lagatta commented, "But as a very busty person with very small, sloping shoulders (an old-fashioned body type) I am very relieved that t-shirts of the more elegant type (silk, hemp, fine cotton) can sub for blouses. Blouses were a nightmare for me, even if too large they gaped and unlike the Queen I couldn't afford to have them made to fit."
Of all the obvious corner-cutting in women's wear, blouses have suffered the most.
Shirts have held, but the feminine yet tailored blouse has nearly vanished. ("Blouse" in English generally means a shirt without tails, worn by women, girls and historically, young boys.)
This is what you see most of the time: the Brooks Brothers linen shirt ($98) with placket sewn straight to the shirt collar.
I hunt lapel-collared blouses, in notched, wing or shawl styles. (Shown, vintage blouse from etsy seller greatestfriend.)
Ann Roth costumed Meryl Streep in "Julie and Julia" in mostly lapeled blouses, including this wing version.
You'll also have a hard time finding more than one of these details on a blouse:
- Pleated or gathered yokes, front or back
- Bust darts
- Straight, well-finished slit-sided bottom (so you can wear the blouse tucked or untucked in a dressier manner than shirt tails)
- French cuffs
- Prints or stripes that match at seams and pockets
- Chest pocket
- Mother-of-pearl or covered buttons
- Thin half-shoulder pads, to create a shoulder line even if yours slope
- French seams in blouses of sheer fabrics
If you yearn for detail plus precise fit, you'd best be pattern-shopping.
Burda #8503 (from Pattern.com) has lapels, front and back princess seams, shoulder and sleeve darts, watch pocket and a cheeky weskit tail.
That blouse involves serious tailoring. And you wonder why today's mass market blouses don't fit?
Women with definite busts might choose a wrap style like this Lafayette 148 lurex stripe ($140 on Overstock.com).
It offers some flexibility at the bustline, but the shoulder still has to fit.
If you sew or have found your dressmaker-angel, Burda #8497 from Sewing.com is your wrap-blouse number.
I tried to have a blouse made by a men's custom shirtmaker here and got a blank stare.They cannot deal with bust darts and really aren't interested.
And look at this, worn by Barbara Dalton, 1959 Runner Up in Glamour Magazine’s Ten Girls with Taste survey: a wool jersey blouse with draped lapeled collar by Dorian Macksound, crepe scarf by Sally Gee.
Like lagatta, I too resort to knits, but long for chic blouses and hoard those I've found from French makers such as Anne Fontaine and Alain Figaret.
Once you've found one, your work is just beginning. Only good for one wear, each takes a good 20 minutes to press those darts and facings. But it's small price for a womanly, graceful garment.