We all know how much I love Bolero dresses. My closet is practically a Bolero sample rack at this point, and I freakin’ love it. However, Bolero also makes amazing separates, including faux-wrap tops, tunics, and pants. Today, I’m spreading the love around by showcasing several different Bolero styles including a faux-wrap top, a tunic, a classic blouse, a casual dress, and a pair of wide-leg pants. Yes, we’re having a five-in-one Bolero special up on the blog today!
During our phone conversations and emails, Patricia has mentioned her tunic designs frequently, and since I became a member of the “leggings are pants” movement when my weight issues exacerbated existing fit problems, I eagerly volunteered to review one for the blog. This particular tunic features an ornate peacock-inspired feather design in an array of rich jewel tone colors with complementary sequin accents. Like her dresses, the tunics can be made in nearly any fabric, including solids if prints are not to your taste; however, one of the many things I love about Patricia is how she pushes me to try new things. The print, while bold and eye-catching, pairs well with a variety of colors and allows for easy layering, and the placement of the patterns flatters curves without adding bulk.
In the photos I am wearing a size Medium which fits my 44” bust and 33” waist perfectly. The tunic features a ¾ sleeve, making it seasonably appropriate year round, and the neckline is not as plunging as other Bolero styles. A sweetheart shape exposes the shoulders and collarbone, which sometimes means a bra strap also peeks out depending on how much I am moving. In my line of work where I am routinely showing my bra to people anyway, it’s not a deal breaker. Of course, Patricia also can customize her pieces, and if you are concerned, you can always mention it to her before ordering.
However, what I love best about the tunic (outside of the discreetly placed pocket) is how the fit nips in at the waist then flairs gently at the hips. Usually, when I gain weight, it’s an “all over” kind of thing. Even my ring size goes up! However, since my current issues stem from hormones and stress, I have gained practically no weight in some areas (like my legs) and instead put on the bulk around my hips and lower tummy. It’s my belt of despair! Okay, I exaggerate a little, but what I have experienced is clothing fitting okay everywhere except the stomach region . . . and we won’t even talk about the underwear issues! With tunic tops, the styles fitted at the waist—which I prefer—are often equally fitted down the body. Sometimes the body-conscious styling works, but other times? Meh, not so much. With the Bolero tunic, I get the best of both worlds with a fitted waist and a flattering silhouette on my hips and tummy.
The Fitted Top
Boasting a similar neckline to the tunic, this versatile top favors a more fitted silhouette and features lining to prevent bra lines and the dreaded back fat (or “angel wings” as one customer described it this week). Ruching at the center of the bust is forgiving and improves the contoured fit while added room in the hips prevents the top from digging. Not to mention, the length ends at the upper hips, making it ideal for both pants and skirts.
Because green is my favorite color, she sent me the same print as my Carmen dress but in this beautiful verdant shade. As with the blue version, the mix of greens interwoven with a graphic black and white print pops against my skin tone and works well with neutrals and colors alike. Again, the size is a Medium, which fits well, and the classic shape layers well with jackets and cardigans. Like the tunic, you can pick from a variety of prints and solids are not solely limited to the photographed version. There’s a little something for everyone!
The Basic Dress
Way back when Darlene of the fabulous Hourglassy blog first put me in contact with Patricia, I was sent the classic DD+ dress, then a sleeveless style, for review on the blog. This was before Patricia began experimenting with different styles like the Kim skater dress, the Erica wrap dress, or the upcoming Bessame Mucho—which is sure to be any pin-up or vintage fan’s must-have. Instead, the classic dress offers a simple, relaxed fit which skims curves without being overly clingy. Patricia has been a private cheerleader during my move and weight gain issues, and because she is a generous, kind soul, she gifted me this dress, updated with sleeves and a bold new print, along with a book entitled “Be Happy.” Her card noted how you sometimes need an uncomplicated dress you can throw on, know will look good, and not cause stress. This is it. It’s very much like throwing on a nightgown and going to work . . . if that nightgown happens to be stylish and amazing. The dress stays in place no matter how much I move, flatters my figure even on days when I feel less confident, hits the right spot on my legs, and is truly underrated in how easy it wears. I have pulled it out weekly simply because I never have to think about it (written while wearing it on a day I have been fighting a cold). The high impact black and white print feels instantly pulled together, even when I am not in the mood to accessorize . . . or do may hair (did I mention I am wearing a hat today with the dress?). Seriously, that move was HARD, and this dress was and is a saving grace.
The Wrap Top & Pants
Let’s start with the wrap top. The faux-wrap design flatters most figures, and the ruching around the midsection perfectly conceals lumps and bumps while still highlighting the waist. A lower cut neckline tastefully exposes skin but also supports a cami for modesty or conservative environments. My other wrap top utilizes the classic fitted sleeves seen on the other two tops I reviewed here, but this one is ridiculously fun and flirty! The wider drape on the sleeves not only adds interest to the classic, black design but is also good for anyone struggling with enough room in the arms. Bolero’s wrap tops are one of her more office-friendly designs, especially with a standard sleeve, and pair well with dress pants and skirts.
Sometimes I hear from customers that the prints are pretty but “not them,” and I think the wrap top is a good place to experiment with solids. She has some gorgeous neutrals like the black and navy, but there are other colors too like purple, teal, and so on. Plus, she’s been doing more pin-up oriented fabrics for those loving a vintage flair. As with the other tops, this is a size medium and fits well.
By now, you already have an opinion about them, so let’s discuss the bright blue pants. First, these are incredibly comfortable. I know this isn’t the original intention, but these make for an amazing lounge pant. They move and stretch with you, and I can personally attest to the ease of brushing both dog and cat hair from them. I have seen similar styles from traditional lounge designers using mass-production techniques which are nowhere near as nice as these.
That said, for normal pants, these have definitely pushed me outside my comfort zone. As a gal with a big booty and big thighs, my go-to pant style is a dark, solid color with a fitted silhouette. Clearly, this pant is pretty much the opposite of those requirements, but I actually like them. I have this exact fabric in my Carmen dress, so I know it works with blues, whites, and blacks but also has done well with contrasting color too. The actual shape of the pant manages to use a wide leg without adding extra bulk to the lower half, most likely because the fabric has the same breezy drape as the dresses. In a solid black, this would be a winner for anyone wanting something work-appropriate, particularly if paired with a blazer, button-front, and maybe a pointy toe shoe.
With the bolder print, I think it is very fashion-forward and daring, and I admit to needing a little time to experiment with different looks. Right now, I am thinking a crisp white button-front and boots or a white t-shirt with black blazer. Maybe a fedora? I’ve seen a few inspiration looks with chambray too. Patricia customized the length for me to wear with flats although at the time of pictures, I spent the day in high heeled boots (because I’m a masochist) and had a “Screw shoes” moment.
Finally, all the pieces are 100% made in the USA under ethical working conditions by a woman-owned business. Your dollars are going directly toward families here in the US working hard to achieve success, and you can wear and enjoy Bolero pieces for years to come because of the outstanding quality. The fabrics are all a poly-blend which never winkles, travels easily, and washes/dries fast. When I take weekend trips, these are my go-to pieces for packing since I never need a garment bag. In fact, when I moved, I had to iron practically everything . . . except my Boleros.