Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Blouses for all Budgets

Ahh, some of us fell in love with this blouse, from Prabal Gurung, back in April when I used it in a packing plan.  I had the real pleasure of actually seeing and touching this gorgeous thing...  you couldn't see a stitch anywhere, the fabric was exquisitely heavy and intricate - we're talking about a work of garment art.  If I owned such a thing, I'd have Botox on every cell of my body above my hips, so that I would never dare to perspire on such a beauty...

But one of my friends asked me if there couldn't possibly be something a little bit... less... like a mortgage payment, that might function similarly in the wardrobe in question.  Bien sur, baby - all you need to do is figure out what the essential qualities of the garment in question are, and then replicate them in something else.

This particular blouse didn't need to do anything except be beautiful, and go well with navy separates.  But I also thought that I should try to scare up great prints with a feeling of tile or other repeated motif, and something that included a red or reddish tone in the pattern.  So I offer you options at a variety of prices:

I will never, ever, tell you how much money to spend on anything - that's for you and you alone to decide.  I will, with a clear conscience, suggest that you try to avoid clothing made in terrible working conditions.  I will also strongly encourage you to at least walk through the poshest part of any store or mall, and look seriously at the merchandise.  Ask questions.  The staff there are justifiably proud of what they sell, and will show you what goes into quality construction if you politely ask.  And I will encourage you then to buy fewer items, and buy the very best that you can afford, and to then cherish it and wear it to bits.

But money does NOT equal good taste, nor style, nor elegance.  We all know that....


  1. Beautiful shape.
    There are several sewing patterns if you want to recreate your own top with a similar silhouette.
    Simplicity has the princess seams and would look very similar with a small change to the neckline

    Others worth considering:





    Fabric suggestions

    Millefiore Red by Kaffe Fassett
    Paisley Jungle Rust by Kaffe Fassett

    The classic Liberty Lawn Ianthe in the red or blue colourway would look stunning

    1. I used to sew (when my hands were young and agile) and I agree that the best way to find what you love is to make it yourself. I made my wedding gown (about a hundred years ago) when the going style was Edwardian. I got a dress I loved for much less than I could have found it in a store--and it fit! Sewing is a valuable skill.

  2. Something I've learned from this blog -- when you rely on the accessories for variety, then you can have fewer pieces of clothing.

  3. Wonderful post, Janice! I particularly like your encouraging words.

  4. This is a really interesting demonstration of the dilution of quality as a garment reaches 'mass market'. Even from a computer screen one can see the increasing lack of definition and/ or subtlety of a print (more 'sludgy' the cheaper it gets), the baggier the silhouette as cut and quality of fabric tapers off as price point drops. Really worth holding out for the best one can afford, or in my case, hunting out the best fabrics one can source and then taking them to one's tailor. (Generally not a dry cleaner's in-house tailor but a tailor or dressmaker with their own business and clientele. (I wish I could sew but it's not one of my gifts.) That way one can have the complex cutting and seaming that flatters your own individual body, and such delights as pure silk lining, for no more than a mid market piece off the peg. If you find the latter then hurrah, but for my shape - petite, long waisted pear - that serendipitous off-the-peg encounter is so rare that I now save up for aforementioned visits to my superb tailor instead.

  5. Such beautiful tops! I so agree with you .. A few very nice things that go a long way.. Simple well made basics. I have learned so much from you, Janice. Now I will consider a statement blouse.. As I've been using scarves as my statement pieces.., but a lovely top to wear for special occasions.. Or just when I want to feel like a queen... Hmmm I may just order the Desiqual navy and aqua top.. My colors! Lovely post and wise words.

  6. While the color and the print are lovely, the essential quality to me is the blouse's silhouette. The fitted princess bodice and the flouncy peplum really appeal to me since that is style well-suited to my body. I think I would try to find a similar style blouse and then worry about the color. (Which, of course, it your point--identify what you love and then try to replicate it.)

  7. I love the idea of this, and do love a signature print piece (usually a top). I have found that less expensive lines/clothes don't do prints so well. The standout pieces that are higher quality really do set prints apart. So, my question/struggle is: Do I splurge on one gorgeous, standout print that I can rotate and wear with many different solid pieces in my wardrobe? The risk of that is appear that you're always wear that same old print top! And the other "problem" is that it tires and becomes dated more quickly so it's an investment for a season or two after which you move on to the next. Anyway, some of my thoughts that I would love to get some feedback on. So LOVE that piece. The colours are wonderful!--Hope

  8. It's the eternal question of trendiness vs. style. If you choose a blouse (using this example) without the peplum, you would have a stylish piece, not anchored to a particular season.

    Another thing I noticed - People don't notice half as much as we fear they do... I once did a minimalist clothing experiment: 6 pieces in 30 days. No one noticed. No one. I changed up accessories and no one blinked.

    What you may get, from a statement blouse, is comments like "I like when you wear that!"


  9. That last paragraph- excellent, sound advice.