It’s not breaking news to any of us that The Blouse has officially made its return to the well-heeled woman’s wardrobe. For a long time, I felt as though the word “blouse” fell into the same lexical category as “slacks,” “white sneakers,” and “work pumps,” i.e., “icky older frumpy woman clothing.” This semi-ungrounded connotation has been carefully and fully disproven over the past season or two, and much of its reinvention can be attributed to the re-birth of the line Equipment. Since Equipment re-released its famous blouse in 2010 under the creative direction of Current/Elliott’s Serge Azria (the line had first debuted in 1975 and its wares were seen on the likes of Katherine Hepburn), the blouse has made a fierce comeback. This season, I’ve seen variations on the theme all.over.the.place, including in mass-retailers like Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Zara, H&M, etc., but my favorite lines are Parker, Tucker, and, of course, Equipment. (Though the Equipment blouse runs big…be prepared to tuck a lot of excess fabric into your belt line.) Recently, however, it’s not so much the label line I care about as the neck line — I like my blouses collarless.
For example, check out this affordable blouse ($118, Ann Taylor) in emerald green (and PS — J. Crew’s Silk Elodie blouse is nearly identical, comes in a comparable hue, and $8 less), which I’d pair now, in these lingering dog days of summer, with a art deco-esque statement necklace (Antik Batik, $180, Net-A-Porter), a crisp white skirt (that old rule about no-white-after-labor-day is a serious drag — this style is by Giambattista Valli and will cost you a pretty penny, but comparable versions abound at places like Banana Republic and J. Crizzle — $725, Net-A-Porter):
The finishing touches: cat-eye sunnies (yep, still in.love. — Ray Ban, $130, Saks), an Hermes cuff (did anyone else watch the Rachel Zoe premiere and notice that BOTH RZ and her new VP, Mandana, were wearing this?! — ugh, need — $1,050, Hermes), and a swash of orange lip color (I’m mega into YSL’s collection right now):
Another work-wear pick? This gray collarless blouse-y dress (Dace Virtue, $276, Thistle and Clover), which I’d pair with a poppy-orange scarf ($195, Chan Luu) and a bold, turquoise-accented statement necklace (Gemma Redux, $303, Charm & Chain):
I’d finish with some sort of patterned pump — loving these python pumps (House of Harlow, $304, MyWardrobe):
For weekend wear, I’m all about the printed blouse — like this Wren style ($265, Thistle Clover), which would look awesome with white jeans and some tortoise-shell accents, like this chain-link necklace (KJL, $275, Neiman’s), these Elizabeth + James sunnies ($185, Saks), and these slick flats ($138, J. Crew):
I’d finish with an oversized clutch ($139, Clare Vivier):
Alternately, this printed wonder (Sea, $311, Steven Alan) would look perfect beneath a blush blazer (Paul & Joe, $170, MyWardrobe), atop some black skinnies and some serious black booties, to toughen things up (Alaia, $780, Browns):
Finish with polished gold accents, like a stack of these Henri Bendel bangles (in mixed metals, if possible — $88 each, Henri Bendel):
A structured tote seals the deal — do we love this clean Rochas style ($990, EditNY)?!
Comparable collarless blouses abound, including this Reiss style ($240) which I absolutely adore and would pair with an oversized dot scarf (like to mix the sizes); this animal print Equipment steal (on sale for $120), which I’d pair with a camel pencil skirt or beneath a fur vest; and this Chanel-esque black-on-white style from Madewell ($120), which I’d pair with a black skirt, black tights, and black pumps for work. And don’t even get me started on the un.be.liev.a.ble collarless coat options abounding this season — J. Crew had me at their August catalog: