Key Differences Between a Dress Shirt and a Blouse

Blouses and shirts are the basis of any woman’s wardrobe and trusted essentials to create effortless style time after time. However, the two are often mixed up and tossed around interchangeably which may lead to some confusion every now and then.

In this article, we are going to try and help clear up the differences between a dress shirt and a blouse.

What is a Blouse?

A blouse is typically a loose-fitting garment, generally associated with a more feminine appearance. Historically, it was worn by workmen, peasants, artists, women, and children. The term can also refer to a man’s shirt if it is a loose-fitting style, but in present times it is used almost exclusively for women’s clothing.

Blouses are available in a wide range of colors, patterns, fabrics, styles, and lengths. They are usually associated with dressier clothing and are thus appropriate for work and other formal events.

What is A Dress Shirt?

Dress shirt is a long-sleeved button up with collar and cuffs, like a traditional men’s dress shirt. In fact, in the past, the term “shirt” was primarily associated with men’s clothing, but today the term is entirely gender neutral.

white blouse
blouses and shirts

Differences between blouses and shirts


Dress shirts are typically tailored and have a close fit that is trim, but not tight, with enough room to move around comfortably, but without excess fabric for the shirt to look billowy or sloppy. The right shirt in the right fit works with your silhouette, flatters your figure and makes you feel fabulous.

There are many different silhouettes, or fits, your blouses can have. The styles range from fitted to comfortably oversized and thus suit a variety of body shapes, from slim to curvy.


Dress shirts are typically made with cotton as a primary source material. When you see terms like broadcloth, twill, pinpoint, and oxford then these are different weave styles of cotton. Fine cotton has a dense weave creating a natural fit to the body. It provides unrivaled comfort and with a warm and subtle natural sheen a look that conveys luxury and tradition.

Blouses are made of many different types of fabrics, among them plain and printed silks, silk broadcloth, cotton, brocade, denim, satin, linen, synthetic fibers (e.g., polyester, viscose), etc. These fabrics drape and often have stretch.

polyester blouse
BLOUSE (made of polyester fabric)
cotton dress shirt
DRESS SHIRT (made of fine cotton)


Dress shirts for women are meant to be worn either tucked in or untucked, so traditionally, they are made longer than blouses. The length of the dress shirt is correct if it falls more or less at the middle of your butt. An easy test to check if the length is correct is by raising your hands above your head and making sure that the shirt will not come above your belt line.

The length of blouses varies: the hem of a blouse may fall just below the waist, at the hip, or below the hip as with tunic styles.


Women’s dress shirts are mostly offered in numerical sizing (34, 36, 38, etc.). Since these shirts normally have a fitted fit that is supposed to follow the contours of the body, there is not a lot of room for error when choosing the correct size. It is important to know your chest, waist and hips measurements to get the size right in most cases.

By contrast, blouse sizing is much more general, and in many cases, blouses are sized in alpha sizing (S, M, L, etc.).  


Aside from the collar and cuffs, most dress shirts do not feature additional elements. Consequently, your dress shirt collar and cuffs are the most visible details of your shirt and if these communicate style and taste, you’ll instantly generate a positive first impression.

To ensure a sharp aesthetic, the collar and cuffs of dress shirts are crisp and stiff. This is achieved by using a different type of material known as interlining within these details. This forms a sort of skeleton providing rigidity and shape and will help the collar stay sharper longer.

Blouses can feature various adornments like embroidered decorations, ruffles, bows and beadwork to make them unique. Ruffled blouses embody an especially feminine look as frills are added to the sleeves and/ or neckline. Bows or a miniature chest pocket can embellish a blouse’s design as well. If a blouse happens to have a collar, it is not stiff but softer and fluid in appearance.

A blouse can be sleeveless, or have capped sleeves, puffed sleeves, bell sleeves, or any other number of sleeve styles and lengths.

Additionally, a dress shirt always has a fully buttoned opening whereas a blouse rarely has one and is generally pulled over the head.

red blouse
women's dress shirt details

In Conclusion

Both blouses and dress shirts are important basics in any woman’s wardrobe and can be paired with just about any bottom for a great look. For maximum variety, it is a good idea to have a few different styles hanging in the wardrobe.