Alice Wylie: One has to wonder what crimes have ever been committed in a mankini

THE fashion police are out in force. No, wait, it’s the actual police and they’re taking a hard line on sartorial crime. Police in Newquay have taken a zero tolerance approach to the public wearage of mankinis, a move which they claim has helped to reduce crime rates.

A mankini is – for anyone who hasn’t walked down Sauchiehall Street at 1am on a Saturday – an oversized thong designed for men and worn over the shoulders as opposed to on the hips; a genital sling of sorts.

Popularised by Sacha Baron Cohen in Borat, it comprises a sliver of neon bottom floss and a small wedge of fabric intended to preserve the wearer’s modesty, if not his dignity.

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The mankini, sadly, is a not entirely uncommon sight on the streets and beaches of Britain. Long gone are the days when chaps wore suits at the seaside, their only nod to the balmy temperature a rolled up trouser leg and an almost imperceptible loosening of the half Windsor.

The mankini is nothing more than a glorified wedgie, and I applaud Devon and Cornwall Police for doing their bit to eradicate this lime-green stain from our streets.

Police superintendent Julie Whitmarsh said that mankinis are what the force term “offensive clothing”, and described them – accurately - as “just revolting”. She added that the police have also “had a real crackdown on fake penises”, a line surely intended as bait for tittering newspaper columnists.

One has to wonder, however, what crimes exactly (beyond those against taste) have ever been committed in a mankini. It is as conspicuous as it is impractical and has only one place for stashing swag; and that’s already occupied.

Can this humble garment truly be linked to crime rates? Is the Mankini Index statistically reliable? And what is to be the next sartorial scapegoat? Might bumless chaps be linked to road traffic accidents? Posing pouches to credit card fraud? Jorts (jean shorts for gentlemen which expose the crease of the bottom; do keep up) to identity theft?

No, if they have any wider effect on the population, mankinis surely lower birth rates, both directly (having one’s front bottom cleaved in two in that manner can’t be healthy) and indirectly; they are woman repellers and are therefore an exercise in abstinence.

OHIO State University student Balpreet Kaur has responded to unpleasant comments made about her facial hair after a picture of her – taken without her knowledge – appeared online: “I realise that… I look different than most women,” she writes. “However, baptised Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body… Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us.” Her online bullies just got what I believe they call ‘pwned’.

ON THE subject of body image, it seems that the fashion world wants to have its cake and eat it. Or not, as the case may be.

The very tall, very slim supermodel Karlie Kloss 
is very much the model of the moment, but the Japanese magazine Numéro recently ran an editorial in which they airbrushed her protruding ribs out of photographs, leaving behind a thin but oddly smooth torso. It’s an interesting insight into an industry in which a skeletal aesthetic is idealised, so long as one’s skeleton isn’t actually visible. «