How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: What your wardrobe needs is a wow blouse
- Shane Watson shares advice for embracing this season’s wow blouse trend
- Suggests keeping the fit loose and pairing high-neck styles with a jacket
- UK-based fashion expert takes inspiration from Victoria Beckham
You always feel a bit fish-out-of-water at this time of year. The back-to-school bell has gone. The days are shortening. There is tweed and conker-brown leather in the shops. But before we get into all that we need a basic lifesaver.
It’s the same every September: we want something to wear that feels not like summer clothes, but not like autumn either; not glaringly new but not old, something easy and at the same time fresh and on the money.
Well, that magic item is a wow blouse. Yes, that old thing we’ve been talking about for a few years with the balloon sleeves, the puffy shoulders or the stand-up ruffly collar. You probably have one already.
Possibly you’ve been thinking of this blouse as your going-out, dressing-up quick fix and, if so, as you were.
Shane Watson shared advice for embracing this season’s wow blouse trend at any occasion. Pictured: Victoria Beckham
The good news is that now the wow blouse is officially your look-sharpening item, whatever the occasion.
You may want a regular shirt for the office (who doesn’t love a quality tailored shirt? And for that head to British brand With Nothing Underneath).
But you may also want a wow blouse to pep things up and save yourself from scrambling to change in the ladies’ loos at the end of the day, before heading out (remember that in pre-Covid days?).
The point about this blouse is it won’t look out of place anywhere; work or cocktail bar or PTA, providing you stick to a few rules.
You’re probably going to want one that’s the mellow side of wow and then one that packs a bit more punch.
In the mellow corner we’re looking for full sleeves with cuffs in a flowing fabric and some elegant detail. I would snap up Mango’s puffed-sleeve blouse in dark forest green or vanilla (£35.99, mango.com).
It has ruched detailing on the shoulders and a slightly ruffled round collar, with a small keyhole neck opening. All of the above makes it simple enough for work, tucked into black trousers, maybe with a sleeveless vest on top, and Prince Charming enough (just undo the button and add gold chains) for going out.
BLOUSES: THE RULES
- Keep the fit loose and flowy.
- Try a high-neck style under a jacket.
- Avoid fancy collars like the plague.
- Frilly cuffs are back.
Me+Em does a black voile blouse, a fraction fancier, with a broderie trim on the collar and cuffs (£95, meandem.com) which also fits the bill. Worn with a dark narrow midi skirt, or wide black trousers, it’s just the right side of romantic.
For me, the key to keeping the wow blouse grown-up and not clownish is a round, stand-up collar or high neckline (soft and draped, not a pie crust), but never an actual collar.
Avoid all fancy collars like the plague — they’re just too Princess Diana.
That said, this is definitely a moment for floppy bow neck-ties, and if you suit them (some of us look like Catherine Deneuve, others like poodles), they’re a more feminine solution to neck coverage than the trusty polo. Try Mango for a classic white textured blouse with a neck-tie (£35.99, mango.com) — just the thing to make your trouser-suit, or dark jeans and a blazer, look newly smart.
Otherwise, Zara and Me+Em both have a big selection of neck-tie blouses.
For extra wow-factor pick a print blouse, something like Mango’s paisley blouse with a bow neck-tie (£29.99, mango.com) or Ba&sh’s Caia blouse in a dark floral print (£185, ba-sh.com).
If you like punchy geometric prints, there are plenty to choose from, including a muted geo print from Me+Em (£165, meandem.com). My tip is don’t go too wow on the print side and let the volume and the details do the work.
On the subject of volume, it is true that big puffed sleeves are in danger of getting creased if you put anything on top of them, but maybe this season’s puffy quilted coats will be light enough to accommodate them. Otherwise pick fluid fabrics such as viscose, which will bounce back best.
What makes an old blazer or sweater look new now is a sliver of frill showing at the neck, a bit of a ruffle cuff peeping out of a sleeve. Then you can pull up those sleeves, shrug off your jacket and wear your wow blouse out on the town.
What could be easier?
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