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Saturday, August 2, 2014

What's a Shirt? What's a Blouse?

* The sixties clothing revolution (mid sixties on) took us from blouses to shirts. In the forties-fifties-early-sixties women's separates usually included a blouse. For blouses check out the Donna Reed Show, Petticoat Junction, Perry Mason and, of course, retro patterns. Look on the Dick Van Dyke show for Rosemarie wearing shirts over pencil skirts and looking the very modern professional woman. Shirts traditionally marked women who were moving into higher profession positions, starting during the New Woman era of the late 1800's

This traditional fitted blouse takes nicely to
embellishment. It's from a Miss Marple movie set in the 1950's 
This traditional women's shirt is sold by L.L. Bean
* A shirt tends to be somewhat loose, with style lines that hint at a woman's figure. Traditional fabrics are loose weaves. I think of materials like... oxford cloth, linen, cottons with body, somewhat stiff silk, silk noil/raw silk. Most shirts aren't big on embellishment, unless it's pretty simple like a bit of embroidery on a pocket or the point of a collar.

Another traditional fitted blouse from the same Miss Marple
movie. Blouses were typically worn tucked in, but
this blouse has a band at the waist so it could be worn
loose just over the skirt's waistband to flatter the actresses
very traditionally woman's figure.
* A blouse is more fitted. It's often somewhat delicate when it comes to fabric I think of materials like...  handkerchief linen, fluid cottons and silks like crepe de chine, sheer fabrics like silk organza. I think a blouse really takes to being embellished just about anywhere!

Petticoat Junction: Bobbie Joe's pink blouse takes well to
ruffled embellishment. The Doctor (center front) is also wearing a
blouse. Ruffles make a garment a blouse in my book.

This Silk Georgette blouse 
is nicely embellished in a very traditional blouse
fashion. It also has lot's of darts to make
it very fitted. It would tuck in well.

* What's a shirt? 
For me...
- yoke back-over-front
- no darts
- opens up well over a tank top - shirt jacket style
- minimal carefully thought out embellishment, often a pocket motif or very minimal trim - like a bias trim along the inner neckline or in the cuff area
- wide variety of buttons, can be fairly big and arty or non-standard or smaller, more delicate blouses crossover into the zone between shirt and blouse

For me this garment says 'blouse' because
it's buttoned all the way up, and has a Peter Pan collar.   Though the tucks
give it fullness in the torso, they are a constrained type of
fullness, not loose and floating away from the women's figure.
Another photo from a Miss Marple movie.
* What's a blouse? For me
  - more fitted than a shirt
  - darts to flatter my form
  - it tucks into a waistband
 - if anything underneath it's a thin camisole to mask undergarments, perhaps only open at the neckline to show a line of lace at the top of that camisole
- a blouse takes to embellishment ruffles, lace, ribbon on cuffs, collar, up the front around the buttons(see examples below)
- delicate buttons like a pearl bead, small mother-of-pearl, speciality like little fruits or flowers - especially where they contrast or complement the fabric

* Accessories that add to a blouse
 - pearls
 - a thin dangling necklace - For me that might be a cameo on a chain
 - colored purse, belt and shoes (especially if they are all the same color) give a traditional feel

* How do I accessorize a shirt?
 - a scarf often looks better with a shirt than a blouse
 - less delicate jewelry

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