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Summer's alternative to a blouse is laid-back and low-key: meet the folk shirt.

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If you've not yet been tempted by a prairie dress for summer (though we have extolled its many virtues to you!), then perhaps what you're actually after is a folk shirt, instead. It's similar but not the same. Well, really, it's just the top half—and being a separate as opposed to a whole look makes for a less intimidating, but just as dreamy, addition to your summer wardrobe.

Billowing sleeves are another core ingredient of a folk shirt, as seen at Alberta Ferretti, spring/summer 2016. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images
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What else? It's an easy and, yes, breezy alternative to a blouse (less stiff and serious in appearance and less stifling to wear), but a little more special than a standard T-shirt (it's all in the embroidery and those billowing sleeves). It might seem familiar as a revamp on the peasant blouse of seasons past, but the folk shirt is thankfully not as boho, and we recommend steering clear of any such territory by wearing it with your favorite denim—perhaps boyfriend jeans at the weekend, cut-off shorts for an outdoors music gig—and other structured pieces from your wardrobe. 

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Now you know the folk shirt score, here's our pick of some to consider adding to your summer outfit repetoire right now!

Gwen Embroidered Cotton Blouse by Vilshenko, $720, net-a-porter.com.

Wear this super pretty one with a pair of flared jeans and a stealth block heel.

Puff Blouse, $35, hm.com.
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For a '70s feel, team with an A-line denim skirt and a pair of clogs. Or take it to the beach and wear with denim shorts.

Blouse With Embroidered Bib Front, $50, zara.com.

One to wear with your boyfriend-style jeans and a pair of loafers.

Printed Chiffon Blouse by Etro, $2,140, mytheresa.com.
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A trophy shirt indeed, and, especially if worn with a long skirt that wanders into gown territory, one you'll be able to get away with at the most special of summer events. But keep the skirt neat: no added decoration, no crazy pattern, no mad color. It's all about this top!  

Sachi Embroidered Cotton Twill Top by Isabel Marant, $1,055, net-a-porter.com.
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To show off all the detail around the neck, be sure to wear with your hair up. Then you just need a pair of cropped skinny jeans or a miniskirt, either of which will best show off the shirt's shape.

Ava Tile Gypsy Top, $128, frenchconnection.com.

One of the best things about this style of top is that it's light and airy—ideal for summer's stifling hot days. With this one, you'll always feel and look cool, which is wonderful news!

Denim Embroidered Blouse, $70, riverisland.com.
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Wear this one over your bikini as an alternative to your beach cover-up. Add bejeweled flip-flops and you're good to go.

Bandana Peasant Blouse by Bliss and Mischief, $450, matchesfashion.com.

Shapely sleeves are a big trend next season, so this would be a safe investment to snap up now.

Peasant Blouse by Oasis, $65, oasis.andotherbrands.com.

Though great to wear as a vacation piece, when you're back in the city, wear beneath a dungaree dress and add a pair of ballet flats.

Embroidery Linen Blouse, $95, stories.com.

Team with suede (a vintage jacket or a midi skirt) to bring out the '70s charm of this top.

Poppy Embroidered Linen Blouse by March11, $560, net-a-porter.com.

The addition of some shorts and greek sandals will make this shirt vacation-ready. 

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