I'd choose a big sleeve over a £490 Dior feminist slogan t-shirt any day. The independent women of this world aren't flouncing around in a new generation of cringe worthy tops, but are dressing for themselves, in bolder sleeves than ever.
The blouse in particular has found itself resurrected yet again, in full 80s galore, and I’m all for it. Reworked over the years, yet not always fully appreciated until now. The ‘peasant’ blouse, in a bohemian, off the shoulder form, was known well to me throughout my teenage years. Having grown out of these and, thank god, the crop tops I owned in abundance, I now find myself looking for something looser, not from American Apparel, and preferably not 100% viscose. In the statement blouse, the choices are endless; silk or cotton, floral or animal print, and even gold lurex at Saint Laurent, reminiscent of Stephen Shore photographs from nights at Studio 54. Your top half does all the work for you. Maximalist dressing was never so alluring, or so easy.
A blogger and street style starlet not known for her demure style, 'Man Repeller' Leandra Medine is an advocate for clothing pleasing women, particularly when it's at the expense of a man's approval. The pussy bow blouse covers you wrist to neck with no space for a décolletage, and originating as a female interpretation of the tie in the workplace it’s a nod to statement dressing and early feminism. Don't let a shoulder pad gone wrong scare you off. If Theresa May can make a bejewelled leopard print heel part of her stiffly judged politician's uniform, then the rest of us can surely get a statement sleeve in there somewhere. What’s easier to slip into an outfit than a ruffled collar or cuff. And it’s not just under the workplace suit where the white shirt is no longer the plain M&S type. Frills in white do the job for you in bringing blue denim up a notch: the blouse can play a far more valid role in everyday dressing than it’s given credit for. Too demure? Who could want more than a zebra print number, complete with exaggerated shoulders and balloon sleeves.
Personal style needn’t be boring nor expensive rather a creative joy, and the statement top helps to do just that. Creativity itself can be expensive and hard to maintain, as the Bristol run collective Elektrobeast know well. The queer club night includes Zooey, Albie and three resident house and techno DJs who wanted to do something away from the capital because it was cheaper. Not everyone can afford the high end brands leading the maximalist trend, and many who can, have little idea of the conversations their clothes are a part of. Instead the night's host, Lagoon, uses second hand clothes and their own wardrobe to create outfits based on colours and different themes, adding that “…the jewellery is always about trying to do an over the top sixties, sort of Breakfast at Tiffany’s diamond thing.” The collective use the DIY aesthetic to revive the 1990s' rave scene and the potential for self-styling, reminding us that it should be fun to get dressed everyday.
The statement top is just one element of clothing that can be played with and reworked to bring some life back into everyday dressing. I can’t think of anything better for the job than a hideous blouse. The proof is in the pudding.
POLAROIDS HETTY MAHLICH