It’s the last of my AW22 everyday edits today and I’m as pleased as ever to be working with one of my all time favourite brands, Boden. As always with them there are lots of tempting statement outfits but I’m sticking to my pledge to focus on long-lasting wardrobe workhorses this season as I suspect most of us are squeezing our budgets hard. It really has been a case of sitting on my hands, especially when I saw pieces like this skirt pop up…

AW22 everyday edits

Metallic A line mini skirt;

… and actually I’ve deliberated for too long because I’ve just crumbled and gone on to order it as my party piece for this year only to find it’s sold out in my size already. Ah well, that’ll be the ‘you don’t need it’ gods in action. Anyway, back to sensible shopping, by now I hope you’ve been through your wardrobe as we discussed a few weeks ago, apportioned your lifestyle split, worked out what you wear most often and why – and then made a list of any gaps that need filling.

I’ve had conversations with a couple of people who’ve said that after doing the exercise they still didn’t feel clear about how to shop because the clothes they have simply don’t match the personality they want to project. It’s easy to feel that way about AW clothes because they have to be so much more functional than summer ones do and so they’re often simpler. If you’re feeling like this my suggestion would be to do a quick lifestyle audit one more time to check that deep down you’re not trying to project something unfeasible – such as Grace Kelly elegance for someone who actually spends a lot of time every day on muddy paths (that’ll be me), or Joan Collins Dynasty power dressing when you’re now working from home.

Whether that’s the case or not, it’s always worth looking closely at the fantasy wardrobe in your head. Use it to inform you and specifically, help you think of three adjectives that encapsulate that look you want to pull off and then three that summarise what you don’t like. So my three positive wardrobe words these days are simple/sporty/sassy and my antithesis is frilly/fussy/shapeless. Yours might be completely different so spend some time on them. Use them to help you go through your wardrobe again and also whenever you’re thinking about buying something new. Not every adjective has to apply to each piece of clothing but at least one of them does.They’re a godsend for me, especially when I’m drawn down the path of some of this season’s new trends such as maxi skirts, outsized blazers and fugly footwear.

So let me talk you through how I approached this Boden edit with all of the pre-season homework we did in mind. My lifestyle audit told me that I have four key wardrobe divisions: statement pieces for meetings, semi-smart comfort for working from home, a chic but practical look for country weekends and an upscaled look for ‘out out’ urban weekends. With this in mind, I reorganised my dressing room accordingly and worked out where the gaps were. In theory, Boden with its comprehensive offering should be able to fill all of them so I was keen to put it to the test. I needed:

  • a couple of hardworking jumpers for daytime – one that would work with narrower jeans and the other with wide legs (country/city).
  • a warm, showerproof dogwalking coat – I’ve had the long puffa that I wear almost every single day in the winter since 2015 and it’s looking shabby.
  • skirt – I have plenty of midis but I’m finding myself opting for minis more often. I want a statement one (hence silver above) that I can adapt for both the country and the city.
  • shirts/ blouses – I don’t need anything dressy but for relaxed nights out I like to wear jeans and a form flattering top with an open neck. I need a more casual one for home and a couple that are a little more glam for Newcastle.
  • dress – I have a gap for one dress that will ideally work from desk to dinner for my long London days.
  • boots – I need a pair of classic black ankle boots for London/Newcastle that I can walk a long way comfortably in.

And let’s remember my guide words: pieces needed to be either simple, sporty or sassy (ideally all three) and not frilly, fussy or shapeless.

AW22 everyday edits – Boden

Upcoming 25% discount

Now before you start to shop I just want to let you know that Boden will be offering you 25% off all full priced items and free delivery on all orders over £30 with code E4P6. However it doesn’t start until next week – so you’ll be able to claim the discount from midnight on Monday 23rd until 07.59 on Friday 28th October (they’re being very precise!). It gives you the chance to prepare your basket for when the discount goes live.

Hardworking jumpers

So, following my list, I’m starting with a jumper that I have in mind for the city because it has good structure and will work well with the more on trend wide-leg jeans that I wear when we’re there. I’ve been looking for a warm camel shade with a high (but not roll) neck for the last two winters and I’ve finally found one. This has lovely detailing on the shoulders and also deep ribbed cuffs – always important because they add a bit of shape back into the body when it’s covered with something chunky like this. Guide word: simple.

Fluffy high neck jumper;

Although I’ve tucked it into wide leg jeans here to show you how I’ll wear it for a more urban look, it will be just as good worn more casually with blue jeans – or with a skirt for work. The warmth that this shade brings to my skin is going to be key when we come to the pallid months of January and February but it’s also available in the softer shades of four other colours – green, orange, blue and grey. I’m wearing a 12 and it’s true to size but for a neater fit, size down.

AW22 everyday edits

Fluffy high neck jumper

I’m moving over to a more country look here although nothing in my wardrobe has a hard line so I could wear this jumper in Newcastle or London too. The reason it works well at home is that its slightly looser, longer structure balances well with narrower jeans which as we all know, are a godsend when it comes to wellies. As you can see, it’s loose on me even though I’ve sized down to a 10 so unless you want something very oversized, go down. Guide word: simple.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic, Boden review 2022

Oversized high neck jumper; Chelsea boots

AW22 everyday edits – a warm, showerproof dogwalking coat

To complete the look I’ve gone for a complete change from the old down coat that I bought when we were spending long hours on the sidelines watching the eldest play rugby every weekend. He’s very rarely disapproving of what I wear but when he first saw it he scowled and said, “that’s boring, it’s such a mum coat.” It’s something that’s stuck in my head ever since but I don’t think he could say it about this one, it’s hard to miss which is especially good now that it’s nearly dark when I take Ted out after work. Orange will go with all of my neutrals – I’m sure you’ll have noticed just how hard I work my orange sandals in the summer, it’s a surprisingly versatile colour. If orange is too much for you, it’s also available in navy. I’m wearing a 12 and it’s true to size. Guide word: sassy and also simple.

Boden review AW22 Midlifechic

Orange down coat; oversized high neck jumper; Chelsea boots

The thing I have to say about this coat is that it’s Boden at the top of their game. It’s incredibly warm and comfortable to wear with a zip front, adjustable hood and fleecy pockets. It has brilliant little details such as thumbhole cuffs so that it doesn’t matter if you forget your gloves or need to keep your hands free for opening gates…

… and that’s not all. It has a removable lining that acts as a completely different coat too with its own fleecy pockets inside. It’s the sort of light layer that you could use on its own or beneath a classic wool coat because let’s face it, they look smart but they’re not as good as a puffa at keeping you warm. And of course when you remove this layer it means the orange coat is lighter if you want to wear it on a warmer day.

AW22 everyday edits

These are the kind of hardworking coats we need now and it’s why I chose the orange, even though I can’t stop looking at this one which also gives you two coats for the price of one because it’s fully reversible. The elegant lean lines are just so flattering – but I know the puffa fits my life better.

AW22 everyday edits

Reversible faux shearling coat

AW22 everyday edits – a statement mini

Before we move away from the jumpers, here’s proof that they have life beyond jeans. Here’s the statement mini I was looking for and of course it will go with the pink blouse I already have in my wardrobe too. This is how I’ll wear it for lunch in town or for a relaxed catch-up with a client. If you like this season’s pink but worry about wearing it directly next to your face, a skirt gives you an easy way of introducing it to your wardrobe. By the way the jumper is navy not black as it looks in this light, as are the tights and boots but we only had one day when we could take these photos and the weather was terrible. We’d gone into the castle walls here to shelter from the very strong winds and I’m standing next to a bust of the famous Quaker, George Fox. My Quaker ancestors were very involved with him back in the 1600s so I felt as if I was in the company of friends – but that’s another story.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

Pink cord mini skirt, Oversized high neck jumper

I took the outfit one step further and did some simple colourblocking with the jumper and an existing navy coat and boots to show you that the skirt can soon just be a small pop of colour. Guide word: sassy – and simple again.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic, Boden review

Pink cord mini skirt, oversized high neck jumper

AW22 everyday edits – shirts/ blouses for relaxed nights out

And here’s my top for a relaxed night out. This is so easy to wear and yet it has more than a hint of sassy. The ruched front flatters but doesn’t cling to your curves, it has buttons so you can adjust it to your bustline and the medium weight, ribbed jersey texture makes it extra forgiving plus it isn’t too dressy so you could wear it for work or just a daytime coffee too. I like it so much that I’m about to order it in the navy (it comes in black as well). One thing to bear in mind is that it’s a neat fit, I found it perfect for a body-hugging look and will order it in a size 12 again but if you want something that doesn’t wrap around your curves, you’ll need to size up. It’s also a shorter cut which I like because it doesn’t add bulk when you tuck it in but if you wear your waistlines low, you may have problems keeping it in. I’m still on the hunt for a brighter blouse for ‘out out’ nights, Boden have some lovely silk and satin ones but the collars aren’t right for my neckline.

Ruched front blouse

Working with my existing wardrobe, I’ve added a Boden ponte blazer that’s a few seasons old. I love it because it stretches making it really comfortable to wear; here’s the current iteration although I can see that it isn’t lined whereas mine is so that might make a difference.

Ruched front blouse

I’m wearing my own leopard boots here but Boden have a pair with a similarly Goldilocks ‘just right’ sized heel. I find ponyskin is durable in the winter, I haven’t worn it in very heavy rain but it’s fine in a shower and it adds the panache of both texture and subtle pattern to an outfit. Guide word: sassy.

AW22 everyday edits

Light leopard ankle boots

AW22 everyday edits – a desk to dinner dress

I’m not sure how the build-up to Christmas is going to pan out for us yet but I suspect it will be quieter than usual on the entertaining front. However when I’m in London in December I always go straight from meetings to a bar or restaurant and this dress will take me there. It’s also available in navy but unusually I was drawn to the deep red – it must be autumn working its magic on me. I know there’s a frill at the bottom but it’s far enough down not to annoy me and I like the fact that it adds weight to the hem, hence movement as I walk. Guide word: simple but also sassy.

Desk to dinner dress; waist-cinching belt

I know that there have been comments on the website about it arriving rather creased and yes, it did need steaming because it didn’t arrive on a hanger in a large box packed with lots of tissue as these things used to. It’s worth bearing in mind that every retailer is having to find acceptable savings this season so that they can keep the prices they charge as low as possible – and these are the adjustments they’re having to make. We’ve just saved one of the retailers we work with over £20,000 on each four page mailer they send out, simply by changing the print format. And if retailers can pack products into smaller boxes it will cut down not only on their print and packaging but also distribution, postage, handling, warehousing… on it goes. If we get used to doing a bit of steaming or ironing when products arrive, we can help keep prices down and reduce some of the environmental impact of the process too.

I did feel it needed a belt so I added this lovely waist-cinching one. It’s a timeless piece to have in your wardrobe, especially if you wear a lot of midi-dresses or trousers/skirts with an elasticated waist. What I will say though is that it comes up small. To make sure the buckle sits symmetrically in the centre of the shaped piece, you have to fasten it on the first hole. This is the narrowest point on my waist and yet a medium was too tight, I’d have to go up to a large. Worth bearing in mind because it’s already almost sold out in the black colourway.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic, Boden edit AW22

Desk to dinner dress; waist cinching belt

AW22 everyday edits – chic but comfortable boots

And the last of the hardworking pieces I want to show you from my AW22 everyday edits are these Chelsea boots. You saw them in the woodland shots but here’s a closer look. I haven’t had a pair of black ones since the 1990s when I wore them constantly and they lasted me right through my twenties. I have plenty of pairs of boots for stomping around country lanes in but I wanted something sleeker for more elevated days. I’ve been looking for the right pair for ages and here they are – they have a neat fit on the foot, a glossy (but not too shiny) finish and the sole is neither too thick nor too thin (Ted’s showing you his hardworking boots too).

AW22 everyday edits

Tall Chelsea boots

You can’t beat a classic boot like this for longevity and I love the fact that they have a high shaft so that you can wear them with cropped jeans – and yet the toe is slightly tapered so they’ll look good with wide legs too. I found them true to size and stock is now low in most sizes so move quickly if you’re looking for something that will last you for years to come.

And that’s is the last of my AW22 everyday edits and I really hope that in the few I’ve done, I’ve helped you to find pieces that will work hard with the clothes you already have. I think for most of us this year it’s not about having everything new – but if you can find something new that will stay in your wardrobe for years to come, you’ll be shopping moderately while supporting our retail industry at one of its darkest ever times. I want to say thank you to all of the retailers who continue to stay loyal to us as an audience and to me as a blogger.

Last weekend

We’re heading off for a couple of nights away in Yorkshire now so you’ll find me over on Instagram @midlifechic this weekend. In the meantime here’s the 7 years older photo I promised from last Saturday:

We spent the day wandering round our old haunts, came home to get changed and then met up with our old friends. It was fascinating hearing about the twists and turns of everyone’s lives and at one point I was hit by why old friends are so important – it’s because they share memories of you from a long time before you became the person you are now. And when your parents are no longer around as memory keepers, that matters so much. It was the silly little stories like, “do you remember going too fast on your bike and breaking your arm…” “and do you remember when we told our parents we were staying here and then we … and your mum found out and…” (I won’t elaborate on that one!). There were parts of my life that I’d completely forgotten and yet the others unlocked them for me on that night, it was a bit like watching long lost home movies.

We drank too much wine, just like we used to… and at one point started singing French carols that we all still remembered – and then some people started falling off bar stools… just like they used to! At 1am the owner of the pub came into the function room and wondered aloud when we might be ready to go home saying, “this isn’t quite what I expected from a girls’ grammar school class of 85 reunion.” And even that retort felt just like it used to!

Thank you for your enthusiastic response to a get together of our own, there are more of us in the NW than I realised – I’ll be in touch as soon as I can. I should just add that we’re not being regionalist and if you live beyond the boundaries of Lancashire and Cumbria you’re still very welcome to come along. I’ll tell you more when we have a plan… and to those who’ve volunteered to help organise it – I really appreciate it. With that happy thought I’ll leave you to your weekend, I hope it’s a good one – see you next Friday.

Disclosure: ‘AW22 everyday edits – Boden’ was commissioned by Boden but as always, the edit and the thoughts are all my own

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