The Peasant Blouse Reincarnated

An enduring fashion trend stays on top

By Camari Hairston 

I loved playing in my mother's closet as a little girl. I would model anything I saw— including jewelry, blouses, shoes and purses—and pretend to be my mom. I had my hands on it all, ready for dress-up. Now that I am older, I no longer play in her closet but I do borrow some items and hope she doesn't notice so I don't have to return them.

When I was growing up, I always observed that my mother was trendy and stylish. She liked the latest fashions. I was recently talking with her and looking through old photos when I saw a picture in which she was wearing a peasant blouse during the 1990s. The peasant blouse is one of the many fashion trends of 2017. Considering its popularity now, I wanted to know all the details of how and why my mother styled these blouses when she was younger. After I asked her several questions about her fashion choices and style of dress, she said she thought of herself as a trendsetter. She would mix and match different pieces to her liking. She would pair the blouse with jeans, slacks or a skirt. Just like my mother, I am all about restyling old and contemporary trends.

Photo credit: Pinterest Sometimes wearing the right blouse can turn a boring outfit into something cute and fashionable. The peasant blouse has been worn since at least the early 1900s. Racked.com attributes the term “peasant blouse” to the pages of Vogue as early as 1902. It was then described as a high-necked, embroidered bodice with loose bishop sleeves.

Peasant blouses seem to be the go-to, casual-but-chic look. The style has evolved since its early beginnings to become more conveniently fashionable. It is typically of cotton material (but can also be silk) with puffed sleeves that are sometimes gathered at the wrist. Or, it could have short sleeves or be worn off the shoulders. According to The Costume Society, before this blouse was worn as a top, in some other countries it was worn as a peasant-styled dress. In the 1940s, during the World War II era, peasant blouses imported from Mexico gained popularity specifically because they were minimal in both tailoring and construction (thus inexpensive), and had a bright kaleidoscope of colors with detailed embroidery. The peasant blouses were worn in America and around the world, and they were primarily paired with traditional skirts gathered at the waist known as dirndls. Different cultures developed their own styles of needlework and trimmings (e.g., Hungarian, Ukrainian, Mexican, Russian, Roma, Greek and Caribbean).

Eventually, this blouse reemerged as a fashion statement during the 1960s and 1970s. Hippies created a more embellished look for the blouse with additional ruffles and wider sleeves. They were often worn with bell-bottom pants along with fringe accessories. According to Rebels Market, the boho-influenced fashion is more exaggerated today with lots of statement jewelry, maxi dresses, ruffles, fringes, and lace-up sandals—all considered to be more “high class” as opposed to the more understated hippie look that also incorporated beads, patchwork, vests, and peace signs. 

The peasant blouse has remained a fashion trend and the style continues to evolve. Every year, the blouse has conformed to each generation, making it more popular than it was the year before. I think the peasant blouse will always have a simple but stylish, feminine look. Fashion designers and trendsetters will continue to find new ways to re-create and style old-fashioned trends and peasant blouses will continue to remain prominent in the fashion industry.

Photo credit: PinterestThis is the final post in this series on Fashion Flashbacks. Read the other throwback stories in this series: “Flashback for Fashion Inspiration” and “Over & Out: The Key to Wearing Overalls Again.”

Tags: #peasantblouse #style512 #fashion #style #tops #puffedsleeves #fashionable #convenient #fashionstatement #hippies #bohochic #trends #femme #trendsetters
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