Here in the UK, the weather is beginning to improve; spring is in the air. With warmer temperatures it’s now not totally essential to layer-up every one goes outside and thoughts are turning to lightweight attire. When doing some research online into springtime jackets, I was reminded of the word ‘blouson’. It’s a term that my dad used a lot when I was younger and I never really understood what a ‘blouson’ was.
So then, what is a ‘blouson’?
The origin of the word ‘Blouson’ is probably from the French word ‘blouse’, first recorded in English in 1828… Now, ‘blouse’ sounds a bit girly to our modern ears, however in history, the word wasn’t gender specific: The meaning could come from “workman’s or peasant’s smock”. The derivation may also be from the Provençal dialect words for “wool”, blouso or “short wool”.
Men working in blouse-like garments in George Stubbs’ 1785 painting ‘Reapers’.
The Cambridge Dictionary says that a ‘Blouson’ is a “loose, short jacket that is worn on the upper body and fits tightly around the waist” and in modern parlance, this is what the term has come to mean: A very generic name for a jacket that fits these traits.
Blousons have many references in history; however it was the Second World War that helped form what we now recognise as this classic jacket shape. The ‘Eisenhower Jacket’ and ‘Bombardier Jacket’ or ‘Bomber Jacket’ are notable examples.
Think of it this way: A shirt tucked into your belt line and then pulled out slightly so it sits slightly out and over your waist, this is ‘blousing’. Typically, blousons fit more loosely around the torso than at the waist, where they are gathered or darted.
A firm favourite of this blog is the Harrington Jacket; a lightweight blouson with a soft, buttoned collar that can be raised.
Generally speaking, a Harrington jacket is gathered at the waist with an elasticated band. The Harrington Jackets featured here are from Baracuta and Ben Sherman – perfect for spring.
Of course, the blouson shape is not restricted to the Harrington Jacket, there are a great many numbers of variations including…
The Letterman or Varsity Jackets
And many types of leather jackets, flying jackets, packaways and much more.
Notable examples of blousons in popular culture are… Ryan Gosling’s shimmering driving jacket from DRIVE.
James Dean’s windcheater in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.
And Walter White’s everyday attire in BREAKING BAD.
If you’re looking for a suitable additional layer for the spring, consider a blouson. As a very versatile piece of attire and with a huge array of choices, you’re sure to find something that works for you.
Thanks to the below for the images.
The Tate Britain, Classic Hollywood Central, UGO, One Mick Jones, Vice, Emen Fashion, La Redoute, Kitsune, Asos, Baracuta, Fred Perry, Ben Sherman and Peter Werth