Bridal lingerie can be so different. Some underwear pieces are sexy, others are delicate and meant to represent purity and virginity, still others are intricate and complicated in design. Every bride is able to pick whatever she likes and feels comfortable in. Traditional and historical underpinnings are another matter entirely – their design and decorations should be certain, sometimes strictly set. The traditional Tunisian below-the-knee pantaloons probably wouldn’t be considered seductive or tempting by most modern European men. But for modest and conservative Tunisians, such bridal lingerie peeking from under the wedding attire was truly captivating.
Photos are from Nationalclothing.org
Tunisian traditional underwear set consisted of a lace chemise called “soureya” with very wide sleeves and lace pantaloons called “serwel”. Both pieces were white and very ornate, adorned with lace or embroidery or openwork, etc.
Tunisian traditional bridal lingerie soureya and serwel
The soureya was rather short, it reached about the mid-thigh. The sleeves had a triangular shape, they widened to the cuff considerably. These sleeves often peeked from under the upper garments – sometimes only a few inches, just the trimming, or from the elbow down, or even the entire sleeve could be visible. So, the sleeves were often gold-embroidered. How much of a sleeve to show, depended on the style of the wedding dress, region of origin, and the bride’s whim. In some areas of Tunisia, the lace neckline also could be seen from under the bridal attire.
Tunisian bride in folk wedding attire
The soureya had to be richly embellished not only because it was partially visible but also to seduce the husband when the wedding ceremony was over and the newlyweds had their first wedding night. This was festive underwear, a special set, just like modern bridal lingerie is not made for comfort.
The traditional serwel pantaloons were adorable. Tunisian bridal bloomers were rather loose. They were white, decorated with lace, and their length could be different – from short drawers to below-the-knee pantaloons. Very often, they peeked from underneath the wedding kaftan or dress. And there was one peculiarity in design – the bottom of these serwel was usually serrated, which added even more charm to this important undergarment.
Vintage Tunisian clothing. On the right, you can see serwel peeking from under the dress
Of course, Tunisian traditional lingerie wasn’t too revealing, but it belongs to an entirely different time and culture. Even today, some Tunisian brides, when wearing traditional wedding clothing, use the soureya and serwel to complete the attire. And it looks natural and lovely.