Bolero? Collar? Huh?

by Erin on April 16, 2008


Butterick 7239

Lisa at Miss Helene's sent me this link a while back (click on the image to visit the Main Street Mall listing). She sent it for a linktastic Friday, but it really deserves its own post, because I am simultaneously fascinated and horrified by this pattern.

First off: who dreamed up the fake bolero? (Because, obviously, a real bolero is too much trouble, right? What with all the tedious being able to take it off and put it back on again.) Or is it an elaborate collar? I'm much more sympathetic to the elaborate collar, although I don't like buttonholes that will never feel the touch of a button. Buttons on their lonesome: okay. Buttons sewn over snaps … eh, whatever floats your boat. Buttons condemned to look longingly at their buttonholes across a never-to-be-crossed divide? That's just cruel.

I do like the little contrast print along the roll of the fake bolero/elaborate collar. And the lines of this dress, too, are quite captivating. I love how perfectly the dress nips in at the waist (without a waistline seam, which means it is pure fantasy, or something to be achieved only with terrifying undergarments).

So: I'm conflicted. Is this gorgeous, or is this ludicrous? (Or both? Both is certainly an acceptable answer.) What do you think?

[I'm also wondering if the women on the pattern envelope are laughing about being able to put this one over on the pattern company. "I can't believe they bought this one! Let's try for a fake vest effect next!"]

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

chanief April 16, 2008 at 9:09 am

Definitely both.

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Theresa April 16, 2008 at 9:13 am

A Agree – definitely both. I love it and i hate it. Love it. Would never make/wear it.

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Zoltar Panaflex April 16, 2008 at 9:17 am

I think it would be better modified to let the button and the buttonhole be One. I think it would look much better and not be so busy where few women need a lot of busy.I don’t think anyone this side of a whalebone corset has a waistline like that. This pattern dates from what my mother would say “From when we couldn’t breathe but that’s what we did!”

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Eirlys April 16, 2008 at 9:30 am

I’m also quite mystified by the waistline, being a waistless creature myself. And if life’s too short to stuff a mushroom, fake boleros are definitely out. But what a great talking point – thanks, as ever, Erin.

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tea April 16, 2008 at 9:34 am

On the plus side, it would make those of us who are a little less endowed upstairs have the illusion of being a little bit moreso. But what a bizarre fusion to create that effect.

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Anonymous April 16, 2008 at 9:40 am

Both. Wow.

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Lisa April 16, 2008 at 9:41 am

This dress is like one of those magic tricks perhaps…such as sawing a lady in half or making a plane disappear. “How did they do that” and “Why would you” at the same time. Oh well, who says love has to be rational?

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cathy April 16, 2008 at 9:46 am

How do you get in and out of it? Side zipper?

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Pencils April 16, 2008 at 9:46 am

I think it’s neat. First I also like the lines of the dress, but I do like the fake bolero effect. Boleros are annoying, especially if you have a big bustline, they flap annoyingly in the wind. Not that I’ve probably worn one since about 1980. But this silves all those problems! Besides, it saves fabric right? So it’s thrifty. (I don’t get to use the word “thrifty” enough.)

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cathy April 16, 2008 at 9:47 am

I just read the back of the pattern. “No notions needed.” So no side zipper. I know for sure I couldn’t get my shoulders through that waistline. Nice shape, though.

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Latter-Day Flapper April 16, 2008 at 9:53 am

I think it’s clever, and I think it’s an almost-unparalleled opportunity for contrasting-fabric combinations.But the go-nowhere buttonholes are kind of weird. You could do buttons on both sides for a double-breasted (no pun intended) effect, though.

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Anonymous April 16, 2008 at 9:59 am

No notions needed?! Not even the two lonely buttons? This pattern is cute enough, but I think the two women are con artists, laughing at anyone who thinks this dress is going to be possible or wearable…Monique in TX

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Nancy (nanflan) April 16, 2008 at 10:03 am

The back of the envelope specifies a 12″ zipper for side opening. It’s right above the notion section–since when is a zipper not a notion? For notions, it specifies seam binding, buttons, shoulder pads, a purchased belt (this is a notion?), and cotton or wool for saddle stitching.I like it although it’s way too costumey for me to actually make and wear.

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Tracy April 16, 2008 at 10:11 am

I like it. It’s a little quirky, but quirky can be good in my book. To carry the quirk to the extreme, I think I try a solid on the entire bolero-esque section all the way to the hem (of course the entire back as well) with the front panel in a coordinating print exaggerating the layered look.btw the pattern does call for a 12 inch side zip, it’s just not listed with other notions.

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wedenterprises April 16, 2008 at 10:50 am

Pshaw. That is AMAZING.

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wedenterprises April 16, 2008 at 10:50 am

Pshaw. That is AMAZING.

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Cookie April 16, 2008 at 11:20 am

I think you’d need MGM’s entire wardrobe department to make this one work. It reminds me of the gimmicky clothes they used to make for Technicolor musicals, to give the audience something extra to look at as the dancers whirled about. I can see Jane Russell and (if the skirt were slimmer) a line of chorus girls in it. All in shiny lavender taffeta with bright plaid trim. Hopefully NOT in that weird, bile-mustardy-beige on the left. (Is that the effect of a yellowing envelope, or just a naturally unappetizing color?) Basically, this design is just too self-conscious; i.e., DESPERATE.

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Cookie April 16, 2008 at 11:30 am

PS: BUT it has a weird hypnotic power! On second glance, I’m starting to like it, in an odd, guilty pleasure kind of way.

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The Rotund April 16, 2008 at 11:33 am

I like it A LOT, though I agree with canine diamond’s suggestion; both sides ought to have buttons. Really, I have a thing for interesting collars, though.

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Deborah April 16, 2008 at 11:48 am

I don’t see how you would get into it. I don’t know when it was published but it looks SO fiftie’s with that complicated, kind of off the wall detail of a faux bolero. Kind of weird and endearing at the same time. Actually I love it. and hey,look at the bust size for a 16: 34 inches.

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SteffS April 16, 2008 at 11:54 am

I think it’s “mauuuuvelous”. I choose the “elaborate” (but decorative, in a just-need-to-complicate-things way) collar. I also think that the pictures depict how it may look with a petticoat. I don’t believe the effect would be so “trumpet-like” without one, do you? Look at the way it bumps out below the waist all around. I think that without a petticoat it would be streamlined.I’d definitely leave off the buttons and buttonholes, though. The idea for contrasting fabric is great. I like a dark solid on the sides (all the way up through the “collar”), with a lighter, contrast print, in the center front and back panels. Again, streamline the silhouette.I’m curious enough to beg someone to make it and post the results just to see how it will look on a real person. I’d volunteer, however, the pile of angry, un-sewn,vintage patterns in my stash would give me unimaginable nightmares for actually sewing something from another compulsive pattern purchase.Any takers?

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SteffS April 16, 2008 at 11:59 am

Oh yes, and it does have a hypnotic effect, doesn’t it? Perhaps it is all that mustard and orange. Like WHO can actually wear that much of either of those colors without looking like a big-freakin-pumpkin? Aaaack! But it does demand undivided attention!

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sixties sewer April 16, 2008 at 12:08 pm

The seaming makes for an odd emphasis on “the girls”, doesn’t it? This one should be admired but not attempted.

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RachelMM April 16, 2008 at 12:11 pm

And you think you’ve seen it all…

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susan April 16, 2008 at 12:25 pm

cookie and steffs: oddly, as a pale redhead, that mustard yellow works on me. I might be the only human alive who can pull it off, though.now that we’re talking color options, how about black velvet with red satin just inside the rolled collar? Or is that too obvious?

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Rose April 16, 2008 at 12:49 pm

I love it! but I cannot imagine trying to make one. My mom was a great seamstress. Me, not so good. If I had a waist like those gals on the pattern, I would be smiling and laughing to.

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libbylondon April 16, 2008 at 12:50 pm

I agree with Canine Diamond – replace the buttonholes with another set of buttons and it could be cute! I would wear it that way.

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msperception April 16, 2008 at 1:16 pm

if this was in my size, i would buy it. its just so strange, it needs to be exhibited to the general public. and what better way to do that than to wear it?

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Nadine April 16, 2008 at 2:15 pm

Love it. But I’m not sure about the advisability of waving one’s hands in the air, with the way those sleeves are cut.

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Cookie April 16, 2008 at 2:21 pm

Susan: Arlene Dahl, the redhead actress from the 50′s, found these variations on yellow and orange flattering, too. Redheads really have their own sets of rules. LOVE red hair!For the rest of us, these colors remind me of the autumn mixes used in 1970′s upholstery fabric. Sometimes there’s an embroidered Horn of Plenty motif. Ick!

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Anonymous April 16, 2008 at 2:24 pm

I’m sure I’d need an iron maiden-type undergarment to make my waist fit into that dress. So much for laughing while wearing the dress!

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Anonymous April 16, 2008 at 3:38 pm

I love it. Imagine on a curvy figure!

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lorraine April 16, 2008 at 3:49 pm

I’m not usually a fan of faux anything, but I love it. I’d wear it if I were more petite up top. You get the bolero look without the awkward back sticky-outy problem.

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SteffS April 16, 2008 at 4:38 pm

TO SUSAN: I can see how the mustardy color would work for you and I actually really admire that color, however I don’t think I’d ever attempt ALL mustard OR orange, either way. I don’t think black with red would be too obvious, but I’m a little quirky myself.

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Karen April 16, 2008 at 5:43 pm

I agree, fascinating and horrifying all at once. I don’t think the waist is all that extreme (in the realm of bodies on pattern envelopes, yesterday’s looks worse!), I think it is a visual effect that you get from the bust/bolero thingy. I mostly just really, really want to see how those pieces fit together. and, I am loving the idea of the contrast collar and covered buttons, that can translate easily to one of the shirt dresses I’m being pressured to make. Couldn’t imagne where the influence is coming from…

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mamafrog April 16, 2008 at 6:42 pm

I think it’s both–and they’re trying to catch their breath from wearing the terrifying undergarments!! I remember those horrible things. UGH!

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canadian sadie April 16, 2008 at 8:20 pm

I like it. I like the idea of the fancy faux collar. Mainly because bolero jackets NEVER look good on busty girls…no matter how much we wish they did. I choose to believe that this dress would be as flattering in real life as it is on the carefully drawn models. :)

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SteffS April 16, 2008 at 8:45 pm

I want PROOF! Show me the (sewn-up) Dress! Show me the real thing! I won’t believe it til I see it. (And I DO believe that gorgeous is possible!)

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lorrwill April 16, 2008 at 8:46 pm

Another vote for definitely both. And I am a HUGE bolero fan. But this is creepy…yet the right fashionista could pull it off with panache. LOL for the undergarments comment. Yes, this would be the Dior New Look wasp waistline. Torture devices to achieve it. Breathing? Did they forget we need to breath?

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Lisa April 16, 2008 at 8:58 pm

I am going to challenge the buyer, who shall remain nameless until such time as he/she reveals him/herself, to stitch it up and show it off, even if it’s on a dress form. I’m glad that I wasn’t the only one who found it intriguing.

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Cat April 16, 2008 at 9:15 pm

I love it.The full length princess lines of the dress are similar to Vogue 2903http://www.voguepatterns.com/item/V2903.htm?search=v2903&page=1No waist seam but still looks nipped in.Here is my version:http://bycat.blogspot.com/2007/05/v2903-finally-completed.htmlI love the detail of the fake bolero, though without button holes as an interesting collar treatment.The detail at the top and the crinoline would help to give the illusion of a smaller waist. though a girdle would be required to achieve the really dramatic shape.I think it is better suited to those with a longer torso so you are not restricting the lungs just pulling the stomach in.

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SteffS April 16, 2008 at 9:27 pm

Cat, EXCELLENT JOB! Good comparison, too! Love that one! Love the color!

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Lisa @ the Vintage Fashion Library April 16, 2008 at 10:28 pm

Ya know, you just have to love Erin for even knowing a word like verisimilitude. Must be those crosswords. LOL

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Linda April 17, 2008 at 5:49 am

I really love the uniqueness of the dress and would make it. And for the right some place to go to I would wear it.

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cpeep April 17, 2008 at 7:23 am

Teehee, I think it looks like her right boob is winking slyly at her left one.Carol Extreme Cards and Papercrafting

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Theresa April 17, 2008 at 8:31 am

Cat- that’s my wedding dress -except mine was sky blue with 3/4 lenght sleeves.

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Lydia April 17, 2008 at 9:35 am

It’s probably a good thing I was away from my computer all day yesterday. I went to the website with full intentions to purchase that pattern. I loved it. Alas. Already sold.Probably just as well.*sigh*Lydia

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Yvonne April 17, 2008 at 9:59 am

I have the little waist, I have the hips, but not, alas, the breasts or shoulders for this one. If I were to make this (and I wouldn’t because I need a set-in sleeve to be happy) I would either put buttons on both sides or leave buttons and buttonholes off altogether. As it is it looks like the wearer has misjudged and is wearing a dress that’s too small for her.Even more than the collared-bolero “gesture”, I like the cut of the neckline underneath it: very flattering to those of us with long necks.

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La BellaDonna April 17, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Lydia, I tried fairly early on, and it was gone, gone, gone!Canadian Sadie, to each her own, and I’m sure you know what suits your figure best, but I would hate for other busty women to read your dismissal and not even try to wear bolero jackets; as it happens, I find bolero jackets (fitted ones, that is) to be among the most flattering jackets for busty women! Think of all the bolero jackets that the Gibson Girls are portrayed in, and how very popular they were with ladies with hourglass figures! Even the earlier “Zouve” jackets had their moment. They weren’t worn because they looked bad. Of course, for busty women, bolero jackets – like everything else – have to be fitted extremely well, otherwise, they look baggy, bulky and awful. But the fitted bolero is ideal for a bosomy woman!(This is why there’s chocolate AND vanilla. And 29 other flavors, too.)

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wundermary April 17, 2008 at 12:21 pm

I think their expressions are brought on by their undergarments; they’ve got that smile in the face of pain type grimace.I can’t imagine why anyone would put this dress together. The skill that it would require to make it actually lay correctly would normally be lavished on something more formal. The buttonholes are the nail in the coffin. Almost no one makes buttonholes that are so perfect that they would be a design element meant to stand on their own. Maybe someone would have made this to be worn to the ladies church bazaar to put the rub on someone less skilled. I can hear the gossiping now: “Did you see Helene? After poor Natalie struggled so with the buttonholes for her daughter’s prom dress, she shows up in that.”

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Kim @ The Girl Can't Help It April 17, 2008 at 2:24 pm

Oh man, I *love* it. I collect vintage boleros/bolero dress sets (don’t ask), so why not collect bolero-ish things too? (And I’m not just sayin’ I like it because Lisa is my homeslice.)

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Anonymous April 18, 2008 at 12:43 am

I love it! It would need an Occasion to be worn though. An autumn wedding without dancing, possibly./Monika

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Alecto April 20, 2008 at 6:10 am

52 comments and no one uses the word “faux-lero”? Shame, y’all!

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kavavita April 20, 2008 at 10:05 pm

I love it. By the way — Janet Arnold has a pattern from an 1861 (or so) Victorian ensemble that had a fake bolero… I’ve seen it sewn up at many a Dicken’s fair.

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