A modern camisole

A camisole is a sleeveless undergarment for women, normally extending to the waist. The camisole is usually made of satin, nylon, 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

A young woman in a vest top. Lycra led to closer fitting vest tops in the late 2000s and the 2010s.

In modern usage a camisole or cami is a loose-fitting[4][5] sleeveless woman's undergarment 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 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 and/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: 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. Retrieved 2009-01-15. a woman’s loose-fitting undergarment 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". 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". Retrieved 2009-01-15.
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