In this month, 65 years ago, a French designer developed a fashion trend that, for good or bad, has created intrigue for generations of men. First impressions were that it was scandalous, and it really wasn’t universally adopted until the “freedom” decade of the 1960s.
Oddly enough, despite its development having nothing to do with the atomic age, it is for some of us who have an interest in historic events a vague and very rare reminder of nuclear testing on a remote Pacific Island.
What was revealed on that July day so long ago, along with a generous show of flesh, was the bikini, named after the famous atoll on which numerous bombs were detonated. The outfit’s ‘explosive’ design has become not so much a bathing suit as it is a declaration of uninhibitedness which, on the sleek and fit, is a wonderful sight.
And it took a mindless, but obviously influential song: Itsy Bitsy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini, to launch it into world acceptance.
It obviously looks ‘wonderful’ on magazine models, but on those “less fit” or well past the age of appropriateness it can be downright awful. Rather like the 1980s’ adoption of lycra-spandex: worn on a person of normal height/weight proportion acceptable, on those who are not … the contemplation of such visions is enough to generate thoughts of nightmarish dimension.
However, it’s not for me to judge a person’s feeling of comfort, possible lack of taste or the clothes they wear, for that only leads to possibly inaccurate conclusions.
For instance, last week in a parking lot tying down a couple of lawn chairs just purchased, I heard someone say something. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a man who, judging by his apparel, I assumed was a homeless person about to hit me up for change or cigarettes. I gave a cursory and dismissive hello, and then he said “You’re Mark Rushton,” before wandering off.
Perhaps he was someone from my past who, now down on his luck, I didn’t recognize, or maybe he is homeless and just reads my column. I regret not calling him back for a quick chat. However . . . .
The encounter did, on the other hand, remind me that what you wear isn’t necessarily an indicator of what or who you are.
I recall back in the days of long hair responding to an old guy who came into my office complaining about something I’d written. He said (and I paraphrase here) “What do you know, with all that long hair?”
“Jack”, I replied, “it’s not what’s on your head that counts, but what’s in it.”
The same goes for clothing, though I must confess that when I’m in town shopping while wearing a pair of grubby gardening jeans with the knees ripped out, I am occasionally embarrassed.
However, when something is needed in a hurry, and then on the same trip figure I might as well pick up stuff in places other than the hardware store, convenience occasionally supercedes couture.
I’m also reminded not to come to quick conclusions, for as the old saying goes: to assume is to often make an ‘ass (of) u (or) me’.
As to the bikini and the iterations and variations of today, I will leave their appreciation to those of an age that is more appropriate to appreciate them.
Then again, when you quit looking you might as well quit living, especially when you consider the suit itself is now officially a ‘senior citizen’!