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Сhemise, Shift and Smock

Сhemise, Shift and Smock

The chemise (also Shift and Smock) is one of the main items of clothing from the Middle Ages until the first quarter of the 20th century. A chemise is the main item of underwear for men and women. When we look at depictions of people in Western art, after ancient times, we see people wearing chemise, which are often hidden from view. Sometimes we can see the edge of the sleeve, hem or neck, sometimes we see nothing, but the chemise is there. All items of underwear (except for braies or panties) are worn over the chemise. You can often see a mistake in films when a corset is worn on a naked body.
There are different types of chemise: everyday, night, swimwear, holiday, wedding. Perhaps it will be the same chemise, depending on the person’s wealth. Сhemises were not sewn by tailors, but by seamstresses (de. Weißnäherin) or women within the family (wives or mothers). Often girls sewed chemises for themselves as a dowry.
Сhemises appeared as a type of tunic. The chemise has a varied cut and is different for different social classes and countries. General feature: T-shape. Сhemises were usually made from linen and well-made cotton. The chemises were finished with embroidery, lace or decorative stitching. The color is white, or almost white.
Until the 12th century, men’s and women’s shifts were not very different, then men’s shifts began to be shortened. The modern men’s business shirt is an evolution of the men’s shift since the Middle Ages. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the range of women’s underwear expanded and was supplemented with other things.
The chemise is an important part of many traditional costumes. For example, among the Slavic peoples, smocks were embroidered with amulets.

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