With the hectic holiday season and the stressful moving experience over, I am ready to begin February with a fresh attitude, and what better way to kick off the month than with a review of Bolero Beachwear? Darlene of Hourglassy posted a wonderful review of their bust-friendly beach dresses a few months ago, and I fell in love with the products. She kindly forwarded my contact information to company owner and designer, Patricia. After discussing the dresses and potential for us carry the line in the shop, Patricia generously offered to send me a free dress to review. It arrived in time to be a surprise birthday present, and I have not had a chance to do a proper review until now.
For most of Americans, now is probably the worst time to review beachwear. As I type my review, I am treated to a drab gray visage outside the store window with intermittent bouts of freezing rain. Even in North Carolina, we have consistently experienced below average temperatures which make it difficult to imagine days spent in the warm summer sun. No matter! Where there is a pretty dress, there is a way to layer, so I have made it my mission to find ways of enjoying my dress even in colder temperatures.
Patricia sent me two samples from her fuller-bust line, which features a generous cut in the bust to accommodate larger cup sizes. The size small was perfect for my current 42-29-41 measurements; nevertheless, the medium was not a bad fit either. I think the design and fabric composition of the dresses allows some leeway in sizing, but my personal recommendation is to size down if you want a tighter fit in the waist.
Because the dress is designed for easy travel, the content is 90% polyester and 10% spandex. Polyester, like many synthetic fabrics, is rather polarizing. On the positive side of the spectrum, poly blends usually never wrinkle, wash/dry easily, and maintain shape well over time, but to achieve these advantages, you frequently sacrifice the breathable quality of natural fibers. Personally, I only like poly blends if the quality is exceptional. Cheap polyester makes me sweat or becomes scratchy and uncomfortable throughout the day. Depending on the cut of the garment, jersey can highlight every single lump, bump, or roll you have . . . and sometimes create a few new ones. However, when the poly-blend jersey has a high quality, I can slip into the dress and never worry or fidget with it throughout the day. Fortunately, the Bolero Beachwear falls into the latter category.
The fabric is buttery soft and gently cascades over the body to provide a flattering fit that highlights my figure without exposing flaws. The soft, fluid-like quality allows the dress to float around my legs as I walk—a feature that leaves me feeling like a model on a catwalk. Furthermore, the dress keeps a perfect shape all day. I have worn it in the store and returned home in the evening with the dress looking exactly as it did in the morning. That’s no easy feat given how much I move, bend, and sit throughout the day.
Strategic ruching at the neckline creates visual interest and balances the bold print without falling across the bust in a less than flattering way. I have mentioned before how I either love or hate prints, but the combination of green, teal, black, and camel in tropical-inspired animal print is eye-catching but versatile. A variety of supporting neutrals can either tone down or accentuate the print.
Considering the style is classified as beachwear, it is no surprise that the dress is not the warmest style to wear, but I found the sleeveless design layers easily with jackets, cardigans, and camisoles. Plus, a warm pair of tights with boots can compensate for a lighter fabric, even when it is snowing. The back of the dress dips lower in a U-shape but covers my bra and most of my side tattoo. With the right supporting accessories, I think the dress transitions easily to office or casual environments.
For the beach or casual wear, I think the dress looks chic by itself, but I prefer a belt for highlighting my waist. Also, the neckline dips a little low for me to wear for work. Even though it covers my bra, the bow on the center gore is exposed if I move or bend too much. If I whipped out a cleavage bra, I doubt this would be an issue, but again, I am thinking of this dress for work. For the beach, the coverage is perfect, and given the flattering fit and ease of wear, Bolero Beachwear dresses are a nice vacation pick to take you from beach to boardwalk.
Finally, Bolero Beachwear products are made and designed in the USA. As a fellow American based small business owner, I think it’s important to support other companies who work to keep jobs and money in our economy. (Side note: I am wearing a Perfect Cami—another US product—in many of the pictures.) Bolero dresses are also limited run items, so you can snag unique prints and colors that set your wardrobe apart from friends and family.
While I impatiently wait for winter to pass and spring to arrive, I’ll be wearing my Bolero dress with lots of layers, but I’ll be dreaming about days at the lake, sand between my toes and blue skies overhead.
If you’re a local customer, I have the medium sample in the store as well as color swatches for upcoming prints. Check them out when you visit because we may ultimately decide to carry a few of her dresses this year!