Medieval Female Underwear

This is a post about my research about male underwear during the middle ages and renaissance. It is mostly a photo reference post. At the end there is a list of neat links.

Women wore a number of layers of clothing nearest the skin was the chemise or shift. She would also wear stocking. Some new sources show that at least some women wore clothing with sown breast support.

The shift, chemise or smock

Women would wear chemise or shift (særk), which could have long sleeves, short sleeves or shoulder straps. The length could vary. More often than not the chemise was made from uncolored and unbleached linen. As time goes by the simple shifts become quite elaborate chemises.

Shifts with shoulder strips or short sleeves

It would seem that the shifts with shoulder strips are used for bathing or by bathing assistances as well as for underwear. Some of them are very sheer, while others looks like supportive clothing.

Long sleeved shifts and chemises

Smocks of the 1500’s


Stockings – short hose

Women also wore stockings or short hose (korthoser) – normally the short version that ends under the knee and is kept up with a garter – either made from leather or woven tape.



Breast bags, knickers and bras

Useful links


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