Underwear

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chemise 1945.249
chemise detail 1945.249

The most basic undergarment for women was originally known in Anglo Saxon times as the smock or shift, with the French term "chemise" introduced after the Norman Conquest. Chemises remained similar for hundreds of years, even up to the early twentieth century: they were made of cotton or linen, usually white; they were cut loose and long; and they were sleeveless and had a collarless round neck. They could also be pleated and embroidered around the neck for decoration.

Shifts or chemises remained covering next to the skin below all other garments including the stays or corset. They provided protection against the cold, but more importantly they provided a barrier layer between the body and the outer clothes which could easily be washed for cleanliness. The thought that any part of the skin could be in contact with the dress was abhorrent to fashionable women, unlike today where we are happy to wear a single layer, and expect to wash our clothing on a daily basis. This chemise belonged to "Gwennie" which is embroidered at the neck, like the camisole in this theme.

Full item descriptions:

"chemise" [1945.249]

Related Themes:

Petticoats