Ladies of the sixteenth century wore few underclothes—the most important and most basic being the chemise.

The chemise, is a descendant of the Roman camisia and Norman camise, and is the equivalent of the men’s “shert” or shirt.  It was known by its original Anglo-Saxon name of “smock,” or even more commonly referred to as a “shift.”  With the rise of the Lady Anne Boleyn to social prominence as the favourite of the king, the influence of her French education soon had all the ladies saying “chemise.”

Made of silk, linen or cotton for the noble woman, and wool for the common woman, the chemise was white or natural in colour, and reached from the neck to the ankle.  It was usually gathered at the neck, and had fairly wide sleeves gathered at the wrist where they were often decorated with stitchery or cutwork.

Notable is the fact that no reference to garments intended to cover the lower limbs of the female sex at this period has been found!


The chemises offered here are one size fits most, and normally designed to reach to the hips.  The neckline is controlled by a drawstring, and thus is completely adjustable to your desired level of modesty.  When tied in place, it provides a lovely soft ruffle to peek out above your bodice.  Long sleeves, also end with a drawstring and a small ruffe when tied at the wrists.

Specific photos of items currently available to follow.