Bolero Jackets 1930-1931, Part 1

This nearly-timeless jacket came with many pattern variations.

The 1920’s bolero was not always above the waist in length, [click here to see several examples] and this pattern is from the early Thirties.

Alternate views of Butterick bolero pattern 3224. Fronts could be curved or squared (see dotted lines,) open or closed with a bow. Delineator, May 1930.

Delineator, May, 1930, p. 113.

I was initially struck by how modern this “little jacket” looks. If I found it in a thrift store, I would have guessed it was much more recent than 1930. I can imagine it worn with skinny jeans or a knit dress.

Butterick’s Delineator magazine showed many bolero jackets during the transition from low-waisted Twenties’ to natural-waisted Thirties’ dresses. Oddly, the bolero was recommended as a way to camouflage the natural waist for women who felt insecure about showing their figures.

Butterick 3413, September 1930.  “The Reason for Boleros” was that they distracted from the new waist line.

“Designed for [ages] 4 to 18 and for 32 to 44 [inch bust.]” Frankly, any woman whose waist looked like that illustration was probably not too worried about it. However, the design does avoid having a belt at all.

“Boleros and Blousing Are a Great Help.” Boleros were recommended for women self-conscious about the new, defined waist. Delineator, September 1930, p. 104.

Butterick 3409, Delineator, Sept. 1930, p. 105. “The shaped bolero makes it an easy frock to wear….”

Butterick 3435 has a false bolero effect, with the bolero in the back only.

Butterick 3174 (at left) has a bolero over a sleeveless dress, while 3177 (at right) has a matching jacket. Delineator, April 1930.

“The bolero makes the normal waistkine possible for any figure, for it conceals that difficult line at the back. [I didn’t expect that reason!] This bolero is detachable….”

Left, evening dress 3020 has a sheer bolero over a simple princess-line dress; far right, 3074 has a strip of fabric pretending to be a bolero. Delineator, February, 1930.

“Peplums and Boleros Give Youthful Lines.” Butterick 3020 has a “tied, sleeveless bolero” that falls far below the waist in back. Butterick 3074’s “corsage flares partially concealing the narrow belt in front make the high waist-line  more wearable.”

Another “bolero effect:” Butterick 3529 is recommended for a sewing beginner! “The bolero effect is obtained by a stitched-on band” decorating an otherwise simple dress.

Another “not-really-a-bolero-jacket” is part of Butterick dress 3391; “Bolero fronts, bloused back.” Delineator, September 1930, p. 31.

The dress below, with a short bolero, was featured in the same issue of Delineator as the longer, ruffled bolero at the top of this blog post.

Butterick 3006 appears to have a separate, short bolero in front, which may or may not dip below the (new, high) waistline in back. Delineator, January 1930, page 29. The sleeves of the bolero “flare in three-quarter length over those of the frock itself.”

The bolero — real or suggested –remained in fashion through 1931 — more about that later.

MunsingWear pajama ad, Delineator, 1931. The One Piece Bolero Pajama.


Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, Accessory Patterns, Coats, Nightclothes and Robes

17 responses to “Bolero Jackets 1930-1931, Part 1

  1. I love the first Butterick pattern pic! So stylish!!!

  2. Wow! I do love these designs! Which means that I’ll be hunting early 1930s patterns now… 😋

  3. What I love about the Delineator, and your sharp eyes, is the explanation of fashion changes and the ways that women could deal with the shifts. How interesting that the longer jackets were seen as a way to handle changes in the waistline!

    • I’m still trying to understand why women who were used to the 1920’s hip band would be worried about their rear view in a dress with a natural waist!

      • Because accentuated natural waist makes their love handles visible and makes their bum “pop out”. Just look at any lycra-cled ” big” ladies of today. 😜

      • Ahhh — love handles. Reminds me of a joke I heard on TV around 1954: “My mother-in-law needs a five way stretch girdle: back, front, both sides, and a gutter on top to hold the overflow.” I’ve often thought of that myself when trying on girdles…. Not a lovely experience.

      • My grandmothers had a different approach to love handles and such: don’t try to squeeze them in – there is no where to go. Instead, wear a corselette that smoothes over them without squeezing. It does not make your waist thinner but it makes you look trim, neat, and ultimately thinner than you are – a complete optical illusion! 😀

      • Your grandmothers knew their stuff. I love that you used the word “corselette,” because in the 1920s the corselette (spelled many different ways) was the long, often boneless, foundation garment that eliminated curves. In the 1930s, when a more natural figure was the goal, the invention of lastex made a smooth line from midriff to below the hip possible. Now we have “Spanx” to make us look firmer than we really are. Fashion evolution at work! (For more images of 1920s’ corselettes and the latex stretch foundations that replaces them, click here.

  4. That Bolero Jacket is stunning! My daughter would love that with a pencil skirt! I’m considering making a longer kimono style version for myself. Thanks for posting this. I get ideas, I get ideas….

  5. Pingback: Valentine Fashions from 1926 | witness2fashion

  6. Pingback: Boleros 1930-1931, Part 2 | witness2fashion

  7. Pingback: Boleros Through the 1930s (Boleros Part 4) | witness2fashion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.