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A crisp classic


Article from Journal Sentinel: Posted on Oct 13, 2007.

Pulp Fiction Ruche

Sure, rich colors are in this season, but a white blouse is still a must-have that can be jazzed up a variety of ways.

A white blouse is far from the most attractive option on this season's clothing racks, which are also teeming with rich hues such as purple, red, gray and blue.

White's paper-like simplicity seems stark compared with the deep, complex colors suggested for fall. Its crisp character too squeaky-clean, its strait-laced appeal is too risk averse, conjuring images of boys and girls in school uniforms.

But fashionistas, take note: Do not shun the white blouse.

Praised for its classic nature, it continues to turn up as a must-have item for anyone's closet.

During an appearance on "Oprah," Vera Wang, the high-end designer behind Kohl's recently debuted Simply Vera line, listed a white blouse as an essential clothing piece. Two white blouses made the cut in the Gap's "Classics

Redefined" line, a collection of 12 essential separates for all wardrobes., a fashion and beauty advice site, calls the white blouse "the greatest basic you can think of."

So, then, how do you marry this staple to current trends? Folks from some local boutiques created some looks that add pizzazz to the pallid piece.

Ruched blouse by Craig Taylor,$145; charcoal gray pencil skirtby Gunex, $285; and oval linkbelt by Suzi R. Oher, $190, allfrom Molloy's. Photo - Kevin Eisenhut


  • With a menswear-inspired city suit. "It's a professional look that's cosmopolitan," said Heidi Calaway, owner of Vieux et Nouveau, 1688 N. Franklin Place. "It fits into the workplace without being dull and conservative."
    The trick: Add fall's trendiest accessories, such as a plaid fedora and boldly colored, briefcase-shaped bag. "Don't just grab any old briefcase that people have seen a million times," Calaway said. "Go for something unexpected."
  • Belted withwide-leg jeans. "The look is crisp, clean and flattering," said Andrea Kengis, manager of Next Door boutique in Brookfield's Harvard Square, 18000 W. Blue Mound Road. "Put a big necklace with it, and you're ready to go out."
    The trick: Choose a blouse that's a tunic. "It's longer, and it's multifunctional," Kengis said. "It's not a normal white blouse." Other options to consider with a long white blouse: leave it open, similar to a jacket, and layer it over a T-shirt for a casual look. Wear a camisole under it and leave a couple of buttons open at the top for a sexy look.
  • With a gray pencil skirt and a narrow link belt. "This look can go for daytime or to the office, but change your earrings and you can go out after," said Cindy H. Molloy, owner of Molloy's boutique, 333 W. Brown Deer Road. "Wear it with a classic pump or a more dramatic shoe."
    The trick: Choose a blouse that is fitted or tailored to the waist, so the accent of the belt has more punch.
  • Layered under a knit vest with a long, textured A-line skirt and boots. "The two textures work well together but still give a very clean look," said Pam Flasch, owner of Miss Groove boutique, 1225 E. Brady St.
    The trick: Go with a blouse that's completely non-traditional with subtle adornments - something collarless, frilly, textured and flowing.
  • Leave it alone. "A white blouse on its own suggests understated elegance," said Fran Hill, owner of a boutique of the same name at 2615 N. Downer Ave. "It takes a confident woman to wear a white blouse with style."
    The trick: Pair it with basic black pants and let your accessories - handbag, shoes, earrings and so on - do all the work. "That's where you add power to the look," Hill said.