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]

The Antique Corset Gallery

The Antique Corset Gallery

Take a deep breath, and check out this sparse, simple, and beautifully designed site showcasing 250 years of corset… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Most watched eBay auctions    

Antique 1920s Black Silk Russian Peasant Blouse Sheer W Appliques Very BohemianVintage Draped Animal Sheer Kimono Blouse Loose Airy Coat Tails Jacket Shirt 80sAntique Victorian 1890's Stayed Fancy Bodice Blouse Beaded & Ruffled Trunk FindVintage 1920s Asian Silk Pajama Blouse Lounge Art DecoVintage Authentic Chanel Ivory Silk With Dots Ladies Blouse W Fitted WaistVintage Victorian Womens Ruffled Lace Blouse Shirt Fitted High Collar Small Sz Vintage Estate Victorian Antique Green Suit Blouse/ Jacket DesignVictorian Black And Silver Cream Pink Boned Steampunk Satin Ribbon Silk BlouseFn-antique Victorian Edwardian Fine Net Lace Ruffles Blouse Shirt-back Buttons-sVintage 1970s Deliciously Draped Romantic Garden Blouse Sz L Vtg 70s 80s Dashiki Rayon Gause Boho Hippie Gypsy Festival Caftan Blouse S/m/lVintage Clothing Women Mexican Shirt Blouse Hand EmbroideredRare Vtg 70's Womens Versace Jean Couture Multicolor Buckle Shirt Blouse Top SmFh-antique Vintage Fine Irish Crochet Schiffli Guipure Lace Blouse Shirt JacketDe-vintage 40s-50s Crochet Lace Pin Up Rockabilly Short Sleeve Blouse Top-sAntique Edwardian 1900's Tagged Ivory Chiffon Beaded Blouse TopVintage 1940's Judy Bond Ivory Embroidered Flower Cutwork Blouse WwiiVtg 70s Romantic Floral Gauzy Draped Semi Sheer Boho Hippie Batwing Blouse TopTrue Vintage Laura Ashley White Cotton Sailor-style Blouse - SVintage Laura Ashley Ohh La La French Style Ruffled Summer Blouse 14Vintage 70s Black Blue Purple Floral Print Sheer Long Sleeve Blouse Top Belt S MJudith Ann Silk Embellished Pastel Floral Flutter Ruffle Sleeve Blouse Sz M Vintage 90s Ralph Lauren Deep Iris Belt & Chain Print Plus Size Blouse Sz Xxl Vintage 90s French Vanilla Lace Sheer Collared Blouse Sz L Vintage Emilio Pucci Size S Small Mod Retro 1960's 70's Silky Nylon Satin BlouseVintage White Blouse Tops Eyelet Embroidered Hippie Boho Lot Of 3 Gc-antique Victorian Bell Sleeve Black Mourning Lace Jacket Blouse- 38" BustVintage 50's Gray Sharkskin Sleeveless Cotton Top Shirt Blouse Sz S RockabillyFj-antique Victorian Edwardian Embroidered Lace Ruffles Organdy Blouse Shirt-s/mWhite Opulence Chiffon Ruffle Vintage 90s Blouse Sz LVintage 90s Does 70s Hippie Crochet Rosette Sheer Layering Blouse Vintage 90s French Vanilla Silk Embroidered Cut Out Blouse Sz L Vintage 1970s Ivory Lace Blouse Boudoir Jacket Small Boho Vintage Boho Indian Cotton Gauze Hippy Tunic Top Festival Blouse 10 8 12 S M Navy Floral Vintage Collar Sheer Gold Vine Psychedelic Crop Top Blouse Shirt MVtg Vera Neumann Floral Watercolor Silk Blouse Top 14 M Bust 4150s Pink Rayon Suit Blouse W/tuck Pleated Front L 42 BustVintage Floral Chiffon Kitten Bow 1970s Cinched Waist Blouse Sz Xs Vintage Stenay Black Silk Lined White & Black Beaded & Sequin Trim BlouseHungarian White Embroidered Vintage Peasant Black BlouseRomantic Blouse...violet & Yellow 'watercolor' Flowers...ruffles C. 1938-40Vtg Embroidered Birds Flowers Butterflies Plus Size Mexican Hippie Top Blouse/1xFk-antique White French Lace Embroidery Tucks Button Back Blouse Shirt-romantic-Watercolor Vintage Floral 1990s Fluid Chartreuse Zen Garden Blouse Sz M Vintage Botanical Blooms Blouse ϿVintage 80's Sportmax Floral Summer Shirt Blouse Top Uk12 Eu40Vintage Top/blouse With Extensive Sequin/ Pailletten Burt Stanley Sz. 7-81960 Asian Linen Embroidered Flower Cutout Short Sleeved Blouse Summer Mint MVintage A J Bari Silk Beaded Blouse Top Iridescent Pink Beige Beautiful Sz 10Sweet! Vintage Woman's Blouse Sheer Handmade Pink Ribbon Detail & EmbroideryVintage 60s Blouse Size 40 Chest Mod Sleeveless Bow Polka Dot Hot Pink YellowVintage 1920's Wayne Maid Pink Sheer Blouse JacketVtg 90s Black Sheer Stretch Floral Lace Glass Beaded Bell Sleeves Boho Blouse MVtg Edwaridan Downton Wwi 1900s Silk Blouse Shirt Top Embroidered Scallops~medVintage 90s Paisley Embroidered Lace Ruffle Blouse Sz L Fab 1950's Vintage Green "ribbon" Top/blouse! SButterfly Garden Vintage 1970s Iconic Lemon & Lime Blouse Sz L Vintage Hippie Boho Peasant BlouseVintage Women's Floral Blouse Size Medium No TagsVintage Patra Stenay Black & Electric Blue Sequin Plus Size Silk Lined Blouse