The Hunt: Silk Button-Front Blouses

The Best Silk Button-Fronts | CorporetteSure, we all know what basics professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We rounded up some of the best crisp button-downs around this time last year, but we haven’t ever rounded up the best silk-button fronts.  I’m still a fan of the ones with a pointed collar (instead of a rounded or band collar, or a split neck) for a more classic look — the collar looks great beneath a suit blazer, layered underneath sweaters, and more.  For my $.02, I’d suggest wearing a cotton camisole (with the arm holes adjusted fairly high) beneath them so you can try to get at least two wears before you have to take them to the drycleaner.  There’s a ton of selection out there — readers, which are your favorite silky button-downs?  Do you have any laundry tricks (either to extend the wears-per-launder or to make them look nice without drycleaning?) Any must-haves (or do-not-buys?)

Pink Tartan Silk Pintuck Sleeve BlouseThis super-sale silk blouse from Pink Tartan leads the list — it was $325 but is now marked to $67; great proof that deals can be had if you hunt. (There are, of course, limited sizes only.) Pink Tartan Silk Pintuck Sleeve Blouse
Everlane Silk Point CollarOn the flip side: if you’re not in the mood in hunting for deals, Everlane has a silk blouse (with three collar styles and multiple colors) that is regularly priced at $80 (no sales). I like the “acorn” color, pictured, with the point collar. (Click here if you’re new to Everlane and need an invite!)  Everlane Silk Point Collar
J.Crew Silk pocket blouseI’m curious to hear what readers think of J.Crew’s silk pocket blouse — opinions? Thoughts? It’s on a pretty good sale today — it was $138 (available in regular, petite, and tall in five colors), but with code SHOPSPRING it comes down 30% to $96.60. J.Crew Silk pocket blouse
Equipment Brett Reptile Reverie Printed Silk BlouseI would say that Equipment is the brand I think of most when I think of silky button-front shirts — the colors! the variety! the fun prints!  Their “Slim signature” blouse is pictured at the top of this post, but this particular blouse (at left) is $186 on sale (was $248). Other good resources for Equipment shirts on sale include Last Call, Off Fifth, The Outnet, and even Saks. (Any others, ladies?)  Equipment Brett Reptile Reverie Printed Silk Blouse
DvF Marah Two-Toned Silk BlouseDvF has a number of silk blouses new to their sale section, and there are some great basics as well as some fun prints in there. This particular silk blouse is $185 (was $265); sizes 0-14 still left. DvF Marah Two-Toned Silk Blouse
Thomas Pink Darcy ShirtEven though Thomas Pink is primarily a man’s store, I always think they nail it with their women’s blouses. This Darcy silk shirt looks gorgeous, and it comes in your classic white, pink, and navy blue. It’s $325. Thomas Pink Darcy Shirt

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The Best Silk Button-Front Blouses | Corporette

Comments

  1. Great timing, I’m just starting to pull my summer associate wardrobe together… and I’ve put off buying button-down blouses because I can’t figure out how to wear them with suit jackets and I think they make my neck look short. Sigh.

    • TO Lawyer :

      Honestly, I don’t think you need button-down blouses. I bought a whole bunch when I was interviewing (3 years ago) and I can count the number of times I’ve worn them on one hand. I do have a silk button-down I wear more often but a lot of my silk blouses are collar-less and I find they look just as professional and sit neatly under a suit jacket or blazer which I like more.

      • Yes! I don’t like button-down. I have several blouses without buttons and without collar and are my favourite!

        No interference with blazer lapels, less interference with necklaces.

      • Same. I wear blouses or sweaters under my suits. I rarely wear button downs.

        • Me also. Frank love’s to stare at my boobie’s when the butten’s are to tight, and he think’s he can see something thru there. FOOEY! Even Lynn stopped wearing butten down’s b/c Frank was stareing at her boobie’s also. And she is alot more shapeley then me, except now she is getting alot more sloppy since she is dateing Mason. I hope she does NOT go to seed with him b/c he can probabley find other women who will sleep with him, but NOT me. FOOEY!

      • Olivia Pope :

        I never wear my shirts with buttons either. The silky shells that I have get FAR more use, and look better on me. It’s a shame that my Brooks Brothers non-iron sits in my closet unused while the inexpensive shells/tops that I bought on sale at the Banana Republic outlet look way better on me.

        The only button front shirts I successfully wear to work are oversized shirts that I pair with straight leg ankle pants, non-client, non-court days in spring/summer.

      • I don’t own a button-down shirt. I bought some as a law student but have given them all away because I find them uncomfortable and I don’t think they look quite right on me, especially under a jacket. Silk blouses or sweaters are equally appropriate under a suit and look/feel a million times better to me.

    • They make your neck look short? Do you button the all the way to the top? If so, maybe just leave the top two unbuttoned.

    • I am a banana. :

      I never wear them either, but I recently bought the Everlane band collar silk button down and I like it so much (and wear it so much ) I am going to buy another one. It doesn’t have the collar issue.

  2. Mint green ballet flats :

    Shopping challenge in case anyone feels like doing some vicarious shopping: I’m looking for mint green ballet flats. I ordered a pair from Frye from 6pm . com but they turned out to be too narrow for my feet (size 7). Ideally priced under $50 but if they’re good quality I’ll pay up to $75. I have pretty sensitive feet (a lot of shoes give me blisters, etc.), so comfort is pretty important. I walk a lot. Thanks in advance!

  3. I’m always a little disappointed when we get an entire The Hunt without a single option for plus size readers. Looks like only one option here that even comes in a 16. Is it that hard to throw in an option that works for everyone? They do exist (Talbots, Lafayette 148, etc.)

    Clearly, I’m having a frustrating day that has nothing to do with this site, but still….

    • Wildkitten :

      Capitol Hill Style is really good at including plus sized options. (You may already know that!)

      • No, I’ve heard of it but haven’t read it. Thanks for the recommendation!

      • Yup – she’s also really good about displaying a wide range of price points in nearly every post. Honestly, thissite is better for vicarious shopping and Cap Hill Style for real shopping.

        • Agreed! I love the comment threads here, but find Cap Hill Style a true inspiration with lots of realistic options.

    • Another vote for CHS! I really appreciate the petite options. She always has a wide range of sizes and prices.

    • I hear you – I am a 36E cup and I have to size up drastically to get a blouse that sits right. I’m just about to order one of the custom-made silk shirts from Baron Boutique (see my website link here). They are really reasonable for custom made. I have no idea what the quality is like but I’m about to find out. I have several blouses in this line – from Talbots, from Mary Porter in the UK, from an Australian place – and all of them but the Talbots one needed alterations to fit me better. Maddening.

  4. I’ve been pretty pleased with my Uniqlo silk blouse, which was about $45 I think. However, I would only get it in dark colors – the lighter ones are quite sheer.

  5. Hypothyroid? :

    Curious if anyone here can share advice/empathize about hypothyroidism. I started feeling absolutely exhausted in July 2013, was diagnosed in September 2013 (tsh ~10!), and have been trying to find the right levo dose ever since. I’m feeling much better, and my hair and eyebrows are growing back in (relief!), but I’m struggling with weight gain for the first time in my life. How long should I expect it to take before I feel 100% again? Thanks in advance!

    • Are you using Synthroid? My daughter uses that and I’ve heard to avoid generics (and not to switch if Synthoid is working). She may be different b/c hers is congenital.

      FWIW, she goes in quarterly and has had normal ranges except when she was a newborn. I’d think if your #s are all not normal, you’d get brought in a lot more until you get regulated.

      • I have really mild hypothyroidism but my doc decided to treat it because even the mild form can make it harder to get pregnant and can have a negative impact on child intelligence, which was something that was eventually going to be an issue for me. So I didn’t ever have the absolute exhaustion, but I do think my energy level improved once I started on the meds. However, I have gained about 12 pounds in the 18 months since I went on the meds, and I have no idea how much, if any, is attributable to the meds (versus my crazy job and its various impositions on my life, for example). (I also don’t even know if going ON the meds can lead to weight gain, as my instinct would have been that increasing thyroid activity would lead to weight loss, but I haven’t really followed up on it.)

        I take the generic form – according to my pharmacist, the rule is not that you shouldn’t take generics, it’s rather that you need to get on the right dosage for whatever form you take, so if you switch from Synthroid to generic, you need to follow up on your blood TSH levels and get retested to make sure you have the right levels after the switch.

        It did take me about 8 months and four different increases in dosage to get my levels within my doc’s target range, so your doc should be having you getting your TSH levels checked every 6-8 weeks until you’re within target range – if you’re not feeling 100% it could be that you’re still not in the right range. Also, there is some discussion of whether hypothyroidism is an autoimmune response to dietary components that our thyroids don’t like, mainly gluten. I haven’t looked into this enough to develop an opinion on whether this is just more gluten-is-evil upper-middle-class quackery or a legitimate theory. I also don’t have sufficient spare time or willpower in my life to contemplate the consequences of this being true, even if it is legitimate. But if you want to do some research to see if you can make lifestyle changes that will help you feel better, you can google “hashimoto’s & gluten” and read from there. Good luck, and hope you’re feeling better soon!

    • Both my parents, one sister, and my husband all take Synthroid or levythyroxine daily for various thyroid issues. It seems from anecdata like there can be a lot of feeling like crap until you really get the dosage nailed down and then your body has some time to recover. Good luck!

    • hellskitchen :

      How often is your doctor testing you? I have had hypothyroidism all my life and I go in for checkups 6-8 weeks after changing the dosage and then 6-8 months if that dosage seems to be working. It takes a while for it to take effect but not more than 2 months. That said, for me at least the pills have only been partially effective in combating exhaustion and weight issues.

    • I had part of my thyroid removed in November and have been seeing my endocrinologist every 8 weeks since then to work with my dosage. My level of fatigue didn’t seem to improve until my TSH was under 2.5, and even still, my endo and I both felt there was room for improvement. She told me that most people feel great at a TSH of 1.0, so that is her goal for me. If yours is still on the higher side, you may just have to hang in there and keep upping your dosage until you really feel better.

      As an aside, I’ve heard tons of comments from people who say to stick with Synthroid or other brand name drugs only when it comes to your thyroid, but I’m taking the generic levothyroxine and have had absolutely no problems with it, so YMMV.

    • the thyroid roller coaster :

      It is really frustrating to be in the testing/dosage limbo. I can empathize. My maternal grandmother had hypothyroid and was on synthroid for her adult life. I also agree with PP about brand name vs. generic–my NP specifies the brand, as she does believe that the generic doesn’t work, and I’ve heard that from others too.

      I have hypothyroid, diagnosed shortly after the birth of my second kiddo. I suspect it had been going on a long time, but it was the first time that I finally got some answers. My OB labeled it as “subclinical” since it didn’t meet the thresholds of what is commonly accepted. However, that was just the TSH. When they tested my T3, T4 and thyroid antibodies, the picture became more clear. I went on 50mcg synthroid and within a week felt better. Also, the numbers for “clinical” hypothyroid are up for debate among a lot of people, and a little deviation from normal can have a profound effect on your body.

      Yes, you have to get tested every 6 weeks following a dosage change, which is a PITA, but it helps to fine-tune your needs. After you get a dose that seems to work, you can stretch it out to 6months-1 year testing. I began to notice that I was feeling particularly crummy around month 10-11 for me, but already had an upcoming annual check on Wednesday. I am curious to see how off my numbers are again.

      For me, I have thyroiditis, wherein, if I remember what my NP said–my body is basically attacking my thyroid, and thus it is not performing adequately. I have some nodules on my thyroid that are monitored annually via ultrasound, and labwork every 6 months.

  6. Baconpancakes :

    How are the Everlane blouses for ladies with large… tracts of land? I’m a large in teeshirts, but often strain the buttons on blouses in large thanks to my 36 E’s.

  7. TJ: I have a weird job interview question for you ladies. I currently work in-house for a company and am looking to switch. I have been looking through a variety of different positions and applied for a compliance position at a financial services company. I had an interview with HR and moved on to the actual interview with one of their VPs. Then, HR emailed me and asked me if I was interested in applying for an opening in their legal department (associate counsel). I initially didnt apply for the position because it required way more experience than I had (and it was in a totally different industry). I was stoked that they asked and they eventually gave me an interview for that position as well. However, it got awkward when each department interviewer started asking me which position I preferred. I was dodging the question for a while, but now HR is asking me the same thing. I am having a hard time answering because I dont have all the details (i.e., compensation). Generally speaking, I know the rule is to negotiate salary once an offer is made, so what do I do in this situation? Do I just ask what the salary is for each position? I dont want to sound like I am just going after the money, but it is a huge part of the job package… Truthfully, I think either position would be interesting (and good for my career) so salary is one of the deciding factors. Also, since I dont have any solid offers at this time, I dont want to choose the position they were not planning on giving me…if that makes sense. Any advice would be appreciated. TIA!

    • Eh that is tough. I might say a variation of what you said here. That they both seem like positions in which you are interested but it is not possible for you to make a decision about which would be a better option for you without knowing all the facts for each position such as schedule, benefits, etc. If you do ask I would phrase it as “is it possible for you to give me the benefits package for each position” rather than asking for the salary so it sounds less like you are just concerened with the money.

    • I’d tell them the truth–both roles are exciting and interesting, I think I would add a lot of value in either of them, and they both are great career steps for me. However–I don’t know enough about the differences between the roles, can you tell me about the short and long term compensation and career opportunities? The company probably isn’t even aware that no one has explained this to you.

    • I was in the same position a few years ago (different industry, but asked to interview for two roles at one company then asked which one I was more interested in).

      I think you really have to choose one. Can you say something like, “Of course I’d have to consider compensation and benefits for each role, but I think a compliance role would be the best fit for my long-term career plans” or whatever? Compliance and legal are distinct enough that it looks odd not to have a preference. You could be shooting yourself in the foot by coming across as not interested in either role or just in it for the money.

  8. hand washing? :

    This has sort of come up before, but bears repeating for this post. What’s been your experience with hand-washing silk button-downs?

    My suspicion is that whether a blouse tolerates soap and water washing depends on the quality of the silk. I’ve handwashed cheap blouses and they get this odd puckered look (although I haven’t aggressively ironed; maybe that would help).

    I’m particularly curious to hear how Everlane blouses fare. They seem like really high-quality blouses without the scary price.

    • I’ve handwashed blouses before and had good results, but I’ve ironed them while they were still damp to help press them out. I prefer to steam, but I’ve stained a silk blouse before with the steamer before. The spots come out in the wash, but it’s a frustrating process.

    • Keilexandra :

      I have an Everlane silk blouse and love it–agree that the hand-feel really speaks to high quality. I’m afraid to wash it though, because I’ve heard of people hand-washing Equipment blouses and then losing that great hand-feel. Curious to hear if anyone has tried!

    • I’ve hand washed (and machine washed cold) all my silk blouses and haven’t yet had any problems. I’ve had silk from Theory, Banana, J Crew, LOFT, H&M and Forever 21, as well as a few brands I’m unfamiliar with that I got from Marshall’s or a thrift store. All came out just fine.

    • I handwash silk blouses regularly. The catch is that the lighter the blouse, the more freely/frequently you can hand-wash it. Dark-dyed silk items should be washed rarely, or dry-cleaned, to preserve their hue.

  9. Re the JCrew silk button down: I had an older season’s version of this – the Blythe blouse – in ivory. It was a complete waste of money. The fit was perfect but after just 2 wears the fabric along the seams of both arms started to tear (and it wasn’t even tight!), making it completely unwearable. I don’t know if it was a JCrew quality issue or just that these silk blouses are incredibly fragile across the board, but regardless, I don’t want to pay that much money for something only to get 2 wears out of it.

    I just replaced it with a very similar blouse from Ann Taylor. The fit isn’t as slim as the JCrew version (which unfortunately is what I liked about it) but I got it during one of AT’s seemingly weekly “everything in the store 40% off” sales and it brought it down under $50. So if this one doesn’t last, at least I won’t feel like I wasted so much money.

    FWIW, I’ve heard rave reviews about the Everlane blouse…and all their stuff in general.

    • I have had the same/similar issues with JCrew silk. The fabric pulls at the seams, or worse, separates from itself across the shoulders. They’re just not made that well. Certainly not worth $40+ per wear at 2 wears. Maybe 3 if I wore it under a sweater or something. Interestingly, I do have a silk JCrew Factory shirt that hasn’t had this problem, and was a lot less expensive.

    • Had the exact same problem with my Blythe blouse – completely tore away at the shoulder seam. Not tight at all (I could even put it on over my head without having to button). Very disappointing quality.

      • Just adding that Madewell’s are the same way–I’ve had two now where the silk itself actually kind of pulled apart/disintegrated. So sad because their styles are always so cute, but I don’t buy them anymore.

    • Late to this thread, but IMO J crew silk quality sucks. I have a number of versions, not only the Blythe, and they all have quality issues. I buy them for cheaper on ebay because there are so few silk button front shirt options for petites.

    • Anonymous :

      I love everlane as well, but bought the silk sleeveless top right when it came out and it pulled apart near the chest the very first day I wore it. Customer service was amazing about it but I don’t think I can justify another. My Petra though is a keeper!

  10. I love love love the Ann Taylor legacy silk blouse- its the perfect amount of stretchy lycra so the shirt lays right and keeps its shape, plus it nips at the waist just a wee bit so you don’t look like a blocky robot.

    You can get them super cheap when AT has their stock up sales, and they have some great colors.

  11. I agree re: JCrew silk blouses from 2-3 years ago – terrible quality for the price, did not wear well. I thought all silk blouses wore this way until I bought my first Equipment blouse. I did buy a JCrew blouse last fall in a print that has worn much better than its predecessors. But I don’t plan on buying more.

    I’m not that hot on Everlane, at least Everlane from last Spring. Quality is somewhat better than JCrew, but still wrinkles really easily.

    I love Equipment blouses. I think the Brett is the best for underneath a suit – I love the Signature, but even sized down I don’t think it looks great under a jacket. The quality is heads and shoulders above JCrew and Everlane. They don’t wrinkle nearly as easily as cheaper blouses (though I would love to compare to a Uniqlo) and the wrinkles tend to fall out of the blouse after they hang back up for a while.

    My recent discovery is that a sleeveless white silk blouse is GREAT for layering under sweaters if you like the look of a layered button-down but hate the bulk that accompanies sleeved blouses (particularly cotton).

  12. Isn’t it bad to dry clean silk?

  13. Hi. You mentioned in your post about “wearing a cotton camisole (with the arm holes adjusted fairly high) beneath them so you can try to get at least two wears before you have to take them to the drycleaner”. Do you have any in particular that work? I’m looking for something like that but I’m not sure where to find out. Thanks.

  14. Any lower-cost alternatives to the silk blouses Kate mentioned above that anyone can recommend? I’d like to stay in the $50-or-less per shirt range…

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