Wardrobe 101

Style Glossary: B

Beret, Blouse & Blue

Happy day, reader dearest!

BIG B, little b, what begins with B? Barber, baby, bubbles and a bumblebee!

Thank you, Dr. Seuss for starting me off again this month. I don’t know how Mr. CP and I would have survived parenting without the good doctor. (Let alone grandparenting!)

Welcome to February’s installment of the Style Glossary. If you are interested in finding out what A style words we tackled back in January, you can find that post, here.

This month, as you might have guessed, the letter B is our style star! And what to choose from? Without even breaking a sweat, I came up with Bras, Belt, Blue, Beret, and Blouse. Maybe I should put those in alphabetical order… I think I’ll save Belts and Bras for another post!

Beret

A beret is a round soft cap, associated with France and Basque country. The beret is worn by both sexes. Except for military uniforms, I don’t remember ever seeing a man in a colored beret. (Unless you count a mime.) I’ve seen plenty of berets worn by tourists in France. Rarely by a local. As a trend, they come and go. I’ve seen quite a few for spring! Style tips? Own it. Wear it pulled down or tipped to the side. Leave it on. Wear it all day. Treat it as part of your outfit rather than a cold-weather hat to be taken on and off as you go in and out. Feeling fiesty? Pin on a brooch. Choose a color that makes your skin glow… Or match your beret to your eye color!

Beret, Hats, Cap, Fashion, Accessories, Costume
Think I might need a green beret for spring…

Blouse

1. Loose waist or bodice of various types extending from neckline to waistline or below. Worn inside or outside separate skirt. 2. Long loose smock, with or without belt, worn by English workmen and by French and Russian peasants. 3. To form a drooping bulge or fullness. (A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion, Historic and Modern–Mary Brooks Picken)

Defining a blouse is more difficult than it may seem… Mostly because we all have our own ideas of what a blouse is, versus a shirt, or tee. The Dictionary of Costume and Fashion has two full pages dedicated to blouses! There are more than 25 variations listed. To compare, shirt takes up about a page and a half. Blouse is in the eye of the beholder?

Mannequin, Model, Display, Figure, Store, Women'S
Some of these I would call blouses and others, not…

After reflecting on my own perceptions and a dive down the interwebs rabbit hole, the distinction between a blouse and a shirt may not be as straightforward as you might like. A blouse is generally softer and more drapey than a shirt. You might say more feminine. A blouse may button down the back or the front, or not at all. A tee shirt is not a blouse. But to confuse matters, that doesn’t mean a blouse can’t be made of jersey.

PS: Blouson is an adjective derived from the word blouse related to definition 3 above. You can find blouson tops, blouson dresses and blouson tankinis.

Blue

Blue is the color of light on the visible spectrum between green and violet. Blue is also the world’s favorite color! There’s a biological basis to this. Think about blue water and blue skies. Blue skies signal safety and blue water means food and/or drink. The connection between blue for boys and pink for girls is relatively recent! Until the 1940’s, blue, a calming color, was associated with girls and their “more gentle” temperament, and pink (a tint of red) was associated with the “higher energy” of boys.

The overtone (feeling) of blue is cool, but blues can have a warm or cool undertone. Blue’s complement is orange, which is why you often see blue and orange paired for team colors. Since brown is dark orange (Really!), blue often looks wonderful on those with brown hair or brown eyes. (Who’d have thought the whole blue eyeshadow thing from the 60’s and the 80’s had a basis in science?)

How About You?

What’s your favorite B fashion or style word? Something here? What’s your favorite color? Are you fond of blue? Do you prefer shirts or blouses? How do you feel about berets? Are they fun or only for costume wear? I think my favorite beret look is still Faye Dunaway as Bonnie in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). Looking forward to next month, are there any C style words you like to see me tackle or clarify? Do let me know… I love to hear from you!

Stylishly yours,

6 Comments

  • Carol Karl

    While I love the idea of a beret, I’m just not a hat person. I used to have a raspberry coloured beret and, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t make it work. I am, however, a blue person – my house is blue, I wear lots of blue, it’s definitedly a favourite – but not any blue – not navy or the darker tones – it’s light all the way for me.

    • Liz K

      Now, I have the Prince song, Raspberry Beret, stuck in my head! (I can think of worse songs to have stuck, though…) I wonder if the raspberry was too intense against your light hair and skin, especially in the winter when we are even more pale. I wonder if a lighter raspberry… More sherbet than sorbet might work better!

  • NATALIE

    Liz, I love blouses and prefer them but find them just not cool enough in Arizona for the summer- time. I think berets are adorable as part of a outfit in winter-time. The C word I would LOVE for you to discuss next month are Color Combinations that are modern for women. Thank you so much for your hard work. You make my week! God Bless!

    • Liz K

      Color Combinations! Thank you for that idea, Natalie. I love it! I prefer blouses even in summer here because all the indoor spaces are air-conditioned within an inch of your life to beat the heat and humidity… Which means sleeves all year long are a good choice. Although I do love a good short sleeved blouse, as well!

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