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Historical undegarment

Historical undegarment

Corsets also began to be worn about this time. At first they were called pairs of bodies, which refers to a stiffened decorative bodice worn on top of another bodice stiffened with buckram, reeds, canes, whalebone or other materials. These were not the small-waisted, curved corsets familiar from the Victorian era, but straight-lined corsets that flattened the bust.

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Historical undegarment

Historical undegarment

Over the upper part of their bodies, both medieval men and women usually wore a close-fitting shirt-like garment called a chemise in France, or a smock or shift in England. The forerunner of the modern-day shirt, the chemise was tucked into a man's braies (loose, trouser-like clothing), under his outer clothing. Women wore as their undergarment a chemise underneath their gowns or robes, sometimes with petticoats over the chemise. Elaborately quilted petticoats might be displayed by a cut-away dress, in which case they served a skirt rather than an undergarment. During the 16th century, the farthingale (crinoline) was popular. This was a petticoat stiffened with reed or willow rods so that it stood out from a woman's body like a cone extending from the waist.

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