This week, I’m so excited to share with readers two of the latest dress styles from Bolero Beachwear.
You may recall the brand from Darlene’s past coverage, and those who have attended our Busty Clothing Swap in previous years have seen it in person (the next swap is coming up on September 26, by the way. Click here to RSVP for this free event [though small donations are welcome to help us offset the cost of refreshments, and the first 20 donors receive an exclusive gift bag full of goodies and coupons]).
I tried on a couple Bolero dresses at the last Swap, and found them an amazing fit. But when founder Patricia McCaw offered to send me a review sample, I turned her down since it was nearly winter and didn’t seem the best season to be reviewing sundresses. Luckily, I got another opportunity this month when Patricia sent Darlene a photo of her latest style, the Carmen.
A polka-dot, pinup-influenced style with a full circle skirt, Carmen is right up my alley. And then when I looked at it on the Bolero website, I saw that it also comes in an amazing abstract teal pattern, and I was hooked!
Some background on Bolero Beachwear: All of the clothes are designed and made in the USA, so your purchase supports not only a small, woman-owned business, but it supports domestic, ethical manufacturing as well. While the prices are hardly inexpensive, they reflect these standards and reflect the quality that goes into the pieces. These garments are machine washable, they don’t pill or wrinkle, the fabric is soft and smooth, and the tailoring is perfect for a curvy figure. I’d much rather spend $130 on one Bolero dress than get four crap dresses from Forever 21 or H&M that aren’t going to fit my boobs and are going to pill the first time I wear them and shrink the first time I wash them.
Finally, don’t let the word “Beachwear” in the brand’s name fool you: While Bolero started out being influenced by its South Florida location, it now offers dresses and tops to take you through all the seasons. Best of all, everything is big bust-friendly!
Disclosure: These dresses were received as review samples. All opinions are my own and based entirely on my experience.
So let’s get to some photos! I styled the dress four different ways here, but I’m already imagining several other ways to wear it. It’s a size small, and my measurements are 37”-29”-41”, which is between a small and medium on the Bolero size chart. Due to the stretchiness, if you’re between sizes I’d definitely recommend sizing down.
First, here’s how I wore it this week, in the hot, muggy summer: Black flats and nothing else. The fabric, a 90% polyester, 10% spandex blend, feels smooth but not swimsuit-like. It has a nice weight so I wasn’t worried about the wind blowing my skirt up, but still feels light and cool on the body.
A note about Carmen’s waistband: In case you can’t see in the photos, it’s a textured woven mesh. Honestly, I was a little iffy about it when I first saw it in photos, but it’s so subtle in real life that I ended up really liking it. The armholes are the perfect size to ensure there’s no visible side-bra, yet it doesn’t feel like it’s cutting my arms off (*cough* Pinup Girl Clothing *cough* Collectif).
The skirt portion flows over my tummy and my hips just beautifully, but since it’s a full circle skirt, I was also dying to stuff a poufy petticoat underneath it. Unfortunately, I don’t actually own a petticoat, but I do have the canvas underskirt from Pinup Girl Clothing, so for my next outfit I added that and popped on a pair of peep-toe pumps for a more pin-style look:
Next, we come to a fall/winter outfit with knee-high boots, cardigan, and scarf:
And finally, I couldn’t resist pairing the dress with my black leather biker jacket (which I really need to review) and black Frye ankle boots—I love pairing girly clothes with badass accessories.
Here are some closeups of the construction as well:
But that’s not all! Much to my delight, Patricia also offered to send me the new Erica dress as well, a three-quarter-sleeve, full-skirted faux wrap dress that includes a coordinating sash.
Since the print was a surprise, I was really excited when I opened my box and found that the Erica I received is polka dot. Its sash is also polka dot in the reverse colors of the dress. There are more colors and prints on the Bolero site, but I’m pretty pleased with the black and white since it’s so versatile. Plus, long-time readers will remember how much I love faux wrap dresses.
Instead of styling the dress with different accessories, this time I simply wore it with the sash tied in several ways. The sash is made of a shiny, satin-y material, which is great because it means I can tie it nicely in front and then slide it into whatever position I want. (I am completely incapable of tying an attractive bow behind my back.)
How about the structure?
Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you the inspiration behind the Erica dress—Erica from the fabulous Burlington, NC lingerie store A Sophisticated Pair. Erica was one of the first busty bloggers after Darlene to spread the Bolero gospel, and she has several reviews of all different styles on the Sophisticated Pair blog, in addition to carrying them in her store.
Bolero garments can be purchased directly from BoleroBeachwear.com (use code WELCOME20 for 20% off your first order, and enjoy free shipping every day), or you can call up A Sophisticated Pair (who, by the way, is currently offering 15% off Bolero items and has a Bolero maxi dress included in their anniversary giveaway contest) to ask about other prints and styles not yet on the site.