Extant Italian Shifts (Camicie)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

c1590 - 1600



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"Composite woman's linen smock with a V-neck and three different types of embroidery - at neck, on sleeves and at hem. The join between the skirt and top can be seen at the base of the sleeve gussets."

"A bird motif on the sleeve embroidered in crimson and blue silks with couched silver-gilt thread."

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For more information, more detail shots, and a pattern for this shirt, see:
Janet Arnold, Patterns of Fashion 4. Macmillan, London, 2008.
Buy it at @Amazon.com  or  @Amazon.co.uk


This camicia is also pictured in the Cunningtons' The History Of Underclothes, also housed in the Met and ascribed to late 16th century Italy. According to the Cunningtons, the lower portion of the camicia is of a later date (you can see the seam line across the body just below the gussets), and thus it's impossible to tell the exact original shape. Presumably it looked something like a man's shirt - straight panels of fabric. As you can see, it has a very deep V-neckline, possibly meant to be worn with a doublet-style bodice popular elsewhere in Italy. It is gorgeously embroidered at neck, wrists, sleeves and hem, although there is no description of it.

This neckline would not be suitable for a recreation of a Venetian style, but that's no reason not to make one - I intend to do so, to go with perhaps a Florentine outfit, once my embroidery skills improve a bit....well, ok....a lot!


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2001 - 2010 Anabella Wake (Known in the SCA as Bella Lucia da Verona) I hold copyright on all information on these pages, and on all images of clothing/costume that I have made. You are allowed to make one facsimile copy for your own use provided that this notice is included on each page. Please ask permission to copy, disseminate and/or distribute my work - I would like to know when and how you are finding this information of use.