A chemise can be related to camisole and babydoll lingerie. It is a longer version of a camisole but not too long to make it a petticoat or slip. Similar to a shift, but more delicate and provocative, usually loose fitting, sleeveless, hanging straight and ending below the bottom but before the knees.
Developed from the Roman tunica the chemise first became popular in the European Middle Ages, designed to cover the bosom: providing warmth and modesty originally with button fastenings. Women wore shifts or chemises underneath their gowns or robes. Lingerie used to consist of layering not just one or two pieces it usually is today. First a chemise was worn; next a corset with garter and stockings attached. Then women would put on drawers or knickers; a camisole over the top and finally the petticoats, sometimes up to six put on before the dress goes on. Later as fashions and lingerie became simpler, chemise has varying size straps and no fastenings.
As other lingerie pieces can have a dual purpose, there are no hard and fast rules to a chemise. It can be a short dress or nightdress or a short Petticoat. A chemise is defined by being shorter than peignoir and longer than a baby doll. Similar to camisoles and babydolls, are often sold with matching panties or G-string and range from delicate to practical materials.