Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Peasant Chic: Yea or Nay?


Readers, I've fallen hard for this pattern. Isn't it so perfect? I've never been into boho chic, but this pattern perfectly mixes a 40s-style peasant blouse with the sleekness of a 50s fitted bodice. The use of contrasting fabrics is divine. And two skirt options! I especially like the wiggly one. No surprise there, I guess.

Unfortunately, I could only find it in a Bust 32" (and for $75, sigh). But it seems like it would be simple enough to drape the bottom half and combine it with a peasant blouse pattern on top, don't you think?

Of course, there's also Vogue 8728, a recent 40s reissue that has similar styling in the bodice, minus the puff sleeves. It would be fun to mix and match with different fabrics and skirt styles.

I'm curious what you all think of peasant blouses in general. Can you get over their 70s associations? They were very popular in the 40s and 50s, so perhaps we need to bring this style back to its more glam, less boho roots. Plus I'm thinking this style of blouse will be perfect for my new freelance lifestyle, especially when paired with a high-waisted skirt or pair of shorts. Do you have a favorite pattern for this type of blouse?

50 comments:

  1. I think the popular, easy, go to peasant-y style top is Simplicity 3835. not too blousy and really simple to make and customize.
    I made a few with some maternity alterations while pregnant, and it worked beautifully. I probably wear this top once a week, the non-maternity ones though.

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  2. I really love the 40s and 50s peasant look (as well as the 70s hippie version too--I think it has it's good points! ;), and sport it quite a bit during the summer. This style of blouse is so easy to make; I have one that is in the works (well, I got the wild idea to embroider it... so it's been taking a long time!) and can't wait to be able to wear it. Designing a pattern for the dress should be a snap; most of those particular styles from the 50s were rather simple.

    Another option would be to adapt the age-old chemise concept/pattern that has been floating around in costuming circles for ages. Just make the body and sleeves shorter! :)

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  3. I'm all for it! I absolutely love the 40s and 50s take on these peasant styles and have actually been looking for more vintage shirts and dresses like this for summer. Cool and not binding, and very cute and summery. I don't think much about the 70s associations because when I put on something with a pair of high-waisted pants and the appropriate 'do, I don't feel it looks 70s at all. (Incidentally, that 70s influence might also be a plus because when I shop vintage I might sometimes be getting something a little "newer" but for a better price than true 40s/50s, even it it looks the same.) I've also been carefully dabbling in the squaw dress territory which is probably less 70s in influence, and still very 40s and 50s with a bit of that peasant influence, just with more of a Western flair, too.

    And yes-- I've been wanting to sew up a peasant blouse, too!

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  4. I like them a lot but my friends would tell you that I'm into the hippy dippy trippy look. I haven't actually made one though I like the Vogue pattern a lot. I've found that I prefer the rtw ones that don't have too much fluff to the sleeves.

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  5. I don't think a dress similar to the $75 pattern would look out of place in your wardrobe. On me it would look totally contrived but I'm all about the seventies and I can't see a thing wrong with peasant blouses. All I see is summer.

    Essentially, it's such a feminine look. I don't see why a distaste for seventies boho should interfere with that.

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  6. I love that dress! I'm totally not into the hippie/boho look at all (as much as my husband tries to push me in that direction), but it is so cute! I think some peasant blouses would also be cute, as long as you paired them with more 40s style pieces to ward off the 70s.

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  7. I like peasant tops because they make me feel girly and are really comfortable. A friend of mine wears them almost exclusively in summers.

    For the more formal look i think it definitely adds some softness to a more structured dress. You'd probably have to add a little bit more fullness than for a typical peasant top though, i would think, because of the gathering at the underbust. I was thinking it would look pretty with a sheer fabric (layered over something lightweight) and would keep the bodice from feeling 'heavy.'

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  8. Love it! You could totally make your own version.

    I like peasant blouses (though I don't actually have any), but then innate a thing for 70s patterns at the best of times...

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  9. Emphatic yea!

    Yeah, it can be done wrong, just like anything else can, but mostly, I'm all for it. Of course, I'm sort of obsessed with this Louella Ballerino dress right now, so I might be biased.

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  10. I do like the peasant look, but with a well blessed chest it's a no go style for me. I'd love to make the Vintage Vogue re-issue as it looks so elegant. I say go fot it girl, you always rock what you sew!

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  12. Gertie - for the blousey-top part of the dress there's these 3-styles from LEKO (LEKALA) patterns that might work.
    Your can download a FREE PDF of a fixed sample-size in all their patterns (it's equivalent to a Burda 36 or a McCalls/Butterick/Simplicity/Vogue size 10 I believe) I believe). Or for the rest of May '11 you can download for free the equivalent of a Burda size 44 for all their Women's patterns too (they also will for a fee make a pattern based on your custom size too):

    (1) Blouse 5418 (halfway down this page) Pic of 5148
    (2) Blouse 5095, Pic of 5095
    (3) Blouse 5473 (halfway down this page, Pic of 5473

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  13. I like the more modern versions of this sort of blouse pattern, they aren't quite so full. But that first pattern feels a little incongruous to me.

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  14. Imagine my surprise when I saw this pattern. My Aunt made this dress for my older cousin in a yellow tone-on-tone embroidered lawn way back when. It came down to me several years later (when styles had changed to sheath type dresses) and I remember wearing it to a formal family dinner. i felt like a princess. Good times. I think it would be a great addition to your wardrobe. With your skills, not too much of a stretch I think.

    The peasant look. Nice summer style, if it is not too blousy at the neckline. Then if feels rather maternity-ish-1970's. Subtle embroidery or trims update and personalize the look. Just avoid the bell bottom trousers.......

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  15. I think it's lovely... on smaller busted women. On those of us with a more generous bust it's just a bit too "Renaissance fair bar-wench" or "earth-mother hippy" for my tastes, no matter how sleek the tailoring in the rest of the dress.

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  16. I love peasant blouses and wear them often.

    I think that you would look darling in that fitted pattern, and I eagerly anticipate your adventures in peasant-pattern land. (I haven't been able to find a nice one, so I really will be following with bated breath).

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  17. I love peasant blouses, although they represent the 60s to me, not the 70s. I don't like the look spliced onto a 40s or 50s silhouette.

    The fabric and the type of embroidery strongly affect the feeling of the blouse.

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  18. I really enjoy this silhouette, and look forward to making the Vintage Vogue reissue myself. I like your idea of first testing out the look with a peasant blouse and a high waist skirt. After all, you have high waist skirts, so if you don't like how peasant shirt +high waist looks, you wont have a dress that you won't wear

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  19. I see nothing hippie or boho about it, unless you style it that way. The 70's borrowed heavily from the 40's after all. I do think that it screams pin up girl to me. In fact, I was just planing on making one to tuck into my high waist skirts for a bit of romanticism.

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  21. I think that dress would look great on you! I need a more fitted bodice (like the dress you like) otherwise I look pregnant. Love the vogue one too! I've made several tops like this for my daughter. The one I tried for myself was a total fail. ha.

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  22. Peasant Chic for sure. I loved wearing the 50s styles as a teenager with long cotton skirts. They are the summer staple top.
    I have few 50s peasant patterns that I am currently stalking on.

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  23. Seconding Lekala, but there is a dress pattern like this that I have made up. 5432 http://www.leko-mail.net/mod-e.php?t=0&a=1&n=14

    I did it in a dusky rose satin overlayed with black swiss dot intending to wear over Christmas/NYE. It was so pretty, I got compliments every time I wore it. I did a muslin of the top part in broadcloth. I'm a D cup and I downloaded it from the free offer in September, so the size was right for my upper bust but I knew I'd need adjustments. I would not recommend making it in something that stiff, it needs drape or it really does look peasanty. There was enough fullness I just made it lower to accomodate a fuller bust. I actually made it again with a knit and a few adjustments. I wear that version to work frequently.

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  24. I read way too much, but the LAST thing I think of when it comes to the peasant blouse is "glam." I think "nationalism." And, cultural appropriation. But, definitely not glam.

    The blouses in the 50's were actually much more 70's than the ones in the 30's--50's blouses in the US mostly Mexican souvenirs, it's eventually resulted in the devaluing of really beautiful, specifically regional embroidery and embellishment. To your vacationer in Acapulco in 1955, it's pretty flowers and birds. They didn't care that the bird was religiously significant to the Natives, or that the pattern was tribal and village-specific in a lot of cases. It's essentially the blouse equivalent of a "dream catcher." And, of course, *now* they're making them in China.

    You get into the War years, though? THAT is were you get "peasant" blouses that are the weird but inevitable conclusion of decades of Nationalism in Europe--those shirts are about European ethnic identity. It's NO ACCIDENT that they became popular in the 30's. It was a matter of propaganda--an attempt at state-mandated cultural conservation against, say, outsiders like Jews. Or, neighboring countries. Those are, in their own way, militaristic uniforms.

    I think I'm more politically conflicted about "peasant blouses" than any amount of fancy girdle-bound underpants.

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  25. I'm all for peasant chic. Then again, the 60s and 70s ARE my favorite vintage clothing decades, lol!

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  26. Haha, I do love Pin Queen's 'well blessed chest'! Same here though, which would make me fear anything like that top pattern on me, however gorgeous it is. All the same, I do love the peasant blouse look. Maybe making it a little less ample would make for a less 'inflated' look on the larger of chest? Does anyone have any advice on that front?

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  27. I don't have a pattern for a peasant blouse, but I am considering buying one. Just last week I purchased a nice peasant-style top, and I LOVE it - it's so comfortable!
    I think it would be really easy to duplicate that pattern, esp. for someone as talented as you are!

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  28. To me, it depends completely on the shape. It can look too girly — and by that, I mean 20 and under girls. That said, Donald Brooks did a grown-up version in the '70s that I love, Nina Ricci did a late '80s-early '90s interpretation that I love, and YSL did a sexy grown-up version last year.

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  29. I adore that pattern too. I'm leaning more towards the full skirt, but I think it's because it fulfills all my little girl fantasies of "puffed sleeves with a twirly skirt." Gotta love the simple things in life.

    I say, go for it. I bet the draping won't really be that difficult. I'm sure you could pull a bit of pattern frankenstein by fitting a peasant top with draping a long, fitted waistline, and if you want the wiggle option go for a TNT pencil skirt design. It can't be that difficult. The hardest part will probably be getting the area where the blouse meets with the waistline not looking like a wench maiden with a cincher on ;-).

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  30. I'm attracted to that style and I think the shape of it would look good on me personally, but I've never figured out a way to make it not look costumey or culturally insensitive, so I haven't gone there. I look forward to seeing your interpretation!

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  31. Peasant blouses remind me too much of cotumes in amateur productions from my teens. I wore many badly fitting peasant blouses and looked hideous in them all.

    Anyway, my boobs are too big now!

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  32. They don't suit my figure-type or do me any favours. HOWEVER that being said I thought the first pattern cover you displayed is PERFECT in that it is form fitting with a slight peasant twist. It is a winner! If you really like it and can afford the $75 then go for it.

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  33. I have to admit, I have now been schooled on the politico-historical implications of wearing a peasant blouse. With that said, however, I think this is great on anyone who loves wearing it.

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  34. The new Vogue version is on its way here even as I write. It has longer sleeves, which help with the busty factor. No guilt here.

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  35. Yea! I'm all about these 70's style blouses this summer.

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  36. I love making them as a cheap, easy-to-fit basic wardrobe item... they are a great t-shirt substitute, especially with a wide belt or ties added for fitting. On the whole I think this was one of the 70's better fashion trends.

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  37. The inner peasant in me reacted immediately - it's great! A Liberty print for the top and a solid for the bottom would be perfect.

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  38. I would love the peasant blouse if I weren't... well endowed. Having larger bossoms makes this type of shirt make me look fat/preggers because the fabric hangs off my breasts and doesn't conform to my body. I do love the style concept, though.

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  39. I'll be curious to see about the Vogue pattern, if anyone makes it up. I thought about it, but I think Rachel summed up my worry about it: wench/waist cincher combo. Plus I can't get past the weird white example.

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  40. Lovely. Was a bit confused by the knit fabric at first but it says it can be made with some woven fabrics. I'll certainly give it a try :)

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  41. Everything Nicki said is very interesting. To me, the peasant blouse is Yves Saint Laurent. His style of peasant blouse was very loose and flowy. Very 70's. But I love the 70's!

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  42. Nicki: Interesting ideas indeed!
    On the other hand, it seems to me "peasant" blouses also served as a protest against those same ideas in a way... against ideas of ethnic uniformity. I saw WW2 photos of a Czech girl/young woman in a "peasant" blouse embroidered in folk motives, which immediatelly made me think it was her subtle way of protesting against the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia...

    Anyway, I support Casey's suggestion of the chemise. That's how the original, genuine peasant blouses were made.

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  43. Gypsy tops are classic pretty garments as far as I, and apparently most people, are concerned.

    I once had a jersey gypsy top. It was fitted like a tee-shirt but had an elasticated neckline and elasticated short sleeves like on a peasant top. It was very pretty and I think it's a good style for people who don't want a lot of volume around the waist.

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  44. YourYoungestReaderMay 25, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    Nay. Ugh. To the first one. Overall I love peasant styles, but that one's awful.

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  45. I say yeah! I love them and make them a lot. Here is a pattern I love from Indygo Junction http://www.chrissyweeks.com/2011/05/my-summer-version-of-little-black-dress.html

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  46. I had problems posting the other day, but am trying again!

    My thoughts are that I love it, at least for me. Peasant blouses by themselves are terrible for my proportions (small chested and thick middle make me look round like a ball in them).

    But this is great! The gathering of the peasant blouse give volume where I am, er, less endowed, and the fitted bodice around the middle is slimming. I would LOVE to do a pattern like this.

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  47. YAY! I love the peasant look. Especially for easy summer days.

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  48. I really quite like them and I love the '50's style full skirt in the pattern I would never have thought to pair a peasant blouse with a fuller skirt.

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  49. @Claire -- OMG that was the most amazing advice.

    Gertie, this is the dress that I'm making for my wedding dress, and I had given up on figuring out how to attach the peasant top and had an ugly hack of a pleated panel being stitched across the front.

    http://crazinessandmore.blogspot.com/2012/03/mock-up-nearly-finished.html

    See?

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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