World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article
 

Chemise

Fashionable young man in early 16th century Germany showing a lot of fine linen in a studied negligee. This gentleman has a band of "smocking" round the collar of his shift.

The term chemise or shirt can refer to the classic smock, or else can refer to certain modern types of women's undergarments and dresses. In the classical use it is a simple garment worn next to the skin to protect clothing from sweat and body oils, the precursor to the modern shirts commonly worn in Western nations.

Contents

  • Etymology 1
  • Modern chemise 2
  • History 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Etymology

Chemise is a French term (which today simply means shirt). This is a cognate of the Italian word camicia, and the Spanish / Portuguese language word camisa (subsequently borrowed as kameez by Hindi / Urdu / Hindustani), all deriving ultimately from the Latin camisia, itself coming from Celtic. (The Romans avidly imported cloth and clothes from the Celts.)[1] The English called the same shirt a smock.

Modern chemise

A modern-day chemise

In modern usage, a chemise is generally a woman's garment that vaguely resembles the older shirts but is typically more delicate, and usually more revealing. Most commonly the term refers to a loose-fitting, sleeveless undergarment or type of lingerie which is unfitted at the waist. It can also refer to a short, sleeveless dress that hangs straight from the shoulders and fits loosely at the waist. A chemise typically does not have any buttons or other fasteners and is put on by either dropping it over the head or stepping into it and lifting it up.

As lingerie, a chemise is similar to a babydoll, which is also a short, loose-fitting, sleeveless garment. Typically, though, babydolls are looser fitting at the hips.

History

This chemise or shift of the 1830s has elbow-length sleeves and is worn under a corset and petticoats.

The chemise seems to have developed from the Roman tunica and first became popular in Europe in the Middle Ages. Women wore a shift or chemise under their gown or robe; while men wore a chemise with their trousers or braies, and covered the chemises with garments such as doublets, robes, etc.

Until the late 18th century, a chemise referred to an undergarment. It was the only underwear worn until the end of Regency period in the 1820s,[2] and was usually the only piece of clothing that was washed regularly.

In the 1810s, the term came also to be applied to an outergarment.[3] In Western countries, the chemise as an undergarment fell out of fashion in the early 20th century, and was generally replaced by a brassiere, girdle, and full slip, and panties first came to be worn.

Men's chemises may be said to have survived as the common T-shirt, which still serves as an undergarment. The chemise also morphed into the smock-frock, a garment worn by English laborers until the early 20th century. Its loose cut and wide sleeves were well adapted to heavy labor. The name smock is nowadays still used for military combat jackets in the UK, whereas in the Belgian army the term has been corrupted to smoke-vest.

A chemise, shift, or smock was usually sewn at home, by the women of a household. It was assembled from rectangles and triangles cut from one piece of cloth so as to leave no waste. The poor would wear skimpy chemises pieced from a narrow piece of rough cloth; while the rich might have voluminous chemises pieced from thin, smooth fine linen.

See also

References

  1. ^ Barber, Elizabeth Wayland (1994). Women's Work: The first 20,000 Years. Norton & Company, New York. p.137. ISBN 0-393-31348-4.
  2. ^ An Introduction to Ladies' Fashions of the Regency Era
  3. ^ Chemise dress
  • Cut My Cote, by Dorothy Burnham, Royal Ontario Museum, 1973. ISBN 978-0-88854-046-1. A survey of shirt patterns over the ages, with diagrams.
  • "A Plain Linen Shift: Plain Sewing Makes the Most of Your Fabric", by Kathleen R. Smith, Threads Magazine, Feb/Mar 1987.

External links

  • How to make an 18th century chemise
  • Women's smocks in the 13th-15th centuries
  • 18th century women's shifts
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.