Yoke Blouse

AKA: yoke waist, yoke shirtwaist

How to say it:  yohk blouz  

Traditional Features: 

Yoke Blouse


  • has a yoke around the neckline and shoulders
  • yoke can be made from a contrasting fabric to create interest
  • overall garment style can vary


…of the style: The yoke is a separate pattern piece that is used in construction, for shaping, at the top of a garment; on a blouse or top, it is found around the neckline and shoulders. Yokes can occur on the front or back of a blouse or both, and can be one piece with no shoulder seams or two.

The use of yoke construction is said to have started in the 19th century, with blouses featuring them from the 1860s, while yoke skirt appeared in 1898 and yoke pants not till much later ( I couldn’t find an exact date for this, but I assume they probably didn’t arise in women’s fashion until women started wearing pants on a regular basis, which was around the mid 20th century. However yoke pants for men may have existed before this).

The yoke blouse, in the original 1860s style, consisted of a square yoke in the front and back which was outlined by ruffles, a loose fit through the body, elastic at the waist and a ruffle below the elastic. The yoke may or may not have been cut from lace or embroidered fabric to create interest around the face.

The yoke has been featured in women’s wear since its introduction and as designers got a hold of the feature, the style and shape of the yoke in a blouse has changed dramatically. The style was not particularly popular in the 1920s, thanks to the boyish shapes of the decade, but was used a lot to create interest in blouses, shirts and jackets throughout the 30s, with yokes appearing in various shapes, extending down the front of garments and featuring gathers, tucks and pleats

The creative use of yokes continued throughout the 20th century and into the 21st, with yoke blouses available in abundance in the modern marketplace in all areas of clothing.

…of the name: The term yoke comes from a piece of wood that fits over the heads of two animals and is used to attach them to a cart or wagon to pull. The shape of a yoke pattern piece is similar to the shape of the wooden animal yoke, hence the name.

For more info on Yokes try Wikipedia, The Cutting Class  or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

21st Century Yoke Blouses

In the 21st century the term ‘yoke blouse’ is applied to any blouse that features a yoke in the front or back. While the square yoke is still available, designers now utilise the yoke as a design feature in itself and they come in all shapes and sizes, often filled in with a contrasting fabric or lace for added flair.

Isabel Marant Etoile Lela Rose

Isabel Marant Étoile, Lela Rose

RED Valentino Haute Hippie

RED Valentino, Haute Hippie

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