A bolero jacket or shrug is a smart and timeless addition to any well-rounded wardrobe. In addition to being functional pieces that perform well when the air gets a bit nippy, these toppers also present chic alternatives to basic cardigans, shawls and jackets.
In simplest terms, shrugs are essentially cropped cardigans. They do differ, though, in that they are more cropped than the average cut-off cardigan. Their truncated design makes them especially perfect for wearing with dresses and skirts, but they're versatile enough to pair with everything from lengthier tops and skinny jeans to lightweight tanks and flowing pants. They are available with both long and short sleeves, and are generally casual in design.
There are, however, dressier shrugs designed to wear on evenings out, and these tend to exude an obvious sense of glamour through specific details (such as ruffled collars or intricate crocheting) or through the use of delicate materials, like silk and even feathers.
About Bolero Jackets
By contrast, bolero jackets are dressier and are often seen on evenings out. Available in both long- and short-sleeved styles, boleros are cropped and crisply tailored. They run the gamut from bare bones and simple to audacious and complex.
Designers will often give excessively dressy boleros the couture treatment, affixing them with all manner of embellishments - think fur, feathers, tassels and metal studs, to name a few. Some are made purely of leather and are designed to resemble micro jackets. By contrast, the simplest styles are available in solid colors, made of soft knits and work well with nearly all other garments. Select evening dresses even come with matching boleros.
Styling a Bolero Jacket or Shrug
Determining how to wear a bolero jacket or shrug will ensure that you get the most mileage from your purchase. Boleros in particular don't tend to come cheap, and a high-quality piece may set you back a couple of hundred dollars (though inexpensive versions are certainly available). Shrugs, meanwhile, are excellent investment pieces that won't necessarily break the bank - in fact, you could potentially purchase several in one shot for a very reasonable price.
- If you're seeking a bolero jacket to wear with different dresses, opt for a neutral color. If your style leans toward edgy and rocker-chic, you might consider a bolero embellished with grommets or studs; if you're more of a classic, no-frills dresser, stick with simple, clean cuts with sharp shoulders and a soft sheen.
- Shrugs are quite functional; they cover up bare skin, look great with empire-waist and maxi dresses and can even draw attention away from problem areas, like heavy upper arms. Opt for shrugs made of lightweight materials, especially for summer wear.
- Layer a shrug over a long, lean tank top and a pair of skinny jeans and heels. This look is fresh, modern and polished all at once, and it even allows you to show off some great jewelry since it doesn't cover up too much on top.
Where to Purchase
Not surprisingly, both shrugs and bolero jackets are widely available at a variety of retailers. Dressy styles of both tops can often be found in department store dress departments. Check out stores like Macy's and Neiman Marcus for these in particular.
If you're on the hunt for a more casual shrug, you'll find them in abundance during early spring and well into summer. Stores like Old Navy and Forever 21 carry extremely affordable shrugs in a range of colors. If you're new to the look and just want to give it a test run, it's wise to purchase a "throwaway" shrug from one of these stores, just in case you end up disliking the look.