Loose, romantic, playful. If summer were a garment, it would be a blouse. The humble brag of your wardrobe. Less uptight than a crisp white shirt, but more glamourous than a tee, which you’ve probably been living in for the last four months. Rest assured, that comment is delivered with zero snide-ism, because T-shirts are great. They do the job. It’s just that a blouse adds another layer of romance to a summer look.
With prairie style reigning supreme in these drawn-out days - the lure of rural idyll all the more palpable by the minute – the blouse is au courant. And happily, can be worn in a plethora of ways. French tucked into your favourite jeans? With high-waisted trousers? Underneath a dress? All very good options, depending on your dress up vs. dress down hierarchy of needs.
So, you’re sold on the blouse. Next up, the style. Whether you’re channelling a high octane extra in a 1980s music video or want an outfit that screams “I Haven’t Tried Too Hard (but really I have a bit, of course, because this is the first time I’ve been at a group gathering since March, and it’s been on my mind)” then look no further, my friend.
You simply cannot go wrong with a white cotton blouse. OK, well there’s minor concern about wine stains, but still. In terms of purely aesthetic purposes it’s the perfect outfit fixer upper – good to have on standby for all your socially-distanced brunching and dawdling activities. To nod to Victoriana style without looking too prim, avoid a high neck and choose a more relaxed fit. Etsy, eBay and Instagram vintage sellers offer a playground of possibilities in this department.
Getting dressed can be fun. Though, getting dressed for a job interview is a pain at best, anxiety-inducing at worst. You want something that says, “I mean business, but also am approachable” whilst also nodding to your own personal style. No. Easy. Feat. Couple that with the new virtual interview landscape, adding another layer of sartorial pressure - where all efforts go into waist-up apparel. Enter: the tie-neck blouse. Silk, I think works best here; elegance personified but still relaxed. An alternative to the white shirt and skinny black scarf.
Blouses, by virtue of their floaty nature, exude an air of casualness. Typically seen as a dressed-up day top option. And yet, let’s not underestimate its after-dark appeal. Take Harris Reed, the gender fluid fashion wunderkind (and Harry Style’s go-to designer), who recently created an entire blouse collection, made from fabrics and threads leftover from previous collaborations with artists, musicians and editorials. The whole vibe is very Studio 54. For a similar disco-tinged mood, see Batsheva’s metallic high neck blouse, featuring voluminous sleeves and a high-shine finish. Ideal for those who refuse to let lockdown clip their fashion peacock wings.
When there’s an aura of impending doom, it makes sense to seek refuge in emblems of our past. Which probably explains the more recent obsession with school clothes. Of course, your Year Six gingham uniform has a more grown-up flavour, in the form of paint box bright embroidery and fashionably supersized collars. See Spanish brand La Veste for further details.
A blouse is a shortcut to channelling 1970s-style bohemian energy. Exuding just the right amount of drama, without looking too try-hard. Seek out bell sleeves or deep-wristed cuff detailing, and tuck into a pair of faded high-waisted flared jeans for maximum Summer of Love status.