Long sleeved blouses can be flattering, smart, contemporary or vintage; there is a blouse for every situation. As with all things though, you usually get what you pay for, so it's a good idea to look for well-designed blouses in good quality fabrics.
Today, a blouse is the term generally used to describe a loose-fitting women's top. Long sleeved blouses usually have some sort of tailoring detail; this could be a shirt-style button fastening or a tailored fit to the garment. Blouses tend to be made of light fabric, such as cotton, chiffon or polyester. Blouses can be worn in the office with a pair of smart trousers, on the school run with a pair of jeans, or out on the town with a pencil skirt and a pair of high heels.
A Brief History of the Blouse
The blouse is thought of as a quintessentially feminine garment, but it was originally thought of as suitable peasant clothing. In the UK, the first blouses were the loose tops worn by labourers such as shepherds and ploughmen; the sort of loose garment that was made of thick woollen fabric and often featuring some sort of smocking across the front.
Later, these were appropriated and adapted by the Romantic poets of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, eventually leading to the first women's blouses that became popular in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In the 1880s, a man's contemporary button-down cotton shirt was further adapted to be worn by women; this style of long-sleeved blouse has been a wardrobe staple across the western world and beyond ever since.
What sort of blouse is best for my body shape?
There are many different sorts of blouses and some are more flattering for various body types than others.
The Peasant Blouses
Peasant blouses are inspired by the loose tops often worn by Russian peasants in the nineteenth century and beyond. The style is relatively loose and is, therefore, flattering to all body types. As the fabric flows over the hips, the style is particularly flattering to apple body shapes as it detracts attention from the tummy and bust. The neckline of a peasant style is often deep and round - great if you wish to emphasise a cleavage! There are hundreds of variations, however, many of which feature embroidery, beading, and different peasant styles, such as Russian Folk, Aztec or Tuscan.
The Pussy Bow Blouse
This style of blouse was very popular in the 1980s when it was often worn as a way of feminising a business suit. The style features a convertible collar style on the neck, which can be tied in several different ways, such as to the side in the nominal 'pussy cat bow'. This type of blouse is ideal at disguising a flat chest.
The Button Down Blouse
This is probably the blouse that first springs to mind when one thinks of blouses. This type of blouse is undoubtedly the most popular and can be formal or casual. Often featuring a collar and cuffs, a button down blouse fastens like a shirt, although the buttons are sometimes hidden. Button down blouses are flattering to most body shapes as they lengthen the torso, making the body appear slim- although paradoxically they can also make thin women appear larger. Available in a multitude of fabrics, patterns and styles, there is a button down blouse to suit every woman.
The Wrap Blouse
A wrap blouse is a great item of clothing for more mature women, as the cut of the garment is very clever at hiding areas of the body that many are keen on disguising. Wrap blouses suit all body shapes and are flattering for several reasons. Firstly, the tie feature at the waist nips in the waist and adds definition to the figure. Secondly, the 'V' neck lengthens the torso, which is always flattering, and finally, the shape divides the chest and stomach area into two separate sections, wich can create the illusion of slimness.