The search for a good blouse preceded the pandemic, and it has certainly waned with my lack of desire to curate the perfect outfit to hang out with my 4 and 6-year-old and maybe a neighbor or two. It’s not that I’ve given up completely on looking pulled together, it’s that I’ve reprioritized my entire wardrobe to fit into our seemingly endless lifestyle at home. I want to be comfortable, feel cute, low-maintenance, practical, and timeless. So, when I do add something to my now tiny wardrobe (girlfriend has been PURGING) I need to KNOW that it’s going to work on my body, for a long, long time without having to return it (which is virtually impossible up here). So, I have developed a formula that deserves sharing – especially for those of you with larger breasts that might struggle with tops (I used to before I developed my formula). Ahem.
There are five things I look for in “the perfect comfy but cute summer blouse”. Now, not all five boxes HAVE to be checked, but when they are …. oh girl … it’s worth every penny (and some can be lots of pennies, but I’ve worn them for YEARS).
- A voluminous sleeve detail (or at least roomy shoulders). This could be princess, ruffle, or flutter. Why? This gives the illusion of a smaller waist (hello shoulder pads) if you are into that, and draw attention away from your ladies. The sleeve becomes the statement, whereas otherwise, the boobs tend to garner the attention. Don’t get me wrong, I want to get them the attention they are due at times, but right now, for the occasional bbq with neighbors or nighttime walks with Brian, I like wearing something that I feel cute and attractive in but is more subtle.
- Boxy but not too thick or heavy (for summer, at least). I’m not talking crazy wide and boxy, and I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but in the blouse department, I’m not interested in something super fitted along my rib cage and down to my waist. That sounds like a lot of clinging and maintenance for me. I will not “work” to wear a shirt anymore. I mean, I tried to wear my 1 1/2″ Rachel Comey sandals that I’ve literally worn months on end in previous summers, but this year I felt like a toddler, needing to hold on to the coffee table in order to get around it. Will we ever go back to the way it was???
- Some sort of plunging neckline that breaks up the amount of fabric across your chest. This gives a peek of the secrets you hold under there but doesn’t feel crazy revealing or low-cut (not that anything is wrong with that, but just for summer with my immediate family I like it to be easier to wear – plus I’m not wearing real bras so I don’t want to reveal that secret). This neckline could be a slit with a little tie (my personal favorite) or just your basic button-up that you unbutton 4 down. V-necks also welcome. This is the Ulla Johnson formula – the princess or ruffle sleeve, with the secret, peek at what’s underneath. It’s the formula that I LIVE FOR and the reason why I’ve always splurged on her shirts. I wear them for YEARS, guys. YEARS.
- Easy to tuck and/or easy to drape (likely a thin fabric like silk or cotton). If you are lucky, a shirt will hit perfectly where it needs to – not be too long or too short (good luck, thus the front tuck). I’m short torso/long legged so most blouses are a bit long on me which is fine if they are easy to tuck in. Here is where you want something that doesn’t cling to the areas you might not want it to, and drapes really nicely.
- A small busy pattern. I have a ton of white blouses, too, but most days I opt for something colorful, busy or bright to A. give me a burst of color/pattern which makes me feel happy and almost like I’ve tried, B. Pattern makes it low maintenance when it comes to dirt/kids (I’m still working on my “white blouse” abilities), and C. The colors and pattern themselves draw attention from other things you might want to not have to think about – bra straplines, the beautiful shape of a two kid tummy, etc.
By writing this I’ve absolutely sold myself. This formula WORKS. If you are super petite and smaller up top these blouses might overwhelm your frame, but I am not, even though you might think I am (I actually have lovely, but fairly large and muscular arms in addition to boobs). When I see the “perfect tank top” roundup I don’t click because I know I likely won’t find one that I actually want to wear, so if you are like me and want the perfect cute blouse? HERE YOU GO.
1. Ruffled Sleeve Blouse | 2. Women’s Plus Size Long Sleeve V-Neck Blouse | 3. Pleated Popover Top | 4. Lace Blouse | 5. UO Dylan Embroidered Boho Top | 6. Puffed Shoulder Blouse | 7. Cora Embroidered Blouse Top | 8. Ruffle-Neck Keyhole Top in Stripe | 9. Women’s 3/4 Sleeve Prairie Shirt
1. Eyelet Blouse | 2. Moon River Ruched Sleeve Top | 3. Jacquard Frill Blouse | 4. Cotton Balloon Sleeve Blouse | 5. Scotch & Soda Shirt | 6. Saylor Mildred Blouse | 7. Rolla’s Stephanie Cost Floral | 8. Lourdes Blouse | 9. Free People Blouse | 10. & Other Storie Frill Blouse | 11. Tularosa Mae Top | 12. 1.STATE Trendy Blouse
1. Greg Puff Blouse | 2. Jaslyn Embroidered Lace Blouse | 3. Marrakesh Coal Blouse | 4. Joie Pollo Ruffle Long Sleeve | 5. The Great Shepard Stripe Cotton | 6. Wilfred Playa Blouse | 7. Daphne Peasant Blouse | 8. Sonnet Blouse | 9. Keepsake Ardour Top | 10. Antik Batik Nikki Blouse | 11. The Great Mare Plaid Top | 12. Stephanie Embroidered Blouse
1. Ulla Johnson Medine Ruffled Floral Shirt | 2. Doen Blush Etta Blouse | 3. Tikuri Blouse | 4. The Great The Lace Prim Top | 5. Ulla Johnson Liana Ruffle Blouse | 6. Hickory Top | 7. Rouge High Neck Draped Silk Blouse | 8. Colette Blouse | 9. Button-Up Bell Sleeve Top
There you have it. But in case you need a visual reminder of this very scientific formula, we made a super helpful graphic for you to use at your shopping leisure. I hope you found your perfect summer blouse and if you have more recommendations drop them below. Happy Saturday and happy shopping, folks. xx
Opener Image Credit: Photo by Veronica Crawford | From: A Fashion Review: New Clothing on My Body and How I Like Them (Or Not)