The camisole is a women’s wardrobe staple, used for everything from lounge wear to business attire. This basic clothing piece is produced in all types of fabrics by a wide range of designers and manufacturers. Often confused with the tank top, the camisole is a feminine, flattering touch that suits women of many shapes and sizes.


The camisole made its first appearance in ladies’ fashion in the late 19th to early-20th centuries. Used as a foundation garment, the body was made of silk, cotton or linen. Bras around 1915 featured a camisole-type body, complete with narrow straps. The garments were also worn as protective layers under corsets and dresses. The camisole top become a non-foundation fashion garment in the 1980s, with their place in fashion solidified by the 1990s.


The camisole top is a fashion workhorse, working as both an undergarment, extra layer and principle outfit piece. Depending on the fabric and structure, a camisole can drape loosely, serve as a body-shaper or act as a simple warm-weather shirt. Camisoles are also great additions underneath business suits, adding modesty and color contrast to an otherwise stark and bland corporate look.


Camisole tops are very basic, with only three or four pattern pieces utilized during construction for most designs. There’s a front and back, along with two thin straps. These straps may be adjustable, depending on the design; some camisole tops have fun bow ties, while others have sliders similar to that of a bra. A camisole may be long or short in the torso, and can have a loose or snug cut. Fabrics include cotton jersey, silk, satin or polyester.


One is liable to see camisoles as a fashion item in warmer climates or during hot-weather months. However, most chain stores such as H&M or Express carry them as regular inventory items. Camisole tops enjoy popularity in countries that have freer standards of dress, since they’re not considered modest dress.


While the camisole top is popular, there are certain rules for wearing them. They’re not appropriate office wear by themselves in most corporate climes, and they are also frowned upon in religious settings. Camisoles are suitable for evening wear only if made in a fancy fabric or with embellishment. If uncertain, use the camisole in mostly casual surroundings, and consult fashion magazines for suitable usage ideas.

References and Resources

Women's Camisole, 1900