Last Monday Boden’s biggest Autumn drop arrived and there I was shading my screen from the Mykonos sunshine, trying to think ahead to what life might be like for us all at home over the months to come. As you know, before we went away I’d already categorised the principle lifestyle areas that I need to focus on this season: working from home with the occasional client meeting; casual weekends and relaxed nights out. I know I keep banging on about it but I can’t stress highly enough how helpful it is to have a framework like this to guide you when you’re going through an exciting new drop. So today I’m trying on Boden’s latest AW21 collection, I’ll show you my focused edit in a minute but first I want to include a couple of pieces that I shot with more dressed up moments in mind – hopefully we’ll all have a few of those ahead in the festive season.
Trying on Boden’s latest AW21 collection
I’m sure you’ve seen that it’s Boden’s 30th birthday this year and as such, they’ve released a special collection that they feel celebrates their heritage. They developed it by looking at the catalogues from the 90s and 00s, reviewing the best-selling styles and then reimagining them for today’s customer. Each piece has been named after long-serving members of the Boden team, some of whom have been there since the beginning in 1991
When I did my September edit, I looked for a couple of more glamorous pieces because I knew that the last of our Greek Islands would be just the right place for them. I chose ones that I feel confident I’ll get good wear from. When we go over to Newcastle I tend to dress up more than I do here and as our life there is resuming soon (I can’t believe I haven’t been back since August), I’ll be rewearing them but in a winter way. You’ll see them again but for now I’m going to start by showing them to you in a Greek setting.
A special dress
Since it was released I’ve spotted this dress on a number of people and I’ve noticed that it’s a chameleon, looking completely different on every woman who wears it so I wanted to give it a try. As soon as I unwrapped it, it had a certain magic about it. It made me think of mid 70s glamour and my (much older) brothers’ girlfriends arriving in a waft of Charlie perfume, ready for the latest party.
I wasn’t sure how it would go down in flashy Mykonos where just about everyone dresses up for the evening but usually in much skimpier pieces than this. However people repeatedly complimented me on it, saying that they’d never seen anything quite like it before. My next plan is to try it dressed down with a suede bomber jacket and boots. I’m wearing a size 12 regular and even with an end of holiday wine tummy, it fits perfectly.
Fancy (and easy) party pants
My next choice was this sumptuous pair of blue velvet trousers with a dark gold side stripe. As the warm sun sets in this photo I’m wearing them with one of Boden’s halterneck tops from a couple of summers ago. Knowing that they’re going to be reading this I’m putting in a plea for more of these. I have others that I’ve been wearing since the 90s, every summer I dig them out and they work with everything. They’re a saviour for anyone with swimmers’ shoulders and on that note Boden… please could we have more proper halterneck swimwear too with a triangle top… not the inverted style of the Corsica and not with a squared off cleavage like the Santorini…
Anyway back to the trousers. They’re a louche, elegant fit and with their elasticated waist, they’re super-comfortable to wear. I have a close friend’s big birthday party in an unheated marquee in the garden tomorrow night and I think I’m going to wear these with either a gold sequin polo-neck or a navy cashmere jumper. I’ll have to dig through my boots – with being in Greece I haven’t done that yet and I can’t remember what I have. So, great trousers, especially as we hit party season, I’m wearing a 12 regular and they’re true to size (and they’re machine washable too).
Blue velvet trousers with dark gold side stripe; Boden halterneck top (past season); Uterque sandals SS21
Now let’s get back to my three focuses for the season and I’ll just add that my hair is now driving me mad. Because our holiday dates clashed I haven’t seen Premlee since the middle of July and it hasn’t had any highlights since May. I’ve gone back to my lockdown habit of snipping away at it myself and I’m now very glad that I have a trip down to London at the end of next week!
Relaxed night out / client meeting
I took this photo at lunchtime today and I like this outfit so much that I’ve kept it on to wear tonight. It’s the annual music festival in Lancaster, every pub has live bands playing all weekend and so we’ll be meeting up with different friends in various spots. I love this dress, it’s in my favourite Boden paisley pattern from this summer reworked in the same colours but with different colour weighting. It will be good for days when I know I have a client meeting because it’s comfortable enough for working from home but it has impact too. With winter in mind one of the features that I really like is the neckline – it doesn’t have a collar and so it will be easy to wear with a coat, jacket or cardigan and a polo-neck will sit neatly underneath it too. It’s the sort of dress that will take you anywhere – from a winter wedding to… well watching a live band in a pub.
The boots add definition at the ankle and I deliberately chose tan rather than navy for relaxed contrast but navy would give you a chic, column look. If you don’t like this season’s stompy boots they’re a good, leg lengthening alternative and they work with everything. I’m so glad Boden have reissued them, I had a pair before I started blogging that I wore until they fell apart.
Working from home
Sticking with the working from home looks I’m trying hard not to live in jeans during the week. Skirts are getting shorter so I was keen to play around with a different length to my midi comfort zone. I’m sure you know the style maxim of only having one part of your body in focus. If you’re going for a shorter length and putting the focus on the legs it generally means keeping everything else loose as this dress does. Although I happily wear shorts, I wouldn’t wear a dress as short as this in summer but in winter with tights it feels fine, nodding to the slightly sporty vibe that I like. Also available in charcoal.
Flat knee boots with cleated soles are a great way of bringing dresses up to date but a lot of them are just too stompy for me. This pair has a cleated sole but the foot of the boot is still quite elegant and they have a high shine so they feel like a good halfway house between a riding boot and this season’s heavy number. The leather is butter soft so they’re easy to pull on and off. They’re quite wide on the calf, my legs are quite muscular and so I sometimes have problems with standard size boots but there’s plenty of room in these. I’m wearing my usual size and they’re instantly comfortable.
Here’s a quick shot of them slipped over a pair of leggings to show you the fit and the profile.
Stompy boots aren’t for everyone though so I thought I’d pair the dress with a more fitted alternative just to show it worn in a different way. These are suede boots that I’ve had for a long time but you could replicate the look with Boden’s, they’re very similar. A low heel adds inches to your leg and so can help to rebalance your proportions if you have a long body like me. On reflection though I prefer this outfit worn casually with the flats which is unusual for me.
And last of all a weekend look for both me and Ted. He’s looking particularly dapper in his new collar and lead as he enjoys the extra focus we have to give him now that there are no boys at home. They keep asking us just how spoiled he’s going to be next time they see him because the vet’s already put him on a diet! As always it isn’t easy getting him to pose for the camera but he’s doing his best here…
… and this is the nearest I got of the two of us together – note how his new accessories pick up the colours in my jumper… makes me happy.
I’m wearing the relaxed Fair Isle jumper; with its deep band of pattern it’s kinder to my shoulders than the usual narrow ones that I have to avoid. The blend of cotton, wool and polyamide means there’s none of the itch that you often get with pure wool and it’s a slightly cooler red than Boden’s usual tomato shade so it will work for most skin tones although it’s available in navy too. I’m wearing as size 12 and it feels right for a relaxed weekend look.
The jeans are a great heavy winter denim with just the right amount of stretch. I think they’re a good option if you’re no longer wearing skinnies but still like a neat fit to your jeans. They’re a nice straight cut with a slight crop that works particularly well if you have statement boots like these.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that cream leather Chelsea boots with a heavy sole are the big trend for this season. Most shoots from the retailers we love are featuring them but a lot of them are unbelievably expensive so it’s great to find them at Boden at almost half the price that they are in other places. They’re getting five star reviews on the website and I think the fact that they are, as Boden describe them, an Irish cream colour rather than bright off-white makes them easier to wear because they don’t feel as blingy. However if cream’s too much for you they come in black too. I’m refusing to wear socks until I have to so when I first tried my usual size they felt too big however after reluctantly putting socks on they were very comfortable, they’ll probably work even if your feet are quite wide.
Yet again it’s a lovely collection from Boden. It’s no surprise that they’re bucking the trend of other retailers with profits that are 20% up. A few of you have asked me about sustainability and they’ve made good ground on that front this year too. 95% of clothing is now either polyester free or made from recycled polyester and 65% of cotton is from sustainable sources moving to 100% by 2023. They’ve published a transparent supply chain and all unsold clothing is sent to charities rather than landfill. You can read about the other sustainability measures they’ve taken here. At the moment a 10% discount will be added automatically on everything (except sale) if you click through on any of the pieces I’ve shown you.
New beauty boxes
Very quickly – I just want to show you the new Sunday Times beauty boxes that have been released today. Looking at the beauty advent calendars that are around it’s struck me that they’re not all great value this year. Cost-saving means a lot of them now just include tiny little sample sizes. It occurred to me that you could buy a beauty box for far less, shut your eyes and have a lucky dip for a number of mornings and these two are particularly interesting. I think they’ll sell out quickly when they’re featured in The Times this weekend. Of course they’d make superb Christmas gifts too (sorry – I just had to say that) and there’s less packaging therefore less waste than with an advent calendar.
India Knight beauty box edit (10 products)
Sarah Jossel beauty box edit (16 products)
I know I haven’t finished telling you about our Greek Island Hopping yet – I’m juggling so I’ll be covering the next two islands over the next couple of weeks and hopefully it isn’t too much for you getting two posts a week from me for a while. So far, being back has felt fine but then we’re cheating a bit because our nest isn’t empty. As I mentioned the eldest has stayed on from his pet-sitting stint because he has his old boys’ rugby reunion this weekend so he’ll be back at uni getting up to mischief. In a way it’s been the perfect easing in because he doesn’t need much looking after other than feeding at night (which I realise makes him sound like a small furry animal!). So far though life feels good without young ones at home… it’s very easy… and we’re very busy so it’s helpful being able to work late without feeling guilty.
It continues to be a strange time to live in the UK doesn’t it? Constant news alerts about rising prices, petrol shortages, empty shelves… we weren’t away for very long but it felt like we’d come home to a different country. My forecasting work is becoming ever more difficult to do because so many ‘black swan’ events (as they call them) are colliding at once. It hasn’t helped that I returned to a complete meltdown of my desktop computer set-up which means I’m limping it all along while I wait for a new one.
Anyway I must go but there’s one last thing to tell you. It’s World Menopause Day on Monday and a lovely reader Gail Titchener is trying to get as many people as possible to run or walk a mile on Sunday to raise awareness of the importance of exercise at this stage of life. There’s no money or sponsorship involved, she’s just doing it for the common good so it would be great if as many of us as possible could support her by doing a mile (or more) on Sunday. If you’re on Instagram post a picture of yourself doing it with #mileformenopause – you can follow Gail @iamrunneruk. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could surround her with friendly faces? I haven’t been running for a month now but I’ll join in – and so must remember not to drink too much wine at the party tomorrow night! Have a good weekend and with the wind and a new Mac behind me I’ll be back on Tuesday.