a milk bath and a nude Elissa Landi bound to a statue and molested by a gorilla.
   1932--Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn popularize wearing pants.
   1932--Fashion designers Madeleine Vionnet and Alix Gres assimilate the bare midriff theatrical costume and introduce the bare midriff evening dress, revealing the zone above the navel.
   1932--Jean Harlow plays opposite Clark Gable and takes a bath in a rain barrel in the film Red Dust.
   1932--The Hayes Code adds the word "it" to its list of words forbidden in the movies.
   1932--In New York Mayor Jimmy Walker resigns and sails to Europe to join his girlfriend, the showgirl and former beauty queen Betty Compton.
   1933--A Hays Code regulation forces the Fleischer brothers to remove cartoon heroine Betty Boop's garter and to lengthen her dress.
   1933--Prohibition is repealed.
   1933--Ginger Rogers wears a gold-coin bikini in the movie Gold Diggers of 1933. In another scene dancers get rained on, and then strip and dance nude behind translucent screens.
   1933--The halter top is introduced in swimwear.
   1933--The bare midriff sunsuit, and the concept of separates which combine various top styles and shorts, in gingerly introduced in the fashion press.
   1933--Ilsley Boone begins publication of the Nudist, a monthly magazine about nudist news and nudist clubs. At first genitalia are erased, but the pictures do depict men, women, and children together doing ordinary tasks.
   1933--James Joyce's Ulysses is found to be not obscene by the federal courts.
   1933--Esquire magazine is founded, beginning a tradition of an upscale men's magazine that combines literary and pinup appeal.
   1933--Former Mack Sennett girl Sally Rand invents the fan dance and makes it a sensation at the Streets of Paris concession at the Century of Progress Exhibition in Chicago. Rand's dance of a dying swan is performed nude with two large pink ostrich fans.
   1933--Busby Berkeley chains naked, but very long-haired chorus girls to a drum in the musical Roman Scandals.
   1933--Myrna Loy takes a nude bath in the movie The Barbarian, where she is cast opposite Ramon Novarro. The exposure is timid, but the publicity glaring.
   1933--A young brunette, later renamed Hedy Lamarr, appears nude in a skinny dip in a Czechoslovakian import film, Ecstasy. The movie also depicts Lamarr's face as she achieves organism. The following year a circulating copy of the movie is seized by the U. S. Marshall's office.
   1933--In Philadelphia "Too Hot to Handle Margie" Hart steps it off to her shoes, her g-string, and "two dabs of rouge."
   1933--Fashion designers in France begin to create swimsuits that bare the midriff.
   1934--Jockey introduces the classic brief underwear format for men.
   1934--Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, trapped together in a small cabin in It Happened One Night, hang a blanket between them to ensure modesty. Gable then removes his undershirt revealing a shaven bare chest. Undershirt sales plummet.
   1934--Underwater nudes of Taran's Jane are cut from the movie Tarzan and His Mate, reversing a Hollywood trend toward cinematic nudity,.
   1934--Movie star Delores Del Rio wears the first two piece swimsuit to appear in a Hollywood movie, In Caliente.
   1934--The maillot cutout advances as a new species of maillot. It has a variety of forms, including baring the sides, as well as baring the belly.
   1934--Earle Haas invents the tampon, a discrete disposable menstrual product that allows freedom of movement yet may be concealed in the smallest bathing suit.
   1934--Radio censors declare that the term doing it is "too suggestive" and ban it, doing, and doing it from the airwaves, depriving Rudy Vallee of the right to his his greatest hits, including "Let's Do It," and "Do It Again," on the air.
   1934--Censors in England force bare-midriff chorus lines to cover their navels.
   1934--Burlesque dancer Margie Hart is arrested in New York for indecent exposure. The tabloids term her "a smart parader."
   1934--Fan dancer Sally Rand introduces the bubble act, in which she dances nude with a large semi-transparent inflated ball. Says Rand, "I never made any money until I took my pants off."
   1934--The Ziegfeld Follies in New York features longtime Follie and comedienne Fanny Brice, who stars in an act that spoofs striptease.
   1934--The Catholic Church creates the Legion of Decency and demands that all Catholics only patronize movies approved by it.
   1934--In Germany the Nazis censor photographer Sandor because his subjects do not correspond to Nazi archetypes of the race.
   1935--The zipper is invented.
   1935--French Vogue publishes a pictures of a water skier clad in a deux-pièces swimsuit.
   1935--In America The Warner Brothers Corset Company introduces bra cup sizes. Their Alphabet Bra initially comes in four sizes--A, B, C, and D, with AA and DD being added later.
   1935--In Germany the Nazi Government commences enforcement of Law #175, first introduced in 1871, which forbids male homosexual activity. The Nazi variation enables authorities to punish homosexuals without overriding proof of conduct. Under these rules, over 10,000 gay men are sent to extermination camps.
   1935--Bare breasts begin to be censored in American media.
Myrna Loy Barbarian
Heddy Lamarr Ecstasy
Jean Harlow Maillot
Jean Harlow Maillot Rowing Machine
Jean Harlow Maillots
Jean Harlow
Jean Harlow Maillot Exercise
Jean Harlow Backline descending
Jean Harlow Maillots
Jean Harlow Maillot Reckless
Jean Harlow Backless cleavage
Jean Harlow Maillots String strap
Jean Harlow Maillot String strap
Late 1930s
Late 1930s
Maureen O'Sullivan Jane Tarzan Finds His Mate 1934
Maureen O'Sullivan Jane Tarzan Finds a Son 1939
Joan Crawford Dancing Lady 1933
Edwina Booth Trader Horn 1931
Zita Johann The Mummy 1932
Kathreen Burke Island of Lost Souls 1932
Jean Robers Flash Gordon
Clara Bow Sexy Pinup
Greta Garbo Mata Hari 1931
Le Touquet Normandy France
Deux-pieces swimsuit France
Villa Helios, Grasse, France
Lilian Bond Bare Midriff Swimsuit
Lilian Harvey & Willy Fritsch Two Piece Swimsuit
Carole Lombard Two Piece Swimsuit
Dolores Del Rio Two piece swimsuit In Caliente
Ann Sheridan 1934 deux-pieces
Early 1920s
Early 1920s
Male Bathing Swimsuit 1920s
Dick Powell Jantzen male swimsuit Topper
Maureen O'Sullivan Jane Tarzan Finds His Mate 1934
Jantzen swimsuits 1936
Jantzen swimsuits 1938
Maureen O'Sullivan Jane Tarzan Finds a Son 1939