Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Good Blouse

One thing Carolina Herrera and I have in common

(let us all take a moment to ponder the first and undoubtedly last time I will ever utter that sentence)

is our love of a good white blouse
. I'm semi-obsessed with the things. There have got to be a good dozen white woven garments that button up the front in my closet, and it's one of two things I can always be counted on to look at in a store even when I'm there searching for some other specific thing. (The other is a black skirt -- the quest for the perfect black skirt is never-ending.)

Some white blouses are so beautiful as to drive one to madness :

(Balenciaga, S/S 2006)

Fortunately for me and my mental health, I don't have the means to purchase the above and am therefore spared this fashion-induced psychosis for the forseeable future. But I am always on the lookout for a good white blouse that I can afford and wear in my real and much more prosaic life. This is my latest, and I'm completely in love:

It's Robert Rodriguez, I found it on sale at the Neiman Marcus Last Call here in Austin and if they'd had three of the things I would have bought all of them. (Seriously -- if anyone stumbles across any of these in a size 8, please let me know immediately.) It actually came with a tie that was sewn on:

but I busted out the trusty seam ripper and detached it so that I can wear it or not as I choose.

Why is this blouse so good? Well, for starters, it's beautifully fitted. It has great seaming and darts front and back so that it nips in very wonderfully at the waist:

(Check out the darts at the top of the shoulder. Little details like this go a long way to making you look like a million bucks.)

For another thing, it's nice and long. That means I can wear it untucked, perhaps over a vintage skirt whose waistband is in slightly rough shape, or I can tuck it in and not have to be constantly fussing with it. It drives me mad when my shirttails aren't quite long enough to tuck in properly -- I'm constantly shoving my hands in the back of my waistband like a first-time hit man checking to make sure his gun's still there. What else is nice and long are the sleeves -- they actually go past my elbows. I love a short-sleeved blouse, but I have big biceps. Some of this is because I have some extra poundage on me these days and some of it is because of many years of bartending, but the fact is I have pretty substantial upper arms. And may I point out that there is a difference between short sleeves and cap sleeves, which most manufacturers seem not to notice. Ugly truth is, if you don't have a nice upper arm, a little-bitty cap sleeve is going to make it look worse. For short sleeves I need something that comes near my elbow. These sleeves are also nice and full, which is a lifesaver for pear-shaped gals like me. Those nice puffy sleeves help broaden my top half in order to balance out my bottom half. All in all, it's just about perfect. I'm going to have to insist you look into getting yourself something like this, and to that end I've dug up a few alternatives (click for links):

Nearly identical, available in women's and misses sizes, and on sale for under thirty bucks! (Yes, you may kiss me.)

If you are not worried about making your top half look bigger, or if in fact you shouldn't make your top half look bigger with poofy sleeves because there's enough... er, poofiness up there already (translation: if you've got big boobs), try a sleeve that's fuller at the bottom rather than the top:

Love the pintucks on the sleeves, and the way it nips the waist.

Slightly more va-va-voom in a dressier fabric:

(Fetchingly windblown hair not included.)

Dotted swiss! I love dotted swiss!

If you just can't get behind the poofy sleeves but still love the fit:

(She borrowed the blonde's wind machine.)

And not to forget my petite sisters:

I believe with all my heart there is almost no situation a good white blouse can't save. So go getcha one. And if you have recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

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Anonymous said...

I love your article about the white blouses. Myself, I've never been able to find the perfect one, nor a portable matching wind machine :-). Since my upper part is bigger than my lower a white blouse only seems to make me look bigger on the top. Hmmm... But I am always looking with envy to the women who seem to know how to wear it.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this lovely post -- I'm a white-shirt lover myself, although more at the tailored end of the spectrum.

Have you seen the White Shirt collection at the British shop/store Thomas Pink? (I bought my first Pink shirt in London years ago and loved it; they do mail to the US as well. They're quite expensive, but the shop's running a sale now.) The only tricky thing is sizing, as it's not only UK sizing but also cut very close. I wear a US size 8, but in Thomas Pink shirts I wear a UK 12.

StyleSpy said...

Thanks to the link to the Pink site -- I've been drooling over it already. (And can we talk about how much I love

these cufflinks?)
I don't have any Pink shirts, but they are legendary and one of those lovelies is definitely on my List of Things to Acquire.

elle said...

Am a fellow white blouse addict. How could anyone not appreciate their perfection? I still wear brilliantly tailored white blouses I bought 20 years ago. They make everything look better and I usually wait for them to go on sale, since it's totally irrelevant to me if they were from last season. They're simply classics.