8 Australian creatives show us how they style a bolero

WORDS By Ruby Staley 

Sleeves to go.

Hard to define, the bolero can be basically anything from a small cardigan to long detachable sleeves. Although I didn’t enjoy the bolero the first time around, now, it’s easily one of my favourite trends to remerge from the early 2000s.

Unlike the low-rise pant revival, which is shaping up to be remarkably similar to the original Y2K aesthetic, boleros are looking a little different this time around. Instead of being pretty and cute pieces of fabric donned by famous faces like Paris Hilton and Hilary Duff, these days boleros have taken on a bit more of a deconstructed and grungy feel. 

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A bolero is a truly functional piece. It’s great for keeping your arms warm when you need it but it doesn’t ruin your outfit in the way a bulky jacket can. Why did they ever go out of style? To help reacquaint you with this iconic 2000s item, here are a few ways Australian fashion people wear boleros.

Joely Malcom, content creator and Vogue Australia’s TikTok producer

Boleros are the perfect piece for those days where you wake up super chilly but know by the end of the day the sun will be out and you’d be sweating in a full jacket. Not only that, but they’re so cute! My striped crochet bolero has become my main personality trait since I got it last year.

It’s a great way to make a casual outfit fun and interesting and has been a big talking piece. I think the best part of items like this coming into fashion and being more widely accepted is that it’s another layer to show off your personal style! 


Stephanie Louise, co-founder of Good Space and content creator

I am so here for the return of the bolero, who doesn’t love an arm warmer!? It’s a super cute way to add some colour and a fun vibe to any outfit, and I am absolutely loving the early 2000s dance movie energy it brings. 

For me, I like that it adds sleeves to an outfit, but I can still wear a singlet or boob tube and it gives a great cut out style silhouette. I have styled my fav Dyspnea one with some baggy shorts and a singlet. I love mixing the super causal vibe of the shorts with the drama of the sparkly bolero.


Millie Sykes, stylist and content creator

I love a borderline tacky ’80s bolero. Cheap synthetic polyester goodness plucked off the sale rack at a musty vintage store. Extra points for anything that is embroidered and triple quadruple-double dunk smash points for anything with a sequinned fringe trim. Something you can really shake around on a dance floor, you know? Pair it with high waisted pants to reveal just the perfect amount of tummy… there could be nothing sexier!


Onella Muralidharan, model and designer

Growing up boleros were my comfort; they were thrown on to cover my upper arms thinking my body wasn’t good enough. Today it’s a bold statement full of colour and fun! I’ve styled this bright floral bolero with a white detailed skirt to make the colours pop. To me, this celebrates me for me without hiding my body. It’s about having fun in what I wear and redefining my relationship with my body and therefore the clothes I wear.


Christina Karras, writer and creative

I’ve been the unofficial president of the bolero fan club ever since it came back in fashion a few years ago. ‘Pants and a nice top’ is my go-to outfit recipe, but all my categorically nice tops are usually sleeveless or strappy and in Melbourne’s unpredictable weather I never leave the house without a jacket. 

So naturally, the bolero is the perfect transeasonal piece! I have been loving styling my black knit one from Lioness (that actually came with its own halter top) with colourful strapless tops, and black pants to match on the bottom.


Sofia Stafford, fashion designer and founder of Sabatucci

When you’re not sure what to wear for the in-between weather that autumn brings, boleros are the answer! Not only do they look super cute but they also help make our existing wardrobe more flexible, allowing us to wear our favourite summer pieces that little bit longer as we move into the cooler months. 

I styled a couple of my favourite Sabatucci pieces to create this look, including the Emerald Principessa Bolero and Black Lucia Pant. I like to keep my outfits pretty pared back – a pop of colour and a dramatic sleeve are daring enough for me! I love playing around with alternative ways to wear clothes that are already in my wardrobe. Here I have hoisted up a vintage corset to make a strapless top. My favourite @softmodality necklace pulls the look together with an eye-catching touch of elegance. I feel like a rococo princess in this look!


Karla Laidlaw, designer and founder of Karlaidlaw

I already love to layer and add lots of accessories, so this bolero is perfect for my aesthetic! My Hydra Opia bolero from my brand, Karlaidlaw, is the one we’re both styling here. Each piece has its own Hydra charm [and is] hand-dyed with open pin tucks.


Hannah Cohen, writer and content creator

This knitted bolero served me so well in keeping me warm during PayPal Melbourne Fashion Festival at the Independent Runway. It actually belongs to my very generous housemate – it’s a second-hand garment that she found in an op shop bin! Given the runway was held outdoors, a bolero to rug up at the Festival was absolutely the way to go because it kept me snug all night without distracting from the look I’d put together for the night. 

Paired with my Loleia Swim denim corset, a white maxi skirt that featured an uber-high slit, and some trusty white heels that I always reach for come event season, the bolero gave what needed to be given. Boleros are definitely the way forward if you want to keep off Melbourne’s evening chill with simplicity and elegance – they go with everything!


For more on the bolero, try this.

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