antique chemisette

How to Style a Vintage Chemisette with Items Already in Your Closet

3 min read

We love fashion pieces that make references to earlier eras. The chemisette, a charming staple from the past, serves as a testament to the timeless allure of vintage fashion. This delicate lace garment with stunning details, once a layering piece to extend the neckline of clothing worn by Victorian and Edwardian women, is both elegant and modest. In today’s fashion scene, incorporating a vintage chemisette into your ensemble can add a touch of sophistication and uniqueness. If you can’t find a vintage chemisette, layer a dickey under your sweater or sleeveless dress. Read on to learn how you can seamlessly style a vintage chemise using items you likely already have in your closet.

Fashion Dictionary, What is a Chemisette?

fill your closet with vintage chemise fabric
The Woman from Arles (1890), Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)

Before diving into styling, it’s essential to appreciate what a chemisette is and why French women loved it. It’s a garment worn under the dress or blouse, extending from the bust or waist up to the collar area. It was designed to mimic the look of a blouse under a dress without the added bulk, featuring lace, ruffles, or embroidery around the neck. Chemisette clothing was most fashionable during the Victorian and Edwardian period. What’s in style is always subject to change, and the chemisette is currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity.

Styling a Vintage Chemisette in 2024

Pair with High-Waisted Trousers or Jeans

High-waisted trousers are a versatile staple in many closets. Pairing them with a chemisette creates a seamless blend of vintage and modern styles. Tuck the chemisette into the trousers for a sleek, sophisticated look. Add a set of loafers or other smart shoes to make what might feel frilly and feminine a more masculine edge. This pairing works well for office attire or a smart-casual event, offering a nod to vintage aesthetics while maintaining a contemporary edge.

Layer Under a Sweater

Layering a chemisette or a dickey under a sweater can elevate a simple look to something more intriguing. The collar and any upper details of the chemisette peek out, adding texture and visual interest to your outfit. This combination works well for cooler months, providing both style and warmth. Choose a sweater in a complementary color to your chemisette to create a cohesive look.

Combine with a Sleeveless Dress

A sleeveless dress can serve as the perfect canvas for showcasing a chemisette. This layering technique not only adds an element of modesty but also transforms the dress with a new silhouette and detail. It’s a fantastic way to transition a summer dress into the cooler seasons. Opt for a chemisette with lace or ruffle details to add a romantic, vintage feel to your dress.

Accessorize with a Brooch

Accessories can make a significant impact, and a brooch is no exception when styling a chemisette. Pinning a vintage or vintage-inspired brooch at the collar of the chemisette can accentuate its vintage appeal. This small addition can turn an everyday outfit into a statement ensemble, perfect for occasions that call for a bit of extra flair.

Mix with a Modern Blazer

For a business-casual approach, pair your chemisette with a modern blazer. The contrast between the delicate, feminine chemisette and the structured, contemporary blazer creates a balanced and eye-catching outfit. This combination is ideal for professional settings where you wish to stand out while still adhering to a dress code.

Final Thoughts on Styling a Vintage Chemise with Contemporary Clothes

As pictured here in this painting of a woman by Sargent, a chemise will become one of your favorites for extending the neckline. Start your search!

Styling a vintage chemisette with contemporary wardrobe items is not only a nod to the past but also a celebration of timeless fashion. By mixing this vintage piece with modern staples, you can create outfits that are both unique and versatile. The key is to experiment with different combinations to find what works best for your personal style. Embrace the elegance of the chemisette and let it inspire your everyday fashion choices.