Chemise Information and History

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Chemise, Information and History. A chemise is a modern type of ladies’ undergarment that is also widely known as shift or classic smock. It is also considered as a dress characterized by great simplicity; although before its classical use was to protect women’s outer clothing from bodily oils and sweat.

The word chemise is actually the French terminology for “shirt.” In other languages such as Spanish or Portuguese, it’s called camisa, while in Italian it’s camicia. Its origins can be tracked from the early tunica, which is a Roman version of Greek toga. It became widely popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. It is loose and measures until the knees, either with sleeve or sleeveless, and is worn by both men and women. Women wore chemises underneath their dresses, robes and gowns and were washed regularly. Men on the other hand wore chemises under their doublets, robes, among others.

Women before would sew their chemises at home out of cut pieces of clothes that are either rectangular or triangular in shape. The poor would sew their own chemises usually from rough cloth but the wealthy would have theirs made from flowy, thin and silky fine linen cloth.

During the early 20th century however, chemises fell out of fashion due to the advent of full slips, brassieres, girdles and panties. Chemises used nowadays no longer resemble the chemises used before when it initially gained popularity. Most chemises nowadays are more delicate and provocative in appearance. They’re considered as lingerie now and not just any undergarment that women use everyday. They are commonly worn now as negligee, sleeping clothes, under a business suit for a more feminine touch, among others.

Men’s chemises before are what they say what’s called common T-shirts now. Men still use T-shirts as undergarments, wearing them underneath a polo shirt or long sleeves. It is also said that the men’s chemises have been transformed to what they call smock-frocks. Smock-frocks gained popularity in the early 20th century and were used by the English laborers. The term smock is still being used in present to refer to military combat jackets in the UK.

Chemises available nowadays in lingerie shops are sleeveless or have spaghetti straps and fall straight off the shoulders. They are made of fabric or materials that are thin. It could be the simplest cotton or smooth expensive silks. Sometimes cups are also sewn into the chemise and embellishments are added for the trim.

write by Charmaine

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