Chemise set

In the late 19th century, feminist ideas changed women’s fashion, both outerwear and underwear. Rigid bodices and full skirts were abandoned in favour of shorter, narrower dresses. Underwear evolved, too, from loose chemises and pantaloons to “combination” undergarments that reduced bulkiness and better suited the streamlined women’s fashion of the 20th century.


Collection Connections 

  • Chemise set

    Chemise set

    Europe: Western Europe, France

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  • Chemise set

    Chemise set

    Europe, Western Europe, France

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  • Chemise

    Chemise

    Europe: Northern Europe, Scandinavia, Denmark

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What does this chemise set communicate about 19th century France?

responded: Mar 31, 2010

Posted by Ace

297
Recommend this Response
The chemise was made in the period called the Belle Époque (The Beautiful Era, 1885-1914). It was a time of change. As the description of the chemise set tells us, this piece of clothing became more streamlined to accommodate the new fashion of this era, a time of beautiful clothes. Underwear was becoming fancier, evidenced by the lace in this chemise set, but the practicalities of cleaning meant it often remained white. In this period, women's status grew, they were more independent, educated and mobile. Practical underwear like this chemise set would make this active life easier. And with so many layers to wear on top – corset, petticoat and then the outer layers - streamlined underclothes must have been a relief. People also began buying undergarments in stores rather than making them at home. This chemise, though, is handmade and trimmed with lace. This corroborates that the French during this period preferred quality to quantity.

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