What to Look For in Offbrand Blouses and Blouse Patterns
(Remember last night when I dramatically declared that the blouse post was going to take a while?
In the meantime, here’s this reference sheet)
Most of my blouses are offbrand. They’re very easy to find in thrift stores, consignment stores, and in other stores too.
The traditional Lolita blouse has the following characteristics.
- Buttons down the front
- Square collar, upright collar, or peter pan (rounded) collar
- Set-in puffed sleeves, either gathered into bands or elasticized
- Lolita details.
I’m just going to post some of my blouses and describe them and their components.
(I would like to apologize for the pictures. I was being incredibly lazy when I took these last night. Some of these blouses were pulled out of my laundry hamper, are dirty, and have not been pressed. Also, pay no mind to the camera cable occasionally on top of the ironing board)
These blouses were made especially to be worn with Lolita:
This blouse is from Kidsyoyo, who are a taobao seller. It has an upright collar. It has long sleeves that are gathered into the armhole and into the cuffs. It’s covered in pintucks and lace, Lolita details.
The bottom flares out a bit and has a ruffle on the bottom.
Because of the upright collar, I would wear this blouse with a JSK.
Because of the ruffled and flared bottom, I would wear this over a skirt.
I would also wear this blouse tucked into a skirt.
This blouse is from our good ol’ friend Bodyline.
It has a square neckline. The set-in sleeves are gathered at the cuffs with elastic, and are gathered in the arm hole to make puffed sleeves. It’s covered with little lace and ruffle details.
The main part of this blouse is shirred, which is a technique to use elastic to gather fabric, making it stretchy. (If you are proportioned so that most premade Lolita garments, see if partially- or fully-shirred pieces fit you better.)
Because of the shirring, the bottom of this blouse flares dramatically. I believe Bodyline thinks this will look good over a skirt, but I can’t see that working on people who don’t have very short torsos. Because of where the shirring ends, this blouse can look very awkward tucked into skirts. The square neck makes it look strange under JSKs.
I would not wear this blouse over skirts except in special circumstances because of where the flare starts.
I would not wear this tucked into a skirt because of where the shirring ends.
I would wear this under a high-waisted skirt because it covers the end of the shirring.
I would not wear this under a JSK because of the square neck.
I do not get to wear this blouse much.
These are blouses I found offbrand:
(Pardon the exposure. I was trying to make it visible)
This blouse is perfectly styled for Lolita. It has a rounded collar with a ruffle on it, and puffed set-in sleeves gathered into sleeve bands. As you can see, it doesn’t have the same level of details as the blouses built for Lolita, but a detailed enough skirt can compensate, and a less detailed skirt gives a more casual look.
Like almost all offbrand shirts, this has no flare or details on the bottom hem. The flare is needed for the blouse to fit over skirts without needing to be unbuttoned (unbuttoning the bottom buttons is a look that’s not very Lolita)
Because of the lack of hem details or flare, I would not wear this over a skirt.
I would wear this tucked into a skirt.
Because of the collar, I would wear this under a JSK.
This shirt has a square neck and raglan (baseball) sleeves. Those sleeves still look puffed because they are gathered into sleeve bands. It’s got lace and ruffles, plenty of detail.
The raglan sleeves and the under-bust gathering are not things commonly found in Lolita blouses, but overall this is a very loliable blouse because of the balance of all the components.
Here’s a blouse and skirt that I made. For the blouse, I bought a pattern for a button-up blouse that had puffed sleeves already. I had to modify the collar to be a rounded one, and I added lace strips along the front.
There are a lot of Lolita-compatible patterns that you can use without any modification, or with very little modification, to make a good Lolita blouse.
If you don’t think you’re ready to sew from patterns yet, or sew something so complicated, there’s a lot of good blouses you can find out there. Look for blouses with puffed or gathered sleeves as the most important trait, because they’re a very important aspect in Lolita and often blouses are adorned to match the sleeves.
And if you just really need something, and you’re in a pinch, there’s nothing wrong with something like this:
Same blouse in a coord of mine from over 2 years ago:
Pretty casual coord. This was just as I was getting into the fashion, the heavily detailed neckline of the JSK’s the focus, so the blouse doesn’t need to compete with it for details. In this outfit, the blouse was meant to be the supporting piece. Sometimes, especially in skirt coords, the blouse does need more details or it will look strange. Lolita is about balance, and if your coord is balanced, then it’s okay to fudge a few of the norms a tiny bit.
- Square necks look weird under JSKs
- Blouses need a flare and details going to the hem to be worn over skirts.
- Most blouses will work tucked into a skirt
- Look for puff sleeves
And there you go. Time to go comb thrift shops and discount pattern racks.