And so I find myself at the last Boden edit of the year which feels like a milestone so I just want to start by thanking them for being such loyal supporters of this blog – and for listening to what everyone here has to say. They’ve had a very successful season, so much so that when it came to putting a post about last minute Christmas outfits together it was a challenge finding pieces that hadn’t sold out. It was perfect timing for me though because I’ve been trying on my various Christmas bits and pieces while I’ve been packing for our festive break. I found I was delighted to see some of them but my style’s moved on this year so a few old favourites didn’t work any more. With age comes confidence and I find I’m slowly starting to dress more boldly than I used to, especially when I’m going out so it was good to rethink things a bit.

I don’t know about you but I’m finding there’s a real joy in getting dressed in this age of anything goes; there’s so much more individualism now that fashion no longer reigns over style. Once you’ve gone through the process of understanding what works for your body and personality you can take a single minded approach towards wearing what suits you and, at last, find yourself wearing clothes that are an expression of who you truly are rather than who you’d like to be. We’ll talk more about this in the quiet months of the new year so before then if you have the mental bandwidth, spend a little bit of time thinking about which sector of your wardrobe best reflects your personality. Some friends of mine feel most themselves when they’re dressed in their cycling gear ready for a 26 mile Sunday push whilst others are happiest in a preppy Saturday afternoon look. I love the statement end of dressing – getting ready for meetings or a night out. I really need to delve into what that tells me about my everyday life of days at my desk peppered with muddy walks that require only practical, washable clothing.

And so for me pulling this post together has been a bit of a festive release from a season of deliberately focusing on more sensible pieces that I can wear day in, day out. I’ve included one practical outfit with a Goldilocks find in a pair of jeans that reflect my everyday life. The other two are pure happiness for when I can go out, meet people and let my hair down. Because as I’ve said a few times, the bereavements that have circled me in 2023 have reinforced just how important it is not to save all the fun up for times like Christmas but to keep on sprinkling it throughout the year. I think it’s already clear that 2024 is going to bring a whole new set of challenges that will affect us all in one way or another so we’re going to have to find joy where we can. Part of that for me will include playing around with clothes and wearing only what I love… but more on that in January.

Can you help Boden with customer insights?

Before I show you what I’ve pulled together though, Boden are trialling something new. As you know they’ve announced that they’re moving back towards their core customer and as part of that, they’ve released a preview of their ideas for the SS24 collection. They’re showing it early as a market research exercise so that they can see which pieces capture the most attention. That way they’ll know how to weight the densities of their stock before the season launches in full and which direction to take as they continue to develop new styles. If there’s something you love you can pre-order it with a 20% discount but even if you’re not ready to buy yet, seeing which styles are clicked on and lingered over will help to guide them.

It’s very interesting to see it all laid out without the model shots as a distraction. You can see clearly that when it comes to plains, they’ve returned to their former bold colour palette and the patterns feel familiar too, there are far more of the sharp geometrics than the ditsy prints they’ve played with recently. It all feels very joyful and not only because it reminds us that the year will soon be tipping towards longer, sunnier days again. So if you can spare a few minutes have a look through it here and click on the styles you like.

In the meantime a small December drop has arrived and you’ll notice that it includes the wardrobe cornerstones that Boden are returning their focus to; things like the Catriona range of cotton knitwear which comes in a round neck, a V neck and a cardigan – each style in fifteen different colours. Even bikinis and beachwear are popping up but (thankfully) they didn’t fit my theme of last minute Christmas outfits so let me show you what I pulled together to lift the darkened days of December.

Cotton crew in a lovely shade for Christmas

Christmas shopping outfit

One of the small things that I’m really appreciating this year is just how slow Christmas is to arrive where we live. It seems to have been fully blown in London and Newcastle since late October and yet here it only started to appear last week with the arrival of an ice rink and big wheel in the picturesque city of Lancaster. Slowly, slowly, the lights are going on, trees are being dressed and Christmas music is being played in the shops. It feels as if the joy is arriving just when it should and rather than being tired of it already, everyone’s Christmas spirit is just starting to shimmer.

This was a quick trip into town for click and collect purposes and I want to talk about the jeans first because they’re finally the ones I’ve been searching for. I’ve been looking at them on the Boden site for a while but I was put off ordering them because although a few people were raving about them, they had a lot of negative reviews. I’m in the former camp and I can only think that because they’re described as slim, the people who don’t like them were looking for something much more like a skinny than a straight jean which is what they are.

I’m not showing them at their best here because after reading the reviews saying they came up small I sized up and requested a 30 inch waist (32 inch leg). They don’t come up small and so they were too big, especially around the waist which didn’t help them to hang properly. I’ve just this morning received a delivery in a 28 waist (32 leg) and they’re the perfect straight jean with a waistband that sits somewhere between mid and high rise. As soon as I tried them I knew they’d immediately replace two pairs that I’d packed in my carry on luggage because they’re the rare beast that works with ankle boots, trainers and  heels so you’ll see more photos of them next week. The legs are like the cool cut you get from somewhere like Arket but they’re more fitted on the hips with perfect rear pocket placement so they’re straight and yet feminine at the same time. By the way I tucked the hem up in this picture because as they were much too big they were sitting too low but they do have a proper hem as you can see below and in the right size it sits perfectly.

The jumper is part of the new collection and it’s a cheerful classic for winter. It’s 100% merino wool in a medium weight and there are buttons at the neck for anyone who worries about overheating – you can undo them if you prefer it to sit a little looser. The hem is split so it sits nicely over jeans, I’m wearing a medium and it fits as it should. The gold boots are the ones I showed you in last month’s edit, beautiful supersoft leather but sold out in some sizes now.

Last minute Christmas outfits

Merino jumper; straight jeans; gold boots

It was so bitterly cold that I was persuaded into a glass of wine on the way back to the car and should probably have had red but after two months of the Zoe project I really fancied a glass of white. I’ll talk more about Zoe in next week’s big catch-up post by the way – lots of people are asking me if it’s turning out to be worth it but I can’t answer with a simple yes or no.

Last minute Christmas outfits

Merino jumper; straight jeans; gold boots

Drinks with family & friends outfit

We were up early on Saturday to decorate the house and as we’re leaving the trees outside for a couple of weeks yet it all came together quite quickly. It was lucky because we had a call from a cousin to say she’d come up for a last minute break with friends for the weekend and was wondering if we felt like popping over for a drink and a catch-up. It worked out well because I had this outfit to show you and for me it’s another surprise hit. I would never have ordered these trousers if I hadn’t had the challenge of putting something together from the stock they had available. I’m not a usually a fan of faux leather but they’re incredible – buttery soft quality and they fit beautifully. Somehow they put a real spring in my step and the brilliant thing for me is that they work just as well with a jumper and chunky ankle boots for a walk as dressed up for an evening out. There’s very low stock now but they’re true to size if you’re lucky. By the way spot the Christmas tree in the window behind me – just arrived and as yet undecorated even though it was the first weekend of December.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic, leather trousers

Faux leather trousers; silk shirt; snowflake earrings; Boden shoes past season; Jigsaw clutch past season

I’d hoped to pair the trousers with the jewelled cardigan but it was out of stock when I put my request in – it’s back now though so a great option if you’d like something warmer to wear with them. However the classic silk blouse worked well too, there was a lovely harmony in the sheeny finish of the two pieces. I have to add a huge shoutout for the earrings – I wore them to the village Christingle on Friday and was surrounded by little girls who fell in love with them. They’re Christmassy but not too twee. The silver glitter shoes are past season Boden (2017 I think), their sustainability code means they won’t make anything like this again so I treasure them. And yes another glass of white wine, I’m telling myself it will be the last one this year (we’ll see!).

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic, leather trousers

Faux leather trousers; silk shirt; snowflake earrings; Boden shoes past season

Any kind of event outfit

I’ve learned a whole new style lesson this year and it’s that if you wear bright colours, it seems to give people an opening to come and talk to you. As I’ve said I’ll do a midlife lately catch-up post next week but my new theory was proven when we went out for three nights in a row last weekend. On the first evening I wore black and on the other two I wore bright colours. We didn’t have conversations with anyone new on the monochrome night but on the other two we met all kinds of people, purely because they came over to say, “I love your trousers.” So from now on I’m going to dress according to how sociable I’m feeling – bright colours guarantee we’ll have a very chatty evening and so this is an outfit for making new friends.

So, I’ve repeated the satin shirt that I already have and love in blue. As you can see it’s a tailored fit but I think that makes it far better for wearing with trousers like this. I’ve resisted ordering these velvet trousers all season because Boden’s trouser cut hasn’t often worked for my sturdy thighs and calves but this makes it the third pair in just one trying on session that’s been perfect so they must have altered the very narrow designs they’ve had recently. There are four colours available but stock is low now which is a shame because the navy would be great too. And the necklace is another piece of fabulous jewellery, Boden’s collection is small this year but very good. It feels really refreshing to wear a statement piece again after the last ten years of very fine necklaces, it comes in green and gold as well. As you can see here’s another undressed Christmas tree just waiting to be decked out for the celebrations to begin – a bit like us really.

Nikki Garnett, Midlifechic, Christmas outfits

Satin blouse; velvet trousers; jewel cluster necklace

In the end I loved the trousers and shirt so much that I managed to buy the jacket to go with them when it came back into stock. It will go perfectly with some of my other party trousers too. All of the pieces in this outfit are true to size in a 12 – and they’ve all gone into my suitcase for next weekend. From where I was standing I could see the panorama of Lake District hills heavy with snow. We’re just too close to the sea for it to settle here but you can tell by the harsh light in this photo that the sleet was about to start again. Despite loving the outfit I was quite glad that we didn’t have a real party to go to and could just go home to sit beside the fire.

Last minute Christmas outfits

Satin blouse; velvet jacket; velvet trousers; jewel cluster necklace

So that’s the last of my trying on posts for 2023, as well as thanking Boden I should thank you too for the feedback you give which is so valuable. Don’t forget that you can help a little more by looking through the new season preview. There’s 20% off everything full price at the moment with code D7B9 and stock is low on a lot of things but if there’s something you love, returns do keep coming back in so just keep an eye open.

I’m finishing this post before we leave so by the time you read it I’ll be somewhere else. I’m so grateful to Mal for organising a Christmas present surprise but because I know he probably won’t read this I can say that I hope it isn’t too high energy. I don’t know about you but I suddenly feel as if my charge is very low. I’ve been pushing on through in a pretty grim retail environment for the last few weeks as well as training hard at the gym and trying to keep track of Zoe – now I feel very ready to step away from it all. I’m looking forward to writing next week’s catch-up because it will give me a chance to take stock of everything that’s been going on. And my goodness I’m looking forward to the cloistered nature of Christmas when we finally shut our doors on the world and focus on family. There won’t be a post on Tuesday but things should be slowing down on the work front when we get back so we’ll have a proper chat next Friday. I’ve missed you in the comments recently, life doesn’t feel quite as warm without your thoughts and updates.

Disclosure: ‘Last minute Christmas outfits’ was commissioned by Boden but as always I had full control over the edit and outfits

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