Not since Adam Ant and he Blitz Kids made the puffy pirate sleeves and billowy and frilly blouses fashionable has this New Romantics staple gained such a powerful style cachet. While the piece was the harbinger of club couture and the exuberant sense of dressing throughout the ’80s (think ruffles, shine and glamour), the men who wore them like a uniform were the poets of the Romantic movement in the 18th century.
Just who were these old romantics? Just think of some of the greatest literary names of the time like Lord Byron and William Blake. No surprises then why the loose fitting tunic-style cotton and silk white shirts with their lace and ruffles came to be known as the poet’s blouse. The resurgence of the style is apparent in Burberry’s current collection. Though its chief creative officer Christopher Bailey officially takes inspiration from the fluidity, texture and proportions of the works of English sculptor Henry Moore, there is no denying the languor of Byronic sartorialism in the frothy white lace blouses and the drooping sleeves that come in luxurious fabrics like silk cotton and macrame lace.
Another unsuspecting style icon is the English poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake. To most, he is better known for his liberal ideas and sexual freedoms and works like The Crucifixion: ‘Behold Thy Mother’. Gucci‘s creative maestro Alessandro Michele is one fashion insider obsessed with him. So much so that he roped in singer Florence Welch for readings of Blake’s 1789 illustrated collection of poems Songs of Innocence and of Experience as the soundtrack for his spring summer ’17 show. He did so again for the fall winter ’17 runway collection — this time featuring the readings as a track on the vinyl invite to the show.
The Tate Liverpool has a more contemporary approach to Blake. From now to Sept 3, it is showcasing the art of Tracey Emin next to the poet’s. For instance, famous works by the former like My Bed (1998) with its empty bed, stained sheets and detritus are paired next to Blake’s Pity from 1795. Too esoteric? Then appreciate Blake’s wardrobe with these six picks of the most stylish poet blouses this season.