AskDefine | Define bodice

Dictionary Definition

bodice n : part of a dress above the waist

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a RP /ˈbɒdɪs/
  • a US /ˈbɑːdɪs/


  1. An article of clothing for women, covering the body from the neck to the waist, lacking sleeves or with detachable sleeves.
  2. A woman's blouse-like garment, especially with European folk dress.
  3. The upper portion of a one- or two-piece dress, in distinction to the skirt and sleeves.

Derived terms


article of clothing

Extensive Definition

A bodice is an article of clothing for women, covering the body from the neck to the waist.
The term comes from pair of bodies (because the garment was originally made in two pieces that fastened together, frequently by lacing).
In common usage, bodice refers to an upper garment that has removable sleeves or no sleeves, often low-cut, worn in Europe from the sixteenth century to the eighteenth century, either over a corset or in lieu of one. To achieve a fashionable shape and support the bust, the bodice was frequently stiffened with bents (a type of reed), or whalebone.
Bodices survive into modern times in the traditional or revived folk dress of many European countries (see, for example, Austrian dirndl or the Aboyne dress worn by Scottish highland dancers).
Bodice continues in use to refer to the upper portion of a one- or two-piece dress to distinguish it from the skirt and sleeves. The bodice of a dress was called the corsage in the nineteenth century.
Bodices are commonly seen today at SCA events or a Renaissance Fair.

See also


Arnold, Janet: Patterns of Fashion: the cut and construction of clothes for men and women 1560-1620, Macmillan 1985. (ISBN 0-89676-083-9)
bodice in German: Mieder
bodice in French: Guêpière
bodice in Hungarian: Míder
bodice in Dutch: Guêpière
bodice in Swedish: Bodice
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