How to wear... the bold blouse
Master transitional dressing with a breezy top. Whether you prefer a vibrant print or a bright hue, it's the ultimate in-between piece for tricky weather, writes Meadhbh McGrath
Kate Middleton cut a stylish figure when she opted for wide leg trousers and a lavender pussybow blouse for an engagement last week, but royal watchers were quick to spot something off about her look. The Gucci blouse, according to online retailers such as Net-A-Porter, is designed to be worn with the buttons fastened at the back, in contrast to Kate's styling, which flipped the buttons to the front.
Had she gotten dressed in the dark? Was she too tired to notice the tag? Or is Kate trying to tell us something with her subversive back-to-front dressing?
While some commentators hailed a new era of daring duchess style, it also offered a much more accessible form of royal fashion. Instead of fussy coat dresses and elaborate hats, the blouse-and-trousers combination was low-key yet impactful, the kind of workwear outfit most women would like to reach for on one of these in-between, not-quite-spring days.
The blouse is the perfect transitional piece. It's light and comfortable, yet modest, keeping your arms and chest covered for those who'd prefer not to flash the flesh just yet (or indeed, at all). With retro bows, graphic prints, dramatic sleeves, lush textures or sporty details, there are many styles and ways to wear. And whether you prefer a piece you can chuck on with jeans and trainers or are looking for something flashy enough to give your favourite party dresses a run for their money, there's a wealth of options for all budgets.
For 2019, the blouse has had a bold new upgrade. On the catwalks, Coach 1941 offered billowing ruffled designs; Marc Jacobs rendered 80s-inspired shapes in glitzy metallics and gauzy organza, adorned with giant corsages and neck ties; while Burberry showcased sophisticated silk blouses in heritage prints and the house's classic camel checks.
These blouses were paired variously with floor-sweeping prairie skirts, oversized short suits, pencil skirts and smart tailored trousers in muted black and neutral shades.
A bold blouse can be dressed up or down as the occasion demands. Where Kate Middleton (right) allows her Gucci top to shine by teaming it with trousers in an understated hue, Victoria Beckham (far right) chose a pair of focus-pulling magenta heels to amp up her monochrome ensemble.
The voluminous sleeves elevated her white blouse beyond a wardrobe workhorse, and when worn with the satin pumps, VB's look made the case for a bold blouse and trousers over a typical gown for eveningwear.
You can take the look a step further, too, like Kate Bosworth (left) in a Proenza Schouler power suit. She leans into the 70s styling with a printed Chloe blouse, topped off with gold cuff bracelets and platforms.
Clashing vibrant colours and patterns is another of spring's biggest trends, and Kate's mix of burnt orange and turquoise is a treat.
Rixo London's blouse will help you hit two trends in one, or you can bring it to the next level: the brand proposes wearing with a bright yellow zebra print skirt (if that sounds daunting, a pair of faded, straight-leg jeans will work well, too).
Marella's blouse does the work for you by putting together sky blue and a zesty orange in the one piece. For those who prefer a sporty look, those side-stripe trousers lingering in your closet and a pair of trainers will help to complete your laid-back, off-duty ensemble.
For an easy everyday take, try a vivid red blouse with a rich maroon midi skirt, or tone it down with creamy caramel slacks - it's much softer than black.
To keep your outfit fresh, black is best avoided on the bottom half. Instead, look to this season's neutrals or shades of dark green and blue. Navy trousers would make a great complement to Ted Baker's ruffled green blouse, while a deep chocolate brown will provide a satisfying counter to M&S's sunshine yellow top.