You know how there occasionally exists a partnership between a celebrity and a designer which works so impossibly well, you can’t think of one without the other? Cher and Bob Mackie. Lady Gaga and the late Alexander McQueen. Evan Rachel Wood and Ralph Lauren. Erica and Bolero. Okay, clearly I’m not a celebrity, but that’s the great thing about Bolero dresses. Every time I wear one, I feel ready to strut the red carpet like I am. For those just tuning into my ongoing sappy love affair, I have reviewed multiple Bolero dresses, tops, and even pants on the blog and loved them all. But for the shop’s sixth anniversary, Patricia of Bolero managed to outdo even herself when she sent her latest creation: the Margarita Dress.
Since childhood, I have been an unrepentant lover of all things black and gray, and I sometimes wonder if a goth princess lurks inside my heart, shyly venturing to the surface occasionally. I also love color, and my friend Patricia has pushed me outside my comfort zone more than once both with color and print while still feeding my monochromatic addiction. Among my existing Bolero items, I have a few solids, including a striking orange skater dress, but most feature geometric, abstract, or floral prints which channel industry trends without being a slave to them. Patricia’s incredible eye for fabrics and color elevate each design to new levels, making them perfect for work, the weekend, or the evening.
However, a few months ago, I visited one of my favorite stores, Quirk’s, and tried a beautiful space print dress. They were having a big sale, and sadly, my size was sold out. I lamented this to Patricia and mentioned how I really wanted a dress that was . . . well . . . quirky. My professional clothes serve me well, but sometimes I just want to wear a dress with the milky way galaxy plastered across it, or with a kitschy print, or with skulls! A few weeks later, the Margarita dress arrived, and ohmagerd, it has SKULLS WITH FREAKIN’ CROSSBRONES! I opened the package expecting dresses for the shop and instantly transformed into a kid at Christmas. I clutched the Margarita in my hands and squealed with a whale-beachingly high tone while performing an embarrassing happy dance. My dad was in the back office and asked what I was going on about so I whirled on my heels, thrust out the gorgeous dress, and exclaimed “I’ve got an ‘effin pirate dress! A pirate dress! I’m a bra pirate!”
For a few weeks prior, Patricia had been posting pictures of the Margarita on Bolero’s Facebook page, but in that version, the dress channeled a saucy salsa vibe exchanging skulls for giant rose blooms. When Patricia told me she would be sending the Margarita for a review eventually, I assumed it would be the version in her marketing. When I discovered mine had skulls and cross bones, a fabric she had mentioned only in passing, I knew I had found my Bob Mackie. (Side note: I just realized all my examples are female/male designers . . . Maybe someone can give better examples in the comments to help my well-intentioned metaphor?)
The Margarita dress utilizes a circle skirt with pockets like Carmen and Erica, making it perfect for anyone wanting to conceal a lower tummy or hips. *raises hand* However, the softness of the fabric and the perfection of the drape also works beautifully on straighter figures too. In general, the eponymous Erica dress is the crowd favorite at the store and tends to work across all body types and sizes, and Margarita borrows the concept with a special twist at the top. Instead of a faux-wrap neckline, Margarita features a fitted bodice leading to an on or off the shoulder short-sleeved peasant top. At the center, the neckline connects with a tie piece worthy of any salsa dancer or pirate or pirate who also salsa dances.
The gold dot skull print adorns the front top while the bottom is a solid black knee-length skirt perfect for twirling. On the back, the torso section is solid black with a solitary skull on a patch. I love the unique twist but also think the design could carry the skulls all the way around too. In this version, the dress sports a small gold belt, but a red sash adds some sass. A puffed short sleeve uses soft elastic at the opening to contour across arm sizes. Since I hate strapless bras, I have only worn Margarita with the shoulders up, but I can envision the dress on a Saturday night with the shoulders bare, a pair of heels, and some dancing.
In the photos, my only concern for fit centered on the vertical line directly underneath the bust. I never found a top or dress where that line actually sits beneath the bust. Most of the them awkwardly bisect my boobs in a not so flattering way. Naturally, since Patricia is an expert at designing for a fuller-bust, she managed to ensure my UK 34H boobs fit completely into the top of the dress without any problems. The flexible shoulder design can be worn either way, and I love how the bodice nips in close at the waist. Since I’ve gained weight, I’ve become a bit more conscious of how things fit, and Margarita gives me the best of both worlds. It simultaneously fits my upper section to show off curves while gently floating down the body to conceal my tummy. The length is also perfect all the way around, ending just above the knee in the front and having plenty of fabric in the back to keep the booty covered when I move. For sizing, I currently wear a 14 in other brands, and the large here fits like it was custom made for me. If you order from Bolero, Patricia often asks for a bra size because she can adjust the top template for D-G cups or G+ to improve fit.
Per usual, Bolero’s rigid quality control ensures the dress is made exceptionally well. The poly-blend fabric feels incredibly soft and never wrinkles or drapes on the body in an unflattering way. The dress dries fast and is travel friendly too. My Bolero dresses are practically indestructible, and the fit is unparalleled. Patricia is a small, woman-owned business who has stayed committed to made in America manufacturing since Bolero began, despite the added costs. Buying from her means supporting a wonderful company who treats employees fairly, always gives you the kind of quality you deserve, and makes gorgeous and now quirky clothes accessible to busty folk.
Oh did I mention we’re in talks for a pop up shop in December? Oh yeah. You may want to hold off on your holiday dress shopping.