Blouse

A blouse is a loose-fitting upper garment that was formerly worn by workmen, peasants, artists, women, and children. It is typically gathered at the waist or hips so that it hangs loosely  over the wearer’s body. Today, the word most commonly refers to a girl’s or woman’s dress shirt but can also refer to a man’s shirt if it is a loose-fitting style. Traditionally, the term has been used to refer to a shirt which blouses out or has an unmistakably feminine appearance. The term is also used for some men’s military uniform jackets. Blouse is a loanword to English from French: blouse means dust coat. It possibly was brought back from their travels by French Crusaders. They moved on their armor a so-called pelusisian shirt, a blue-colored gowns to the dust, which had its name from the Egyptian town of Pelusium. The derivation may also be from wool, blouso short wool and blos, blouse deprived, naked taken off. It is first officially noted in 1828, from French blouse, of obscure Occitan route.

Blouses are historically a cask style, mostly mail-like garment, that were rarely part of the fashionable woman’s wardrobe until the 1890s. Before that time, they were occasionally popular for informal wear in styles that echoed peasant or traditional clothing, such as the Garibaldi shirt of the 1860s. Blouses usually consist of light fabrics such as silk or thin cotton fabrics, until the early 1990s are often made of softly falling synthetic fibers (e.g. polyester). Sometimes they are decorated with frills, embroidery or loops. The classic of the ladies’ blouses is the white shirt blouse (following the classic elegant white men’s shirt). Here the combination possibilities are particularly diverse. The open spade or reverse collar is another common type of classic ladies’ blouse.

Blouses are often made of cotton or silk cloth and may or may not include a collar and sleeves. They are generally more tailored than simple knit tops, and may contain feminine details such as ruffles, a tie or a soft bow at the neck, or embroidered decorations. Tailoring provides a closer fit to the wearer’s shape. This is achieved with sewing of features such as princess seams or darting in the waist and/or bust.

Blouses (and many women’s shirts with buttons) usually have buttons reversed from that of men’s shirts (except in the case of male military fatigues). That is, the buttons are normally on the wearer’s left-hand and the buttonholes are on the right. The reasons for this are unclear, and several theories exist without have conclusive evidence. Some suggest this custom was introduced by launderers so they could distinguish between women’s and men’s shirts. One theory purports that the tradition arose in the Middle Ages when one manner of manifesting wealth was by the number of buttons one wore. Another that the original design was based on armour which was designed so that a right-handed opponent would not catch their weapon in the seam and tear through,and that a person could draw a weapon with their right-hand without catching it in a loose seam of their own clothes.

Female servants were in charge of buttoning their mistress’s gowns (since the buttons were usually in the back). They tired of attempting to deal with buttons that were, from their point of view, backwards and, as such they started reversing the placement when making or repairing them. Another possible reason is so that men can easily undo blouses as, from the front, buttons are on the same side as a man’s shirt. One other theory is that women were normally dressed by their maids, while men dressed themselves. As such, women’s blouses were designed so it could be easily buttoned by the maid but that of men were designed so it could be easily buttoned by the person wearing it.