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What is a Blouson?

By Mary Beth Adomaitis
Updated May 21, 2024
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Blouson can mean different things. For example, in a fashion sense, it is a style of garment for women that has fabric blousing over a fitted waistband. From an interior designer's point of view, a blouson is a type of valance or curtain that when filled with paper, looks puffy and full. Both types are derived from the French word for blouse.

Blouson tops may have additional fabric below the waistband, covering the hips and stomach area. This style resembles a shirt that is tucked in and then pulled slightly out and over the waist. The popularity of blousons can be attributed to the way the blousing material hides or camouflages problem areas on a woman's body. For instance, it may help hide a pudgy midsection. When paired with a well-fitting pair of pants or a skirt, this style can work as office or casual attire.

Women's blousons can be found in a variety of fashions, including shirts, blouses, dresses, hoodies and swimsuits. Ladies whose lower bodies are wider than their shoulders or whose waists are not evenly defined may benefit from this style. Blousons typically fit loosely in the torso and are gathered or darted toward the midsection. Blouson dresses with fitted skirts often work well for women who want to show off their hourglass figure; those who don't can always choose one with a fuller skirt. Some women who carry their weight in the upper part of their body may not enjoy this style, as it can make them look a bit disproportionately large on top.

For designers looking to dress up their windows, a blouson valance may do the job. Also known as a cloud or balloon valance, this type of window treatment has two general styles: stuffed through the side with tissue paper for a balloon look or tailored to look puffy. Most blouson valances come with three-inch rod pockets, which is proportionate to the height and length of the valance when the rod is inserted. Many people find tissue paper works well for stuffing; recycled plastic grocery bags or newspaper may work as well.

To ensure proper fullness, valances should typically measure two to three times the width of a window, including two inches on each side for hardware. If the window being dressed is very large, two valances may be used as long as the center joint is hidden.

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Discussion Comments
By sunshined — On May 27, 2012

I like decorating with a blouson valance because I feel this adds some style without a real formal look.

On many of the windows in my house I have vertical blinds with a blouson valance at the top. This is an easy and inexpensive way to decorate my windows.

One of my friends is a very good seamstress and she made the blouson valances for me. All I had to do was pick out the material I wanted and she took care of the rest.

This gave me many more options than I would have if I ordered them from the store. I also have a casual look to my decor, and think that full length curtains give more of a formal look than I was wanting.

By honeybees — On May 27, 2012

I have seen the blouson style look good on all different shapes and sizes of women. Personally I love them because they cover up some extra fat around my stomach.

This is my problem area, and I feel like the blouson style is more flattering for my figure. It also depends on where the elastic hits on my stomach area though.

I always have to try this style of shirt on before I buy it because sometimes the elastic is too high or too low. Not only does this look funny, but it is uncomfortable to wear too.

If the blouson is too bulky it can also make me look bigger than I really am. Finding a blouson shirt that fits good and looks good can sometimes be challenge.

By Mykol — On May 26, 2012

I am pretty short and not overweight, but I like to wear certain blouson shirts. Most shirts and blouses I like are too long for me.

With the blouson style having some elastic around the waist, it makes the shirt a little bit more fitted and I don't feel like it is down to my knees.

Many blouson shirts also have a feminine look to them that I like. If I wear a shirt that doesn't have much fit to it, I feel a little bit sloppy. A blouson shirt with an elastic waist or sleeves makes me feel a little bit more dressy.

By lighth0se33 — On May 25, 2012

My sister has blouson valances over her drapes. They are versatile, because you have the choice of whether to make them fluffy or flat.

In some rooms, my sister left her valances unstuffed and let them hang as they were. They look just like regular valances.

In other rooms, like the guest room and her daughter's room, she stuffed them with tissue paper. Her daughter's room is painted and decorated in cloud décor, so the white blouson valance looks appropriate stuffed and full over the top of sky blue drapes. The guest room has an elegant looking stuffed burgundy blouson that adds to its appeal.

By kylee07drg — On May 25, 2012

I like garments that have blouson sleeves. I think they look so romantic and relaxed. They definitely add a distinctive style to the garment.

I have a couple of long-sleeve shirts with blouson sleeves. The cuffs are elastic, and the material poufs out around them. These shirts tie with drawstrings at the neckline, adding to the romantic look.

I also have a couple of dresses with sleeves like this. One of these dresses has slit blouson sleeves. The slit runs from the shoulder to the wrist, and the material has ties to secure the top and bottom of it.

By cloudel — On May 24, 2012

@wavy58 – I think that women of ideal weight can look good in the blouson style of clothing, too. However, women who are extremely skinny will not be flattered by this look.

I know a girl who is rail thin, and she seems to disappear when she wears a blouson. It doesn't help that she is flat-chested, because she appears to have no chest at all beneath the billowy material.

I think that people who have enough up top can get away with this look, even if they are skinny. I do agree with you that it really flatters a full figure, though. My waistline has expanded over the years, and I have several blousons in my wardrobe to hide this fact.

By wavy58 — On May 24, 2012

A blouson can do great things for a chunky woman's figure. I have what I like to call “ring around the waist,” and blousons hide this very well.

I have worn everything from formal long blouson dresses to shorter blousons that come just below my waist, and I look good in all of them. I gave up wearing fitted tops long ago, because they show the bump over my belly.

I suppose that many women share my problem, because blousons are easy to find in every clothing store. The plus size section is really full of them, but I've even seen super skinny girls wearing them. They must not know that they are designed to hide fat!

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