history of the pussy bow blouse

The history of the pussy bow blouse

The pussy-bow blouse is a classic design that has become a power dressing staple synonymous with strong women throughout history. Perfect for a wide range of fabric types, the garment’s distinctive neckline bow is designed to be tied in several ways to allow you to create an individualised fashion statement.

We have this completely free Lottie pussy Bow Blouse pattern to download to celebrate this iconic dress from our pattern company Simple Sew – it’s been one of our most popular patterns and we’re sure you’re going to enjoy sewing it up! free to download, or you can buy a print copy.

download free sewing pattern

The pussy-bow blouse dates back to the early 20th century when in 1934, the St Petersburg Times advertised a pattern for a collar that could be worn in four different ways, one of which included an ‘intriguingly feminine pussy-cat bow tied high under your chin’. Named for its resemblance to the traditional bow that would be tied around the neck of a kitten, the blouse found its way into popular fashion and in the 1960s, pussy bows became a fixture in American fashion houses, having been featured by designers such as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.

Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse

Over the years the pussy-bow blouse has evolved into a symbol of power for women in popular culture. In the 1960s and 70s, as new opportunities began to grow and develop for working women, so did the popularity of the blouse. Trailblazing women who led the way to the top of their corporate careers had no established examples of how to dress and so looked to their male counterparts for cues. The blouse emulated an alternative to the traditional suit and tie, combining masculine work wear with a frill of femininity which made it an ideal choice for women who were looking to stand out and make an impact in a male-dominated environment.

Margaret Thatcher pussy Bow Blouse

The pussy-bow blouse’s status as a symbol of power was later solidified in the 1980s when Margaret Thatcher became the UK’s first female Prime Minister. Adopting the pussy bow as a key part of her political image, she reportedly remarked that she felt bows were ‘softening’ and ‘pretty’ and the look has since gone on to be emulated by numerous other political figures around the world including the world’s favourite former First Lady, Michelle Obama. The style has long since been associated with the Iron Lady and at Thatcher’s funeral in 2013, Samantha Cameron notably paid tribute by wearing a gold pussy-bow blouse.

Lottie Hack

The pussy-bow blouse typically appears in one of two style options; attached to a v-neck or extending from a keyhole opening. Paired with cuffed sleeves, dartless bodices and easy-fit silhouettes, they are a wardrobe winner for many women. Suited to lightweight fabric that allows plenty of drape, this blouse is a stylish yet versatile look that is simple to recreate yourself. You can also tailor the size of your bow to create a modest or dramatic effect!

In more recent years, the pussy-bow blouse has continued to be worn as a statement piece by women in a position of power. Most recently the blouse made international headlines when, in 2016, Melania Trump appeared at a presidential debate in the run up to the US election wearing a fuchsia Gucci variation. The appearance sparked controversy due to the release of recordings days earlier in which the now-president Donald Trump made some choice comments about grabbing women in a region that is sometimes referred to by a similar name as this timeless look. Despite this, Melania’s appearance served as a reminder of the blouse’s unwavering sophistication and brought it back into focus, allowing the style to resurface at the height of fashion.

Alice Bah Kuhnke pussy Bow Blouse

Alice Bah Kunkhe Sweden’s First Minister of Democracy stood up in Solidarity with Sara Danius

Even now, the pussy-bow blouse is used as a symbol of feminist solidarity. In April 2018 women across Sweden wore the blouse to show their support for deposed head of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius. Danius had been forced from her role as permanent secretary of the academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, after weeks of accusations of sexual abuse against a man with longstanding ties to the group. Believing the disposition to be unfair, both public figures and private citizens shared pictures of their blouses through social media to show their support for the first female head of the centuries-old body.

pussy bow blouse

 

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Categories: Dressmaking, Great British Sewing Bee Series 5
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