Blouses- that make quite a fashion statement in today’s world have the history of rejection in their portfolio. In the 1890s the blouses worn by sailors became a part of woman’s clothing paired with pleated skirts. This piece of clothing was considered as a flashy and unwanted accessory in the time of National Socialism. The Sailor-look later became the relaxation gear for adults in the 1950s.
Let’s understand in detail how Blouses became the face of quintessential fashion accessory in the 21st century.
What is a Blouse?
A Blouse is an upper- garment that was earlier worn by peasants, children, artists and women. It is usually gathered at the hips or the waist by a belt, elastic or waistband.
The word “Blouse” was derived from the French origin in the early 19th century.
How it all began?
In the 1860’s Jnanadanandini Debi (Rabindranath Tagore’s Sister-in-law) who made blouses the “it” fashion after she was rejected entry to clubs for wearing the saree without a blouse, was one of the first women to introduce western ideas into the indigenous saree.
Unlike contrary belief, the blouse made its way to the Orient under the British Raj and is more so a part of the West than the East.
Elements like the “petticoat” or the “blouse”, made their way into the Indian Lexicon in the Victorian era. Even though the traditional Indian Woman always kept herself covered with the saree, the introduction of a blouse underneath was more so a gift from the Occidental West.
In the early 20th century, it was considered pretty untoward in the society if a woman wore a blouse with a daring neckline or carried the saree pallu on the side by putting her bosom on display. After a sudden rush of the western wind, the traditional “choli” was re-invented in the latter half of the 20th century. Women started experimenting with styles from knot-twisted Doris to criss-cross halters, by creating a sudden wave of glamour in clothing.
Bollywood started to don tube, string and backless blouses with creative necklines and innovative tailoring. The designs began to make waves in fashion shows as well as celebrity parties, and before anyone could know, the rejected piece of clothing became the face of Indian fashion.
The Blouse Today
The Blouse today is more than just an accompaniment to the saree. It has become a crop top that can be worn with jeans, skirts and palazzos. It’s a great way to create fusion fashion and is thus an excellent addition to an evening party or a style statement on the ladies Sangeet. It’s a chic piece of clothing which can be played with to add just a bit of edge your attire needs.
While the blouse has such an exciting past, one mustn’t ignore the irony of the situation. While it may have been one of the most memorable gifts from the West to Indian Fashion, it has also become the very identity of the “Indian Woman”.