The Garibaldi Shirt – the Blouse’s Direct Ancestor

The shirt is a person of the most versatile products in women’s garments. A single can wear a shirt for different situations and scenarios. It can be worn for work, faculty, relaxed and semi-formal events, or a enjoyment date with your buddies or your significant other. It is readily available extended-sleeved, limited-sleeved or sleeveless, or buttoned or zippered. It can be designed of a variety of products to match any type of weather.

The flexibility of the woman’s shirt is the selection one particular cause why it continue to exists and stays well-liked up to now. Potentially it is time to dig further into the blouse’s immediate ancestor – the Garibaldi shirt – which was also the precursor to the also-versatile shirtwaist of the Victorian period.

a black and white photo of Giuseppe Garibaldi
Italian typical and patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi, just after whom the shirt is named

The Garibaldi shirt, also recognised as the Garibaldi jacket, is a woman’s shirt. It is named soon after the Italian people hero Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807 – 1882), who fought for his country’s independence by primary various army campaigns that ultimately resulted in Italian unification.


In the image earlier mentioned, you can see Garibaldi and his wife Anita (proper) sporting crimson shirts. His followers ended up named “Redshirts” right after the color of their blouses. This navy shirt transitioned into a unisex blouse for civilian use. 

From the 1860s onwards, specifically all through the Civil War era, the Garibaldi shirt rose to level of popularity and solely became a shirt for females. It was the French empress, Eugénie de Montijo (main image) who popularized the Garibaldi shirt as a women’s garment.

A woman wearing a Zouave jacket underneath what could be a Garibaldi shirt
A lady putting on a Zouave jacket underneath what could be a Garibaldi shirt

Women often wear the Garibaldi shirt underneath a Zouave jacket – a shorter jacket with an open up front. But there are also instances that the shirt could also be worn by by itself.

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The Garibaldi shirt was initially red and typically built of merino wool it was also known in Italian as “Camicia rossa” or “red shirt.” Having said that, it later turned obtainable in different fabrics (these kinds of as muslin cotton), shades, and styles. At the time, however, it would seem that white, beige, and other light-colored Garibaldi shirts had been among the most well known.

Like its descendants, the shirtwaist and shirt, the Garibaldi shirt was basic and multipurpose. Thinking about that restrictive clothes (like the crinoline and bustle) were widespread in 1800s trend, the Garibaldi shirt was a welcome reduction as it offered the wearer comfort and relieve of motion.

Compared to the a lot more elaborate women’s garments in the 1800s, the Garibaldi shirt was reasonably uncomplicated. They had been offered plain or embellished with ruffles, pintucks, or fragile-hunting lace collars. While the Garibaldi shirt was modern, it was also simple. The sleeves could be effortlessly rolled up when there was do the job to be accomplished. The shirt was also simple to clean and cleanse.

From Garibaldi shirt to shirtwaist to shirt

Shirtwaist designs of the early 1900s
A 1906 advertisement showing 16 different styles for shirtwaists

The Garibaldi shirt developed into the shirtwaist (or only waist) that grew to become well-liked all through the Victorian by the Edwardian eras. It was called shirtwaist simply because it was worn only above the waistline, like the modern day blouse. The shirtwaist’s development was even substantially more simple, but it was even now adorned with embroidery and lace.

A woman wearing a white blouse with bowtie and denim shorts
The present day shirt

As you can see in this picture, the modern day shirt echoes the Garibaldi shirt and the shirtwaist. The phrase “blouse” currently normally refers to any free-fitting higher garment for females. 

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Army Class A Blouse
US Military Class A shirt with ribbons

However, a blouse also refers to an army uniform jacket for gentlemen, which quite reminds us of the garment’s navy roots.