Ask Belle: Work Blouses Under-$100

Jan 28, 2013

Hi Belle,

Thanks for the posts last week about wardrobe staples. I start my internship in February, and I can’t wait.  I have two suits but I’d like to buy some blouses to wear with them or wear with skirts.  Can you help me find some inexpensive (under-$100) options?

Rheanna

I always make an effort to include a less-expensive option where possible, but I know that for some people, esp. those just starting out, the less-expensive option is the only option.  So here are a few of the under-$100 options that I tracked down.

 

Pintuck Placket Blouse ($56) // Dot Print Chiffon Blouse ($78) // Sheer Waterfall Blouse ($56) // Faux Wrap/Peplum Top ($39) // Drop Neck Blouse ($56)

For this group of items, I wanted to focus on long sleeve blouses.  The reason being that a long sleeve blouse in a light fabric is essentially seasonless.  And I think that, when worn with a skirt, they create a polished look.

The first blouse has a cummerbund effect on the bottom, which is really pretty.  The second has a small print in a lovely color.  The third is sheer black, though I would wear a black camisole underneath instead of just a bra.  The wrap top would look lovely with a belt, or, if you can manage it, tucked in to a skirt. (If you like the wrap top, this printed blouse is on sale from Rachel Zoe.)  And the drape top would look equally lovely tucked into a skirt or with trousers/jeans.

Need more choices?  This dotted tie neck top is $60.  This split neck top with contrast trip is $20.  And if you like a bit of sparkle, this blouse has a foil embellishment that is different than anything that I have seen before.

Plus size? This faux-leopard print blouse in black and white caught my eye as did this blouson top in orange and white.

Now, if you are looking for short sleeve blouses…

Ella Moss Bella Top ($59) // Vince Camuto Leopard Drape Top ($89) // Gianni Binni Vanda Blouse ($79) // BCBG Drea Top ($53) // Banana Republic Peated Sleeve Top ($49)

I’ve said this before, but a refresher never hurts: I don’t believe that women should wear spaghetti strap or thin strap tanks and tops under their jackets and cardigans.  Why?  Because at some point, esp. during the warmer months, you may want to take off your top layer and when you do, a thinner strap top is simply too revealing.  Visit a House committee room in August and you’ll see more than a few ladies showing off their bra straps and bacne.  It’s not pretty, and is easily avoided.

The tops above are blousy silk tee that would look lovely with a statement necklace.  The second has a modern draped front that would look superb underneath a blazer. (I also LOVE this one with a cowl neck and drape from The Limited.)  The shirt in the middle is a choice that is a bit more fun with colorblocking and a hint of neon.  If you want something less flashy, try this puff sleeve blouse.  

The top with the ruffled front also comes in white, and is a great choice for adding some volume and texture to a basic v-neck cardigan.  And the last blouse is just an easy top that you can throw on with trousers or a skirt.

If you’re plus size, I found two great options for you.  This bright, sleeveless Anne Klein top is a bold choice.  And this eggplant blouse with a small print would pair well with navy separates.

Need more options? I recommend the following stores for fiscally feasible, but well-made blouses: Dillard’s, Bluefly, Neiman Marcus Last Call, The Limited and Lord & Taylor.  And incidentally, Lord & Taylor has one of the best plus size departments that I have ever seen.  I find most of the known brand pieces used on this blog either there or at Saks Salon Z.

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  1. Mia says:

    Everlane also has beautiful silk blouses under $100

  2. v says:

    There is another good reason to wear sleeves – short or long – under blazers: it helps reduce sweat and deoderant build up on the blazer thereby prolonging the number of wearings between drycleanings and the life of the blazer.

  3. R says:

    Very helpful, thanks! I think I'm ordering that first blouse.

  4. dancinglonghorn says:

    Don't forget Halogen blouses from Nordies – I have several and they are machine washable, look close enough to silk that nobody would notice the difference, and you can generally get them for under $50 when they go on sale.

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