Camisoles, commonly known as “camis,” have become a versatile wardrobe staple for women. Once viewed solely as underwear, camisoles now come in an array of styles that take them beyond the bedroom into everyday fashion.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll explore the evolution of the camisole and dive into the vast range of styles and designs available today. You’ll uncover pro styling tips, fabric recommendations, and maintenance advice from experts.

Consider this your go-to camisole guidebook, packed with everything you need to choose the perfect cami styles to complement your wardrobe.

The Evolution of the Camisole

The Evolution of the Camisole

Camisoles originally emerged as part of undergarment sets in the 19th century. Women wore lightweight camisoles under layers of petticoats, corsets, and dresses to provide extra coverage. The first camisoles fully covered the upper body, resembling today’s tank tops.

By the early 1900s, camisoles evolved into sleeveless tops made of delicate fabrics like silk, cotton, or rayon. As undergarments and nightgowns, these fitted camisoles added a layer of insulation and absorbed perspiration.

As outer fashions changed over the decades, camisoles remained wardrobe staples. By the 1980s and 90s, camisoles became more decorative and fashionable as everyday tops on their own. Designers like Donna Karan featured camisoles in luxury fabrics like cashmere wool.

The camisole has only continued to expand its fashion domain. Modern camisoles come in a spectrum of fabrics, colors, silhouettes and embellishments to be worn layered or alone for a variety of occasions.

Benefits of Wearing Camisoles

Benefits of Wearing Camisoles

Beyond just stylish flair, today’s camisoles offer many functional wardrobe benefits:

  • Smooth layering: Camis create a sleek silhouette under clothing, hiding bra lines, folds, or wrinkles.
  • Extra coverage: Thinner fabrics like linen or silk benefit from a camisole underneath for opacity.
  • Light insulation: As underlayers, camisoles provide lightweight warmth and insulation against chill.
  • Absorbency: Camis crafted from cotton, rayon, or linen absorb and wick away perspiration.
  • Support: Some modern camisoles have built-in shelf bras for extra bust support and coverage.
  • Nightwear: Silky camisoles paired with pajama shorts or pants make comfortable sleep sets.
  • Breathability: Light, breezy camisoles keep you cool in the summer heat.

Mix and match camisoles to suit your needs. Use them as versatile solutions for layering, coverage, support or sleep.

Most Popular Styles of Camisoles

From lacy intimates to casual tops, camisoles now come in an array of styles. Here are some of the most popular modern camisole designs:

Everyday Cotton Camisoles

Red Camisoles hanging on a hanger, perfect for summer weather.
  • Fabrication: Made from 100% cotton or cotton blends.
  • Features: Pull-on style, adjustable straps, built-in bra shelf, wide underarm straps.
  • Benefits: Soft, breathable, moisture-wicking, easy to care for.
  • Styling Tips: Team with jeans, shorts, or skirts for casual chic. Layer under tees, blouses or sweaters.

Curve-Hugging Camisoles

Curve-Hugging Camisoles
  • Fabrication: Stretchy microfiber, cotton spandex blends.
  • Features: Contoured seaming, adjustable/convertible straps, slim fit.
  • Benefits: Smoothes curves and tummy, eliminates lines.
  • Styling Tips: Wear under form-fitting dresses, tanks, or tees. Also as lounge-wear.

Lace Trim Camisoles

Lace Trim Camisoles
  • Fabrication: Floral lace trims with satin, charmeuse, or mesh.
  • Features: Feminine details like scalloped edges, racerback styling.
  • Benefits: Romantic and delicate for date nights. Also perfect under blazers or cardigans.
  • Styling Tips: Pair with skirts, jeans, or trousers. Finish with heels or flats.

Longline Camisoles

Types of camisole: Longline Camisoles
Photo: Instagram/@31forher
  • Fabrication: Silky fabrics like satin, silk, or rayon.
  • Features: Torso-grazing lengths, adjustable straps.
  • Benefits: Provides coverage under short tops or dresses.
  • Styling Tips: Layer under cropped sweaters, blazers and more. Tuck into skirts or pants.

Shelf Bra Camisoles

Type of camisoles: Shelf Bra Camisoles
Photo: Instagram/@aiko_pic
  • Fabrication: Soft stretchy cotton, modal or nylon.
  • Features: Built-in bra shelf for light bust support. Removable pads.
  • Benefits: Convenient coverage and support without an underwire bra.
  • Styling Tips: Wear under blazers, cardigans or as a shirt on its own.

Silk & Satin Camisoles

Type of camisoles: Silk & Satin Camisoles
Photo: Instagram/@silksilky_official
  • Fabrication: Luxurious silk, satin, and charmeuse.
  • Features: Adjustable spaghetti straps, shirring details, back designs.
  • Benefits: Soft and smooth for layering. Also perfect nightwear.
  • Styling Tips: Layer under blazers, sweaters, and tees. Tuck into flowy skirts.

Camisole Styling Tips from the Experts

Camisole Styling Tips from the Experts

Ready to rock your camisoles? Take styling tips straight from fashion editors, stylists, and designers:

  • “A lace camisole adds dimension layered under moto jackets, cardigans or blazers. Play with proportions and peek out the lace hem.” – Emily Ullrich, InStyle Fashion Editor
  • “For work outfits, choose muted camisoles in nudes, whites, or blacks. Intricate lace and bright colors are best for weekends.” – Rach Parcell, Blogger
  • “Pair a silky camisole with contrasting bottoms like leather leggings or houndstooth trousers. The juxtaposition creates interest.” – Kendall Becker, Stylist
  • “Don’t overlook a camisole’s power as a neutral layering piece. It allows statement blazers, jewels and accessories to pop.” – Blair Eadie, Atlantic-Pacific Blog
  • “A loose, flowy camisole adds breezy elegance to any outfit. Belt one over trousers or a pencil skirt to define the waist.” – Nina Garcia, Elle Editor
  • “Crisp white and black camisoles have year-round versatility under sheer blouses, chunky sweaters, or rompers.” – Rachel Parcell, Blogger

Use these expert style hacks to expand your camisole wardrobe horizons. Find fresh ways to incorporate camisoles into office outfits, date looks, and casual weekend ensembles.

Ready to simplify your closet? Learn the 6 must-have pieces for creating a streamlined capsule wardrobe that takes the guesswork out of getting dressed.

Camisole Fabric Considerations

Camisole Fabric Considerations

Fabric choice impacts the fit, feel, and function of camisoles. Consider materials, construction, and care when selecting camisoles.

  • Everyday cotton: Breathable, soft, and durable. Look for preshrunk 100% cotton.
  • Luxurious silk and satin: Drapes beautifully and feels decadent against the skin. Requires gentle washing.
  • Microfiber and spandex blends: Offer stretch for contouring fit. Check for quality construction.
  • Lace: Adds delicate texture and style. Opt for cotton-lined lace for comfort. Hand wash only.
  • Cashmere wool: Provides lightweight warmth. Look for 10-15% cashmere blends. Dry clean only.
  • Rayon and poly blends: Inexpensive option with soft feel. Can lose shape over time.

Caring for Your Camisoles

Follow fabric-specific care instructions to prolong your cami’s lifespan:

  • Cotton and cotton blends: Machine wash warm with like colors. Tumble dry low.
  • Silk and satin: Hand wash cold and line dry or dry clean. Avoid heat tools.
  • Synthetic blends: Machine wash cold, tumble dry low. Do not bleach.
  • Cashmere blends: Dry clean or gentle cycle, air dry flat to prevent shrinking.
  • Lace: Hand wash only in cold water. Reshape and dry flat.

Proper washing and drying is key. For silky fabrics, using a lingerie bag helps prevent snags and tears.

Finding Camisoles for Any Occasion

Caring for Your Camisoles

With so many camisole styles, which are right for different occasions?

Lounge and Sleep: Choose soft cotton or modal camis with adjustable straps and built-in shelf bras for comfortable support.

Layering: Fitted microfiber or spandex blend “base layer” camis tuck smoothly under clothes.

Weekend Wear: Lace trim camis add feminine flair paired with jeans or skirts.

Workwear: Silky crepe, satin, or jersey camis layer neatly under blazers and sheath dresses.

Going Out: Shirred charmeuse or metallic camis with racerback straps spice up skirts and trousers.

Maternity: Stretchy bamboo viscose or cotton blend camis adapt with expanding curves.

Postpartum: Nursing camis with front flaps allow discreet breastfeeding access.

Mix and match cami styles to always have the perfect piece for your needs whether dressing up, down, or just relaxing at home.

Related: Tired of overpaying for panties at Victoria’s Secret? Discover 10 awesome affordable stores for high-quality underwear you’ll love at budget-friendly prices. Get the inside scoop now on the best places to stock up on cozy, cute, and comfy panties and bras without breaking the bank!

History’s Most Iconic Camisoles

History's Most Iconic Camisoles

Camisoles have come a long way from their 19th century undergarment origins. Let’s look back at some iconic moments in camisole history.

1800s: Loosely fitted under-layering camisoles emerge as “slips” worn under corseted dresses.

1920s: Silky chemise-style camisoles become popular lounge-wear and nightgowns.

1940s: Fitted camisoles evolve from underwear into outerwear garments.

1970s: Designers like Betsey Johnson use camisoles as key romantic, feminine blouse pieces.

1980s: Madonna makes the camisole a bold fashion statement by incorporating lace styles into her bustier outfits.

1990s: Spaghetti-strap satin camisoles become nightlife staples and movie wardrobe essentials.

2000s: Dainty lace “bedjackets” worn over camisoles become a retro-glam trend.

2010s: Shelf bra camis offer a convenient alternative to bras as everyday tops.

2020s: Genderless, androgenous camisole styles gain popularity across menswear and womenswear.

It’s clear the humble camisole has gone through major style transformations in its 200 year history while remaining an essential piece of a woman’s wardrobe.

Shop Top Camisole Brands

Looking to refresh your camisole selection? Here are some recommended brands across budgets:

  • Everyday Basics: Hanes, Fruit of the Loom, Amazon Essentials
  • Department Stores: Macy’s Charter Club, Nordstrom, Aerie
  • Premium Labels: Eberjey, Cosabella, Le Petit Trou, Soma, Natori
  • Contemporary Brands: Free People, Madewell, Everlane, Anthropologie
  • Maternity Lines: Hatch, Momzelle, Pink Blush Maternity
  • Plus Sizes: Lane Bryant, Torrid, Eloquii
  • When possible, try styles on in person to assess fit and quality of material. Look for design details and fabrics that suit your needs and style priorities.

The Takeaway: Discover Your Perfect Camisole

Camisoles are no longer just lingerie. With an incredible range of fabrics, silhouettes, and design details, the options for styling camisoles are endless.

Use this guide’s wealth of expert style advice to choose pieces that work for your wardrobe. Look for camis that provide the support, coverage, or layering you need. Consider details like lace accents or cashmere that speak to your personal taste.

Most importantly, have fun playing with your cami combinations. A quality camisole offers the ultimate styling versatility. Whether dressed up for a formal event or paired with joggers at home, let your camisole be an effortless go-to piece.

So embrace the tremendous possibilities of the modern camisole. Let your favorite styles be the foundations of outfits that express your individual flair. The right camisoles can not only solve wardrobe malfunctions creatively, but also allow you to put together stunning looks perfect for any occasion.

Love layering camisoles under your outfits? Wait until you discover the versatile styling possibilities of different cami silhouettes and fabrics. Click here to uncover 8 camisole styles you need to know about to take your looks up a notch this season! From lacy numbers to slinky satin and crisp cottons, we break down the best cami options to mix, match, and layer for work, weekends, and everything in between. Check out the essential camisole guide now and reinvent your wardrobe!

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