When building a professional wardrobe, well-fitted blouses are essential. These will be the workhorses of the wardrobe, and serve as transitional pieces from day to night. A blouse that fits well is flattering, feminine-looking and classy. One that doesn't make the grade can push the wearer from sharp to tacky.
Put on the blouse, buttoning all buttons. Close the cuffs completely. Don't tuck in the bottom.
With the arms in a relaxed position at the sides, look at whether the blouse is pulling across the bust line. The blouse should lie on the chest with no pulling, the placket flat and even over the buttons. If there are any bust darts, check that they fall on the nipple, not above or below it. If the dart doesn't fall correctly, try a shirt from the petite section; the darts are cut shorter.
Next, reach upward with both arms, as if trying on a sports jacket. The sleeves should ride a bit, but no a lot. There should be no catching on the upper arm, elbows, or shoulders. On a long-sleeved blouse, a few inches of the wrist should show. Waving back and forth should be completely comfortable. Once again, check those buttons for pulling.
Cross your arms. Is the back of the blouse stretching unduly across the shoulder blades? The shoulder seam should rest right over the start of the upper arm. If it's more toward the neck, then it's too small. Further down the arm means that the blouse is too large or is loose-fitting.
Take inventory of the collar and cuffs. There should be no pinching while they're closed. The neck should be free to move around without choking.
On a fitted shirt, check where the waist falls in the design. If the waist is too low, it can lengthen the appearance of the torso and cause bunching. Try for something from the petites section, if that's the case.
Look in the mirror at the side view. Is this shirt long enough? Shirt hems should fall between the top of the hipbone and several inches beneath, especially if the blouse is being worn while tucked into pants. Lift up the arms again. If the lower belly peeks out, the shirt is too short.
Shirts with a bit of stretch are more forgiving than ones without, and can be more flattering to the figure.
Always check the label for content information. Skin will breathe easier in a cotton or cotton-blend dress shirt than a polyester one.
Spend good money on a well-made dress blouse. Get it dry-cleaned and professionally pressed, and it will last forever.