The most common use of the word chemise refers to a loose-fitting, sleeveless undergarment or type of lingerie which is unfitted at the waist.  A chemise is generally a woman's garment that vaguely resembles the older shirts but is typically more delicate, and usually more revealing.   


A chemise can also be referenced as a type of dress or smock.  The term chemise can refer to a short, sleeveless dress that hangs straight from the shoulders and fits loosely at the waist.  A chemise typically does not have any buttons or other fasteners and is put on by either dropping it over the head or stepping into it and lifting it up from the ground.  The term chemise is also sometimes called a shift and can refer to the classic smock. 

In the classical use of the word chemise, it is a simple garment worn next to the skin to protect clothing from sweat and body oils.  It was the precursor to the modern shirts or blouses.

As lingerie, a chemise is similar to a babydoll, which is also a short, loose-fitting, sleeveless garment.  Babydolls are different because they are looser fitting at the hips.

Do you know the difference between a chemise and camisole?  If you have other questions about fashion, you may want to visit our fashion questions & answers section.

Learn more about camisoles and lingerie.

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