What Is A Blouse?

Woman in white Blouse
This post may contain affiliate links. At no cost to you we may earn a commission. See our full disclosure for more info.

A blouse is a loose-fitting upper garment that can range from casual to formal. Often, blouses look softer and more feminine. They’re also quite versatile pieces of clothing, fitting any body type.

What is a blouse? The blouse still confuses many people, especially compared to shirts and tops

To help you get a clearer idea and definition of a blouse, we checked in with some fashion experts and specialists.

Below, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the blouse, including:

  • What a blouse looks like
  • How does it differ from a shirt
  • How does it differ from a top
  • How does it differ from a tunic
  • Who else can wear a blouse
  • Other uses and meanings of the word

What Does a Blouse Look Like?

Are you a blouse owner? If you don’t think so, there’s a big chance that your wardrobe contains a blouse or two. 

Even if you don’t have an accurate definition of a blouse, you can guess that it’s a top for women.

The tricky part about blouses is that they encompass various garment types and styles.

Typically, a blouse is loose-fitting, but it can taper as it reaches the bottom part of the garment. It can be flowy and billowy throughout. Or it can taper at the waist to give the wearer a more feminine silhouette.

Frequently, blouses don’t have collars. However, many blouse designs today also feature a collar. 

A blouse can also have a series of buttons that closes the neckline. Yet, you won’t see a blouse with a full button opening.

This garment may have full sleeves, short sleeves, or no sleeves. Again, it’s another excellent trait that makes it such a versatile piece of clothing.

In other words, you can use the term blouse to refer to almost any feminine top. 

You’ll also notice that many blouse designs are dressy. It’s why most women wear a blouse to work, special dates, and semi-formal or formal events.

Woman wearing white Blouse

Blouses vs Shirts

One of the trickiest things about blouses is that you can mistake them for shirts. Today, you learn that a blouse is different from a shirt in many ways.

First, here are the features of a shirt:

·         Gender-neutral

·         Best worn for casual wear

·         Can be sleeveless or sleeved

·         Often has a straight hem

·         Button-through or button-down

·         Can have a collar or no collar

·         Fit is fluid, oversized, or tailored

·         May have a crisp look

·         Uses woven fabrics

As you can see, the two types of clothing can share some similarities. They can have sleeves and collars or lack them. Both can have collars or none.

You can wear them for casual events or lounging. However, blouses can also fit formal events, while shirts rarely do. 

A shirt can also have a loose fit or a body-fit design. Meanwhile, a blouse is typically loose-fitting only.

A blouse can have buttons, but it never has a full opening or button-down front. A shirt can have a full, partial, or no opening. 

Both blouses and shirts use woven fabrics, like cotton and silk. Yet, plaid fabrics and designs best fit shirts only.

The most significant difference between a blouse and a shirt is that a shirt is gender-neutral. Men and women can wear shirts. It’s why most casual shirts have a straight silhouette. 

However, the term blouse implies that it’s for a woman.

Woman wearing red Blouse

Should I Wear a Shirt or Blouse for My Body Type?

The beauty of modern shirts and blouses today is that they can fit almost any body type.  If you’re more meticulous about your appearance, here are some tips.

Women with long necks can wear a shirt to complement this asset. 

A shirt will fit you better if you have a straight body type and a small bust. If you have a large bust, wearing a shirt can be challenging.

For example, a button-down shirt can have gaps between the buttons if your bust is too large. Cotton shirts can stretch disproportionately at the bust area if it doesn’t have the right fit.

If you’ve got a curvy body type, a blouse will fit you better. Its loose-fitting nature can hide the unwanted muffin top. 

A tailored blouse can also highlight your figure well with the right fit.

Blouses also often have a softer appearance than shirts, making the wearer look feminine. 

They also use a wider variety of fabrics that drape over the body. If you have a preferred fabric to wear, you’ll find more options in blouses.

Top vs Blouse

All blouses are tops, but not all tops are blouses. 

Remember this whenever you get confused about which term you should use for a specific piece of garment.

A top is any piece of clothing that covers the upper body between the neck and the waistline. A blouse does the same thing, regardless of its style or design.

Yet, it doesn’t mean that you can call any other top a blouse. As mentioned above, shirts aren’t the same thing as blouses.

Tunics vs Blouse

Another piece of clothing that people may interchange with a blouse is the tunic. Both a tunic and blouse can be loose-fitting or tailored.

Their lengths are what differentiate them the most. 

A tunic is a top that often looks like a blouse but is longer than a blouse. Yet, it isn’t long enough to become a dress.

The next thing that makes them different is the other pieces of clothing worn in combination with them. 

You can wear a blouse with almost any bottom garment. For example, you can pair a blouse with pants, a skirt, and shorts.

If you wear a tunic, you must also only wear pants. Plus, you can’t wear any old pants with a tunic. The pair you wear needs to be skinny or slim-fit pants.

Who Can Wear a Blouse?

Because blouses have a feminine look and connotation, women and girls often wear them. It is the modern understanding when people hear the word “blouse.”

We mentioned that the blouse is the top women wear to work. 

Meanwhile, men wear shirts to work for semi-casual or formal wear. Based on these descriptions, you could say that the blouse is the woman’s version of a work shirt.

Did you know that blouses were also for men some time ago? 

These blouses referred to a loose-fitting shirt for men, like poet shirts and Cossack shirts. 

Today, we rarely refer to them as blouses and call them by their specific names.

What It Means “to Blouse” Something

The term “blouse” is also a verb. When you “blouse” something, you make it hang in loose folds. 

Often, people use the term for garments or fabrics. You blouse a piece of fabric or garment by letting it fold loosely over something. For example, you blouse the edges of your trousers over the tops of your boots.

It’s unclear whether the verb or noun form of the word blouse came first. However, the verb form most likely came to use later. 

It also most likely comes from the trait of a blouse, which is loose-fitting and draping.