So many of you have said you’ve enjoyed the retail spotlight posts that I’m bringing you one more for 2023. After this, they’ll be on pause until January while we focus on Christmas and all of the prep that it entails. So today as well as doing my monthly edit, it’s a Boden review – retailer spotlight. Let me bring you up to date with what’s going on there.

Boden review - retailer spotlight

Boden – brand background in a nutshell

Disclosure: as with the majority of blogs, products featured on Midlifechic sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, you are helping to support the site because a small referral commission may be paid. This contributes towards hosting fees, software costs, site maintenance and other plug-ins. Midlifechic could not exist without these small payments, so every contribution makes a big difference.


Boden is launched in 1991 by Johnnie Boden. He’d left a career as a stockbroker following an inheritance from a childless uncle, first of all buying a couple of pubs and then moving into teaching which he says he loved, apart from the salary. When deciding what to do next, he accepted he’d always had a fascination for clothes, saying he’d ‘get obsessed’ with what his mother’s friends wore. In the end it was an ultimatum from his wife Sophie, telling him ‘if you don’t do it, I’m going to leave you,’ that gave him the impetus to launch a mail order company selling the things he, himself, wanted to buy. There were eight pieces of menswear in his first hand-drawn catalogue and he and his friends modelled the clothes. Womenswear followed in 1992 and childrenswear in 1996.

Early 2000s

Boden has established a niche, largely with busy 30-something women who don’t have time to go into physical stores. Phoning an order through from a printed catalogue is an easy solution and Boden becomes known as the first real yummy mummy brand.

In 2004 they launch into bricks and mortar with a store in Hangar Lane, London followed by Kings Road and Westfield. With the addition of online shopping, sales soar and there are plans to open Boden stores nationwide. In 2017, John Lewis & Partners add Boden as part of the revamping of their womenswear floors, giving the brand its first national in-store presence.


Like many retailers, Boden has a difficult trading year. All stores are closed during the pandemic never to return and Boden is no longer stocked in store by John Lewis. As it launches its SS20 collection filled with its wedding and holiday styles, lockdown is particularly difficult for Boden. It does not have a strong casual/athleisure offering and although it swiftly adapts to this, sales are hit with a 14% drop.

In 2021, Boden celebrates its 30th birthday. A logical strategy is to look towards a new generation of customer in her 20s-30s, the age that the founding customer was when the brand first launched. New ranges have a more fashionable focus than Boden has traditionally held, with much shorter hemlines, cropped tops, exposed midriffs, string bikinis and backless dresses.

As the cost of producing the catalogue continues to rise, Boden scales its scale and distribution back, concentrating on digital and social platforms instead.

What’s happening now?

In 2023 Boden announced that it had tried to move too far, too fast. Following an extensive examination of customer feedback, in September 2023 Johnnie Boden stated that the brand would be pulling away from high fashion styles and reintroducing some of the Boden classics. He acknowledged that customers are looking to Boden for long-lasting cornerstone pieces that are well produced and can be washed and worn repeatedly. The big surprise was the plan to withdraw from menswear while they focus on getting womenswear right. However Johnnie insists that it will be back if only because he, himself, refuses to wear any other brand.

I have to say that I admire Boden for stating so publicly that they’re now catering to a midlife market; not many brands have the confidence to make a U-turn like that and admit it openly. An open declaration of a focus on an older audience is a tactic that we’ve really only seen in the press with both The Times and The Telegraph being very clear about the fact that their content, including fashion, beauty and health, is aimed at a midlife audience. In 2024 lots of us will no doubt watch with interest to see how it pans out.


Good On You, the ethical brand ratings app and website has assessed Boden as being ‘not good enough’, questioning its payment of a living wage to workers in the supply chain. However, there are many ways in which Boden is ahead of other retailers. For the third Christmas season running it has refused to produce clothing with sequins or beading because of the impact these clothes have on the environment as they break down. It has a transparent supply chain and it has become carbon neutral for Scope 1 and 2 three years ahead of plan, it is now working towards Scope 3.

All unsold Boden clothes are sent out to charities. There is a Care:Repair:Rewear service where you can send your old Boden favourites back to be repaired – details here. You can also return Boden clothes you no longer wear, they will send them on to charities and add credit to you account (details here).

They have started to use more eco fabrics such as ecovero viscose although they accept that there is still more to do on that front. Leather, wool and cotton is sourced according to welfare and environmental principles. You can read the full sustainability strategy here.

Boden review – retailer spotlight – the lowdown

Boden review - retailer spotlight

Boden trades in more than 50 countries worldwide. In Europe, customs duties are usually wrapped up at point of purchase but if they are charged, Boden will refund them. I know some of you who live abroad had difficulties with European delivery post-Brexit though, hopefully that has settled down.

Boden’s pre-cyber offers – start tonight!

Boden’s first cyber event is launching at midnight tonight with 30% off, an extra 20% off sale and free delivery on orders over £50 and it runs until 8am on 20th. Use code U9P4 at checkout. So, I’m going to talk you through what I think are the top ten best buys and then I’ll show you the try-on of my edit at the end.

Boden Best Buys – Cyber Week

1. High neck jumpers

You’ll see me trying this one below. It’s such a great style for wearing with skinny or slim jeans in particular. The rib on the collar makes your neck look longer and isn’t too tight. The ribbing at the bottom and stepped hem is flattering when worn with a neater cut of jean. It’s 100% merino wool and washable, available in five colours.

2. Reversible faux shearling coat

This coat sold out immediately but is about to be restocked, I’ve had it since last year and one side or other just seems to work with everything so it’s the most practical as well as unusual coat in my wardrobe.

3. Layering tops

These light cotton and tencel blend tops are great for layering under a crew neck jumper – the collar works to break up the neckline for a softer look that’s more flattering to the neck. A fraction of the price of the Me+Em ones, some sizes and colours have sold out but the restock is available on pre-order. Five colours/patterns to choose from.

4. Jumper dress

This is the sort of dress that you can throw on and still appear to be making an effort. It works as a Christmas dress but has no expiry date so you’ll be wearing it right up until April – at least! Two colours available.

5. Invisible socks

The nicest invisible socks that I know, great for wearing with trainers or low cut party boots and stylish enough when you throw your shoes off at the end of the night.

6. Shoes & boots

Even though they no longer make the glitter and beaded glories of the past, I still think Boden do the best shoes and boots. The quality is almost always superb and the styles are just right. It was hard to choose which ones to pull out because I’ve discovered so many good options this season but I’m going for the flexi soled ballet flats – they’re just so comfortable. Seven colours available.

7. Slim straight cords

As you know, I’m always looking for an alternative to jeans for working from home. You’ll see me trying these on further down, they’ve been a great discovery, they fit perfectly and they make a really nice change for teaming with my many jumpers. Six colours available.

8. Woven suede waist belt

This suede and leather belt has to be one of the best bargains in the sale. I have it in both medium and large in this colour and was hoping to get it in black but it’s sold out. With an extra 20% off the sale price it’s a great buy – bear in mind that it really is meant to go around your waist so if you want to wear it lower down, size up (that’s why I have two sizes).

Boden cyber week best buys

Woven waist belt – 20% off sale price Cyber event

9. Statement necklace

The problem with the new chunky statement necklaces that are coming in is that they tend to be round which has the knock on effect of making a round face look rounder. This one with its oversized pearl has a neck elongating, pendant effect – it’s like the difference between a V neck and a crew. Plus of course since the Chanel exhibition opened, anything with a pearl is high trend.

10. Cotton poplin layering shirt

And as we’re talking good investment cyber week buys here I’m going to finish with this cotton poplin shirt which is another great layering piece for this time of year. It’s a lovely uplifting colour to wear under a jumper now and when spring comes it’ll look great on its own, a hyacinth coloured mood booster.

Boden November drop – try-on

So that’s my pick of hardworking suggestions for this week’s pre-Cyber event, now I’ll show you what I pulled together for my edit from this month’s Boden drop.

Returning Boden classics – the ottoman dress

Over the next few months we’ll see some of the all time top sellers from Boden coming back and one is the ottoman dress. Made from a textured ponte fabric, these dresses are just so easy to wear on an everyday basis and you can often get away without ironing them if you pop them straight onto a hanger after you’ve washed them. This one has a softly structured shape as you can see with a loose waistline, then more shaped over the hips. There are eight colours available but they’re selling out quickly. They’re the sort of thing that you can dress up or down very easily and with 234 raving reviews, you can see that people are pleased to have them back.

I’ve paired it with shiny black leather boots to contrast with the texture of the ponte. They’re another classic that Boden have added to their collection this year, completely timeless in terms of toe and heel shape, the sort of thing that you’ll have in your wardrobe for years. Reviews are mixed but I found them true to size and comfortable enough to wear all day.

Boden review - retailer spotlight

Ottoman dress; knee high leather boots 

I added my coat from last year here just to show you how well the dress works with longer proportions. Long coats are the key wardrobe updaters for this winter and with the way the weather’s going, I think we may be grateful that fashion’s playing a practical hand for once.

winter style for women over 50

Ottoman dress; knee high leather boots; faux shearling reversible coat

Party pieces – the glitter jumpsuit

I have only a few nights out pencilled into my calendar so far this Christmas which means I’m determined that anything new will be relaxed and comfortable so that I can wear it at home too. You know I love a jumpsuit so this was an obvious choice for this post, it’s stretchy and light with a subtle silver sparkle. In terms of sizing, I’m wearing a size 12 and it fits perfectly apart from the fact that it’s a little bit short in the body for me which really matters with a jumpsuit so I’d probably size up to a 14. You can just about see that I had the perfect shoes to go with it in my wardrobe – a pair of Boden glitter slingbacks from 2015. I’ve added one of Boden’s new jewelled party belts just to add definition at the waist too.

Party style for women over 50

Jumpsuit; belt both 30% off from midnight with code U9P4; Boden shoes 2015, Jigsaw clutch 2015

As you know I’ve been determined that any edit pieces I pick this season will sit together to form a capsule rather than being one hit wonders so here’s how it works with the faux fur jacket from last month’s post. Navy and black work so well together, especially for evenings.

Nikki Garnett Midlifechic

Faux fur jacket; Jumpsuit; belt 30% off from midnight with code U9P4; Boden shoes 2015, Jigsaw clutch 2015

Winter coffee and a chat

As I type I’m sitting in an opaque world – Storm Debi thrashed us for a few hours yesterday leaving us with windows that are thick with sea salt. On Saturday though we had the most glorious late autumn day and so when I met Nicky for a coffee we decided to sit by the shore. We were still deep in conversation when Mal came to pick me up, even though it was starting to get dark – and she steadfastly refused to be in any photos!

Sadly this jumper has pretty much sold out in this navy and chinchilla colourway already, despite it only just landing – but you might be lucky and get a return. It’s made from 100% merino wool so it feels great to wear, it has my favourite kind of neckline for winter and the chinchilla is a very warm grey so it’s flattering to winter skintones. I don’t often go for oversized knits but I don’t feel swamped this one because the loose body is balanced by a great fit on the arms, I still went for a small though and it was just right for me. It comes in five different colourways.

And of course I have to mention the joy of the gold boots, everyone who passed us stopped to comment. They’re made from soft leather and they’re much nicer on than they look online. If you’re searching for something to lift your winter outfits that has a solid and walkable heel, these could be the ones.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

Oversized jumper; Cords; Gold boots

And here’s a better view of the cords that I mentioned above, I’m so pleased to have found them. I was warned that they come up small and they do, so I’m wearing a 14. There are six colours available and they’re exactly the everyday slim straight cut that I’ve been looking for – I just wish I could find it in jeans.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic

Oversized jumper; Cords; Gold boots

So, a slightly different monthly edit today – a ‘Boden review – retailer spotlight’ and as I say, I’ll go back to giving you background on all kinds of brands on the high street in the new year. On Friday I’ll be moving on to gift ideas, as always, trying to find things you might not have though of. Have a great week and I’ll see you then.

Disclosure: ‘Boden review – retailer spotlight’ was commissioned by Boden as part of their monthly edit series.

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    Disclosure: as with the majority of blogs, products featured on Midlifechic sometimes (but not always) include affiliate links. This means that if you choose to make a purchase, you are helping to support the site because a small referral commission may be paid. This contributes towards hosting fees, software costs, site maintenance and other plug-ins. Midlifechic could not exist without these small payments, so every contribution makes a big difference.