The earliest citation I found for cheekini is a July 2006 blog post, “Cheekini Is the New Thong!”, that credited DKNY with coining the term. However, a search for DKNY cheekini underwear came up empty-handed, or -cheeked, and all the images on that 2006 post have vanished.
I found the most extensive definition for cheekini in an unexpected place: a blog called He Wears Panties (“a friendly place to discuss lingerie and women’s clothing with men who wear it”):
Cheekini panties are clearly a play on the ‘bikini’. The general idea of the cheekini is that the rear of the panty is cut quite high across the buttock, leaving a fair amount of cheek showing whilst also reducing panty lines in the process. These are a viable alternative to thong lovers who are growing tired of feeling as if they have a never ending wedgie.
Cheekini is yet another variation on the linguistically productive bikini, which was adopted in 1946 as the name of a new French swimsuit as “explosive” as the nuclear-bomb tests that had recently taken place on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean.
Hello, summer! And hello to what the ladymags like to call “bikini season.” My new column for the Visual Thesaurus investigates how the bikini got its name (in 1946 France) and why the word has been such a productive contributor to our vocabulary.
Access is restricted to subscribers. Here’s an itsy-bitsy excerpt:
Eventually, “-kini” acquired enough independent meaning that it became detached from the concept of skimpiness. In 1985, swimsuit designer Anne Cole introduced a suit that combined a bikini-style bottom with a relatively demure, hip-length tank top. The company called it the “tankini,” a descriptor that has endured. Or consider the full-coverage Burqini: a portmanteau of “burqa” and “bikini,” it’s the registered trademark for a full-body suit—only the face and hands are revealed—introduced in 2007 by a Lebanese-Australian swimsuit designer to meet the needs of active Muslim women. The Burqini (known generically as the burkini or the veilkini) was popularized by a non-Muslim, the British celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, who told reporters she wore the garment to prevent sunburn. Also innocent (and also a trademark): Babi-kini, a U.S. company that makes wee swimsuits for infants and toddlers.
Donohue referred to Upton’s “nun-bikini,” but in a response to Donohue a spokesperson for 20th Century Fox, the film’s distributor, called it a “nun-kini,” using the universal suffix for any novel swim garb. “I think we did the audience a favor by letting Kate Upton wear the nun-kini rather than Larry David—it could have gone either way,” the unnamed spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter.
Speaking of babes, take a look at Babi-kini, whose tagline is “My First Bikini” and which sells teeny swimsuits for tiny tots. This one retails for $30:
Available in sizes small (birth to 12 months) to extra-large (5 to 6 years).
And over at TMZ, they’re celebrating “Spring-kini Season.”
With Charlie Brown, it was the football and the kite-eating tree. With Cathy, year after year, the nemesis is the swimsuit department:
(Click image to view larger.)
Yes, I'm a little obsessed with the whole -ini issue. What I find interesting here is the use of the -ini suffix in its Italian diminutive sense--as though tankini meant "little tank" (and bikini, by extension, meant "little bik," and logic-ini meant "a little bit of logic").
To recap: first there was bikini from Bikini Atoll in the northern Pacific ("bikini" is a Micronesian word that possibly means coconut surface). Because the first syllable of bikini reminded Westerners of the Greek bi- prefix meaning "two," bikini begat monokini. Then -kini took on independent suffixhood, turning into tankini, mankini, and burkini.
Now -ini is shedding its k and taking on a teeny-weeny life of its own.
It's clearly three pieces, thus the tri- prefix. However, unlike the cartoon girl (who is saying, "No trikini, no ocean!"), real women are apparently supposed to wear only two pieces at a time. Unless you fancy a belly band with your beachwear. Or you're from a galaxy far, far away where the women have two sets of breasts.
Spotted at Sartoria Vico, which I discovered via SwissMiss. Many other interesting and adaptable items of clothing at Sartoria Vico, if you have a few minutes to browse. I'm completely smitten with the Sciarpone scarf-sweater-thingy.
By the time an item of clothing finds its way to Costco, you can bet it's been around for many fashion cycles. So although I pride myself on my au-courantitude, I was surprised on a recent visit to a nearby Costco to discover massive quantities of a garment I'd never heard of: the skirtini.
For the similarly clueless, a skirtini is a modest two-piece swimsuit consisting of a tank top and a skirted bottom. Here's a visual cue (from Lands' End):
In my defense, I will say that I pay little attention to swimsuit trends. That's because I am in that infinitesimal minority of American women for whom the purchase of a swimsuit is utterly angst-free. Indeed, for all my fashion mania I spend more time comparing goggle designs than I do worrying about my swimsuits. My excuse: for 17 years I swam on a masters swim team, and I still swim four or five miles a week in a pool or San Francisco Bay. Ergo, my needs are ridiculously basic: I buy Speedo one-piece racing suits, size 34, preferably in the flyback or recordbreaker style, from online stores like Swim Outlet or Sierra Trading Post. (Speedo is the only brand that fits my long torso, size 34 always works, and Speedo's Endurance fabric really, truly resists the ravages of chlorine.) The first time I try a suit on is when I'm ready to go into the water. I would never (a) pay more than $70 for a suit, (b) buy a suit with bra cups, ruffles, a skirt, or a halterneck, or (c) do anything except swim or kayak in a swimsuit.
But, as I said, I'm in the minority.
What caught my attention about the skirtini, aside from its appalling matronliness, was, naturally, its name. It's clearly a blend of "skirt" and the suffix "-ini," from "bikini"--except there's nothing bikiniesque about it. I began thinking about how we got from bikini to skirtini. Here's a little historical-sartorial-lexical summary.