Undergarments

Brache (Underwear) – So many questions revolve around if and when women wore underwear, and which women did (noble? Working class? All year or just when cold?). There are some extant pieces from the late cinquecento that are pictured here http://realmofvenus.renaissanceitaly.net/workbox/extdraw.htm and you can see depictions in Venetian painting from the 1500s. They weren’t always white! Landini (2004) states that the guardarobas of Duchess Guilia Varano and Eleonora di Toledo had green velvet and crimson taffeta pairs.

Camicia (Sleeved and Sleeveless) – The camicia was a shirt for men and a slip of sorts for women. This garment was called a chemise or shift in English.  It was usually made of white ?/rensa? (but also linen/lino,  wool/saia?, cotton/cotone, or silk/seta) and could have a decorated neckline and/or wrist cuffs. The camicia protected fine clothing layers from body oils and dirt, providing a barrier that could be washed more frequently. The camicia was typically “fatta in casa” (made in the home), according to Arnold (2008). There is a ton of information you can find on construction ( i.e. http://realmofvenus.renaissanceitaly.net/library/camiciahowto.htm). Under the sottana or the gamurra the sleeved version was worn, as depicted in many paintings from the quattrocento on. There is an extant sleeveless camicia garment shown in A History of Costume (Kohler, 1963).  From my experience it’s easier to use under a tight-sleeved underdress, like the gonnella of the trecento and quattrocento.

Corsets or Stays – There is a reference in the mid  1500s to “fasce da stomaco” (stomach bands) in Eleonor di Toledo’s wardrobe, which have been thought to keep the body warm and/or serve as a girdle of sorts (Landini, 2004). 
 
Calze (socks) – Made of wool (lana) or for the affluent, linen, cotton, or silk. These were held up with laccetti made of linen and tied close below the knee (Pisetzky, 1964).

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