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The History of Camisoles

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Believe it or not, that camisole you are wearing has quite the history. Modern-day camisoles come from the historic chemise. Let’s take a closer look into the history of camisoles.

Chemises were originally worn by both men and woman. The “ancient” chemises were more specifically used as undergarments, worn always under the primary set of clothing. As the fashion world changed from medieval times, so did the chemise.

During the Renaissance period, the corset became a fashion “must-have.” The first corsets were worn under the chemise. It was only a matter of time, however, that the fashion industry (even then) began looking for a new solution to the chemise. Afterall, the corset became more elaborate and ornate. The long, thin chemise was not hiding the corset well, so a solution needed to be found.

The solution came during the Victorian era. It was the camisole. Can you believe that the camisole dates back to the Victorian period? Camisoles solved the chemise dilemma. Instead of being long and bulky, the camisole was light and short. Woman soon discovered that they could effectively hid their corsets without also adding weight: the chemise. Camisoles hid the corset well and also kept the illusion of being “thin.” Camisoles soon joined chemises in the fashion “must-have” category. Since panties had not yet been designed, both the camisole and chemises were used as undergarments.

Corsets were not used as widely during the turn of the 20th century, due to rising health concerns. Similarly, women began to enjoy athletics during this time. Thus, bloomers were designed to appeal to the athletic, yet still feminine, woman. “Teddies” became extremely popular because it combined the camisole and bloomers, attached into one piece.

It wasn’t until the 1920s that the teddy became divided into two pieces. Designers began experimenting with teddies… making them “sexier” (shorter, tighter, etc). The 1920’s era marked the beginning of modern-day camisole sets.

Since the 1920’s, the camisole has been taken from being an undergarment to being both an undergarment and outer garment. Camisoles are one of the most widely used staple wardrobe item among women of all ages and backgrounds. Truly, the camisole has come a long way since its origination during the medieval times and clearly defines femininity.

By Shellie Slade

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