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Chemisette

Q: My mother wants a lacy filler panel for the neckline of a V neck sweater. I see them all the time, have seen some bras with lace for this purpose, but I don't know what the non-bra version is called so I can find one.
 
A: Inserts of this type actually go by many names, which is one of the reasons that finding them can be confusing. Aside from the specific “brand names” for the product types sold on TV, there are ads for “patterns” to allow you to crochet your own.
 
       The more “technical” term for these products is ‘chemisette’ (or little chemise) and refers to an article of women’s clothing designed to fill in the front neckline of any garment. It corresponds to the old-fashioned “dickey” worn by men at the turn of the century as a false shirt-front, though its purpose is slightly different. The dickey was worn to enable a gentle man to present a fully dressed image, without adding yet another layer of fabric to his clothing. Remember in those days, long undergarments were often worn beneath a suit that included vest, and jacket, then an overcoat would be worn over the suit-coat. In warmer climates and seasons, this meant a simple dress shirt would only add another layer of warming insulation to the body. So, the dickey was worn in order to reduce the amount of layering, while still providing a gentlemen’s proper look.
 
       For women, the chemisette was more a matter of modesty. While the silhouette of a woman’s form was often celebrated and accentuated by the fashions of the day, specific exposure of details such as cleavage was strictly frowned upon by a lady of quality. A lady would wear chemisettes to cover bare skin that might otherwise be revealed by the cut and design of ever-changing fashions.
 
       Other terms you might use to find a ‘chemisette’ or similar type of item include: “Modesty Panel”, “Cleavage Cover”, or “Faux Camisole”.
 
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