Ask anyone about women’s power dressing 80’s and they will invariably mention the cheesy bow blouses that all women in the workforce wore.  If you don’t know what I am talking about Google it and you’ll see.  They were bad.  Bad, bad, bad.  But what other choice did women have back then?  These ladies were seen like unicorns and they had few dressing options available to them to compete with their male counterparts.  Basically, they had to dress like the female version of what a guy would wear.

Thankfully, things have changed.

These days women have a plethora of options, one being the bow blouse.  Yes, women are wearing them again.  However, this blouse style has more than evolved and become much more feminine.  In today’s post, I want to give you some dressing tips and outfit ideas on how to look stylish in a bow blouse at work.

How to Wear a Bow Blouse and Not Look Uptight

Don’t tie the bow like a bow Even thought its called a bow blouse, few women actually tie the bow to look like one.  Instead, many tie it in a relaxed manner, like a loose necktie.  If you do want to tie an actual bow, tie it loosely, not all fussy-like.  This creates an easier look.  Loosely tying it also creates less bulk over the bust line making it easier for large chested women to wear them.

Pair this very feminine piece with more modern pieces Bow blouses have a very feminine and soft look which can come across as very passive in the workplace.  To create balance, choose more tailored and modern items to wear with these types of tops.  The sleekness will cut through the sweetness.

Create unique color combinations  Imagine a basic navy skirt suit with a white bow blouse.  The look is so common and so pedestrian that their is nothing really updated about this type of outfit.  However, if you create interesting and unique color combinations using a bow blouse you can create an outfit that is more of a stand out.

Add cool accessories If you prefer to wear very classic and traditional pieces with bow blouses, consider introducing some edgier accessories, like a funky pair of shoes, a pair of interesting earrings or stacking some bracelets on your wrist.  These little trendy touches can freshen up your looks.

Add softer knits If your bow blouse feels uptight when you wear it, try softening your looks by layering a more relaxed cardigan over the blouse.  The outfit will look easy but still professional.

Using the tips above, here are three outfits using bow blouses

Outfit #1

Bow Blouse Shop the outfit:

In this outfit, using this bow blouse from J. Crew, I made the outfit look updated by pairing the teal top with interesting colors and more modern pieces.  I added this polka dot pencil skirt from French Connection, a pair of yellow suede pumps from Nordstrom and a purple duster coat from Boden.  Even without the coat, the teal and yellow against is black and white skirt makes this classic silhouette look more updated.  The outfit is finished with a pair of agate earrings and gold Banana Republic bracelet.

Outfit #2

Bow Blouse Shop the outfit:

This outfit is very classic and professional looking, consisting of this bow blouse from Reiss, a pair of Elie Tahari navy pants and blazer from J. Crew.  Yet, with the subtle addition of these colorblocked shoes from Boden the outfit gets a professional punch.  I took the purple from the shoes and added these violet drop earrings.

Outfit #3

Bow Blouse Shop the outfit:

In this last outfit I used this easy Reiss cardigan in grey to layer over this printed bow blouse from Modcloth.  The outfit still looks professional but has an ease to it.  Next, I loved the way these burgundy pants from J. Crew worked with the top.  I finished the outfit with this pair of tan flats from Nordstrom and pink statement earrings from Bauble Bar.

Shop for bow blouses

Looking to add a bow blouse to your wardrobe, check out these additional styles.