There was a time when the thud of the Boden catalogue from the letter box to the floor had me racing to the paper recycling box. After a few purchases in the early noughties, one of which I actually still have, it was a summer kaftan top if you must know, I never felt Boden ‘talked’ or was for me when it came to fashion and style.
It struck me as a style hub for people with no taste, no ability to shop and quite frankly the most frustratingly frumpy cuts. For seven or eight years I have without fail empty many a wardrobe in Wales and England of a fair few Boden items and banned clients for buying from the catalogue except for their children (if they had any). Really what was the relevance of those garish printed tops and frocks. I had to concede that one very nice client in Maida Vale did have the best pair of jeans I’d seen in ages from Boden for her shape and typically they went and changed them.
Occasionally I would begrudgingly admit to a decent design and one very cold year I ordered a gorgeous green coloured hat from them, I snuck it into the petit garcon’s order of useful sturdy boys’ clothes. I still have the hat.
Slowly I felt more kindly disposed to Boden, my long held grudge over a PR rebuff which briefly was along the line of me asking for some clothes for a TV show and a presentation to Telegraph and Times journalists which was met with a ‘no we only lend to magazines’, began to albeit. And then one evening visiting a dear friend in the wild west of Wales after a few glasses of wine and some very nice paprika crisps we poured over the Boden catalogue because I liked something she was wearing. People it was the end of an era. A couple of Boden tops and jumpers later I felt I had joined a club.
It seemed that in the midst of my mid life a brewing crisis akin to Madonna chasing 21 year old men was satisfied by turning to Johnnie Boden. The man whose name I had spelt out in Boden supplied magnetic alphabet letters on a magnetic fridge photo of George Bush. The George Bush magnetic fridge thing was bought in a fit of giggle in a tourist shop with an FBI agent in Washington DC. I live dangerously.
Having successfully worn a lovely knitted Boden jumper with a Marni skirt and Prada shoes in the height of last season’s fashion jumper and skirt combo, I was gripped by a growing Boden glow. So much so that I began to recommend items on my blog and select for editorial pieces for the magazines I write for. The point being the quality is good. The customer reviews are a great read and style wise the offerings are hitting a spot, good design has crept in.
When this A/W12 catalogue came through the door I wasn’t surprised to see style collaboration with Grazia. Whilst I know, you know this is all about commercial gain for the parties concerned, Grazia have a brand image to protect and project. And although they mainly worship at the temple of avant garde designers it appears there is room in all our hearts for some solidity and sense when it comes to spending, style and quality. Boden equally has a middle England following who might be scared by Grazia and vintage knee high boots so the risk is both ways. In fact rumour has it middle-England ladies are in uproar of the inclusion of super model Helena Christensen, in contrast to my view of what a joy to see a fellow mid lifer in Boden who doesn’t make me feel a frump.
The gorgeous Helena Christensen wearing Boden
It is often said you have to walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand them or increase empathy and rapport. Well I have barely done a 100m sprint with Boden and in true Carrie Bradshaw fashion it got me thinking, could I do the unthinkable….spend a season in Boden, the season being the fashion equivalent to a mile. Firstly the catalogue sells a lifestyle, a head to toe lifestyle that many women embrace. Remember that rule about not dressing head to toe in a designer look, well rules are meant to be broken and if I were plain broke I’d have to dress head to toe in anything. Secondly how useful is the offering – does it really deliver on its review categories of comfort, classic dresser and style driven? Can Boden replace my current wardrobe and satisfy my eclectic style needs? Will I be able to walk the dog in Boden?
On my hols in West Wales I had a rendezvous with afore mentioned chum and we ignored the men as I had to discuss the Boden conversion. The fact is a few looks are just me, in fact it looks like me. Okay my friend kept putting her finger over the model’s face but essential it was me. My style, my taste and things I really really liked. Sadly my budget wouldn’t stretch to buying a whole wardrobe of Boden but I am going to get a few pieces for my forthcoming trip to Hong Kong and buy a few other bits and pieces when I can.
Honestly this is me - if you stick your finger over the face!
Do you think Johnnie will be my friend now?