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A modern camisole

A camisole is a sleeveless undershirt typically worn by women, extending to the waist. The camisole is usually made of satin, nylon, silk, or cotton.

Historical definition


Historically, camisole referred to jackets of various kinds,[1] including overshirts (worn under a doublet or bodice),[2] women's négligées, and sleeved jackets worn by men.[3]

Modern usage


In modern usage, a camisole or cami is a loose-fitting[4][5] sleeveless undershirt which covers the top part of the body but is shorter than a chemise. A camisole normally extends to the waist but is sometimes cropped to expose the midriff, or extended to cover the entire pelvic region. Camisoles are manufactured from light materials,[6] commonly cotton-based, occasionally satin or silk, or stretch fabrics such as lycra, nylon, or spandex.

A camisole typically has thin "spaghetti straps" and can be worn over a brassiere or without one. Since 1989, some camisoles[7] have come with a built-in underwire bra or other support which eliminates the need for a bra among those who prefer not to wear one. Starting around the 2000s, camisoles have been known to be used as outerwear.[8]

A variety of sleeveless body shaping undergarments have been derived from the camisole shape,[9] offering medium control of the bust, waist, or abdomen. Such control camisoles are the most casual of shaping garments, covering the torso from above the chest to at or below the waist. They look similar to tight-fitting cotton or silk camisoles, but the straps are usually wider, the hems longer, and the stretchy, shiny fabric provides a smoothing touch.

See also



  1. ^ Little, William G.; Coulson, Jessie Senior; Fowler, H.W. (1975). Onions, C.T. (ed.). The shorter Oxford English dictionary on historical principles. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 272. ISBN 0-19-861126-9. 1816.... 1. Formerly applied to jackets of various kinds. 2. A woman's underbodice 1894.
  2. ^ Timothy J. Kent (2001). Ft. Pontchartrain at Detroit: A Guide to the Daily Lives of Fur Trade and Military Personnel, Settlers, and Missionaries at French Posts. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. p. 553. ISBN 978-0-9657230-2-2. Retrieved 2009-01-15.
  3. ^ "camisole definition: Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)". Random House Unabridged Dictionary. Random House. 2006. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 1. a short garment worn underneath a sheer bodice to conceal the underwear. 2. a woman's negligee jacket. 3. a sleeved jacket or jersey once worn by men. 4. a straitjacket with long sleeves.
  4. ^ "AskOxford: camisole". Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved 2009-01-15. a woman's loose-fitting undershirt for the upper body. — ORIGIN French, from Latin camisia 'shirt or nightgown'.
  5. ^ Scott, Lucretia M. (1987-09-22). "Camisole underwire bra garment description - US Patent 4798557". Archived from the original on 2009-04-03. Retrieved 2009-01-15. Up until the present time when a woman wished to wear a camisole due to its loose fitting nature and she still required support for her breasts, she was required to wear a bra underneath her camisole to achieve the desired results.
  6. ^ Thatcher, Virginia S., ed. (1970). The New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of The English Language. McQueen, Alexander. Chicago: Consolidated Book Publishers. p. 116. ISBN 0-8326-0021-0. A short light garment worn by ladies when dressed in negligee;strait jacket for lunatics or criminals condemned to the guillotine.
  7. ^ US patent 4798557, Lucretia M. Scott, "Camisole underwire bra garment", issued 1989-01-17 
  8. ^ Ruth La Ferla (25 October 2007). "Now It's Nobody's Secret". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-23.
  9. ^ "Composite support system - Application 20060166600". Archived from the original on 2009-04-03. Retrieved 2009-01-15.


  • Barbier, Muriel & Boucher, Shazia (2003). The Story of Lingerie. Parkstone. ISBN 1-85995-804-4
  • Saint-Laurent, Cecil (1986). The Great Book of Lingerie. Academy editions. ISBN 0-85670-901-8