Blue Willow

I have hazy but warm and cozy memories of my paternal grandmother, who died when I was six years old. The kitchen (gingerbread, pancakes) is at the heart of them. She was a master of domestic arts and had a special knack for keeping small children (like me) occupied and entertained. I have her sewing machine — an old ebony Singer — which I used until the early 00s when it stopped working and could not be repaired. (Brothers Sew & Vac in Cleveland Park tried, but a replacement part could not be found. Love Brothers!) I’ll always keep the machine because it gives me an on-going sense of connection to her.

I also have a massive set of Blue Willow china that she assembled over many years.
I love this old-fashioned pattern; it continues to look fresh because blue and white are an unbeatable combination.
When I saw this blouse, it reminded me of my Blue Willow, and I could think of at least five different uses for it.
Blue willow
Blue Willow blouse

Side view
Are you wondering what’s going on here? Is it one blouse? Two blouses? A blouse and a mISceLLaNEous iTeM?
Here are the ideas I had between the sales rack and the register:

  • with white pants in the summer;
  • with jeans and a khaki jacket in the spring or fall;
  • under a black sleeveless dress in the winter;
  • with navy pinstriped suiting;
  • with a cozy black sweater and black wool cropped trousers in the fall.

Later I decided I could wear it like this . . . . layered under a strappy top with jeans!

It’s a blouse with a tiny cropped toplet.
I saw this black top a couple of months ago and thought it was adorable, but clearly not suitable for me to wear as designed. But using it to give shape to a sheer, billowy tunic? Now we’re cooking with gas.
The blouse is sheer, so I am wearing a camisole under it.
This is what's going on there
This is what’s going on there

The Photographer and I went out to take a few photos this evening. The sky was threatening, but we thought we had enough time to take the shots for this entry. We were wrong. We were nearly drenched by a sudden downpour . . . while standing less than 20 feet from our front door. That’s how sudden the rain was. As a result, we didn’t capture all of the different angles and details that I would ordinarily try to show. But I do have this funny series of me fiddling with my bag while trying to show the outfit from the side and back. I thought it might amuse you.
You stay right there
You stay right there
Bag has collapsed
Oh no, m’bag has collapsed
You stay right there
Maybe you’ll do better over here? Mmmmmmmm . . . . nope

Of course the bag collapsed. It was only holding a pair of reading glasses and house-keys. Or perhaps it was responding to a sudden drop in barometric pressure.
Blue Willow Blouse: Theory Alrik Avery Printed Silk Blouse; Black Top: Staud Freddie Top; Camisole (under blouse, not visible): Commando Butter Layering Cami; Jeans: JCrew; Shoes: Donald J. Pliner Fifi Sandals; Bag: Kate Spade
A plug for Staud (rhymes with applaud): Made in L.A., very charming designs — perhaps a little youthful for me, but, as shown above, highly adaptable. I have an idea for the Finn Top in Silver.
blue willer

10 thoughts on “Blue Willow”

  1. I love this combination of cropped, close fitting top over the voluminous blouse. Why have I never though about trying this before??

  2. Love the outfit, pictures and text, as always!

    You look so lean and trim. Just good genes or/and do you exercise a lot/regularly? I would enjoy a post on your routine! I am a few years older than you, in very good shape, but have to work very hard for it (i.e. I exercise every single day).

    • Chouette22, you spoil me! I walk for exercise most days and am fairly active (I take public transportation around the city and rarely am in a car M-F), but I don’t have a rigorous exercise routine. I think it’s mostly a combination of lucky genes and — what I am about to say here is really pitiful — stress. (Isn’t that awful? Stress!)

  3. This combination looks great and once again gives me food for thought. Why am I not doing vest/tops over blouses? Thanks for the inspiration, AV

  4. Memories come in all flavors, don’t they?! Thanks for sharing your gingerbread and pancake recollection. Fabric patterns are often springboards to other thoughts… mother introduced me to jade Wedgewood at 20 something, to this day I’m still drawn to intricate jade/off-white fabric patterns!

  5. The top over is a good idea as I bought an Eileen Fisher little summer dress and it seemed too big and billowy even though I liked it. That is a valid technique for this, I think. Thanks for the idea and the series of pictures. Your Grandma’s ginger pancakes sound so good. I may have to try to make them soon. She’s pleased with your fashion endeavors I believe and proud you kept the machine as a touchstone. Kate

  6. Question of the moment: HOW do you do up the ties in the back? Are you extremely flexible? Do you have assistance getting dressed? If I’m not mistaken you have another “tie in the back” top that had me ask that same question.

    I love this little crop halter piece! It’s like a little piece of armor, modestly bringing your transparent gauzy blouse into a do-able realm. I’m enamored!

    • An excellent question! One must always have a plan for getting into one’s clothes! I initially tied the ties myself and the contortions I had to do to achieve this were quite painful. So then I asked The Photographer to tie the ties for me. But then I realized that I could tie the ties myself by putting the top on backwards, tying the ties in the front and then swiveling it around and slipping my arms through the shoulder straps. Very easy.

  7. Must try this! I have a couple of tops from YOOX that I bought in the girls’ section that would be perfect for this “armoring,” as Sharla so nicely puts it. And the blue willow is gorgeous. Hard to go wrong with blue and white.


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