Women’s blouses, sometimes simply referred to as shirts, are lightweight, loose-fitting garments worn above the waist. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, fashionable women wore high-necked blouses made from cotton, linen, or voile covered in decorative lace trimmings or tiny eyelet patterns. The most stylish women in Paris and London had blouses handmade from fine fabrics like silk or sheer net finished with exquisite detail work in sequins and beads.

In America, the trend for simple, light-colored blouses called waists took off in the early 1900s, in part because of their popularity among growing numbers of working women. Ready-to-wear waists had plain sleeves, a shirtfront with vertical ruffles or stripes, and a high tight collar. This practical design made these shirts perfectly suited for the “New Woman,” a stereotype created to describe those who wanted less complicated garments that would allow them to take part in physical activities, whether for leisure or labor.

During the 1910s, exotic Eastern elements entered mainstream blouse fashion. The hit Ballet Russes in Paris had a strong influence on the period’s brightly colored and loosely draped blouses with beaded ornamentation. In the '20s, conventions regarding women’s attire relaxed even further, as blouses made by Coco Chanel and others began featuring geometric patterns made in slinky, transparent materials, sometimes with no sleeves whatsoever.

Blouses lost much of their careful tailoring during this period because they were increasingly mass-produced in a generic range of sizes. During the '30s and '40s, new synthetic fabrics were incorporated and blouse styles became more masculine, with simple square collars and button-down fronts.

By the 1940s, sportswear tops were in vogue, following the fashions of Hollywood stars whose casual attire suited California’s temperate climate. Blouses made by companies like White Stag, Pendleton, and Catalina added Mexican and Native American motifs to their lines. Other companies like Lee and Levi’s made comfortable western-style blouses and denim workshirts for women who spent their lives outdoors.

In contrast, the more formal blouses of the 1950s were often designed to be traditionally feminine, with strong bust lines, floral patterns, and rhinestone accents. Following this era of conservatism, designers went wild, experimenting with new shapes and colors: Brightly patterned fabrics were everywhere in the '60s, showcasing bold prints in paisley or floral shapes, like those made by Liberty of London. Ethnic styles were also popular, like loose-fitting West African dashikis or peasant blouses with their tight cuffs, billowing arms, and open necklines.

In the '70s, Valentino’s silky button-ups with oversized ascots set the tone for women’s workwear, while sequined tops with huge shoulder pads took blouses to a new level of ostentation in the 1980s.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

MyVintageVogue

MyVintageVogue

The history of 20th-century women’s fashion largely played out in the pages of magazines such as “Harper’s Ba… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]

1960s Fashion and Textiles

1960s Fashion and Textiles

Put on your go-go boots and check out this wavy, groovy tribute to 1960s fashion and textiles, courtesy of the Vict… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Fashion Guild

Vintage Fashion Guild

While primarily designed to steer buyers to online vintage clothing shops, this blog is chock full of interesting, … [read review or visit site]

Fashion-Era

Fashion-Era

Bursting at the seams with content, this site contains hundreds of pages of fashion and costume history, including … [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Great 16 Pc Lot Of Antique Vintage Edwardian Clothing Dresses Blouse SkirtAmazing Antique 1800s Victorian Polka Dot Honeycomb & Chantilly Lace Glam BlouseWoman's Edwardian Fine Handmade Lace Blouse Sz. 6 - 8 Ecru In Great ConditionVtg 70s Rust Red Orange Yellow Silk Batik India Fringe Boho Blouse Poncho S/m/lVintage 80s Ivory Lace Top Shakespearean Pleated Blouse Sz M Vintage 70s Midnight Garden Sheer Victorian Edge Drama Fluid Blouse One Size Vtg 40s Sheer Pink Crystal Pleats & White Nylon Classic Chevron Blouse M/lWow ! Rare Iconic Vintage * Gianni Versace * Ruffle 100 % Silk Blouse Sz 10 /38Vintage Tribal Print Shirt Short Sleeve Top Boxy Blouse Floral Hippie Spring TeeVintage Yves Saint Laurent Designer 80's Top Blouse Ruffle Size 36 Paris Vtg 70s Pink Cotton Gauze India Silver Metallic Caftan Cropped Blouse Boho MVintage Button Up Shirt Short Sleeve White Nautical Print Blouse Retro Fit TopAntique Edwardian Laces Blouse Irish Lace, Filet Lace 20's Era MedVtg 40s Sheer Black Lace Bishop Sleeve Peplum Button Back Cocktail Blouse S#1157, 1930's Silk Velvet Blouse Czech Buckle TrimVintage Judith Ann Creations Sequin Beaded Trophy Blouse Shirt Top Black SilverVtg Mexican Floral Embroidered Blouse L-xl Plus Size Boho Festival Shirt TopVintage 2 Pc Peach Lace Prairie Outfit Blouse Long Maxi Skirt Hippie Boho Sz LVintage Wholesale Novelty 1960s 1970s Retro Disco Shirt Blouse Clothing LotVintage 90s Nude Beaded Rhinestone 100% Silk Blouse Sz L Vintage Unique Shiny Silver And Black Blouse Bust 44"Black On Black Braided Vintage 90s Sheer Ebony Blouse Sz SVintage 50's 60's Cotton Top Blouse Orange M Vintage 90s Navy Blue & White Striped Parisian Blouse Sz LVintage 90’s Slate Sheer Secretary Fluid Kitten Bow Blouse Sz M Made In India Amethyst Vintage 90s Keyhole Semi-sheer Ethnic Blouse Sz S (xs)Vintage 1940s Green Linen Fitted Blouse W Cut Out Bows & White Work Embroidery Last Week! Vintage Emanuel Ungaro Parallele Paris Multi-color Blouse Size 8Vintage Wholesale Novelty 1960s 1970s Retro Disco Shirt Blouse Clothing LotVintage 60s Silk Chiffon Blouse Floral Painted Jeff Banks Made In England Vtg 12Vintage 90’s Cream Satin Poet Blouse Sz XlVintage 90s Sheer White Lace Ruffle Blouse Sz M Vintage 90’s Black Sheer Fluid Cropped Blouse Sz L Vintage 90s Electric Violet Ruched Waist Blouse Sz M Vintage 90s Nude Illusion Lace Leggy Kitten Bow Blouse L70s Cross Stitch Embroydered Mexican Hippie Peasant Boho Blouse TopNos Vtg 1950s-60s Floral Print Pajamas Blouse + Pants Lavender & Turquoise L/xlVintage 50's Revival Sexy Rockabilly Lolita Spanish Sheer Blouse M/lVintage 80s Lipstick Red Rhinestone Trim Sheer Cape Blouse Sz S/mVintage Plaid Tank Top Button Up Blouse Sleeveless Summer Black Gingham RetroVintage 1980s Shiny Animal Print Blouse Size 18/20Vtg 1950's -60's Elinor Gay Silk Skirt Blouse Set Total Of 3 Items 1980s Vintage Sexy Secretary Cream Silky Shirt Blouse Size 16, 38/42" BustVintage Sequin Trophy Blouse Shirt Top Pink Flowers Floral Oversized Black XlLast Week! Vintage Giorgio Armani Le Collezioni Semi Sheer Striped BlouseVintage 70’s Ms. Sero Shirtmakers Turtle Print Blouse Sz. S.- L@@k!Vintage 90s Sheer Midnight Butterfly Garden Blouse Sz S Vintage 1980s 100% Silk English Garden Fluid Oversized Blouse One Size Vintage Oversized Button Up Shirt Short Sleeve Floral Print Blouse Retro Fit Top Vintage Mondi Black Gold Silk Long Sleeve Blouse Bust 38 Vintage 1970s Nwt Liz Claiborne Blue Silk Long Sleeve Blouse $68.00 Size LEuc Vtc Embroider Oaxacan Mexico Peasant Top Blouse S M Hippie Boho FreepeopleElegant *chocolate* Sheer Stretch Nylon Panties / Blouse Combo SmallVintage Averardo Bessi Brown Print Blouse 100% Silk Size 8 Vintage Pykettes 2x 20w-22w Secretary Blouse Grey Beige Ivory Floral Print TopVintage (mid 90's) Buffalo Ladys Semi Sheer Blouse Size L Chocolate/blue PrintVintage Style One Sleeve Disco Hippie Blouse Size MEmbellished Sheer Vintage 90s Ruffle Blouse Sz XlVintage 90s Chrome Gray Beaded Feather Peplum Blouse Sz M/l Vintage Pink Tank Top Sleeveless Summer Blouse Tunic Fit Boho Loose Boxy Cami