The Camicia of the Quattrocentro Part 1

La Bella Donna

Biancheria included all the undergarments worn by women and men from 1400-1700. The camicia (sleeved and sleeveless) was one undergarment worn by both genders.

The camicia, a specific type of biancheria, was a shirt for men and a slip of sorts for women. This garment was called a chemise, smock, or shift in English. It was usually made of bianco lino (white linen)  but also lana/saia (wool), cotone (cotton), canapa (hemp), or seta (silk) and could have a decorated neckline and/or wrist cuffs (Landini 2005, Herald 1981, Frick 2002). The basic function of this item was to protect the finer outer layers from body oils and dirt, providing a less expensive barrier that could be washed more frequently.

Women tended to have dresses made by tailors, but the camicia was often “fatta in casa” (made in the home), according to (Arnold 2008 p5, Brown 2004). A…

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