What is the difference between a top and a blouse?

If you watch any kind of British style period drama you will notice that all of the women wear dresses or skirts with blouses, no matter what their social standing. I bet they would have killed to have our freedom to wear so many different styles of clothing with soft and easy to care for fabrics rather than get cinched into super-small corsets.

Victorian and Edwardian women were prone to fainting and suffered immense damage to their rib cages partly because of the restrictive corsets they wore. Next time you slip on a stretchy T-shirt thank your lucky stars you don't have to be laced into your outfit to the point you struggle to breathe. Unless you want to of course - then there are modern corset tops available.

Those women back then would probably be aghast but secretly envious of the freedom we have to wear sexy cut out tops especially since in this century most of us can dress to make ourselves feel great not to conform to what we think the world expects.


So now we have this huge range of clothing items to wear but is anyone else confused about what defines a blouse? There are so many styles from masculine shirt styles to floaty pussy-bowed designs.

Basically, a blouse is a dress shirt designed for women. Blouses can be long-sleeved, short sleeved or even sleeveless. They may have a collar but not always. They can be made with a wide variety of fabrics from silk to suede and of course can be patterned or plain. Unlike shirts which are generally the same shape, albeit slim or straight fit, blouses can be fitted or loose and a number of shapes. They might be floaty, A-line, designed to be tucked in or left out.

There might be buttons all the way up the front, similar to a shirt, or the garment might slip over the head, or fasten at the back.

Although blouses are often considered very suitable for formal occasions and as workwear actually they are incredibly versatile and can be dressed down with denim or PU leather jeans, casual skirts or trousers. That makes a blouse the ideal garment to take your from day to night - just pack a more casual "bottom" to change into and head for after work cocktails.

A top is a catch-all descriptive word for any item worn on the top half of the body by any gender. day or night. The term actually includes blouses along with shirts, T-shirts, long and short sleeved, vest tops, strapless bandeau tops, "boob tubes", crop tops, sweatshirts, knitted sweaters....and more!

The great thing about having such a vast choice is that there really is a style of top to suit absolutely everyone. If however you aren't sure, try on a selection of different styles with different necklines, colours, shapes and fabrics and it won't take long to be able to see which ones you like best on your body. Shop now to pick out a collection which you are drawn to and try out some new looks for summer. If it helps you could always ask a trusted friend or family member to give you an honest appraisal of your choices.

Interestingly you might find you can wear different styles and colours if you gain or lose weight or change your hair colour or style. I never used to be able to wear peach and coral colours but since my blonde hair lightened and my skin changed tone with age and lifestyle, the shades on that part of the colour wheel really suit me now.

If you've been wearing the same style of top for ever, maybe now is the time to ring in the changes and try a new look?  It's amazing how a makeover can revitalise someone, especially if life has been gloomy lately. During lockdown I took the opportunity to go through every item of clothing I opened and got rid of anything I didn't absolutely love, or which I hoped might fit again one day. It was so much fun treating myself to a few new things especially since work looks very different for me post-pandemic.

If you don't have the time or the inclination to head to the stores why not browse online from the comfort of your own home. You could start at SOLADO where you will find pages of stylish tops to suit all tastes. The great thing about shopping online is that you can add as many items as you like to your basket then edit at the end. You can stop for refreshments any time you like and won't have to pay inflated coffee prices or queue for a table.

Shopping online is best when you don't feel rushed or stressed. Having said that it's also perfect when time is at a premium or you really really need something specific for an imminent event. Overwhelmed by the choice? Start by picking a style or colour theme and work to that until you start to find "must haves".

Once you've found an online retailer you like I promise you will never go back to battling crowds at the mall.