In Victorian times, a chemise was a sleeveless (or, sometimes, shortsleeved), fine cotton, knee-length undergarment worn by women beneath their corsets.
In the 1930s, the term chemise was used to describe various kinds of short petticoats made of silk or rayon, which sometimes had in-built, culotte-style knickers. The main picture above shows a 1930s sewing pattern for chemises.
Today, chemise is used to describe various kinds of very short petticoats, which may be loose, or tight-fitting.
Click here to see a Victorian chemise.
Click here to see a modern chemise.