"light, loose upper garment of linen or cotton," 1828 (from 1822 as a French word in English), from French blouse, "workman's or peasant's smock" (1788), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps it is akin to Provençal (lano) blouso "short (wool)" [Gamillscheg]. Another suggestion [Klein] is that it is from Medieval Latin pelusia, from Pelusium, a city in Upper Egypt, supposedly a clothing manufacturing center in the Middle Ages.
At first a garment worn by French working-men as a protection from dust, etc., later adopted fashionably for women and children, not without objection:
In Paris, a very slovenly, loose, drawn frock, with most capacious sleeves, had been introduced called a blouse. Some of our priestesses of the toilet seemed emulous of copying this deshabille, with some slight alterations, but we never wish to see it on the symmetrical form of a British lady. ["Summary of Fashion for 1822," in Museum of Foreign Literature and Science, Jan.-June 1823]
updated on October 17, 2022