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A fashion faux pas?

May 11, 2013

I was having lunch with the yummiest mummy I know (12 years younger than me, slender, funny, beautiful, passionate, warm hearted, sorted, poised, elegant, 2 children, successful and with a meaningful career and flawless make up – yes – AND she’s a wonderful person) the other day and I got all excited because a girl came into the cafe where we were wearing something a bit floaty but mainly just very pretty with a flowery pattern, buttons, a collar, long sleeves and cuffs.

“Ohhh Annie”, I said, “don’t look behind you right now but when you can just turn casually in a nonchalant kind of a way and just look at the blouse the girl sitting behind us is wearing”. My excitement caused her to do the only uncool thing she’s ever almost done and she very nearly choked on her sparkling water and then said something along the lines of “you can’t say that”. “What?” I wondered … was being excited and too loud about something somebody else was wearing not a good thing to be?

“You can’t say blouse” “It’s top or shirt” “nobody says blouse any more”.

Clearly as a youthful impeccably turned out (often in things I’d refer to as blouses) fashionista she knows what’s what in drapery dialogue but … “hang on”, I thought, “hang on … my mother wears blouses all the time … oh but she’s in her 80s … but isn’t my flowery top a blouse … oh no it’s a top … hmmmmm”

So I started on a survey of friends … starting with mother who of course said blouses exist and are women’s shirts with buttons … often short sleeved.

I asked a friend of 43, she said that to her a blouse was something wafty and baggy and a very specific item. I asked one of Hope’s godmothers (the glamorous one) she said that a blouse can have long or short sleeves and is a feminine shirt, less tailored and fitted … I asked a younger neighbour and a total stranger in the park, they both said, “oh no, it’s a top, a blouse is VERY old fashioned”, I asked a friend’s daughter in her teens … she looked at me as if I was mad and said, “a what?”

So … is it RIP the word blouse? Are we dumbing down the English language and loosing wonderful terms, blouse, jerkin, blouson, and so on just to be stuck with the all encompassing ‘top’ … I hate that and I so hope not … I am rubbish at describing things succinctly (yes I know you already know that), particularly clothing … and need a wide range of terms to give me some kind of idea what I’m talking about.

Did my gentle friend herald the death knell (one that everyone under the age of 40 has long since heard) for the word blouse?

Hope’s godmother was incensed and has decided to use the word ‘blouse’ more often and encourage her US friends to do the same … so, a vote for old fashioned, for non vintage but genuine “blouses” everywhere … and one for uncool and generally fairly dishevelled mothers (particularly those who, until it was used and everyone got in trouble for it on Comic Relief, had absolutely no idea what vajazzled meant).

I sit here typing this in my blue knitted tunic, I have several blouses to choose from tomorrow depending on the weather and whichever one I choose I shall wear it with pride.

Oh and by the way we were so busy discussing the matter that by the time she did turn round, the girl with the blue flowery blouse on had long since disappeared!!.

Right … off to choose which bustle to put under my kirtle, and to fish out my farthingale…. it’s my age you know.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda permalink
    May 11, 2013 8:24 pm

    My daughters look aghast when I use the word “frock” instead of “dress”. Love the word “frock”!!!

  2. Ilona permalink
    May 13, 2013 12:18 pm

    I still use the word blouse! A “top” is something that doesn’t have buttons. Things that have buttons are shirts, if they’re sort of stiff and formal. And blouse if it is softer, and possibly floral. And I’m still under 40. (Just).
    And yes, I love the word “frock” too. But I know that one’s a losing battle.

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